Informant Emerges as Patz Case Heads to Trial

NEW YORK (AP) -

An informant has emerged as a down-to-the-wire witness against the suspect in the infamous missing-child case of Etan Patz, prosecutors revealed Monday.

It’s not yet clear who the person is or what information he or she has. But the disclosure adds a new element to the evidence against Pedro Hernandez, which has appeared so far to rest heavily on his confessions to authorities in 2012 and statements he allegedly made to acquaintances and relatives decades ago. His defense says his confessions were false and spurred by mental problems.

Jury selection is underway for Hernandez’s murder trial in 6-year-old Etan’s 1979 disappearance, which helped change the nation’s approach to missing-children cases.

“We have informed the defense team that we have an informant who will be testifying against the defendant,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told a judge before prospective jurors arrived Monday.

For now, the informant’s identity is shielded by court order even from Hernandez himself, though not from his attorneys, with state Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley citing safety concerns.