The search began Wednesday afternoon and lasted into Thursday morning
Police say Pedro Hernandez has confessed to killing Etan Patz in 1979
Attorney: His wife says her husband is mentally ill and his confession is unreliable
CNN has obtained an exclusive photograph of Pedro Hernandez, suspect in the death of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who remains under the care of doctors after being ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial.
The photograph was taken five years ago and shows him in a suit and tie, wearing glasses.
Investigators are currently digging into a computer drive and two satchels, among other items, removed during the execution of a search warrant at the home of Hernandez, the attorney for Hernandez’s wife said Thursday.
The search warrant was executed as part of the ongoing investigation into Etan’s disappearance in 1979. Hernandez was arrested last month. Police said he confessed to strangling the boy and throwing his body away in a trash bag.
The search began Wednesday afternoon and wrapped up at 3 a.m. Thursday at the couple’s New Jersey house, said Robert Gottlieb, who represents Rosemary Hernandez.
He said his client “doesn’t know what they were looking for.” The satchels contained personal items including paperwork belonging to Rosemary Hernandez, he said.
Gottlieb said his client was home during the search and cooperated fully. “An assistant prosecutor called me before investigators entered the house and asked whether she was willing to be there to offer assistance, and she did. She was there in five, 10 minutes.”
Rosemary Hernandez feels that her husband’s confession is unreliable and is coming from a mentally ill man, Gottlieb said.
The suspect, who is being held without bail at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, is receiving a medication called olanzapine, according to a source familiar with his medical history. The drug is used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Pedro Hernandez admitted choking the boy after luring him into the basement of a bodega, a small grocery store, on May 25, 1979, police said. Etan’s remains have not been found.
His attorney previously told a judge that Hernandez has a history of mental disorders, suffers from hallucinations and is bipolar.
“Mrs. Hernandez has seen her husband’s delusions and hallucinations and other mental illnesses for a very long period of time,” Gottlieb said.
He would not elaborate on the mental disorders, nor would he provide an example of what his client observed.
“She does not believe the confession at all,” Gottlieb said.
Investigators have been trying to build a case against Hernandez, looking for evidence to back up his statements to them.
Police have said they have no other evidence or a motive to support his confession.
A relative has said she reported that Hernandez told family members in the 1980s that he killed a boy in New York. Norma Hernandez, the suspect’s sister, said she went to police in Camden, New Jersey, back then but felt that they didn’t believe her. Police have said they have no record of that report. Hernandez said her brother also told a prayer group about killing a boy.
Gottlieb said he was asked to represent the wife because of her growing frustration over the case and her desire to make sure prosecutors “understand the severity and nature of the mental illnesses.”
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office had no comment Wednesday.
Rosemary Hernandez has not seen her husband at Bellevue Hospital but has spoken to him by telephone. “It’s a very difficult time for her and her daughter,” Gottlieb said.
Pedro Hernandez’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 25.