Etan Patz was 6 years old when he disappeared in 1979.
New York Police Department
Etan Patz was 6 years old when he disappeared in 1979.

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Pedro Hernandez's attorney has said his client falsely confessed to the child's murder

Hernandez faces charges of second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping

Etan disappeared on May 25, 1979, a month before Hernandez left New York

New York CNN —  

The man accused of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping in the iconic missing child case that has gripped New York City and the nation for more than three decades.

Pedro Hernandez was indicted last month by a grand jury after he confessed in May to killing the child in 1979. His attorney said his client had falsely confessed.

Hernandez’s next court appearance is scheduled for January 30.

Police said Hernandez confessed to killing Etan, who disappeared on his way to a New York school bus stop, after passing by the bodega where Hernandez once worked.

Hernandez – who was a stock clerk in Lower Manhattan in May of 1979 – admitted that he choked the boy after luring him into the basement of the grocery store, police said.

He allegedly told authorities that he threw away the boy’s body in a garbage bag, though the remains were never found.

Etan disappeared on May 25, roughly a month before Hernandez left New York to resume living at his mother’s South Jersey home, according to family members and police.

Defense attorney Harvey Fishbein has claimed Hernandez was repeatedly diagnosed with schizophrenia, and that he has “an IQ in the borderline-to-mild mental retardation range.”

CNN’s Olivia Smith contributed to this report