Homicide

For Etan Patz's parents, man's murder trial is a complex case; they had eyed earlier suspect

  • In this combination of two file photos, convicted child molester Jose Antonio Ramos, left, and Pedro Hernandez, right, who is accused of abducting and killing six-year-old Etan Patz in 1979 are shown. For years, Julie and Stan Patz were sure that it was Ramos who abducted and killed their son as he walked to school in 1979, but it’s Hernandez who will be tried for the crime once the jury is selected. (AP Photo)

    In this combination of two file photos, convicted child molester Jose Antonio Ramos, left, and Pedro Hernandez, right, who is accused of abducting and killing six-year-old Etan Patz in 1979 are shown. For years, Julie and Stan Patz were sure that it was Ramos who abducted and killed their son as he walked to school in 1979, but it’s Hernandez who will be tried for the crime once the jury is selected. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE-- In this Sept. 15, 2014 file photo, Julie Patz, mother of Etan Patz, leaves a courtroom in New York. For years, Etan Patz’ parents were sure they knew who had kidnapped the first-grader on his way to school in 1979. Soon a man who confessed to the crime in 2012 will stand trial for their son’s death, and it will not be the man they focused on for all those years. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    FILE-- In this Sept. 15, 2014 file photo, Julie Patz, mother of Etan Patz, leaves a courtroom in New York. For years, Etan Patz’ parents were sure they knew who had kidnapped the first-grader on his way to school in 1979. Soon a man who confessed to the crime in 2012 will stand trial for their son’s death, and it will not be the man they focused on for all those years. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Sept. 15, 2014 file photo, Stan Patz, father of Etan Patz, leaves a courtroom in New York. A man who confessed to kidnapping and killing Etan Patz as he walked to school in 1979 will soon stand trial for his murder. For years Stan and Julie Patz believed they knew the identity of the man who took their son, but it will be a different person standing trial for the crime.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    FILE- In this Sept. 15, 2014 file photo, Stan Patz, father of Etan Patz, leaves a courtroom in New York. A man who confessed to kidnapping and killing Etan Patz as he walked to school in 1979 will soon stand trial for his murder. For years Stan and Julie Patz believed they knew the identity of the man who took their son, but it will be a different person standing trial for the crime. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)  (The Associated Press)

For years, Etan Patz's (AY'-tahn PAYTS') parents were sure they knew who had kidnapped their first-grader on his way to a New York school in 1979, and they were committed to holding him accountable.

Testimony will soon start in the murder trial they so long awaited — with a different man at the defense table. He was never suspected until he gave a 2012 confession he now disavows.

Jury selection is underway for the trial in one of the first missing-child cases ever featured on milk cartons.

The trial partly reflects the Patzes' efforts to keep the investigation going and make missing children a national priority. But it stands to be both searing and complex for them.

The Patzes are declining to comment on the case.