He was just a name in a file for decades, one of many people police encountered while searching for a 6-year-old New York City boy named Etan Patz (AY'-tahn PAYTS').

But 35 years later, Pedro Hernandez is going on trial in a case ingrained in the nation's approach to missing children.

Opening statements are set for Friday. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder and kidnapping.

Etan vanished in May 1979. He became one of the first missing children pictured on milk cartons.

In 2012, Hernandez gave a videotaped confession. Prosecutors say also he made incriminating remarks to friends and relatives in the 1980s.

His defense says his confession is false. It also notes that a convicted Pennsylvania child molester was suspected for years in Etan's disappearance.