World

Man calls authorities claiming he is missing boy Etan Patz

A makeshift memorial in the New York neighborhood where Patz lived before his disappearance on May 25, 1979.

A makeshift memorial in the New York neighborhood where Patz lived before his disappearance on May 25, 1979.

A man who thinks he could be Etan Patz called authorities amid the murder trial of a suspect charged in the boy's 1979 disappearance and death, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said the man "had in his head" he could be the 6-year-old, and he had been born at the right time so police interviewed him. She identified him as a man with the last name "Dillion" but gave no other details.

In the decades since Etan went missing, dozens of people have claimed to be the sandy-haired boy who was among the first missing children to be pictured on milk cartons. His mother, Julie Patz, testified about some of the claims earlier at the trial. Iluzzi-Orbon said the calls continue as the trial gets publicity.

"As this trial goes on ... reported in the media, we get phone calls from people," she said. "Some people are concerned that maybe they're Etan."

Illuzzi-Orbon handed over a police report to attorneys for Pedro Hernandez, who is on trial in Etan's death after confessing to strangling the boy. Hernandez was a teenage stock clerk at a convenience store near where the boy's bus stop was located. He says he lured Etan to the basement with a promise of a soda and then killed him, stuffed the body in a bag and tossed it with curbside trash a few blocks away.

A former store worker testified this week that he was once injured in the basement and no one could hear him scream for help.

Hernandez's lawyers say that the confession is fiction and that Jose Ramos, a longtime suspect and convicted pedophile, is the real killer.

Etan's body was never found.

Illuzzi-Orbon legally had to disclose the information to the attorneys. The trial is proceeding.

After his disappearance, Etan's parents helped modernize how law enforcement nationwide handles cases of missing children. May 25, the day he vanished, became National Missing Children's Day.

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