NYPD Commissioner Kelly pushed DA to file charges in Etan murder: sources
Last Updated: 5:36 AM, June 1, 2012
Posted: 2:06 AM, June 1, 2012
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly pressured Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. into charging the confessed killer of Etan Patz — even though the top prosecutor wanted more evidence, sources told The Post yesterday.
“Vance did not want an arrest,” said a source familiar with the murder case against bipolar schizophrenic Pedro Hernandez, who copped to the 1979 crime last week.
“Kelly pushed, insisted, but Vance wanted time to investigate,” the source said. “He wanted to hold him in a safe place and evaluate the guy while they investigated.”
Hernandez was arrested on May 24 after admitting during interrogation that he strangled 6-year-old Etan in the SoHo bodega where he worked as a stockboy.
He spoke publicly about the investigation for the first time yesterday, but refused to say how confident he is that Hernandez is the killer.
“Not that I’m afraid to answer it, but it’s really premature for me to answer it at this time,” Vance said.
He also said that in solving cold cases such as the Patz murder, “You need to make sure that accountability is levied on the right person. Now our task is to make sure justice is brought.”
A spokeswoman for Vance denied there’s a rift with Kelly.
“That is absolutely not true,” said Erin Duggan.
Etan’s disappearance had been one of New York’s biggest mysteries for 33 years. Investigators long believed he fell victim to a neighborhood pedophile, José Ramos, who in 2004 was held liable in a civil case.
Since Hernandez’s arrest, Kelly has strongly stated that police are convinced he’s Etan’s killer.
But Vance yesterday refused to say whether Hernandez’s arrest effectively clears Ramos and former SoHo handyman Othniel Miller, whose basement workspace was dug up by investigators in late April.
Vance is joined in his skepticism by FBI officials in New York and Washington who have concerns about going forward with the case.
They question the validity of Hernandez’s confession and whether it would stand up in court without additional evidence backing it up, sources said.
Federal agents who worked on the case also complained about being left out by the NYPD as Kelly rushed to charge Hernandez by the anniversary of Etan’s disappearance on May 25, sources said.
Sources have told The Post that Hernandez provided detectives with “intimate details” that were never released to the public.
Hernandez — who suffers from auditory and visual hallucinations, according to his lawyer — remains in custody at Bellevue Hospital’s psych ward, where he is undergoing court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.
Additional reporting by Larry Celona and Josh Margolin
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