Detectives who searched the New Jersey home of the man who confessed to killing Etan Patz found what "looked like young boys' clothing" and an old toy but were being "very cautious" about concluding they belonged to Etan, who disappeared in 1979, people with knowledge of the matter said Friday.
The toy and the clothes - an undergarment or undergarments and a pair of blue shorts - were found when detectives from the New York Police Department and local authorities searched the home of the man, Pedro Hernandez, in Maple Shade, N.J., on Wednesday and early Thursday, several of the people said. One of the people characterized the toy as a "toy vehicle" and another said it was a Matchbox car.
"It could be anybody's," one law enforcement official said of the clothing and the toy, noting that Hernandez, 51, his wife and 23-year-old daughter had lived in the house for only a few years.
The official said investigators were trying to determine whether the clothing might have belonged to previous residents.
The finding of the items was first reported Friday by the New York Post.
The investigators spent about 10 1/2 hours searching the home, according to Robert Gottlieb, a lawyer who represents Hernandez's wife and daughter. The investigators also took the daughter's computer.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced two weeks ago that detectives had arrested Hernandez on second-degree murder charges in the death of 6-year-old Etan, who disappeared on his way to school in New York's SoHo neighborhood on the day before the Memorial Day weekend 33 years earlier.
Kelly said then that Hernandez had made a lengthy videotaped confession the day before, saying he had lured the boy to the basement of the bodega where he had worked with the promise of a soda, then strangled him, stuffed his body in a bag and a box and discarded it with the garbage on a nearby street.
Hernandez denied sexually molesting the boy, Kelly said, but could give no motive for the slaying. He said it was unlikely that the boy's body would be found.
A lawyer for Hernandez, Harvey Fishbein, said Friday that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the items recovered in the search. At his client's arraignment last month, he said he had a lengthy psychiatric history, including diagnoses of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with visual and auditory hallucinations.
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