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Etan Patz suspect Pedro Hernandez's home searched

A handout mug shot of Pedro Hernandez, accused

A handout mug shot of Pedro Hernandez, accused killer of Etan Patz. (May 30, 2012) Credit: Courtesy of The New York Times

NYPD investigators removed personal computers from the New Jersey home of Pedro Hernandez, the man arrested last month on murder charges after police said he confessed to the murder of Etan Patz, according to an attorney for the wife of Hernandez.

Police officials were tight-lipped Thursday about what was found at the Maple Shade home of Hernandez, 51.

He has been in custody on murder charges since police said he told detectives May 24 that he lured young Etan from a school bus stop on May 25, 1979, and then killed him in the basement of a West Broadway bodega. Paul Browne, a spokesman for the NYPD, declined to comment about any aspect of the case.

Robert Gottlieb, an attorney for Rosemary Hernandez, the wife of the suspect, said officers removed hard drives, papers and other items from the home near Camden during a Wednesday search that lasted 11 hours. It is likely that police will analyze the hard drives of the computers for evidence such as Web searches, emails and other files that might link Hernandez to Etan's disappearance, legal experts said.

Court-appointed defense attorney Harvey Fishbein wouldn't comment about the case.

Investigators have been seeking to corroborate Hernandez's confession since he volunteered the information last month. Complicating the investigation is the 33-year-period since Etan's disappearance and the fact that police believe it will be impossible to find his remains. Hernandez said in his confession that he disposed of the boy's body in a black trash bag in an alley about a block away from the bodega, according to police. City sanitation records only go back as far as 1989.

Gottlieb said Rosemary Hernandez retained him because she was becoming frustrated by the way the case was proceeding. After living with Hernandez for 23 years, his wife doesn't believe the confession and thinks it is unreliable, said Gottlieb. A Manhattan State Supreme Court judge has ordered Hernandez to undergo a mental health exam.

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