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Man who thinks he might be Etan Patz surfaces during murder trial of Pedro Hernandez, prosecutor says

Etan Patz went missing in Manhattan in 1979.

Etan Patz went missing in Manhattan in 1979. Photo Credit: AP

A man named "Dillion" who thinks he might be long-missing Etan Patz has surfaced in the midst of the murder trial of Pedro Hernandez in the 6-year-old's strangulation in 1979, a prosecutor told the judge Tuesday.

"As this trial goes on reported in the media, we get phone calls from people," said Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon. "Some people are concerned that maybe they're Etan."

Patz's mother, Julie, testified earlier in the state Supreme Court trial in Manhattan that since her child vanished in SoHo the family has often been contacted or visited by people claiming to be their long-lost son.

Illuzzi-Orbon said the man who surfaced was "born at the right time," and she had passed along a police report on the contact to the defense, but indicated prosecutors didn't consider it very significant given the history and high profile of the case.

"He had a thought in his head that maybe he's Etan," she said. "I asked police to interview him and they did."

Patz disappeared on his way to school on May 25, 1979. Despite a massive police search, his body was never found.

Hernandez, 53, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, who worked at a SoHo bodega in 1979, is accused of luring Patz into the basement and choking him. Hernandez confessed in 2012, but the defense contends it was a fantasy caused by a mental disorder and police pressure.

In testimony this week, prosecutors have called a onetime co-worker of Hernandez who testified that loud refrigeration motors in the basement made it hard to hear anything from outside, and a onetime employer who said Hernandez never exhibited mental problems.

Prosecutors plan to rest their case this week after calling a prison informant who is expected to testify to incriminating statements by Hernandez.

The defense case, expected to last weeks, will include psychiatric testimony and an effort to cast suspicion on Jose Ramos, a convicted pedophile with links to Patz's baby-sitter and who was once law enforcement's prime suspect.

The trial resumes Thursday.

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