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Psychiatrists question Patz confession

May 30, 2012 at 9:19 PM

NEW YORK, May 30 (UPI) -- A man who confessed to the 1979 killing of 6-year-old Etan Patz in New York could be lying about his involvement in the death, psychiatric experts said.

Pedro Hernandez told police last week he strangled Patz to death in the basement of a bodega and put the body in a freezer before disposing of it in the garbage.

Hernandez's lawyer said the 51-year-old "has a history of hallucinations," leading some psychiatrists to speculate whether he's telling the truth, ABC News reported Wednesday.

"You have to rule out the possibility that he may be faking," said Dr. Harold J. Bursztajn, co-founder of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law at Harvard Medical School. "This may be a wish to get attention; it may even be an unconscious wish, a wish to feel self-important. That's something which needs to be explored in psychological examination."

"All confessions to notorious cold cases must be treated with skepticism, whether the confessor is psychotic or not, and the determination of guilt must rest on the confessor giving details that were never released to the public and that can be corroborated and/or by the discovery of corroborative evidence," said Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychologist in Newport Beach, Calif.

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