NEW YORK, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The man accused of killing Etan Patz in 1979 admitted choking the 6-year-old in a videotape played Monday at a hearing on whether New York prosecutors can use it.
Pedro Hernandez described killing Etan and hiding the body after his arrest in 2012. He has since recanted the confession and his lawyer says police manipulated a man who is both mentally ill and of low intelligence.
Etan vanished after leaving his parents' apartment in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, and his body has not been found in spite of extensive searches at the time and after Hernandez's arrest. He had been allowed to walk to the school bus stop on his own for the first time.
Hernandez, who was 18 at the time and worked at a bodega in the neighborhood, told police he got Etan to accompany him to a basement.
"I wanted to let go but just couldn't," Hernandez said. "It was like something took over me and, I don't know, something just took over me and I choked him."
Monday's hearing was the first opportunity for news media and public to hear the confession.
Hernandez said he hid Etan's body in a plastic bag and then in a box. He said he carried the body to another basement and left it there.
Police for many years targeted a man named Jose Ramos, who had been the boyfriend of Etan's babysitter. Hernandez, who was living in New Jersey, became a suspect more than 30 years after the fact because of a tip.