Pedro Hernandez, the former bodega worker arrested on Thursday and accused of killing Etan Patz in 1979, was formally charged with second-degree murder early Friday evening after being transferred to Bellevue Hospital Center earlier in the day and placed on suicide watch, , officials said.
He was arraigned by a judge just before 6:30 p.m.Mr. Hernandez, 51, was taken into custody on Wednesday.
Etan's parents, Stan and Julie Patz, were seen by reporters entering the officers of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., on Friday afternoon.
He told investigators that on the day Etan, 6, disappeared on his way to a school bus stop in SoHo, he lured the boy to the basement of the bodega where he worked with the promise of a soda, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Thursday night. Once inside, Mr. Hernandez said he choked Etan, stuffed his body in a bag and took the bag about a block and a half away, where he dumped it in the open amid other trash.
Second-degree murder charges are applied to the most serious killings in New York State with a few exceptions, such as the murder of a police officer or a murder-for-hire, which are classified as first-degree murder.
On Friday, crime scene investigators were seen entering and exiting the basement where Mr. Hernandez said Etan was killed. The bodega is now an eyeglass shop.
Etan disappeared 33 years ago on Friday.