NPR logo Etan Patz Killer Sentenced To 25 Years To Life

Etan Patz Killer Sentenced To 25 Years To Life

Pedro Hernandez appears in Manhattan criminal court on Nov. 15, 2012, in New York. He was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in the killing of Etan Patz. Louis Lanzano/AP hide caption

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Louis Lanzano/AP

Pedro Hernandez appears in Manhattan criminal court on Nov. 15, 2012, in New York. He was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in the killing of Etan Patz.

Louis Lanzano/AP

Pedro Hernandez was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in prison for killing Etan Patz. The 56-year-old former store clerk was also given 25 years to life for kidnapping, with both sentences to run concurrently.

It was a different time when the 6-year-old walked alone to catch the school bus in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood on May 25, 1979. His disappearance sparked decades of investigation and helped create a generation of wary parents.

Hernandez confessed to the murder in 2012, saying he lured the little boy with the promise of a soda. He said once he got the child into the basement of the neighborhood store where Hernandez worked, he choked him and left his body in a box on the curb.

Patz's body has never been found. Hernandez's lawyers argued their client is mentally ill and made false confessions under police pressure.

A previous trial for Hernandez ended in a mistrial in 2015. In February, he was found guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping.

Patz became one of the first missing children to be pictured on milk cartons. And his case helped launch a national hotline for missing children. The anniversary of his disappearance, May 25, is designated as National Missing Children's Day.