NEW YORK (AP) — The timing couldn't have been more symbolic: On the eve of National Missing Children's Day, police said they'd at last cracked the case that started it — the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz.
After decades of inconclusive clues and stalled hopes, a former convenience-store stock clerk was arrested Thursday on a charge of murdering Etan, one of the first missing children ever to appear on a milk carton. He vanished while walking to his school bus stop alone for the first time.
Pedro Hernandez, 51, told investigators this week he lured the little boy into the shop with the promise of a soda, then led him to the basement, choked him and put his body in a bag with some trash about a block away, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Investigators hadn't determined any motive, he said.
Kelly said there is no physical evidence. But authorities say they have a detailed, signed confession, as well as accounts of incriminating remarks Hernandez made to others.
Hernandez didn't yet have a lawyer, police said. An arraignment was expected Friday afternoon.
Maine churches taking collections to fund foes of gay marriage ballot question
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Scores of Maine churches will pass the collection plate a second time at Sunday services on Father's Day to kick off a fundraising campaign for the lead opposition group to November's ballot question asking voters to legalize same-sex marriages.
Between 150 and 200 churches are expected to raise money for the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee, said Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine evangelical organization and a member of the PAC. Conley is also trying to drum up support for the Maine campaign from religious leaders from around the country.
It's unusual, but not unheard of, for churches to take up collections for political causes. Maine's Catholic diocese says it raised about $80,000 with a designated collection in 2009 in its effort to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law, which was passed by the Legislature that year and later rejected by voters. The Catholic church isn't actively campaigning this time, instead focusing on teaching parishioners about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman Father's Day, June 17, seemed an appropriate time to kick off this year's fundraising campaign because of the day's focus on family, Conley said. Additional collection-plate offerings at churches are expected in the months ahead.
"The messaging we're using is that those who are seeking to redefine marriage in Maine believe there's no difference between moms and dads," Conley told The Associated Press. "We believe those differences are relevant. We don't think the differences in the genders are societally imposed roles, and we believe that children benefit when they're in that ideal environment where there's a mom and dad."
Protect Marriage Maine has been in contact with about 800 churches across the state and expects 150 to 200 to participate in the Father's Day collections, Conley said. They include Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Church of God, Wesleyan, Evangelical Free, Advent Christian and other denominations.
Political and emotional backlash against swelling number of African migrants in Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) — Recent rapes blamed on African migrants have ignited a political and emotional backlash against their ballooning numbers, with Israelis and their leaders stridently — and in an alarming new development, violently — calling for their expulsion.
Israel, bound by an international refugees treaty it ardently promoted, doesn't seem to have that option, and the gap between rhetoric and reality threatens to send simmering social antagonisms boiling over into open conflict.
It has raised questions, relevant all over the developed world, about how much is owed to the impoverished migrants who manage to sneak in.
Over the past seven years, as many as 60,000 African migrants, most from Sudan and Eritrea, have slipped across Israel's border with Egypt, exploiting the lack of a physical barrier and widespread lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula that has been one result of the fall last year of longtime Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Israel is erecting a barrier along the roughly 200 kilometers (125 miles) of border. While this work drags on, the migrants continue to arrive at a rate of about 1,000 a month, ragged and penniless, with some reporting being raped, tortured and extorted by the Bedouins who smuggle them through.