NEW YORK (PIX11)—The SoHo neighborhood at the vortex of the Etan Patz disappearance and now murder scene is trying to come to grips with its new-found infamy.
Today, tourists stroll by luxury goods storefronts as the Crime Scene Unit rolls up at 448 West Broadway. The J.E. Rey glasses store used to be a neighborhood bodega where the then 18 year old Pedro Hernandez was stocking shelves in 1979, and where he ultimately lured 6 year old Etan Patz to his murder.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the confession of Hernandez saying he promised the boy a soda, took him down the stairs to the basement, strangled Patz, put his body in a bag and threw it away as garbage a block and half away.
Today, small memorials are being built to mark the life and death of Etan Patz. One at the family's Prince Street loft building, the other at the former bodega.
Many neighbors spent a few moments remembering the 6 year old boy whose disappearance gripped New York exactly 33 years ago. "Rest In Peace, God Bless You," reads one hastily written note on the steps to the family's home.
But others in the neighborhood have grown weary of an unwanted spotlight to their SoHo neighborhood. The owner of J.E. Rey picked up flowers laid at his front door, and angrily threw them away, muttering, "I'm sick of this sh*t!" as reporters snapped photos of his tirade.
But the store and it's murder scene in the basement were taken over a short time later by the NYPD Crime Scene Unit for photographing.
Hernandez lived across the street from the bodega at 438 West Broadway, until he fled to New Jersey a month later. His sister and nephew still live here. As this reporter approached the door's buzzers to speak with them, a neighbor angrily grabbed the PIX11 photographer's camera demanding we, "Stop ringing the bells."
Neighbors have been reacting angrily at the exposure of sharing an address with a now-infamous confessed killer.
But others, some whom weren't even born when the disappearance made headlines, feel relief for the Patz family after Hernandez tearfully confessed on video, and in writing.
Ely Felliche manages a local restaurant, "I think finally they could rest in peace in a way, and move on."
Etan's parents Julie and Stan Patz have not spoken about their son's murder in some time. PIX11 Reporter James Ford tried while the FBI was digging up a basement a few doors away from the Patz home in April. Stan politely shared a few words, "I can't talk about it," was all Mr. Patz could manage. No evidence was discovered during the multi-day dig.
The family was in Massachusettes when they got word of Hernandez's confession. They were celebrating a daughter's graduation from the Master's Program at Harvard. The Patzes also have a son. Etan would have now been 39 years old.