By John Bacon, USA TODAY
New York police are questioning a New Jersey man in connection with the disappearance of Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy who made national news more than 30 years ago when he vanished as he walked to the school bus.
"An individual now in custody has made statements to NYPD detectives implicating himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz 33 years ago. We expect to provide further details later today," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.
NBC 4 New York and other news outlets, citing undisclosed law enforcement sources, report today that police picked the man up late Wednesday and brought him to New York City for questioning.
The station also warns that some NYPD officials are skeptical about the man's story, noting that he lived and worked in Patz's Manhattan neighborhood when the boy disappeared but had not provided details that would lead them to Patz's body.
The disappearance and search for Etan brought widespread attention to the issue of missing children. His face was among the first to appear on milk cartons, and in 1983, President Reagan declared May 25, the date he vanished, as National Missing Children's Day.
Last month, FBI agents and New York City police searched a basement near where Patz had lived. A cadaver dog had picked up the potential scent of human remains. FBI and police officials didn't say then what led them to the site.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said then that no remains were found and that "the search has formally ended."
The now-vacant 13-by-62-foot area, which once housed the workspace of a handyman who knew the boy, is on the route Etan should have taken to the bus stop.
AP notes that Etan's parents, Stan and Julie Patz, were reluctant to move or even change their phone number in case their son tried to reach out. They still live in the same apartment, down the street from the building that was examined in April.