Pedro Hernandez is charged with killing 6-year-old Etan Patz, who vanished without a trace in 1979

By Tara Fowler
Updated February 10, 2015 10:30 AM
Credit: Stanley K. Patz/AP

The ex-wife of the man suspected of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz says he told her he killed “a young man” before they got married.

Daisy Rivera testified on Monday that her ex, 53-year-old Pedro Hernandez, told her he strangled a “muchacho” – Spanish for “young man” – in New York, CBS News reports.

Rivera had only been dating Hernandez for a short time when he told her he didn’t want there to be any secrets between them, which was why he shared the “terrible” story, according to the New York Times.

“He said it had gotten out of hand and it ended up that he had put his hands around the person’s neck and he had strangled him,” Rivera testified. She said Hernandez told her he then disposed of the body in a dumpster.

She went on to say that after they were married, she discovered a picture of Etan in a shoebox.

Etan disappeared in 1979 while walking on the way to school. His body was never found.

More than three decades after Etan went missing, Hernandez was arrested for the boy’s murder after he confessed to strangling the young child in 2012.

But Hernandez’s lawyer has claimed that confession was false. “He has visions. He hears voices,” defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein said in his opening remarks last month. “He cannot distinguish between what is real and what is not.”

Rivera said that when she confronted Hernandez about the picture, he became nervous, the Times reports. “He explained to me that that child had disappeared within the area where he worked in New York City,” she said.

Earlier on Monday, another witness testified that Hernandez told him he had killed a child. “He had told me that he was working in a supermarket and a boy threw a ball at his throat and he lost it and he retaliated and strangled the kid,” 51-year-old Mark Pike, a childhood friend of Hernandez, said.

Pike added that he did not believe Hernandez at the time.