Did Police Botch The Investigation In Etan Patz's Disappearance?

33 years after Etan Patz disappeared, questions are being raised about the man police say admitted to killing the boy. INSIDE EDITION explores if police let Pedro Hernandez slip through their fingers.

Did police botch the investigation into the disappearance of Etan Patz allowing the accused killer to remain free for 33 years?

Questions are being raised today about the thoroughness of the 1979 investigation, even though it was one of the highest profile missing child cases in American history.

Former federal prosecutor David Schwartz isn't pulling any punches.   

INSIDE EDITION's Diane McInerney asked, "How do you think the police handled the investigation 33 years ago?"

Schwartz said, "They blew it. They really blew it."

Pedro Hernandez, was identified as a potential witness back in 1979, but never interviewed.

One reporter asked Kelly, "Was he questioned in 1979?"

Kelly said, "No, he was not."

That seems incredible, given that Patz's short walk from his apartment to the school bus stop took him past the convenience store, known as a bodega, where Hernandez had just started working as a stock clerk.

On the day of his disappearance, little Patz told his mother he planned to buy a soda on his way to school. The store, now an eyeglass store, was an obvious place for police to investigate.
Kelly said, "I can't tell you why, 33 years ago, he wasn't questioned. We know other people in the bodega were questioned."

Another red flag was raised when Hernandez suddenly quit his job and vacated his apartment down the street from the Patz apartment just a month after the little boy vanished. Again, he was not questioned.

Schwartz said, "One must believe that if they interviewed Hernandez, Hernandez would have probably broken down, the same way he did break down 33 years later. And they would have gotten the confession, they would have been able to find the body, they would have been able to get physical evidence, and you would have had a case, 33 years ago."

Police searches also failed to find Patz's body, which Hernandez says he left in a trash bag on the street just blocks from Patz's home.