In NYC missing boy case, complex question of duty

FILE - This undated file photo provided by Stanley K. Patz shows his son Etan who vanished on May 25, 1979, and has never been found, after leaving his family's SoHo home for a short walk to his school bus stop in New York. A team of police officers and FBI agents were digging up the basement of a building in Manhattan Thursday, April 19, 2012, about a block from where the family lived, as part of a decades-old investigation into the disappearance of the boy. Authorities didn't say what evidence led them to that location. (AP Photo/Stanley K. Patz)

FILE - This undated file photo provided by Stanley K. Patz shows his son Etan who vanished on May 25, 1979, and has never been found, after leaving his family's SoHo home for a short walk to his school bus stop in New York. A team of police officers and FBI agents were digging up the basement of a building in Manhattan Thursday, April 19, 2012, about a block from where the family lived, as part of a decades-old investigation into the disappearance of the boy. Authorities didn't say what evidence led them to that location. (AP Photo/Stanley K. Patz)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Police and relatives of the man newly charged with murdering a New York City boy in 1979 have said the suspect told people decades ago that he killed a child.

That account raises a sensitive legal and philosophical question: What are people supposed to do with information like that?

In the U.S., relatives, friends and bystanders may well not be legally required to report such information to authorities. But ethics experts say people have a moral duty to do so.

New York City police learned just last month about Pedro Hernandez's alleged confession in a 1980s prayer group. Police say he then told them he'd strangled 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979.

Hernandez's lawyer has said his client is schizophrenic. Hernandez hasn't entered a plea.


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