Federal Bureau of Investigation and NYPD law enforcement officials search a SoHo basement at the corner of Wooster and Prince streets for the possible remains of missing child Etan Patz as part of a decades-old investigation into the disappearance of Patz, on Thursday, April 19, 2012 in New York. Etan was last seen near the search location on his way to school in 1979. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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 - In this March 17, 1980 file photo, Stan and Julie Patz stand on the 2nd-floor fire escape of the of their loft in the Soho neighborhood of New York. Below them runs Prince Street, along which Etan, their 6-year-old son, set off to school on May 25, 1979, and has not been seen since. On Thursday, April 19, 2012, a team of police officers and FBI agents started to begin tearing apart the basement of a building about a block from where the family lived as part of the decades-old investigation into the disappearance of the boy. Authorities have not said whatevidence led them to that location. (AP Photo/Marty Reichenthal, File)
FBI and NYPD law enforcement officials search a SoHo basement at the corner of Wooster and Prince streets for the possible remains of missing child Etan Patz on Thursday, April 19, 2012 in New York. Patz vanished in 1979 after leaving his family�s SoHo home for a short walk to his school bus stop. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says the building being searched is about a block from where the family lived. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
In this 1979 photo provided by the New York City Police Department shows a missing child poster for Etan Patz. New York City Police and the FBI began digging up a New York basement Thursday, April 19, 2012 for the remains of the 6-year-old boy whose 1979 disappearance on his way to school drew helped launch a missing children's movement that put kids' faces on milk cartons. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City police commissioner said Thursday a person who's in custody has implicated himself in the death of Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy whose disappearance 33 years ago on his way to school helped launch a missing children's movement that put kids' faces on milk cartons.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement that further details would be released later Thursday.
Etan vanished on May 25, 1979, while walking alone to his school bus stop for the first time, two blocks from his home in New York's SoHo neighborhood.
There was an exhaustive search by the police and a crush of media attention. The boy's photo was one of the first of a missing child on a milk carton. Thousands of fliers were plastered around the city, buildings canvassed, hundreds of people interviewed. SoHo was not a neighborhood of swank boutiques and galleries as now, but of working-class New Yorkers rattled by the news.
The April excavation of a Manhattan basement yielded no obvious human remains and little forensic evidence that would help solve the decades-long mystery of what happened to the boy.
His 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. They have endured decades of false leads, and a lack of hard evidence.
The family did not immediately return a message requesting comment.
Etan's disappearance touched off a massive search that has ebbed and flowed over the years. It also ushered in an era of anxiety about leaving children unsupervised.
In the past, the case seemed to have been largely focused on Jose Ramos, a convicted child molester, now serving time in Pennsylvania, who had been dating Etan's baby sitter at the time the boy disappeared. In 2000, authorities dug up Ramos' former basement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but nothing turned up.
Stan Patz had his son declared legally dead in 2001 so he could sue Ramos, who has never been charged criminally and denies harming the boy. A civil judge in 2004 found him to be responsible for Etan's death.
More recently, the focus had shifted to a 75-year-old Brooklyn resident, though he was not named a suspect and denied any involvement. In 1979, he was a handyman who had a workspace in the basement where the April excavation occurred.