One of the nation's most influential missing-child cases is about to be laid out for a jury — again — as a retrial begins in New York for the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz.

Opening statements are set for Wednesday in a case that eluded investigators for decades, racheted up Americans' consciousness of missing children and now centers on whether a chilling confession was true.

A jury deadlocked last year on the murder and kidnapping charges against Pedro Hernandez, a former convenience store stock clerk in Etan's Manhattan neighborhood.

Prosecutors say Hernandez hid a brutal secret for more than 30 years. His lawyers say he's mentally ill and falsely confessed to waylaying and killing Etan as he walked to his school bus stop on May 25, 1979.

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Etan's 6-year-old face became one of the first missing children's portraits that Americans saw on milk cartons, and the anniversary of his disappearance became National Missing Children's Day. His parents helped push for a law that modernized how law enforcement handles missing-child cases.

But his body has never been found.