More than a dozen officers searched the New Jersey home of Pedro Hernandez on Wednesday afternoon. Police say Hernandez confessed last month to killing Etan Patz, after authorities received a tip that he was involved in the boy's disappearance.
According to police, Hernandez admitted to luring Patz into the basement of a grocery store, where he choked him. Hernandez was a 19-year-old clerk at the store at the time.
The child's remains have not been found.
The search surprised Hernandez's neighbors, who said they were surprised at his arrest because he was "not a problem" and "didn't bother anybody."
Patz went missing on his way to school on May 25, 1979. That was the first time his parents let him walk to the Manhattan bus stop by himself.
Hernandez's attorney said his client was bipolar and schizophrenic and had visual and auditory hallucinations. Hernandez has not entered a plea in the case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.