NEW YORK — Police returned on Wednesday to the site of a former grocery store to look for evidence in the 1979 disappearance of a 6-year-old boy.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne confirmed that investigators searched the retail space in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, where the alleged abductor of Etan Patz once worked.

Police returned to examine an area that wasn't looked at on earlier visits, Browne said. The effort, he added, "wasn't based on any new information."

Browne declined to discuss what, if anything, was found.

Pedro Hernandez has been charged in the slaying of Patz, one of the first missing children whose picture ever appeared on a milk carton. He remains held without bail.

Hernandez was a teenage stock clerk at the convenience store – now an eyeglass shop – when Etan disappeared on his way to school on May 25, 1979, a date that would later be commemorated as National Missing Children's Day. A judge in 2001 declared the boy dead, but his body has never been found.

Hernandez's sister has said she heard secondhand that he told a church prayer group in the 1980s that he killed a child in New York City. But Hernandez, now 51, wasn't eyed as a suspect in Etan's disappearance until last month, when a tipster contacted police.

Police say Hernandez, of Maple Shade, N.J., told investigators he lured the boy into the shop with the promise of a soda. He allegedly said he led the child to the basement, choked him and left his body in a bag of trash about a block away.

Court dates in the case have been put on hold as doctors evaluate Hernandez's mental fitness for trial and investigators seek more evidence beyond his alleged confession.

"There remains an enormous amount of energy and investigative efforts devoted to the case," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said when asked about it at an unrelated news conference last week.

Defense attorney Harvey Fishbein has described Hernandez as bipolar and schizophrenic, with a history of hallucinations. The lawyer declined to comment Wednesday.

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Associated Press Writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • CORRECTS YEAR OF KELLY'S STATEMENT - This undated file image provided Friday, May 28, 2010 by Stanley K. Patz shows a flyer distributed by the New York Police Department of Patz's son Etan who vanished in New York on May 25, 1979. New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday May 24, 2012, that a person who's in custody has implicated himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz, (AP Photo/Courtesy NYPD/file) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES, FOR USE ONLY IN ILLUSTRATING EDITORIAL STORIES REGARDING THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ETAN PATZ OR OTHER MISSING CHILDREN

  • Stan Patz, father of missing child Etan Patz, arrives at his home in SoHo, Friday, May 25, 2012, in New York. New life has been breathed into the case after Pedro Hernandez implicated himself in the death of 6-year-old Etan Patz, whose disappearance 33 years ago on his way to school helped launch a missing children's movement that put kids' faces on milk cartons. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • Supporters of the Patz family leave flowers on their doorstep in SoHo, Friday, May 25, 2012, in New York. New life has been breathed into the missing child case of Etan Patz after Pedro Hernandez implicated himself in the 6-year-old's death, whose disappearance 33 years ago on his way to school helped launch a missing children's movement that put kids' faces on milk cartons. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • Stan Patz, father of missing child Etan Patz, arrives at his home in SoHo, Friday, May 25, 2012, in New York. New life has been breathed into the case after Pedro Hernandez implicated himself in the death of 6-year-old Etan Patz, whose disappearance 33 years ago on his way to school helped launch a missing children's movement that put kids' faces on milk cartons. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • 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)

  • Raymond Kelly

    New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks during a news conference Thursday, May 24, 2012, in New York. Pedro Hernandez has implicated himself in the death of 6-year-old Etan Patz, whose disappearance 33 years ago on his way to school helped launch a missing children's movement that put kids' faces on milk cartons. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A woman speaks to a reporter through a door at 116 E. Linwood Ave., Apt. B, in Maple Shade, N.J., Thursday, May 24, 2012. The woman, who would not identify herself said that it is the home of Pedro Hernandez, who is in custody in the disappearance of Etan Patz in 1979. Hernandez has implicated himself in the death of Patz, police said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • A house, left, at 116 E. Linwood Ave., is seen in Maple Shade, N.J., Thursday, May 24, 2012. A woman who would not identify herself, answered the door at Apt. B, door left, back of house, and said that it is the home of Pedro Hernandez, who is in custody in the disappearance of Etan Patz in 1979. Hernandez has implicated himself in the death of Patz, police said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • 448 West Broadway

    The site of the alleged 1979 abduction, pictured in 2011

  • Deputy Police Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne speaks to the media Monday, April 23, 2012 in New York. Authorities on Monday finished excavating the Manhattan basement in connection to the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz. three decades ago without finding any obvious human remains, law enforcement officials said Monday. FBI and police had been searching the former workspace of a handyman since Thursday, after a cadaver-sniffing dog detected the scent of possible human remains. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

  • The last dumpster with material from the basement of 127 Prince Street is removed from the scene, Monday April 23, 2012, in New York. Authorities say no obvious signs of human remains have been found in a Manhattan basement being searched in connection with the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

  • Investigators work the crime scene in connection to the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old boy Etan Patz in New York, Sunday, April 22, 2012. Heavy rains expected in the region halted the investigation on Sunday, but work in the basement is expected to resume Monday morning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Investigators remove debris from the basement of a building on the corner of Wooster Street and Prince Street in the Manhattan borough of New York on Saturday, April 21, 2012 during a renewed investigation into the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz. Patz vanished after leaving his family's home for a short walk to his school bus stop. NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne says the building being searched for his remains is about a block from where the family lived. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A note is posted at the Prince Street loft of Stan and Julie Patz, Monday, April 23, 2012, in New York. Authorities on Monday finished excavating the Manhattan basement in connection to the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz without finding any obvious human remains, law enforcement officials said Monday. FBI and police had been searching the former workspace of a handyman since Thursday, after a cadaver-sniffing dog detected the scent of possible human remains. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)