UPDATE: Friday morning, a spokesman in the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, confirmed that Levi Aron, the suspect in the murder and dismemberment of 8 year old Leibby Kletzky, is being held without bail on a charge of Murder in the First Degree and Kidnapping in the First Degree. Through his attorney, Pierre Bazile, he entered a plea of not guilty to both charges in the Brooklyn Criminal Courtroom of Judge William Miller on Thursday, July 14. At the arraignment, his attorney, Pierre Bazile, requested a psychiatric examination of Aron because of “serious concerns about the defendant’s mental state,” indicating the possibility of an insanity defense. Aron has claimed to be “hearing voices.” Aron is said to have been placed on suicide watch, and a request for protective custody was entered by Bazile. The suspect was ordered held without bail.
Throughout the close knit Brooklyn Chassidic community, the Jewish community, throughout the New York community, the community of parents, and the community of decent human beings, the shared heart is torn by the death of a child. The death of Leibby Kletzky is an especially horrific one, by the hand of an adult, who though unknown, was trusted because of his familiarity of appearance, because geography and fate brought a monster to a place this innocent child thought safe, the streets he called home.
A devastating end to a family’s terrible vigil came to a climax Wednesday night as a community gathered in deep grief. Mourners in shock streamed into a school courtyard Wednesday evening for the funeral of an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy abducted as he walked from camp to meet his mother. Leibby Kletzky was buried Wednesday. Thousands came to mourn him, to pay respects to a child who life was ended before it had barely begun. Family, friends, those who had never met him – gathered to bury eight-year-old Leibby Kletzky. The funeral, according to Orthodox Jewish custom, took place as soon as possible, hardly forty eight hours after he had left his day camp. Leiby’s father, Nachman Kletzky spoke, and through tears, recalled the “purity of heart” of his only son and thanked God for a “beautiful child” with a “beautiful soul.”
The Shiva, a seven day mourning period, began immediately following the burial. In the Boro Park community, everyone knows where to go to bring a modicum of comfort to the grieving family. Posted on the door of the family’s Boro Park apartment building is a sign that asks “Please be sensitive to the family. Do not share rumors, stories and information you have heard at all.”
The child was reported missing at 6 PM Monday. Members of the Shomrim and hundreds of volunteers were searching virtually immediately; officers of the NYPD were involved just hours later. By the time the NY State Department of Criminal Justice Services issued its Missing Child Alert 24 hours after his disappearance, Leibby Kletzsky was possibly dead. A community banded together to search for a child. People throughout the region, including the Algemeiner, were alerted by email, by signs posted throughout the neighborhood, or simply by word of mouth. By Tuesday afternoon the reward for information leading to the boy’s safe return had risen to $125,000.
The alleged child murderer was arrested in his East Second Street apartment in the Kensington, section of Brooklyn. According to police, when questioned about the boy, Aron implicated himself, pointing police to the kitchen of his attic apartment. Police found parts of the boys dismembered body and other evidence in the refrigerator, including a cutting board and three bloody carving knives. Aron then directed police to a dumpster in Greenwood Heights, near 20th Street and Fourth Avenue, where the remainder of the child’s body was found. Sources confirmed to ABC News that Aron made a full written and videotaped confession to authorities of how he used a towel to smother Leiby Kletzky, 8, and then dismembered the body.
At a Wednesday morning press conference, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly detailed the methods used by investigators to track Aron, including analysis of surveillance footage and records secured from a local dentist’s office. Police believe the child became lost on his way to meet his mother and encountered Aron at 18th Avenue and 44th Street. Tapes show an exchange between the child and Aron, who is seen going into a nearby dentist’s office around 5:30 p.m. Monday. He is gone for a seven minute period during which the child remains on the street. When Aron returns, video footage indicates that the boy entered a car later discovered to belong to Aron – its license plate number was noted by the Shomrim Patrol and provided to the NYPD. This, combined with records provided by the dentist, enabled police to find the killer.
According to police, Aron held the child in his apartment. He told detectives he “panicked” when he learned about the massive search and the missing person reports and then killed Leibby. “There is no indication that they boy knew Aron. It was happenstance and a terrible fate for this boy. This was a horrendous crime. We are extremely grateful for the support we received from the community. We extend are deepest condolences to the Kletzky family. This was a horrendous crime,” said Kelly.
The Police Commissioner said that NYPD had “no record of this man being reported as a pedophile.” Fox13 reported while in Memphis, Tennessee Aron worked as a security guard and for Kroger’s Market in Memphis, at the kosher delicatessen section. Some reports have indicated that he worked as a kosher butcher, but, according to Kroger’s butchering was not part of his work. He had moved there in 2006 following his marriage to former second wife, Debby Kivel, 34, who he met on a Jewish matchmaking Web site. “I am in shock,” she is quoted as saying in Memphis. “He loved children. My kids are now 13 and 10 . . . and he loved them.” She said they eventually divorced in 2007.” He had an order of protection filed against him in Shelby County in 2006. Police Commissioner Kelly said that NYPD Investigators will be contacting authorities in Tennessee.
Condolences came from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “As a father, I cannot begin to imagine the horrible heartbreak that Leiby Kletzky’s family is going through…This killing was a stunning shock to our entire city, and I ask all New Yorkers, including the thousands of individuals who volunteered to search for little Leibby, to keep the Kletzky family in their thoughts and prayers. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”
“Some things are just inexplicable,” said the Mayor. “A nine-year-old boy with a whole future, his life ahead of him and then gone. Obviously the perpetrator is a very sick individual, and this is the sort of thing — I don’t know what’s going to happen with the investigation, but it’s hard to see how something like this could’ve been prevented.”
Speaking to the Algemeiner following a Thursday meeting with the maternal grandparents of Leiby Kletzsky, Assemblyman Dov Hikind spoke of the recollections of the child by those who loved him. The boy, said his grandparents “was a special and wonderful child, a child who was always nice to people, and especially kind to the elderly – just a nice and lovely boy.” Said Hikind, “the bottom line is, what is a 35 year old doing picking up an 8 year old child? What was he going to do with him? What were his motives? From a common scene standpoint, Aron did not become a murderer at the moment. This story is not going away. In due time, we shall find out more.”
“We don’t want to destroy someone’s trust, their innocence, but when something like this can happen to a nine-year-old child by someone in this community, that is a wake-up call.” “It’s just a horror for every parent,” Hikind said. “I mean it’s just a tragedy today for everyone in New York.”
A statement purported to be part of the confession of Levy Aron was available on the internet on Thursday. However, a NYPD spokesman confirmed to the Algemeiner only that “the suspect has been charged with Murder Two in this particular incident” and is “still being interviewed by the NYPD detectives.”
Unofficial sources indicate that police do not believe that Kletzky is Aron’s first victim. “He cut up the body with such precision that investigators believe that he must have had previous unknown victims, and may very well be a child serial killer,” said one. The FBI is said to be investigating unsolved murders in Tennessee and New York. WABC news says police are investigating reports that Aron took the boy to a wedding in Monsey, N.Y. According to an unofficial Police Department source, there is an ongoing investigation of Aron’s possible ties to other missing children cases.
Speaking on AM New York, N.G. Berrill, director of New York Forensic, commented that “most of us gravitate to thinking that this fellow was a paedophile, who allegedly killed the child for sexual excitement or to prevent him from telling anyone about a sexual assault.” “The boy’s feet may have been kept as some sort of “trophy” or “prize,” possibly to be used for sexual gratification at a later time,” Berrill added.