Eight-year-old boy is killed and dismembered

A man accused of abducting and dismembering an eight-year-old Brooklyn boy told investigators that he suffocated the child with a towel after learning that thousands of volunteers were out searching for the youth, a law enforcement official said today.

Leiby Kletzky vanished late Monday afternoon after getting lost during what was supposed to have been a seven-block walk from his day camp to a meeting spot with his mother.



Investigators later used a surveillance video to trace the missing boy to Levi Aron, a hardware supply store clerk the boy had apparently asked for directions.



Detectives found the boy's severed feet, wrapped in plastic, in the man's freezer, as well as a cutting board and three bloody carving knives. A plastic garbage bag with bloody towels was nearby.



A law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation has not been completed, said that Aron also told investigators that after taking Leiby off the street and brining him to his home, he brought the boy to a wedding in the suburb of Monsey and spent several hours there Monday evening.



Investigators were trying to determine whether that was true. Detectives have been reviewing videotape from a wedding reception and interviewing guests, the law enforcement official said.



Aron told police he killed the child on Tuesday in a panic after learning that a massive search was under way.



Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hays said he plans to charge Aron with felony murder, and was also investigating whether he might have had any improper contact with children in the past.



Aron's lawyer, Pierre Bazile, said he expected his client to be arraigned on Thursday.



"From the Aron family, they'd like to extend their condolences to the family of the boy," he said, adding they would let the justice system work and would not make any further statements.



Thousands of mourners gathered in Brooklyn on Wednesday evening for the boy's funeral.



The Wednesday night service, held in an outdoor courtyard, drew a sea of men in black hats and coats and women in modest dresses — the traditional dress of the Hasidic Jews who call the neighborhood home. The overflow crowd packed neighboring streets to listen to the ceremony in Yiddish and Hebrew.



The funeral came just hours after police discovered Leiby's remains.



Leiby disappeared Monday afternoon while on his way to meet his mother on a street corner seven blocks from his day camp, the first time the young Hasidic child was allowed to walk the route alone. Authorities said he had evidently gotten lost after missing a turn, and had reached out to Aron, a stranger, for help.



The gruesome killing shocked the tight-knit Hasidic community in Borough Park, in part because it is one of the safest sections of the city and because Aron is himself an Orthodox Jew, although not Hasidic. The Hasidim are ultra-Orthodox Jews.



"This is a no-crime area," said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose district includes the area. "Everybody is absolutely horrified," he said.



While the medical examiner's office said it was still investigating how the boy was killed, the body was released so that the boy could be buried Wednesday evening according to Jewish custom.



Speakers at the funeral stressed the community's resilience and unity after what one called an unnatural death.



"This is not human," said Moses Klein, 73, a retired caterer who lives near the corner where the boy was last seen.



The break in the case came when investigators watched a grainy video that showed the boy, wearing his backpack, getting into a car with a man outside a dentist's office. Detectives tracked the dentist down at his home in New Jersey, and he remembered someone coming to pay a bill. Police identified Aron using records from the office, and 40 minutes later he was arrested, shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday.



Aron told police where to find the rest of the body; it was in pieces, wrapped in plastic bags, inside a red suitcase that had been tossed into a trash bin in another Brooklyn neighborhood, Kelly said.



Police said there was no evidence the boy was sexually assaulted, but they would not otherwise shed any light on a motive except to say Aron told them he "panicked" when he saw photos of the missing boy on fliers that were distributed in the neighborhood. Police were looking into whether Aron had a history of mental illness.



Police said Aron, who is divorced, lives alone in an attic in a building shared with his father and uncle.



Kelly said it was "totally random" that Aron grabbed the boy, and aside from a summons for urinating in public, he had no criminal record.



He lived most of his life in New York and worked as a clerk at a hardware supply store around the corner from his home, authorities said. Co-workers said Aron was at work on Tuesday.



"He seemed a little troubled," said employee Chamin Kramer, who added Aron usually came and went quietly.



Aron lived briefly in Memphis, Tenn., and his ex-wife, Deborah Aron, still lives in the area. She said he never showed signs of violence toward her two children from a previous relationship.



"It's utter disbelief," she said from the toy-littered backyard of her home in the Memphis suburb of Germantown. "This ain't the Levi I know."



Deborah Aron said the couple divorced about four years ago after a year of marriage. She described Levi Aron as a person who was shy until he got to know you and said he enjoyed music, karaoke and "American Idol." She said he attended Orthodox Jewish services in Memphis.



He was "more of a mother's boy than a father's boy," who lived at home until he met her, she said.



She said Levi injured his head when he was hit by a car while riding his bike at the age of 9 and suffered problems stemming from that accident.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map