Outrage in Brooklyn's Jewish quarter over boy's grisly killing

The suspect Levi Aron has reportedly made a written confession to killing Leiby Kletzky, a boy who had got lost while walking home and had to ask for directions

A Brooklyn man accused of abducting a young boy from a street corner this week and later chopping him up into small pieces was charged with first degree murder and kidnapping in a New York court last night while the Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood where the victim lived struggled to grasp the horror of his death.

The suspect, Levi Aron, 35, entered no plea and was held without bail. He had reportedly already given a written confession, obtained by a local NBC station and posted on its web site. “I understand this may be wrong and I’m sorry for the hurt that I have caused,” he wrote. Police are investigating whether he might be behind other unsolved child killings or disappearances.

Hours after the dismembered body of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky, the son of a Hasidic Jewish family, was found by police in two locations, thousands of mourners gathered in the Borough Park neighbourhood of Brooklyn for his funeral service. Straining to hear a service in Hebrew and Yiddish, the congregation of mostly Hasidic Jews – men with beards and black hats and women in modest black clothing – filled the streets for several blocks.

The child, who was soon to turn nine, vanished on Monday afternoon after leaving a summer camp not far from his home. He had received permission from his parents for the first time to make some of the walk home on his own, having earlier memorised the route with them. It seems he missed a turning, got lost and eventually asked a stranger for directions. The man he chose to trust, police say, was Mr Aron.

"It's gruesome, it's an absolute horror, really, it can make you sick. This is the worst possible conclusion," said Dov Hifkind, a member of the state assembly who has represented Borough Park for three decades. The crime was the most shocking he had seen in all those years, but he said he was proud of the response of his community.

People from other mostly Jewish enclaves as far away as Boston, upstate New York and New Jersey had rushed to Brooklyn 36 hours earlier to join the search for the boy after his family reported him missing. The area quickly filled with voluntary search groups and was festooned with flyers.

The news that he had been found dead and, perhaps almost as shocking to some, that the man accused of his murder was also Jewish, came unexpectedly quickly. The killing has upended a jealously held belief among residents of Borough Park that theirs is one of the safest areas in New York City, in part because the Jewish community has its own neighbourhood watch supplementing police patrols.

Investigators got an early break after obtaining surveillance video tapes clearly showing a lost Leiby Kletzky approaching the suspect. Mr Aron then briefly stopped by a dentist's office to pay a bill before heading off with the boy in his car.

According to his confession, he took him to a wedding that evening north of the city before returning to his attic apartment in his parent's house later that same evening.

After tracking Mr Aron with help from the dentist's office, police arrived at the apartment in the early hours of yesterday. When they asked where the boy was, Mr Aron allegedly pointed to his fridge. It had blood on the handle and the police found the feet of the victim inside, as well as two knives and a chopping board. The suspect directed them to a skip in another part of Brooklyn where they found a suitcase containing the rest of the boy's body parts.

Police said that they had no evidence the child had been sexually abused and had not been able to find a motive for the killing. In his alleged confession note, however, Mr Aron suggests that he smothered the boy with a towel after realising that his entire neighbourhood was searching for the missing boy.

"When I saw the flyers I panicked and was afraid. When I got home he was still there so I made him a tuna sandwich... I was still in a panic... and afraid to bring him home. That is when I went for a towel to smother him in the side room. He fought back a little bit until eventually he stopped breathing."

The suspect, who is divorced, was employed by a Brooklyn building supplies company and apparently turned up for work as normal on Tuesday. His boss, Michael Panzer, described Mr Aron as a little "emotionally disturbed", but there had been nothing about to him to hint at what he is alleged to have done. He displayed "nothing to give any sign of anything happening," he added.

During his married years, Mr Aron lived in Tennessee where he worked, among other things, as a butcher.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Recruitment Genius: Invoicing Clerk

£14500 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are contractors to...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Administrator / Marketing Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of packag...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy