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.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star