N.Y. Hasidic community in shock after missing boy, 8, found slain, dismembered
NEW YORK - An 8-year-old Brooklyn boy who got lost while walking home alone from day camp in his Orthodox Jewish neighborhood was killed and dismembered by a stranger he had asked for directions, police said yesterday, with his remains found stuffed in a trash bin and in the man’s refrigerator.
The gruesome killing of Leiby Kletzky shocked the tight-knit Hasidic community in Borough Park, in part because it is one of the safest sections of the city and because the man under arrest is himself an Orthodox Jew.
A day-and-a-half search for the boy ended with the discovery of his severed feet inside a bloody freezer at the home of a man who was seen with the child on a surveillance video, a law enforcement official said. The rest of the remains were in the trash in another neighborhood.
The suspect, Levi Aron, 35, implicated himself in the killing, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
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 that Aron told them he “panicked’’ when he saw photos of the missing boy on fliers.
Aron was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder. The medical examiner’s office said it was still investigating how the boy was killed.
The Hasidim are ultra-Orthodox Jews who live in somewhat insular neighborhoods. The streets are policed by a group of volunteers known as the Shomrim patrol.
Adel Erps, like other neighbors, expressed shock that the suspect was Jewish. “He’s a sick person obviously, but it hurts so much more,’’ she said.
Aron’s family was Orthodox but not Hasidic, and he lives about a dozen blocks away from the Kletzky family. When detectives arrived at his attic apartment around 2:40 a.m., they asked him where the boy was, and he nodded toward the kitchen, Kelly said.
Aron told police where to find the rest of the body, and it was discovered wrapped in a plastic bag inside a trash bin elsewhere in Brooklyn, Kelly said.
Police and volunteers had been looking since late Monday afternoon for Leiby, who disappeared while on his way to meet his mother on a street corner seven blocks from his day camp. This was the first time he was allowed to walk the route alone; his parents had taken him on a practice run Friday.