The discovery of the dismembered body of a missing 8-year-old Brooklyn boy and confession of a fellow Orthodox Jew has stunned the city, particularly the tight-knit Hasidic community where they lived.
“Everybody is absolutely horrified,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose district includes the Borough Park neighborhood. “Everyone is in total shock, beyond belief, beyond comprehension.”
Leiby Kletzky’s feet and other body parts were found severed in the bloody freezer of suspect Levi Aron, who was arrested at 2:40 a.m. Wednesday after a trail led police to his attic apartment in Kensington, police said.
Cops found the rest of the boy’s body, which was wrapped in a trash bag, stuffed into a red suitcase and left in an auto repair shop dumpster about two miles away, authorities said.
Aron, a stock clerk who turned 35 yesterday, was charged with second-degree murder, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
Reports said Aron allegedly suffocated the boy with a bathroom towel before dismembering him. The medical examiner’s office had not announced a cause of death.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said three knives in a butcher block were found inside Aron's apartment.
Kelly also said “there is no indication at this time that the victim was known to the suspect previously … It was just happenstance and a terrible fate for this young boy.”
As for motive, Kelly said Aron told police that he “panicked” when he realized there was a massive search for Kletzky.
Police and hundreds of members of the Orthodox community canvassed the area for the boy, who had left his day-school camp on 44th Street at about 5 p.m. Monday. It was the first time his parents allowed him to leave the school alone, and he was supposed to walk seven blocks to meet his mother.
Kletzky, however, got lost and ran into Aron, who asked the boy to wait while he paid a bill at a dentist’s office, surveillance video showed. Kletzky then got into Aron’s car, Kelly said.
The video of the car and dentist office records led police to Aron, who showed them where the boy’s body was in the house that he shared with his parents and brother.
Kletzky "was a happy little boy. He was swinging his arms (in the video). He walked to his death," said Joel Berkovic, 26, of Borough Park. That the murder suspect is Jewish "is adding salt to the wound. Honestly, I don't think this guy can be Jewish. He's a monster."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that "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 ... to keep the Kletzky family in their thoughts and prayers."
(With Emily Ngo)