NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Brooklyn man was under arrest on Wednesday after the dismembered remains of a boy who had gotten lost two days earlier walking home from camp were found in the man’s freezer and a trash container, police said.
Leibby Kletzky, 8, was supposed to meet his family on Monday on his walk home from day camp in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood but never arrived, police said.
A search by police and members of the neighborhood’s tightly knit Orthodox Jewish community led authorities to the apartment of suspect Levi Aron early on Wednesday, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at a news conference.
There they found what were believed to be the boy’s remains and determined that Aron killed and dismembered him, he said.
The boy seemed to have lost his way and had asked Aron, 35, a stranger he met on the street, for directions, Kelly said.
“He was trying to find his way apparently,” said Kelly, adding: “This is every parent’s nightmare. That’s what makes this so horrific.”
Surveillance tapes show the boy getting into Aron’s car, he said.
Confronted by police in his apartment, Aron pointed to his kitchen, where blood was visible on the handles of the freezer, Kelly said. Inside was a bloodied cutting board, three knives and body parts believed to be the boy‘s.
Statements from Aron led police to the trash container about two-and-a-half-miles away, where more remains were found, wrapped in a plastic garbage bag, Kelly said.
The killing appeared to be totally random, and the suspect did not know the boy or his family, Kelly said.
“It was just happenstance and a terrible fate for this young boy.”
The boy apparently was alive until Aron saw the activity and extent of the search conducted by the police and the community, Kelly said.
“He panicked and that’s why he killed the boy,” Kelly said, citing statements from the suspect.
Kelly said the search had been a “full-court press” by police, members of the community and a neighborhood patrol.
The boy was to turn 9-years-old next week, he said.
Surveillance tapes show the boy encountering Aron outside a dentist’s office, where police determined Aron had just paid a bill. They traced his identity through the dentist’s records.
The boy’s parents had agreed to let him walk by himself seven blocks from camp to a meeting point halfway home, Kelly said. They walked the route with him last Friday, he said.
“Parents have to make certain judgments. There’s no easy answer. It’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy.”
Charges were pending, Kelly said. Aron did not have a criminal record and works as a clerk at a maintenance supply company in Brooklyn, he said
Asked if the suspect was a member of the same religious community as the victim, Kelly said: “He had all of the trappings of being an Orthodox Jew.”
Aron lives in the attic apartment of a three-story house owned by his family.
“I don’t think there is anyone in this world that can comprehend what just happened,” said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who helped search for the boy.
“In a neighborhood like ours where our crime rate is almost nonexistent, where a boy disappears and is brutally murdered is beyond comprehension.”
Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Basil Katz; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Jerry Norton