Stunned hassidic community buries slain Brooklyn boy

Thousands of Hassidim gather at the funeral of Liebby Kletzky, 8, after his dismembered body was found by the NYPD after he disappeared.

Leibby Kletzky 311 (photo credit: NYPD)
Leibby Kletzky 311
(photo credit: NYPD)
NEW YORK – Thousands of Hassidim gathered in Borough Park, Brooklyn, on Wednesday night to bury eight-year-old Liebby Kletzky as new details about the boy’s grisly murder emerged.
Members of the religious community mourned the loss of Kletzky, whose dismembered body was found by police earlier in the day after he disappeared without a trace on Monday.
“Everyone is just beside themselves,” New York City Assemblyman Dov Hikind declared. “We’ve showed in the last two days what an incredible community this is. But you know what, one of our people committed this dastardly act.”
Hikind was referring to murder suspect Levi Aron, a 35- year-old Orthodox Jew with no criminal convictions.
Police found parts of Kletzky’s body in the refrigerator of Aron’s house, located less than 2 miles from the victim’s home.
They later recovered a suitcase containing the rest of the boy’s remains from a dumpster in the Sunset Park neighborhood.
According to investigators, the victim’s chance encounter with Aron took place outside a dentist’s office on Monday afternoon.
“A boy approached me on where the Judaica bookstore was,” Aron was quoted by NBC News as telling police.
“He was still there when I went out from the dentist’s office. He asked me for a ride to the Judaica book store.”
Aron reportedly told investigators the boy then changed his mind, and wasn’t sure where he wanted to go, so he took him to a wedding in Monsey, north of New York City.
Video footage showed Kletzky, who was on his way from day camp to meet his mother, talking to the suspect. The boy is then seen following Aron into a car.
Aron said when they returned to Brooklyn from Monsey, he discovered a massive search for the boy was under way. According to his own testimony, Aron panicked and killed the victim on Tuesday.
“That is when approximately I went for a towel to smother him in the side room,” Aron said. “He fought back a little bit until eventually he stopped breathing.”
Investigators said they doubted the suspect and victim went to Monsey and believed Kletzky was murdered on Monday, not Tuesday. The couple whose wedding the two allegedly attended said they did not recall seeing the boy.
Early on Wednesday, police knocked down the door of Aron’s house, where they found him waiting calmly. He directed them toward the refrigerator where police found the victim’s dismembered limbs wrapped in plastic bags.
“I understand this may be wrong and I’m sorry for the hurt that I have caused,” Aron said at the end of his statement.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke to reporters on Thursday about the alleged killer’s motives, saying he was baffled by the brutality of the slaying.
“It defies all logic, and I think that’s really what’s so terribly disturbing about this case,” he said. “There’s absolutely no reason. There’s nothing more innocent than an eightyear- old child.”
Customers at a kosher fish restaurant in the heart of Borough Park also expressed deep dismay.
“I hope this changes people’s routines,” said Yakov, the cashier. “But who could have predicted something like this would happen?” At the subway station on 50th Street, a Hassid named Avram related the tragedy to Tisha Be’av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar that takes place next month.
Such days of mourning had the effect of bringing people together, he said.
“If anything positive came out of this, it’s that people – not only members of the [hassidic] community – all worked together to find him,” he said. “Sadly, it ended the way it did. But it’s times like this that we have to pull together.”