Following the emergence of details related to the dismemberment of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky, who went missing while walking to meet his mother after day camp, suspect Levi Aron was officially charged with murder Wednesday night.
The 35-year-old Brooklyn man admitted to killing and dismembering Kletzky, and investigators have found the boy's remains in two separate locations in the borough.
Members of the surrounding community reacted to the news with shock.
Calling the incident "every parent's nightmare," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters that around 2:40 a.m. detectives found Levi Aron standing shirtless in the middle of a small apartment in the Kensington section of Brooklyn.
When the detectives asked Aron where the boy was, Kelly said Aron nodded to his kitchen, where investigators found a refrigerator containing bloody knives and human remains.
Other suspected parts of the Borough Park boy's body were discovered early Wednesday morning wrapped in black plastic garbage bags inside a red suitcase in a dumpster in Sunset Park, about 2.5 miles from the suspect's home.
"Detectives observed blood on the freezer handle of the refrigerator. Inside the refrigerator was a cutting board with three carving knives with blood on them. Some of the remains were in the freezer and others in the dumpster two-and-a-half miles away," said Kelly.
Aron told investigators that he "panicked" once he realized that police were looking for the child and then killed the boy, according to the police commissioner.
The fatal chance encounter started when Leiby, who was one week away from his ninth birthday, was returning to his mother along a prearranged seven-block route from Boyan Day Camp on 44th Street and 12th Avenue in Borough Park around 5 p.m. Monday.
However, surveillance video from the area shows the boy was wandering lost, and Kelly said Leiby approached Aron for directions.
Kelly does not believe that Leiby knew the suspect, but the boy agreed to enter Aron's brown 1990 Honda Accord.
Authorities believe that surveillance video shows the boy walking with Aron and waiting while the suspect briefly entered a dentist's office to pay a bill.
Officials entered the dentist's office at 2 o'clock this morning, found the suspect's address in dental records and went immediately to Aron's home, where they made the grisly discovery.
"This is a horrible crime and we are extremely grateful for the support we received from the community," said Kelly, who also expressed condolences for the Kletzky family.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes told NY1 that he wants to present the case before a Kings County grand jury and have jurors consider the maximum legal charges.
Details On Suspect Slowly Emerge
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Aron had a prior criminal summons for public urination, and now authorities are trying to find out more about the suspect.
Aron, who is believed to be an orthodox Jew, was originally from Brooklyn but spent some time in Memphis before moving back to the borough two years ago.
He was employed at a Brooklyn maintenance supply company and lived in the same house as his parents and uncle.
A long-time neighbor of Aron described the suspect as a quiet loner.
"My brother lives across the street with five kids. I can't imagine that somebody on his block, who I grew up with, could do such a horrible thing," said Shimi Kaplan, who knew Aron. "I'm, like, beyond words."
Neighbors gathered today in front of the Borough Park residence of the Kletzky family and members of the area's close-knit Hasidic Jewish community were sickened and shocked that the two-day search for the boy ended this way.
"A thing like this is an unbelievable thing. You couldn't think of it, it couldn't come to the mind, that somebody could do a thing like this," said a local.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who helped lead the search for Leiby, said it is hard to comprehend what happened, but said he was heartened by how people from many communities gathered in Borough Park to search for the boy.
The assemblyman said patrol members included people from as far as the Catskills and the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Monsey, N.Y. and even a group of 20 Pakistanis.
Other elected officials, including Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the area's representative, released statements expressing horror for the crime and sympathy for the boy's family.
“When news of Leiby’s disappearance broke, I joined my constituents and parents everywhere in a sense of fear and concern, mixed with a powerful hope that he would be found unharmed. Today, I am speechless and shocked by the brutality and injustice of this horrific crime," Nadler said. "As a father and a human being, I am deeply saddened that so innocent a soul could be so cruelly taken. I join my constituents in Borough Park and people everywhere in wishing the Kletzky family strength and blessings to heal from this awful tragedy.”
Leiby is survived by three sisters. His funeral was held Wednesday night in Borough Park.