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, and his remains were found stuffed in a trash bin in the man’s refrigerator, police said Wednesday.
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 Hasidic boy ended with the discovery of his severed feet inside a bloody freezer at the home of a man who had been spotted with the child on a surveillance video, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. The rest of the remains were in the trash in another neighborhood.
“It is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The 35-year-old suspect, Levi Aron, implicated himself in the killing, Kelly said.
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 Aron told them he “panicked” when he saw photos of the missing boy on fliers that were distributed in the neighborhood.
Police were looking into whether Aron had a history of mental illness.
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.
Meanwhile, thousands gathered around a Borough Park synagogue for the boy’s funeral.