Leiby Kletzky may not be the first boy targeted for harm by accused child killer Levi Aron in a tight-knit Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, N.Y., The Daily has learned.
A source close to the shomrim, a neighborhood watch group in the Jewish community, told The Daily that the patrol had been warned about Aron after he allegedly stalked an 11-year-old boy in the past two weeks.
The boy “was walking home on his own block when he noticed a gold car was tailing him,” the source told The Daily. “He kept turning around, feeling suspicious, and kept noticing the car was there, so he broke into a run and quickly went home to tell his parents.”
The car is believed to be Aron’s 1990 Honda, the source said. Leiby, just days short of his ninth birthday, disappeared Monday evening after getting lost on a short walk home from his day camp. Surveillance video showed him talking to a man, and then leaving with him in a gold-colored Honda.
It was unclear if police had been informed about the earlier incident. When asked by the Daily about it, Yankel Daskel, one of the head shomrim coordinators in the neighborhood of Borough Park, said the community has a problem with filing police reports.
“This specific case I am not familiar with, but this does happen often and we do the best we can to service the community,” said Daskel, who has been volunteering for shomrim for more than 26 years. “You need to remember that we are only volunteers. We patrol the neighborhood, and while we encourage everyone to file a police report when something happens, we can’t make them do anything.”
Binyomin Lifshitz, a shomrim volunteer from a neighboring community, spent the last two days combing the streets for Leiby. He said the Hasidic community tends to trust only in the shomrim for policing protection.
The “majority of Jews here are from Eastern European descent, and they have an ingrained lack of trust with authority,” Lifshitz said. “Everyone is taught to go to the shomrim, and not the police because they identify more with us so we fill the gap.”
This statement which was also parroted by some other macher is not true. The reason they will not go to the police is, they are afraid of mesirah or the wrath of the rabbonimThe reclusive Aron may be delusional, his attorney said in court yesterday. He was described by neighbors as someone to stay away from because of his volatile temper and apparent preoccupation with young boys.
Some who live near his tiny, attic apartment in Brooklyn’s Kensington section said Aron constantly visited playgrounds and tried to give children rides in his battered Honda.
Kletzky’s dismembered body was found Wednesday in the cramped Brooklyn apartment of Aron, who pleaded not guilty yesterday to felony first-degree murder and kidnapping charges.
Looking haggard and pale, Aron was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court, where he entered a plea of not guilty. He was held without bail and ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam after his lawyer said he may be mentally ill.
“He has indicated to me that he hears voices and has had some hallucinations,” attorney Pierre Bazile said. “His demeanor is not good,” Bazile said. Aron was placed under suicide watch.
If convicted, Aron could face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 28.
A former kosher butcher, Aron was jeered and scorned yesterday inside and outside court. He was led in handcuffs yesterday morning from the 67th Precinct to an unmarked police car for his trip to court. As officers pushed him into the back seat, onlookers screamed “Murderer!” and slammed their fists on the idling car. As it pulled away, uniformed police had to hold back neighbors trying to swarm the car.
Later, as he entered court, other inmates could be heard yelling obscenities at him from the courtroom holding pens.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said yesterday Aron has written a 450-word confession on yellow legal paper, admitting kidnapping, smothering and dismembering the young boy, but denying sexually molesting him.
Aron, on audio and video, spoke in flat, unemotional tones and at times broke into inexplicable laughter, Kelly said. He displayed no remorse.
“I understand this may be wrong and I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused,” wrote the current hardware store clerk whom co-workers and neighbors described as creepy and prone to furious outbursts.
The boy apparently died from being suffocated or strangled, Kelly said. Further forensic testing results are pending. He apparently fought back. Aron was treated yesterday for scratches and bruises on his hands and arms.
Investigators said the boy’s hands had indentation marks consistent with being tied up, and he may have been tied to the couch.
Aron claimed he picked up the lost boy Monday evening. The 8-year-old asked to be taken to an nearby Jewish bookstore, Aron said in the handwritten confession. But Leiby “changed his mind and wasn’t sure where he wanted go. So I asked if he wanted to go for the — a wedding ... Monday — since I didn’t think I was going to stay for the whole thing since my back was hurting.”
Police are skeptical about some details in Aron’s account, including the claim that Aron took Lieby to the wedding. Those who attended the Monday evening ceremony, in Spring Valley in upstate New York, said Aron was there, but they didn’t remember a young boy with him.
Leiby may have been left hog-tied in Aron’s apartment, investigators said.
Aron said it was late when he returned from the service, and he told the boy, “I’d bring him to his house the next day.”
But Leiby never went home again. Instead, Aron smothered him with a towel, according to his confession, after becoming “panicked” at the thousands of Hasidic Jews who were scouring Borough Park and surrounding areas looking for the little boy.
Aron cut up Leiby’s remains, he wrote, and placed some items in his freezer and dumped others about two miles away. Some of the confession details of the disemberment were so gruesome and explicit that Kelly refused to make them public.
The boy’s funeral drew 10,000 mourners Wednesday night to a heartbreaking service that reduced speakers and mourners to sobs and screams.
Chanting in Yiddish over loudspeakers erected in the Orthodox community, speakers praised the community’s unity and empathy.
“There’s no greater pain than this,” one said. — With Associated Press