Six summers ago, Leiby Kletzky’s angelic face was everywhere in New York.
The 8-year-old Hasidic boy vanished on his first day walking home from day camp in his neighborhood in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn. The city’s worst fears became reality a few days later when his dismembered body was discovered stashed in a home not far away, where a member of the tight-knit ultra-Orthodox community admitted to killing him.
Now, a shocking twist has returned Leiby’s curl-fringed face to the city’s newspapers — and is dredging up the horror all over again.
The brother of confessed killer Levi Aron has also been found dead, under puzzling circumstances, in the very same building where Leiby’s body was found in 2011.
Aron’s family has been the target of death threats in the years since Leiby’s murder, The Associated Press reported, including recent threats targeting Tzvi Aron. It’s unclear who might have made the threats.
Leiby’s family, meanwhile, has maintained a low profile in recent years. The boy’s parents gave birth to a baby girl, their sixth, in 2012.
A person who answered the phone June 5 at a number listed for the Kletzky family refused to comment. She asked a reporter not to call again.
Tzvi Aron’s body was found wrapped in a blanket in his closet June 2. It was unclear whether Aron had been placed inside the blanket or had put himself there. An autopsy conducted Sunday was inconclusive. A spokeswoman for NYC’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner said that the cause and manner of his death have not yet been determined, pending further studies.
Joe Levin, a private investigator who works in the Orthodox community, said he didn’t think Aron’s death was a coincidence, and that others in the neighborhood had made similar speculation.
“It makes no sense,” Levin said.
He said that, over the weekend, Aron’s mysterious death had been a subject of conversation in the neighborhood.
Yet Ezra Friedlander, founder and CEO of The Friedlander Group, a political consultancy focusing on ultra-Orthodox clients, noted that Tzvi Aaron’s death has received little coverage in the Orthodox press. “I have not heard anyone discussing this in great detail,” said Friedlander, who lives in Boro Park.
Levi Aron, now imprisoned at Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York, told the New York Post that he hoped his brother wasn’t killed in retribution for his murder of Leiby. “I hope it’s not related,” the told the Post.
Aron admitted that he murdered the boy after he snatched him on his way home from camp. He drugged Leiby, then smothered him to death. Police found Leiby’s body parts in his refrigerator.
Levi Aron had lived on the top floor of the building where Tzvi Aaron’s body was found. According to AP, another brother also lives in the building. A sister, who suffered from schizophrenia, died prior to 2011, as did Aron’s mother, who suffered from cancer. As of 2011, Aron’s father, stepmother and uncle also lived in the building, the New York Daily News reported at the time.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.