NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly six years after detectives uncovered the dismembered remains of an 8-year-old boy in a Brooklyn house, the brother of the man now imprisoned for killing the child was found dead in the same family home.
Police responding to a call from the family on Friday discovered the body of Tzvi Aron, bound, wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in a basement closet, a law enforcement official said.
The 29-year-old bakery worker had last been seen on Tuesday. The death is being investigated as a homicide; Aron had recently been threatened but it wasn’t clear why, the official said. The medical examiner will determine a cause of death. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Tzvi’s brother, Levi Aron, pleaded guilty in July 2011 in the kidnapping and killing of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky. Leiby got lost on his walk home from a religious day camp. It was the first time he was allowed to go home alone and he was supposed to walk about seven blocks to meet his mother, but missed his turn. On the street, he ran into Levi Aron, who promised to take the boy home.
Instead, Aron brought the boy about 40 miles (64 km) upstate to Monsey, New York, where he attended a wedding before bringing him back to his home. He kept him there overnight and the following day when he went to work at a hardware store.
Meanwhile, a massive search for the boy was underway in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, home to one of the world’s largest communities of Orthodox Jews outside of Israel. Thousands of volunteers from the Hasidic community had assembled to comb the streets. Aron is Orthodox but not Hasidic. The Hasidim are ultra-Orthodox Jews.
When Aron noticed flyers plastered on lampposts with the boy’s photo, he said he got spooked, went home and suffocated the boy, police said. A toxicology report found Leiby also had been drugged.
Detectives found the boy’s severed feet, wrapped in plastic, in a freezer at Aron’s home, about 2 miles (3 km) from the boy’s home. A cutting board and three bloody carving knives were found in the refrigerator. The rest of the boy’s body was discovered in bags inside a red suitcase in a trash bin about a mile from the home. His legs had been cut from his torso.
Levi Aron pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing the boy, and is serving 40 years to life in prison.
In the years since, his family remained at their Brooklyn home, which is divided into apartments. Tzvi lived in the basement apartment; Levi had lived on the top floor. Another brother also lives there. The family’s mother died from cancer and a sister, Sarah, died while institutionalized with schizophrenia before Levi Aron was arrested, according to Levi Aron’s psychiatric report obtained by the AP.
Tzvi Aron defended his family at the time his brother was arrested, saying they were unaware of Levi’s acts.
“People who know us know we’re a good family,” he told New York’s Daily News at the time.
Over the years they’ve received dozens of death threats after the horrifying killing. On Friday, police once again cordoned off the cream-colored home, in Brooklyn’s Kensington neighborhood, as a crime scene.
“It was spooky,” neighbor Kathleen Henderson told the Daily News. “Everyone keeps an eye on that house for obvious reasons. No one trusted them after that incident with the little boy.”