Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Every parent's nightmare

I read this article in today's New York Times and was completely devastated. Losing your child to the darkness of this world just shakes the foundation upon which you stand. My heart breaks for Leiby Kletzky's parents. As a mother of a 5-year-old boy, I can't even comprehend this kind of loss. A part of my heart would die.

Eight-year-old Kletzky was walking home from school when he was abducted and murdered. Elizabeth Smart, Polly Klaas and Samantha Runnion were kidnapped from their own homes. As a parent, you read stories like these and you wonder: give my child freedom or shield them from the world? Obviously, it's a balance between the two. But it's a constant tension, a daily reconciliation between independence and safe-guarding.

You can't be paranoid and force your kid to become a hermit. And you can't be naive and trust that every person you-- or your kid-- encounters is a good person (sad to say, but true).

We humans are capable of creating great beauty and causing great destruction. My hope is in the fact that good always triumphs over evil and that light always penetrates the darkness.

The New York Times
July 13, 2011

The search for a missing 8-year-old Brooklyn boy ended early on Wednesday when investigators discovered what they believed to be his dismembered remains in an attic refrigerator of a Brooklyn man and in a trash bin on a street, the police said. The man, who made incriminating statements, was being questioned and was expected to be charged, the police said.
In the end, the inquiry led to 466 East Second Street, in Kensington, Brooklyn, the home of the suspect, Levi Aron, 35, who was taken into custody at 2:40 a.m., Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.The grim discovery capped two days of intense searching for the boy, Leiby Kletzky, who had disappeared Monday while on what was supposed to be a short walk between a Borough Park school and a meeting place with his parents. Police detectives searched his neighborhood and used helicopters to find the boy, who was part of the Hasidic Jewish community. They recovered video from Monday that showed him alive.
Mr. Kelly said that the boy was lost and apparently trying to find his way when he encountered Mr. Aron; investigators said that after a conversation, the boy entered Mr. Aron’s vehicle, a 1990 Honda Accord.
Mr. Aron told investigators that he had panicked and killed the boy once he realized the extent to which the Hasidic community and the police had mobilized to find the child, Mr. Kelly said. The commissioner said that the police had no evidence that the child had been sexually abused, but that detectives were still investigating.
“He panicked, and that is why he killed the boy,” Mr. Kelly said.
Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said, “There is no indication at this time that the victim was known to the suspect previously.”
Mr. Browne said charges were pending.
Mr. Browne said remains believed to be Leiby Kletzky’s were located by detectives in a refrigerator in the man’s attic apartment. Other remains of the boy were found in Greenwood Heights, “in a Dumpster at 20th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, wrapped in black plastic garbage bags inside of a suitcase,” Mr. Browne said.
During the investigation, the police discovered video of the boy leaving the school, at 1205 44th Street, between 12th and 13th Avenues, about 5:05 p.m. on Monday. It showed the boy walking on 15th Avenue, heading toward 44th Street. He was supposed to meet his parents at the corner of 13th Avenue and 50th Street.
The police said it was the boy’s first day of walking from the school by himself. “He’d asked his parents’ permission to walk home alone and the parents were waiting outside” for him to return, Mr. Browne said.
The police retrieved other video showing Leiby walking near a hardware store, several blocks astray from where he was to meet his parents.
Another video showed the boy later several blocks farther astray, standing across the street from a dentist’s office, where the suspect had gone in to pay a bill, Mr. Kelly said. The video showed the boy waiting for seven minutes.
“Detectives located one of the dentists who worked there at his home in New Jersey late last night, and established that the suspect had been in the dentists’ office on Monday to pay a bill,” Mr. Browne said on Wednesday morning. “With the assistance of a receptionist and another dentist associated with the practice, detectives at 2:00 a.m. today found records at the dentist’s office that established the suspect’s name and address. He was apprehended 40 minutes later.”
Mr. Kelly said that the suspect worked as a clerk at a maintenance supply company. The only thing on his criminal record in New York was a summons issued last year for public urination.
Just before 8 a.m., small groups of Orthodox men in shock and sadness gathered on the corner of 57th Street and 15th Avenue, where a command center was established near the family’s apartment. On Monday, thousands had crowded the corner to volunteer their time, food and concern, all to find Leiby. Now there were water bottles littered on the street and a devastated community.
“Hit me like a ton of bricks,” said Bob Moskovitz, the coordinator of the Flatbush Shomrim, a volunteer patrol. “All along you’re hoping for the best.”
Dov Hikind, the local state assemblyman, had not left the corner for almost two days, since Leiby was reported missing to the Shomrim at 6 p.m. Monday.
“I got a phone call in the early morning — and for a second, I thought he was going to be O.K., and then I started hearing the details; he was murdered,” Mr. Hikind said.
The more details he heard — that the child was dismembered — the less Mr. Hikind said he wanted to hear. “This is nothing I have seen in my 29 years. There have been accidents, tragedies, but this goes beyond everything I remember,” Mr. Hikind said. “Now we prepare for a funeral and then we ask a lot of questions.”
The assemblyman, who put up a $5,000 reward on Monday for information leading to the return of the child, said he had offered rewards in previous cases, but none that had elicited such a response. Eight or nine individuals from the community donated thousands of dollars each, and he eventually capped the reward at just over $100,000.
“If that doesn’t get the job done, $200,000 won’t either,” he said.
He said people returned from vacation from the Catskills and came over from Kew Gardens to volunteer. Buses arrived from the ultra-orthodox community of Monsey with people volunteering to patrol the neighborhood.
On Tuesday night, a group of 20 Pakistanis offered to join the search.
On Wednesday morning outside the apartment building where the boy lived with his four sisters, his parents were not speaking to reporters. Mr. Hikind said he had spoken with them and he could not begin to describe their devastation.
Joel Philip said, “I live in this building, and I don’t tell my children about this; they are too small.” He had two toddler boys and an 8-year-old daughter with him. “I told her, though,” Mr. Philip said. “He was a good kid.”
After he escorted his youngest son to the school bus, Mr. Philip was asked if this would change his feelings of security in the neighborhood. “My wife is always very careful about leaving the children alone,” he said.