The dismembered body of missing 9-year-old Brooklyn boy Leiby Kletzky was discovered early Wednesday morning in a dumpster outside an autobody shop in Greenwood Heights and in a refrigerator in the home of a man now in police custody, news agencies reported.
Part of the body was found in a red suitcase wrapped in a black trash bag in the Greenwood Heights dumpster, New York Police Department spokesman Paul J. Browne told the Associated Press. The gruesome discovery ended a nearly two-day-long search for the boy, who was reported missing on Monday evening.
At around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, police took a suspect, Brooklyn resident Levi Aron, into custody after tracking him down through surveillance footage and records from a local dentist's office -- the last place cameras captured the boy alive, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a press conference. Aron, a building supply store employee, is believed to be the same man seen following the boy in the surveillance footage.
When investigators confronted Aron in his Kensington home and asked about the boy, he allegedly pointed towards his kitchen. Police say they noticed blood on the door handle of the refrigerator, in which they discovered some of Kletzky's body parts, a cutting board and three bloody knives.
The grisly find comes after a volunteer army of hundreds from the boy's close-knit Orthodox Jewish community joined law enforcement in an all-hands search for Leiby, who disappeared on his way home from a summer day camp.
The boy's parents became frantic when their only son failed to meet them at a designated spot halfway between his Borough Park school and the family's home, according to the Orthodox news website Yeshiva World News. Leiby, who is the second eldest of his five siblings, had never walked home alone before.
Volunteers from the neighborhood's civilian police and ambulance units combed the area with NYPD and FBI agents through Monday night and Tuesday. The Jewish community's Shomrim patrol -- a neighborhood watch group -- obtained the license plate of the suspect's vehicle, according to Kelly.
Workers were preparing to put up missing billboards along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and the Prospect Expressway when police discovered the body, community leader and business owner Isaac Abraham told HuffPost.
The suspect allegedly told investigators that he killed the child after noticing leaflets featuring the child's face, which were plastered in neighborhoods across the borough.
"He saw the fliers, panicked and killed the boy," said Kelly.
Aron had no history of past crimes against children, Kelly noted. In fact, his only brush with the law was a summons for public urination, according to records obtained by police.
The suspect is divorced with no children, the New York Post reports.
For the community, the reaction has been one of shock.
"Even if he's a pedophile or a molester, he could have let the child go," said Abraham. "It's beyond belief, this brutality."