When Levi Aron was first fingered in the kidnapping and brutal murder of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky in Brooklyn, his ex-wife Debbie Kivel told the New York Post, “It’s completely out of the character of the Levi that I know, I am in shock. I am not believing this.” She went on to say, “He loved children,” and that when she spoke to him recently, “Everything sounded fine and normal.” But court papers from Tennessee tell a different story, more consistent with the horrifying crime and claims of insanity: a 2006 order of protection filed by Kivel call Aron physically abusive and accuse him of sneaking into the woman’s room after their break-up in hopes of sex; he threatened suicide if she would not sleep with him. “The victim states that she refused to do it . . . she fell asleep and when she awoke, Levi Aron was laying in bed beside her and her bra was removed,” says the report, via the New York Post. Other warning signs about Aron include possibly stalking another young boy as little as two weeks ago.
Someone close to the shomrim, a neighborhood watch group for the Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, told The Daily that Aron was accused of stalking an 11-year-old boy, who noticed a gold car — thought to be Aron’s 1990 Honda — following him home. Police may not have been notified, said one shomrim volunteer, because the “majority of Jews here are from Eastern European descent, and they have an ingrained lack of trust with authority,” he said. “Everyone is taught to go to the shomrim, and not the police because they identify more with us so we fill the gap.”
That wasn’t the case for Aron’s ex-wife in Tennessee, Debbie Kivel, who claimed that he “struck her with a closed fist on her shoulder and on her stomach.” She said he had “a behavior disorder,” and those who knew him then, when he worked at a Tennessee butcher counter, agree.
“People complained because he sliced the meat so slowly, so methodically, and some realized he wasn’t 100 percent,” said one member of the synagogue.
Meanwhile, police say that the murdered boy, Leiby Kletzky, likely put up a struggle, evidenced by the scratches on Aron’s arms and wrists. “He fought back a little bit until eventually he stopped breathing,” Aron said in a confession about suffocating the boy. “Afterwards, I panicked, because I didn’t know what to do with the body.” He used three knives and a cutting board to dispose of the evidence, which was discovered late Tuesday night.
“Obviously, in this business, you see a lot of violence. There’s usually some sort of irrational, twisted logic that’s given as to why a violent event took place,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “Here it defies all logic, and I think that’s really what’s so terribly disturbing about this case.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 15, 2011