Levi Aron has always seemed like a more or less ordinary guy, though some people describe him as “a little strange.”
But a child is now dead, and Aron has taken top billing in one of the most grisly murders to strike Borough Park, Brooklyn in the past two decades.
Young Leiby became lost Monday while walking home from day camp, his first time on his own. He was to meet his mother just three blocks away.
The little boy apparently asked Levi Aron, an Orthodox Jew, for directions.
Tuesday was Aron's 35th birthday.
Video surveillance cameras in the area show the two, hand in hand, as Aron allegedly took the little boy with him as he visited a dentist's office to pay a bill, and then helped him into his gold-colored car and drove away.
Despite rumors to the contrary, at present there is no indication that Aron previously knew Leiby or any of his family, according to the International Business Times news website. There is also as yet no indication that Aron sexually abused the little boy.
Aron grew up in Brooklyn. He lives on the third floor of his parents' three-family home on the corner of Avenue C and East 2nd Street in the Kensington neighborhood. Tenants live on the second floor, and his parents live on the ground floor.
But New York City's largest borough can be quite lonely – especially in the Orthodox Jewish community – if you an adult and alone. Aron sought, and found, a mate with whom to share his life through a Jewish dating service.
In 2006, he traveled to Memphis to marry her, a divorced mother of two young children – a 4-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. The two had a bond over their mutual spirituality and their common musical interests.
While in Memphis, Aron worked as a security guard, and then as a butcher and a clerk at a Kroger's kosher deli.
The marriage didn't last, reportedly ending after only a year due to “irreconcilable differences” according to a Memphis news website. Chip Washington, spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, said Aron was served with an Order of Protection in January 2007. But there were few other tangles with the law: a fine for a seat belt violation and one speeding ticket.
In Brooklyn, authorities cited a summons for public urination.
At the age of nine, Aron was hit by a car and flung across the street and onto a sidewalk, according to his ex-wife. It was this experience, she believes, that “led to his shyness.”
New York authorities are investigating whether Aron has a history of mental illness, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters late Wednesday.
Others described his somewhat withdrawn behavior differently. A local rabbi told media that “apparently [Aron] had some brain damage, but he was able to hold down a job.” He added that he had no criminal background and no one had detected anything untoward in his past or his behavior during his stay in Memphis.
Ruth Kivel, grandmother to Aron's ex-wife, said she was stunned to hear he was a suspect in such a case. “We thought he was a nice person. It's hard to believe.”