As Jewish communities around the world are still recoiling in horror over the heinous murder of 9-year old Leiby Kletzky on July 12th in Brooklyn, community leaders and mental health professionals are weighing in on this topic with their own unique perspectives on the blood curdling killing.
The neighbors want their voices heard as well. "The parents on the block wouldn't want their kids to go near him," said neighbor Chaim Lefkowitz, 39, in an interview with The New York Post about Levi Aron, adding that he had predilections towards furious outbursts. "Sometimes he would just get angry out of nowhere. He was one of those people you stayed away from", he said.
"There was something strange about him. You know when you see Charles Manson, he has that look in his eye? Levi had that look", said family acquaintance Lee Vogel in an interview with the Post. Michael Panzer, the owner of the Empire State Supply Company, where Aron worked as a stock clerk said, "He seemed a little emotionally disturbed. He was very quiet, didn't communicate with people, and he went home." Co-workers described Aron as "slow" and some said there were definite signs of trouble. "Casey Anthony didn't fit the profile for a killer," said a colleague, with the power of hindsight that all the neighbors and acquaintances seem to be using. "But looking back now, this guy fit the profile."
Dr. Phyllis Chesler, emerita professor of psychology and women's studies at the City University of New York and frequent op-ed contributor to Arutz Sheva offered her perspective on the psyche of mentally disturbed individuals. "Loner men; 'strange' or 'weird' men are often trouble, not only to themselves but to others". While she said that there is no one template for an abuser or killer, she did say that "one who talks to himself, lights fires, tortures animals and has no friends are traits that are often present in the profiles of serial killers" and called on the community to courageously confront these aberrant behaviors.
Addressing the issue of collective culpability, Dr. Chesler said, "Most of those who live with domestic terrorism do not report it. We are afraid and ashamed to do so. Thus, only when a child who is a stranger to his tormentor is hurt, do we act. Jews, like others, absorb the anguish of child and wife beating, psychological cruelty, and even sexual abuse without going public about it." She added that, "This awful tragedy is a wake-up call to all of us who don't want to get involved, who look the other way, who minimize what we fear is true, who do not want to turn in one of their own, be it a parent, a spouse or a child."
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) of Boro Park who has taken the lead role in monitoring details of this murder said, "Before we received word that little Leiby's killer was Levi Aron, people expressed their worst fears to me; that the killer may have been a Jew. Nobody wanted to hear the horrific news, but people had hoped that anybody but anybody; an Arab, a Christian any non-Jew would be responsible for this but not a frum Jew."
Echoing Dr. Chesler's sentiments, Mr. Hikind said, "We have glaring problems in our community and we must confront them. We can no longer hide things or sweep things under the rug. There is sexual abuse and domestic abuse in our midst and we must deal with this head on."
Although it is not clear whether Aron sexually molested Leiby Kletzky, Hikind queried, "What would an adult male possibly want with an 8-year old, other than to victimize him sexually?" He added that, "we must train out children to be wary of strangers, even if they appear to be Orthodox Jews, and we must work tirelessly to address frightening phenomenon in our community."
Having been interviewed by the international media on Leiby's murder, Mr. Hikind said, "This barbaric murder has genuinely touched the hearts of people of every faith around the globe. This is everyone's issue and it definitely transcends the Jewish community."
It has been reported by various news sources that Aron had two failed marriages with each lasting about a year. It is not clear how he met his first wife, an Israeli woman named Diana Diunov who arrived in the United States in 2002 for a liver transplant with her daughter, Edita. In June of 2004, the two married but seven months later, Diunov was indicted in Manhattan Federal Court for bilking diamond supply companies out of $1.7 million. The couple split in August of 2005 and less than a month later she married Boris Shvartzman, the co-conspirator in the diamond scam. She is currently serving a prison term. Seven months after his divorce, Aron married Debbie Kivel, a mother of two from Memphis, Tennessee, after meeting her on a Jewish matchmaking web site. He was employed as both a butcher at kosher deli and as a security guard. The marriage ended less than a year later.
While in Tennessee, his ex-wife charged him with being a "sex-crazed psycho" who needed medication for a behavior disorder that he had been diagnosed with. In a 2006 protective order filed in Memphis, Kivel claimed Aron was physically abusive and threatened suicide if she refused to engage in conjugal relations with him. She also claimed that Aron harrassed her incessantly; leaving her "100 phone messages and numerous text messages" and threatened to have her kids removed from her custody and "struck her with a closed fist on her shoulder and on her stomach."