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Acquaintances: Suspect In Leiby Kletzky Murder Showed No Warning Signs

Levi Aron Even Helped Look For 8-Year-Old; Said To Be Quiet, Non-Violent
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Leiby Kletzky (handout); Levi Aron (credit: Facebook via CBS 2)

Leiby Kletzky (handout); Levi Aron (credit: Facebook via CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — People who know 35-year-old Levi Aron, the man charged with murder in the grisly dismemberment killing of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, said there was no indication he was capable of something so horrific.

Those who worked closely with Aron for years told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin on Wednesday he was hard-working, quiet, non-violent, but socially awkward every day at Empire State Supply Company.

“A little emotionally disturbed,” Michael Panzer, the suspect’s boss, said describing Aron.

PHOTO GALLERY: Death Of 8-Year-Old Leiby Kletzky

Panzer said there were no warning signs or red flags.

“Nothing at all. As a matter of fact, yesterday he was working here normal day, regular hours,” Panzer said.

When asked if there was anything different about Aron on Tuesday — the day the investigation into the boy’s disappearance went into overdrive and the story went national — Panzer said his behavior was normal. He said for more than a decade as a clerk in the warehouse full of building materials Aron did not like to mix with his co-workers, not even when they mobilized to help find the missing boy.

“We were all participating in the search and no explanation,” said Panzer.  He went on to say that Aron displayed “nothing to give any kind of signs of anything happening.”

Panzer said after close to a decade working for Empire State Supply Company, Aron married a woman who already had two kids. They briefly moved to her hometown of Memphis, Tenn.

During much of Aron’s two years in Tennessee, he was a security guard. The marriage ended in divorce in 2006, with no children.

His ex-wife’s shocked relatives include an uncle who said he recalls “domestic issues” where Aron was accused of being abusive. Police delved into Aron’s criminal records and found only one prior brush with the law, a citation for public urination. A background search is also underway in Memphis.

Aron’s arrest stunned many former members of his family, reports CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

“I really didn’t believe what I heard this morning from the New York reporter when they called my Mom,” ex-brother-in-law Steven Kivel said.

Ruth Kivel, once his mother-in-law, said she was shocked, mostly because Aron “seemed okay to me.”

His ex-wife, Debbie Aron, was still stunned when she spoke to reporters on Wednesday night. She said she spoke to Levi a few days ago and he seemed fine.

“You know nobody knows what’s going on. I’m just finding out information. I’m in total shock since my phone’s been ringing off the hook at 8 this morning,” she said.

After Aron returned to New York City and regained his old job, he lived in the attic apartment in his parents’ house in the Kensington section of Brooklyn, driving the gold Honda now part of police evidence.

Betty Perri, who lives a few doors down from the Aron house, said he must have been aware the search for the boy could’ve soon been right at his door.

“They knocked at my door last night, said can I look in your back yard and I said sure go ahead,” Perri told Carlin.

Aron is being held back in the 67th Precinct stationhouse in East Flatbush. Sources told CBS 2’s Dennis he’s been talkative, making several statements, and forcing officers to obtain additional search warrants. His newly appointed attorney, Pierre Brazile, met with him briefly.

The question everyone’s asking is what kind of monster would lure Kletzky into an attack, and then dismember him?

“In his own mind, it’s a way of getting rid of the whole incident. The dismemberment is a way of getting rid of the whole incident,” New York forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Bahn said.

Bahn said Aron fits the profile of a man struggling with his own demons, panicking and then somehow snapping.

“What happens is, very often the pressure increases and increases and increases. And what happens to the boiling water when it increases too much? The lid comes off,” Bahn said.

The community is stunned and saddened by the shocking loss of life.

“It’s a tragic situation and we’re all sad and upset,” neighbor Abraham Glick said.

“He must have snapped. This is outrageous,” Panzer added.

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