The Brooklyn boy who was murdered and dismembered last week after being abducted on the street was given a lethal cocktail of drugs and then was smothered, the New York City medical examiner said today.
Leiby Kletzky, 8, had traces of a muscle relaxant, cyclobenzaprine; an antipsychotic drug, quetiapine; Vicodin; and Tylenol in his blood, an autopsy showed. He died from suffocation after being smothered. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes announced late this afternoon that a grand jury had handed down an eight-count indictment charging the suspected killer, Levi Aron, 35, with two counts of felony murder. The first-degree murder raps carry a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole. He also faces three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping in the first degree and one count of kidnapping in the second degree.
The next court date is July 28, when Aron is likely to be arraigned, Hynes said.
"At some point (Aron) caused the child to ingest a large amount of drugs," Hynes said. He said when the drugs failed to kill the boy, Aron smothered him with a towel. The medical examiner has determined that Leiby died from "acute intoxication (of drugs) followed by smothering," he said.
DA: Brooklyn Boy Smothered After Drugs Failed to Kill Him
Hynes gave a detailed description of how police found Leiby's dismembered corpse at about 2:45 a.m. on July 13. Leiby had disappeared on July 11 when he was walking home from camp in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, the first time his mother allowed him to walk home alone. His mother planned to meet the boy halfway, but the boy missed a turn and got lost. He asked Aron for help and was not seen again, police said.
When detectives knocked on Aron's door in the nearby neighborhood of Kensington early on July 13, Hynes said, they saw blood on the refrigerator and freezer doors. Inside the refrigerator were bloody knives on a cutting board. In the freezer were Leiby's severed feet in a plastic bag.
Aron directed police to a dumpster on 4th Avenue in Brooklyn where they found the boy's head, torso and severed legs, Hynes said.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said last week that the child was in the abductor's custody by 5:40 p.m. on Monday, July 11.
Hynes said investigators have confirmed that Aron took Leiby that night to Monsey, an Orthodox community in Rockland County, north of New York City, where Aron attended a wedding. A gas-station attendant identified the child, who used the bathroom at the gas station, the DA said.
After the wedding Aron told police that "it was late and he took him to his apartment and the boy fell asleep," Kelly said. Aron also claimed they watched television for a while and then slept in different rooms. The next day, July 12, Aron went to work as usual. He told police he returned home and made Leiby a tuna-fish sandwich.
Hynes said that ligature marks on Leiby's wrist suggest the child may have been held captive when Aron was out of the apartment. "Did he have an opportunity, was he too frightened to do anything to escape? I don't know, that's all speculation," Hynes said.
Aron told police he smothered the boy when he panicked after hearing about the extensive search for the missing child. The medical examiner gave the date of death as July 13, when the body was found, but police have said they believe Leiby actually died sometime on the evening of July 12.
Suspect Smothered Brooklyn Boy When Drugs Failed to Kill Him
Aron has pleaded not guilty and has been undergoing a psychiatric exam at Bellevue Hospital. His attorney, Pierre Bazile, has said his client is hearing voices and said "I have some serious concerns about the defendant's mental state."
Leiby's parents, Nachman and Esty Kletzky, surrounded by relatives, took a short walk early this morning as they finished the traditional Jewish mourning period. They have been visited by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and other dignitaries. Hynes said that the family has been told of the autopsy findings and of the indictment.
Tonight, Orthodox Jewish cantors will hold a special prayer service in memory of Leiby's memory at a synagogue in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
The Kletzy family has established a fund that would help anguished families in crisis. More information can be found and donations can be made at www.leibykletzkymemorialfund.com.