Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 08:41 Written by Matthew Nestel, Reuven Blau, Jake Pearson, Simone Weichselbaum, Daniel Prendergastand John Lauinger / Daily News Wednesday, 13 July 2011 07:40
Leiby Kletzky, 8, went missing after leaving his day camp
An 8-year-old Brooklyn boy who vanished while walking home alone from camp was found dead in a dumpster in Greenwood Heights early Wednesday morning, police sources said.
More than a dozen NYPD detectives swarmed the scene outside the Park Slope Auto Center at 651 Fourth Ave. where the dismembered remains of little Leiby Kletzky may were discovered. Sources said the body of the Orthodox Jewish boy was found after police checked the large gray trash container, which had its lid open.
Three suspects were in custody, police sources said.
"I've never seen a community feel more depression than they are at the moment," Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park) said he said in an interview broadcast on NY1. "Whoever did this is sick beyond belief."
Hikind said the suspected killer is Jewish.
A massive search by cops and hundreds of volunteers from the Orthodox Jewish community had been underway for Leiby, who had begged his parents to let him walk home alone from camp for the first time. His parents agreed to meet him halfway between his Borough Park school and the family's home on Monday afternoon.
But he never showed up - and now cops think his disappearance may be linked to a man he was seen following on the street.
A neighbor saw police take several people into custody at a home on E. Second St. near Avenue C about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"They went trough backyard with their guns out. They knocked on the door, and I heard a noise as they busted down the door," the neighbor said. "They went in and then three guys and a woman a few minutes later were on the porch. Then downstairs they brought out some guy in cuffs. He was quiet standing on the porch. They took the three guys and took them into an Impala."
The witness said the man in handcuffs had a beard.
Leiby was filmed by a store surveillance camera standing alone about 5:30 p.m. Monday at the corner where 45th St., 18th Ave. and Dahill Road intersect, police said. At that point, he was already far off course from a seven-block walk to meet his parents.
The video shows a bearded man turn the corner and walk down Dahill Road with the boy walking behind him. The man then gets into a gold-colored sedan and drives off - but the video does not show the passenger side of the car.
Leiby is not seen getting into the car or driving away with the man.
"We have not ruled out that the boy got into that same vehicle," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the department's top spokesman.
On an earlier surveillance video, Leiby was filmed leaving the camp at Yeshiva Boyan at 4:50 p.m.
About 30 minutes later, yet another video shows him walking alone on 15th Ave. near 44th St., police said. The 4-foot-tall boy was carrying a backpack and wearing blue pants and a blue shirt with green and white stripes. The encounter with the bearded man in the gold car, shown on a third surveillance video, came seven minutes later.
"Everyone's thinking the worst and hoping for the best," said Shmuel Eckstein, 44, a friend of Leiby's father, before the body was discovered. "He's a very good kid. He's an angel. He has no rebellious streak to him."
Cops searched the neighborhood by helicopter and door to door. Agents from the FBI's New York office also joined in the hunt.
The Shomrim neighborhood patrol provided dozens of members and arranged for more than a hundred volunteers to join the hunt.
Leiby's parents were wracked by dread yesterday, their pain etched into their faces. "They're distraught," said Simcha Bernath, head of the Borough Park Shomrim. Leiby's father, Nachman Kletzky, huddled in his home yesterday afternoon with four rabbis while his wife rested for the first time since her son went missing.
Hikind, who spoke to the father , said the dad was depressed. "'Let's hope,'" the father said, according to Hikind.
Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Hikind, the Shomrim and others had put up a reward of $100,000 for information in the case.