Thursday, July 14, 2011

Leiby Kletzky's Murder; Prayer; Facts; and Assumptions

On Monday, July 11, Leiby Kletzky, age eight, missed a turn on what was supposed to be a solo walk of a few blocks, roughly a half-mile, in a safe neighborhood. Then Levi Aron, a man in his 30s, kidnapped Leiby Kletzky, and killed him. Leiby Kletzky's feet went into a freezer in Levi Aron's house. Mr. Aron dropped the rest of Leiby's remains in a Dumpster.

I'm skipping the usual "alleged" and "allegedly," since the killer made a written confession - and it's a little hard to explain those feet in his freezer any other way.

Time for Prayer, not Diatribe

This is an extremely difficult, and - of course - emotional, time for the Kletzky family and everyone in their community. As I've said before, about other stressful situations: prayer couldn't hurt. I think the folks who gathered at a Borough Park synagogue can use a few good words.

For that matter, prayer for Levi Aron, the confessed killer, couldn't hurt.

That's prayer for, not a diatribe calling for the immediate and permanent immersion of 'that sinner over there' in the most excruciating torment possible. Luke 18:11-14 and Matthew 7:1-2 have what I think is pretty good advice.

Not that I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy about Mr. Aron at the moment.

Murder isn't Nice, and We Shouldn't Do It

As I've said before, I'm a practicing Catholic, so I have to believe some things. Like:And yes: I've heard about the pedophile priests. That seems to be off the front burner for the moment - and that's another topic.

What We Know About the Murder of Leiby Kletzky

The New York Daily News published a pretty good map, showing where events connected with the death of Leiby Kletzky.

(Derived from map on, used w/o permission)

This murder has had more news coverage than many sports events - and that's saying something. We have a few facts about the confessed murderer of an eight-year old boy, as reported in the news.1 For example: Levi Aron worked for a plumbing firm in Brooklyn; enjoyed the television show Glee; liked Katy Perry's music; had been married twice, and divorced twice; and met one of his wives on a Jewish dating website.

Going Past Facts?

There's quite a bit more, ranging from facts and a plausible observation made by one of the killer's ex-wives, to the usual sort of 'there was this look in his eyes' thing that may be true - or may be a mix of 20-20 hindsight and imagination.

The plausible observation is that the killer was injured in a bicycle accident when he was nine years old, after which he was nervous around people: and that he "loved children."

Then there's this:
"...Family acquaintance Lee Vogel, 21, told the New York Post the 'look in his eye' reminded him of California serial killer Charles Manson...."
(Mark Duell, Mail Online)
Like I said: that could be an accurate, objective observation. Or the "Charles Manson" connection might have been suggested by Mr. Aron's decision to murder a child.

'Hears Voices?'

Nobody, as far as I've read, has said or written anything seriously crazy about Leiby Kletzky's murder: but I haven't looked all that hard. Besides, it's early days yet. The boy went missing on Monday, and his feet didn't turn up until yesterday.

Today, the murderer's lawyers are apparently claiming that Mr. Aron 'hears voices.'1 That may be true, and may be the start of one of the few legal defenses their client has available. It's also likely to raise the emotional temperature several more notches.


Given the way a person's frontal cortex goes offline when emotions run wild, and what a temptation it is to find someone to blame, I won't be surprised if some fairly wackadoo pronouncements get made about the murder of Leiby Kletzky.

I've posted about emotions, reason, and the need to blame, in another blog:

Crazy Assumptions

This is very important: I really do NOT believe what's in bold italic under this "Crazy Assumptions" heading.

So, why even bother? Maybe as a sort of caution against taking loony leaps off a fragment of fact. Maybe just because I enjoy making up stuff like this. Maybe a little of both.

Here goes, with crazy assumptions. Each starting with a fact, and ending - elsewhere.

The killer:
  • Was employed, and worked for a plumbing firm in Brooklyn
    • Crazy assumption -
      Employees of plumbing firms in Brooklyn are killers
  • Enjoyed the television show Glee
    • Crazy assumption -
      Glee turns viewers into killers
  • Liked Katy Perry's music
    • Crazy assumption -
      Katy Perry causes violence
  • Had been married
    • Crazy assumption -
      Marriage causes murder
  • Had been divorced
    • Crazy assumption -
      Divorce causes murder
  • Met one of his wives on a Jewish dating website
    • Crazy assumption -
      Dating sites cause murder
Maybe you see a pattern here. Each crazy assumption links a fact with a conclusion - in a way that almost certainly isn't real.

Some of those crazy assumptions might even look a bit plausible - to someone who, for example, was predisposed to feel that plumbing firms in Brooklyn were dens of iniquity. Or that divorce was the cause of all ills: from the communist menace to acne.2

I put links to some posts about assumptions under "Somewhat-related posts," below.

Emotions, Reason, and the Will

Emotions aren't, by themselves, good or bad. It's what we decide to do with them that makes a difference.
"In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage reason and will. Passions are said to be voluntary, 'either because they are commanded by the will or because the will does not place obstacles in their way.'44 It belongs to the perfection of the moral or human good that the passions be governed by reason.45"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1767))
(and see Catechism, 1762-1770)

'Satan's instrument?'

The author of one op-ed said something - interesting. It's the first two words of the second paragraphs in this excerpt:
"...When the detectives later looked in Aron's blood-smeared freezer, they discovered he had kept the boy's severed feet. You could almost think Evil itself had taken the wings of the youngster who had seemed so safe as he set off on his solo.

"Satan's instrument later sat in an interview room at the Snyder Ave. stationhouse, as calm and matter of fact as if he had never chanced into the boy...."
(Michael Daly,
I could get rather sarcastic at this point - and might be considered 'intelligent' as a result. Here's how that might start: Oh, come on: Satan?! Nobody really believes in that some dude in red tights makes people do bad things: right?

Oddly enough, that's not too far from how I reacted to that "Satan's instrument" thing.

I'd like to think that nobody believes that Satan is that vaguely-comic character in red tights, with a goatee and pitchfork. That's ridiculous.

And the dude in red tights is also not even close to who and what Satan really is:
"DEVIL/DEMON: A fallen angel, who sinned against God by refusing to accept his reign. Satan or the devil, the Evil One, and the other demons were at first good angels, created naturally good, who became evil by their own doing (391, 1707; cf. 2851)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary)
Bottom line?
  • Satan and demons are quite real (Catechism, 391-393)
  • Demons, Satan included, are
    • created beings (Catechism, 394-395)
    • Bad
    • Powerful
      • But not all-powerful
I think that Satan and other demons are real. Does that make me superstitious? No. I'm a practicing Catholic, and being superstitious is against the rules. (Catechism, 2110, 2111) (August 18, 2010)

As a practicing Catholic, I also have to believe that Satanism is real. It's an extreme form of idolatry. Also a really bad idea. (Catechism, 2113) Not that the Church sees Satan and Satanism behind every bush.

What I find slightly troubling about that "Satan's instrument" statement isn't that I think it's false. In a sense, it is accurate. Anybody who deliberately murders a child is, arguably, "doing the devil's work," as the saying goes.

On the other hand, referring to Mr. Aron as "Satan's instrument" may inflame emotions, unnecessarily. I don't think many folks in America need their emotions whipped up, to be convinced that murdering a child is wrong. Not when the kid is eight years old. And that's yet another topic.

Finally, I've seen nothing in the news that suggests Satanism may be involved. And that's - yet again another topic.


As I said earlier, I'm not "feeling all warm and fuzzy about Mr. Aron at the moment." At all. I don't feel sorry for him. I don't hope that a jury will decide to acquit Mr. Aron: perhaps on the assumption that poor toilet training 'made' him kill a child; or maybe that a bicycle accident 'forced' him to commit murder.

That, given what's been released publicly, would be stark, raving, mad.

There's every reason to believe that Mr. Aron deliberately killed a child. And may do so again. He's apparently not someone who's safe to have running around loose.

I don't, though, think he should be killed.

Does he deserve death? Probably.

Will killing him bring Leiby Kletzky back to life? No.

Can the United States of America afford to restrain him for the rest of his natural life? Even with the budget SNAFU our government has - I think so.

And I've discussed capital punishment before.

Somewhat-related posts:News and views:
1 Excerpts from the news:
"Brooklyn Boy Leiby Kletzky Murder Suspect Levy Aron Confesses"
ABC News (July 14, 2011)

"Levy Aron, the alleged killer of an 8-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., boy on his way home from camp, is being investigated to determine if he is linked to other missing children cases.

"On Wednesday Aron made a full written confession to authorities of how he smothered Leiby Kletzky, 8, with a towel and then dismembered him, sources have confirmed to ABC News.

"The confession indicated that 35-year-old Aron had panicked after abducting Kletzky, when he realized the entire neighborhood -- home to a tightly knit strict sect of religious Jews -- had been searching for the boy, ABC News confirmed...."

"'Butcher of Brooklyn' reminds neighbours of Charles Manson, 'stared strangely at kids in playground' and loved singing Lionel Richie"
Mark Duell, Mail Online (July 14, 2011)

"The loner who has said he killed an Hasidic boy was a strange man who looked like serial murderer Charles Manson, neighbours and friends claim.

"Levi Aron, 35, of Brooklyn, New York, admitted to murdering and dismembering eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky, and was arrested on Wednesday, police said.

"Neighbours of the so-called 'Butcher of Brooklyn' said he would stare strangely at schoolchildren and often became angry with no warning....

"...Aron worked for plumbing firm Empire State Supply in Brooklyn, where his boss described him as an 'emotionally disturbed' worker...."

"...Neighbour Chaim Lefkovitz, 39, said parents would not let their children go near Aron because he would get 'angry out of nowhere'.

"Family acquaintance Lee Vogel, 21, told the New York Post the 'look in his eye' reminded him of California serial killer Charles Manson.

"Aron's was little trouble to authorities prior to this week as the only fault on his record was a summons for public urination last year.

"But this quiet public man had a Facebook page with 220 friends and listed his favourite TV shows as 'Glee' and 'The Office', reported the New York Post....

"His favourite music artists included Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. He also enjoyed singing Lionel Richie at karaoke.

"He was married in 2004 for just one year to Diana Diunov, 38, a woman later convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges, court records show.

"Shortly after this break-up, Aron met his next wife, Debby Kivel, 34, on the Jewish dating website [redacted]

They got married in 2006 and he moved from New York to Memphis, Tennessee, to join her and her two children. They divorced in 2007.

"She said he was injured aged nine in a bicycle accident and has been nervous around people ever since, but 'loved children'.

"His father is an accountant in Manhattan, his mother died of cancer around eight years ago and his sister Sarah died in 2009, reported the New York Post...."

"Evil's own timing sends young Leiby Kletzky into path of killer Levi Aron"
Michael Daly, (July 14, 2011)

"Eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky came out of the double glass doors of the Yeshiva Boyan day camp and turned left on 44th St., just as he had at the start of a dry run with his parents the day before.

"He continued up the block to 13th Ave., to the corner where he had turned right during the prelude to his solo - and where his mother was waiting for him six blocks down 13th Ave.

"Instead, he continued straight down 44th St. He proved by forgetting the turn that a youngster is not always as ready to make a solo journey as even conscientious parents in a tight-knit neighborhood might have every reason to believe...."

"...When the detectives later looked in Aron's blood-smeared freezer, they discovered he had kept the boy's severed feet. You could almost think Evil itself had taken the wings of the youngster who had seemed so safe as he set off on his solo.

"Satan's instrument later sat in an interview room at the Snyder Ave. stationhouse, as calm and matter of fact as if he had never chanced into the boy...."
"With Boy's Killing, Parents Confront Worst Fears"
Anemona Hartocollis, The New York Times (July 13, 2011)

"They are the road rules of parenting, the self-defense tips of childhood, the maxims passed down for generations: Don't talk to strangers. Don't sit in the last car of the subway train. If you are lost, look for someone in a uniform. If something bad happens, scream!

"Every day, parents put their faith in those rules and send their children, with a silent prayer, off into the world, trying to push away the knowledge that something bad could happen, as if thinking it would make it come true.

"On Wednesday, it did come true for one Brooklyn family, as the body of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky was found dismembered two days after he disappeared on a short walk between his day camp and where he was supposed to meet his parents. The boy, who had implored his parents for permission to walk home from camp alone, got lost and ran into a stranger who, the police said, kidnapped and killed him.

"For parents across New York City, the tragedy set off a wave of fear, self-doubt and sometimes fatalism, not seen perhaps for 32 years, since Etan Patz, who was 6, vanished after begging to be allowed to walk alone to the bus stop, just two blocks from his home in SoHo...."

"Thousands pay their respects at funeral for tragic B'klyn boy"
New York Post (July 13, 2011)

"The father of missing 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky -- who was found dead and dismembered today -- had only heartbroken words at his son's funeral in Brooklyn tonight.

"'Here lies my child. Purity of heart. Very quiet and very respectful. Satisfied and never demanding. My child is gone. I'm in very deep sorrow,' Nachman Kletzky said as he choked up.

"He cried and shrieked during his speech, leading a crowd of thousands of faithful at a Borough Park synagogue in prayer and tears.

"They spoke and chanted in Yiddish, stressing the community's resilience and unity after what one called an unnatural death...."

"...Police earlier today arrested and charged Levi Aron with the murder of little Kletzky after discovering the child's severed feet in his freezer.

"Aron said he "panicked" and dismembered the boy's body, according to authorities.

"He was busted after leading them to other parts of Leiby's body, stuffed in a red suitcase and hidden in a Dumpster outside an auto repair shop about two miles away, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said during a news conference this morning...."
"Shock Waves From Boy's Horrifying Death"
Kathy Carvajal, Luke Funk, (July 13, 2011)

"Sources tell FOX 5 News that suspected killer Levi Aron told investigators that he suffocated Leiby Kletzky, 8, of Borough Park before dismembering him.

"Aron, 35, was expected to be arraigned Thursday.

"According to the NY Post, police believe that marks on Aron's arm when he was arrested Wednesday indicate Kletzky put up a fight as he was being killed.

"Sources tell FOX 5 News the Leiby confessed to smothering the boy with a towel while he was sitting on a couch...."

2 I thought that marriage was 'til death do us part' long before I converted to Catholicism. I also think that divorce is a bad idea, that some men are jerks, and that more folks should read Ephesians 5:21-30 - all 10 verses. Not just the part that some dudes interpret as 'shut up and fetch my beer.'

I've opined about this sort of thing before:


Brigid said...

Extra capital: "Leiby's remains in a Dumpster."

Extra period: "as reported in the news.1."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Extra period, found & fixed. Thanks!

'Extra capital' isn't extra. Dumpster is the name of a particular line of waste containers: Like "Zipper," it's being used as a generic term - but news services are still treating it as a proper name - and I'm following suit.

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.