By Aman Ali
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A grand jury began hearing evidence on Friday against a man who confessed to butchering an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy, as the child's family thanked those who searched in vain for their son.
Behind yellow crime scene tape, police in white protective suits carried plastic and paper bags bulging with potential evidence from the Brooklyn home of Levi Aron, 35, charged in the death of Leiby Kletzky.
Less than two miles away, the Orthodox Jewish family of the 8-year-old boy who got lost on his first walk home from a religious day camp and encountered Aron began a week-long mourning ritual known as "shiva."
The family thanked the waves of people who joined the frantic search that ended with the gruesome discovery by police of the boy's severed body parts in a freezer in Aron's apartment and a dumpster.
"We are forever grateful and thankful to (God)," the family said in a statement posted outside their home in the close-knit Orthodox community of Borough Park.
"We would also like to express to each and every individual... who assisted us above and beyond physically, emotionally and spiritually - and to all from around the world, who had us in their thoughts and prayers. From the depths of our mourning hearts, thank you!"
Police declined to say what they were looking for in the home owned by Aron's family, where he lived on the third floor. Investigators scoured the contents of three computers removed from the home.
The widening search for evidence now includes Memphis, Tennessee, where Aron lived with a former wife, said Jeremy Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, began presenting evidence in the case to a grand jury in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn but declined to speculate on when an indictment might be returned.
Aron, held without bail on charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder and placed on a suicide watch, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam. He is due back in court on July 28.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Johnston)