Reports: Diamonds missing, gun found in homicide probe
Updated 12:39 pm, Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The $300,000 cache of diamonds that a former West Haven man is accused of stealing from a Westport jeweler he shot and killed in December were missing when he was arrested last week in Barcelona, Spain, but some of the clothing he is believed to have worn that night was recovered, according to new details reported by Spanish media.
Andrew Robert Levene, the 41-year-old former Army Ranger charged with the fatal heist at Y.Z. Jewelry Manufacturing that claimed the life of Yekutiel Zeevi, the 65-year-old owner, had retrieved a handgun that he may have used to commit the crime from a Pennsylvania acquaintance with whom he left the weapon when he moved with his family to Spain last fall, a news website in Chester County, Pa., reports. Levene, who had special ops training in the military, also returned the gun to the unsuspecting friend a few days later, according to the account.
Westport Police Chief Dale Call, questioned Tuesday about whether the weapon that turned up in Pennsylvania may have been used during the Westport robbery, said he could not confirm or deny the report. He referred that inquiry and all others to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Connecticut.
After Levene was taken into custody Tuesday of last week by Spanish national police, he was found dead a day later in his cell at the Modelo prison in Barcelona, an apparent suicide by hanging himself using bed sheets.
When Spanish law-enforcement officials arrested Levene at his upscale Barcelona apartment, according to a report Saturday on the website of the Spanish newspaper, El Pais, they found a green vest, brown pants and cowboy boots that Levene wore the night he killed Zeevi -- as photographed by video surveillance cameras at the Compo Shopping Center. Zeevi's business was located in a locked, second-floor suite of the Post Road East shopping center.
Spanish police, however, found no sign of the six diamonds worth a total of $300,000 that Levene is charged with stealing at Y.Z. Jewelry, and then fatally shooting Zeevi and wounding a business associate, New York diamond merchant Ronen Konfino, El Pais reported.
After leaving his Delaware home on Dec. 12, Levene is believed to have flown from Philadelphia to Amsterdam, a hub of the international diamond trade, before returning to his Barcelona apartment.
The El Pais report also describes the comfortable lifestyle that Levene apparently enjoyed in the months before returning to the U.S. on Dec. 5, three days before the crime in Westport. For about three months, he paid 2,200 Euros a month to rent a 1,900-square-foot apartment on la avenida de Pau Casals, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Barcelona, where he lived with his wife and two children.
Levene's children went to school in Barcelona, the capital of the Catalonian district of Spain, and the family decorated the apartment with Ikea furniture, the El Pais report said.
The El Pais story also reveals more about Spanish and American authorities' pursuit of Levene in the days leading to his arrest.
Police had stood on guard outside Levene's apartment building, waiting to catch him. They apparently spent days looking for the elusive Levene, who did not keep regular hours and traveled often, the newspaper reports. But they swooped in on Levene when an informant in Levene's apartment building sent a text message to a Spanish national police inspector, informing him of Levene's arrival home, El Pais says. Before he was captured, dozens of plainclothes officers were deployed in the building, while several unmarked cars waited outside.
Meanwhile, a story published Saturday by the dailylocal,com, a Chester County, Pa., website, recounts Levene's dealings in that area, where during a short residency he apparently established social ties in the Unionville and Chadds Ford communities. Before moving to Spain last August, Levene reportedly lived in New Castle County, Del., which borders Chester County.
After returning to the U.S. from Spain in early December, Levene reportedly retrieved a gun that may have been used in the homicide of Zeevi from the home of a friend in Chadds Ford, where he had left the weapon before moving to Spain, according to unnamed people who said they knew Levene while he lived in New Castle County, the dailylocal.com reported.
A few days after reclaiming the firearm, Levene returned it to a friend, a local real estate agent, with "longstanding ties" to Unionville, Pa., a few days later, "without explanation," the dailylocal.com also said.
When the friend learned that Levene had been charged with the fatal Westport robbery, he turned the gun over to local law-enforcement officials, according to the dailylocal.com report.