Conn. Jewelry Store Murder Suspect Dies in Spanish Prison

Suspect in Conn. jeweler's murder who flew out of Philly dies while in custody, authorities say

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Surveillance Video and Mugshot
    The photo at left is the one that police released when they were looking for a murder suspect who was spotted in Philly before the killing. At right is Andrew Levene.

    Just a few days after an international manhunt resulted in an arrest in the murder of a Connecticut jeweler last month, the man accused in his killing is dead.

    Andrew Robert Levene, also known as Robert Thomas, died in a Spanish prison, the U.S. Embassy in Madrid announced Thursday.

    Police Searching for Conn. Murder Suspect in Philly

    [PHI] Police Searching for Conn. Murder Suspect in Philly
    A murder suspect in a Connecticut jewelry store robbery was spotted on Jewelers Row in Philadelphia, police said Thursday. Now, cops want to catch him before he can strike again. (Published Thursday, Dec 15, 2011)

    There were reports that Levene committed suicide but the Embassy couldn't confirm those details.

    The 41-year-old was arrested on Monday in Spain on federal murder, robbery and firearm charges.

    Officials say, that on Wednesday an officer from the U.S. consulate visited Levene in prison. Levene died some point after that visit, officials said.

    Levene was allegedly spotted on Philadelphia's Jewelers Row in the days before the killing of Westport, Conn. jeweler Yekutiel Zeevi and used the city of Brotherly Love to flee the country, according to officials.

    Levene made multiple trips to Philadelphia in the days and weeks before the murder and flew standby out of Philadelphia International following the killing, according to federal prosecutors.

    According to a news release from U.S. Attorney David Fein, Levene flew from Philadelphia to Amsterdam on Dec. 11 and Spanish National Police arrested him on Jan. 23.

    On Dec. 8 Levene met with Zeevi, the owner of YZ Manufacturers in Westport, Conn., pretending he was going to buy several large diamonds he had arranged to buy earlier that month, according to the affidavit, but instead he shot and killed Zeevi, wounded Zeevi's associate, and stole approximately $300,000 in diamonds, officials said.

    According to court documents, Levene allegedly contacted Zeevi early in December and asked him to locate several diamonds that were between two and three karats, valued between $45,000 and $75,000.

    When the associate arrived, Zeevi and Levene were already in the store. Zeevi showed Levene six diamonds, worth a combined $300,000, according to court documents. 

    After looking at the diamonds and speaking for several minutes, Levene pulled a gun and shot Zeevi and his associate, took the diamonds and let himself out of the store, according to court records. 

    After Levene left, the associate called 911, officials said. 

    Zeevi was pronounced dead at the hospital and his associate was treated for injuries.

    Levene is a former member of the U.S. Armed Forces and has training in the use of weapons, according to the affidavit and has family members in Connecticut and New York.

    About a week after the murder, police received a tip that a man matching the description of the Connecticut killer was seen on Philly's Jewelers Row on Dec. 5 and they released surveillance video of the man.

    But by that point Levene was already out of the country, according to officials. 

    Levene was charged with one count of federal murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of causing death through the use of a firearm and one count of interference with commerce through robbery.

    "I want to commend the Westport Police, Connecticut State Police, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania, New York and Spain for their expert, coordinated investigation that has led to the apprehension of this defendant," said Fein.