News of the first-degree murder indictment of Matthew Scott Flores has reached those who knew Gary Levin, the Lyft driver from Palm Beach Gardens whose body was found in Okeechobee County in February.
The 19th Judicial Court, based on the Treasure Coast, handed down the indictment Tuesday. Flores, 36, was extradited back to Hardee County from Rutherford County, North Carolina, on Aug. 8 in the death of another man.
“Yes, he was our neighbor, Gary. I always remember him with a smile,” Leo Hernandez, who lived a couple of houses down from Levin, said. “Oh my God that was terrible. We couldnt imagine that it could have happened.”
Hernandez found out about the news through WPTV reporter Joel Lopez, and said he hopes the indictment of Flores brings closure to all who knew him.
“Finally, you know they get something out of that, that terrible news,” Hernandez said.
He said Levin and his girlfriend Kathi Ginsberg were very social people who gave back to the community, that gave back to them.
“Ive kept in touch with her, she sent messages, and she called me to say goodbye and said I wish you were up north where Im going to,” said Chani Ezagui, the Founder of the Kind Kitchen, the food donation branch of the Jewish Community Services Chabad of Palm Beach.
She said Levin and Ginsberg weren’t members, but both relied on meals from the Kind Kitchen on a weekly basis.
“It doesn’t matter if the person belongs here or not, it is our obligation to help another person in the world,” Ezagui said.
She said news of the indictment doesn’t provide relief or closure as it’s a reminder of the pain some families have to go through.
Its unclear if prosecutors are going to seek the death penalty. Do you think that thats what he should get?’ Lopez asked.
“If its clear that he committed this crime, yes,” Ezagui responded.
The synagogue has helped pay for a portion of Levin’s funeral expenses and are now praying for loved ones during these next steps.
“Kathi, I say stay strong, keep going forward, smile and this is the journey of life. Help others and you’ll gain a lot of strength, we love you Kathi,” Ezagui said. “Gary, please look down at the world and pray for all those that are in pain.”