A 59-year-old man is accused of murdering and dismembering the bodies of his girlfriend and her daughter, according to details of an investigation revealed yesterday.
The remains of Denise Rodov, 61, and her 36-year-old daughter, Beatrice, were found in separate locations last week, and the case was subject to a gag order that expired yesterday.
One of the bodies was found last Friday in the Alexander Stream, north of Netanya, while earlier last week the torso of the other victim was found in a burning dumpster in a residential street in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv. Police described the investigation as one of Israel's "most horrific murders."
Police suspect that Eli Fahima, Denise Rodov's partner, murdered the two in Rodov's Ramat Gan apartment and dismembered their bodies. Fahima was arrested several days ago but continues to deny any connection to the murders.
The lifting of the gag order is expected to end the persistent rumors that a particularly violent serial killer was on the run. Fahima is suspected of killing the two women as the result of a financial dispute.
But there are also family issues behind the deed, according to one source familiar with the case. "Fahima liked other women," the source said, "and created a playboy reputation for himself."
According to the source, the police currently believe that Fahima asked the mother for money and then killed her and her daughter after the daughter intervened and prevented her mother from handing over the money.
Last week a judge at the Ramle District Court allowed details of the murders to be published, but the gag order was then extended following an appeal by the police.
In the last few days, police claimed that although they had plenty of evidence, they were still a long way from cracking the case. One of the main problems was identifying the bodies of the victims because of the serious damage done to them.
The identification process took long because no one had reported the two women missing. The headless bodies were partially decomposed and offered few clues about the victims' identities.
Fahima, who has four children from a marriage that ended around two years ago, was named the prime suspect after a series of clues pointed to him, police say. A trace on Denise Rodov's cellphone showed that the device was active and being used in the Haifa area. Detectives eventually determined that Fahima was using the device while driving Denise Rodov's car.
The phone trace also showed that the device found in Fahima's possession had been used in the areas where the body parts were dumped. But detectives say the investigation is not complete and that the police have not gathered enough evidence against Fahima.
However, one police source said that Fahima had implicated himself "in a series of claims" during his interrogation. The source added that "the file is in good shape as far as evidence is concerned." The Ramle Magistrate's Court extended Fahima's remand until August 27.
Defense attorney Menachem Rubinstein said that based on his long relationship with his client, he does not believe that Fahima is guilty of the crimes attributed to him.
"I don't quite know what the police have on him, but my impression is that Fahima is not the man who committed the murders," Rubinstein said. Fahima has a criminal record dating back to the 1980s, when he was convicted of robbery and violence. Over the years, he has been convicted 18 times and sent to jail twice.
"It's not like him to do something like this [the murders]," Rubinstein added. "Maybe the police need to explore other leads." Rubinstein also said that Fahima had told him several times to "tell the family" that he is not the killer.
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