A 33-year-old father from Moshav Batzra allegedly murdered his 3-year-old daughter before attempting suicide, as revenge against his wife for leaving him, authorities said yesterday.

The man, Assaf Goldring, had just begun divorce proceedings with his wife, Lisa Goldring. She left him about two weeks ago.

She was at her home in Jerusalem when she heard the news, and collapsed in tears after being brought to Tel Aviv to identify her daughter Noa's body.

Assaf's father, David Goldring, told investigators he found his granddaughter's body after he called his son and understood from his voice that something was wrong.

The elder Goldring rushed to his son's house and found his son with his hands covered in blood after a botched suicide attempt.

Knowing that Assaf had taken the girl on Friday, as part of his agreement with his estranged wife, David Goldring rushed into the bedroom, where he found his granddaughter motionless, with strangulation marks on her neck.

He called Magen David Adom, and an ambulance arrived within minutes.

"We found [Assaf] sitting next to the bed. We tried to resuscitate her but it was too late," MDA spokesman Miki Kafri said.

Meanwhile paramedics treated Assaf, who had tried to slit his wrists and had swallowed pills in a suicide attempt.

Police investigators found a letter Assaf had written to his estranged wife, in which he said he would hurt their daughter as vengeance for the separation.

In the letter, Assaf said they separated because of Lisa's increasing religious observance, which made her feel alienated from him. He expressed anger toward Lisa and fear that Noa would be taken from him in the divorce, and described the couple's marital problems, police said.

Assaf was taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, where he was given emergency care and transferred to an internal medicine ward. He apparently attempted suicide a second time, by removing the stitches from his arms, and shouted and threw objects in his room until he was sedated. As of last night, he was in police custody.

While in hospital, Assaf admitted to police that he had strangled his daughter and reconstructed his actions since taking Noa from her mother's home in Jerusalem Friday morning. Authorities believe the murder took place between Friday night and yesterday morning.

It took several hours for the police to contact the mother, who could not be reached by phone because she keeps the Sabbath. Instead, officers went to her home to tell her what happened. She was briefly questioned by detectives in Ramle before being brought to the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv to identify her daughter's body.

The Goldrings' neighbors said the family was well-known in their community.

"A perfect family," one woman said. "Assaf is a lovely person, I don't understand how could have done something like this," she said.

David Goldring was a long-time Batzra resident, but recently moved to Ra'anana. He was in the construction materials business for many years, and most of his children, and his wife, still live in Batzra.

Eli Bracha, the head of the Hof Hasharon Local Council, went to the family's home with local welfare officials.

Bracha said neither Assaf nor Lisa Goldring had ever complained about domestic violence and that they were not under the care of the welfare department.

One neighbor said Assaf had been depressed since his wife began becoming more religious, "but who could have known it would come to this," she said.