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Murder Weapon Found in Bin, Thanks to J'lem Garbage Strike

The DNA found on the knife incriminated Haim Shmeltzer, who was already under house arrest on unrelated charges.

A strike by Jerusalem garbage collectors enabled police to solve the murder of Yosef Buzaglo a little over a month ago.

Buzaglo, 27, was stabbed to death on September 30, during the Simhat Torah holiday. But thanks to the strike, police had time to sift through a nearby garbage container and find the murder weapon before it disappeared into a landfill.

The DNA found on the knife incriminated Haim Shmeltzer, who was already under house arrest on unrelated charges.

According to the indictment submitted to the Jerusalem District Court yesterday, Shmeltzer knew his victim and had even spent a previous house arrest at Buzaglo's apartment. But the two later had a falling out.

On the night of the murder, Shmeltzer called Buzaglo and asked to meet with him, apparently to resolve the quarrel, the indictment said. They met outside Shmeltzer's house. But an argument soon erupted, and Shmeltzer allegedly threatened to kill him.

Shmeltzer and a friend, Moshe Lecker, then dragged Buzaglo into a side street, where Shmeltzer stabbed him in the thigh with a 23-centimeter-long knife. Buzaglo died of his wounds the next day.

An intelligence tip led police to Shmeltzer the very next day, but they were unable to find the murder weapon. Only five days later did a public-spirited citizen call the police to report having found a bloody knife some days earlier about a kilometer from the scene of the crime. But the caller added that he promptly threw the knife into a nearby garbage bin.

Fortunately, however, Jerusalem's garbage collectors were on strike at the time, so the bin had not been emptied. Police then spent hours sifting through the trash until they found the knife, which contained both Buzaglo's blood and Shmeltzer's DNA.

Police also located an eyewitness to the murder.

Nevertheless, Shmeltzer's lawyers insisted yesterday that the entire story of how the knife was found was "a fantasy," and that police have no evidence to support the indictment.

Lecker, who is wanted as an accomplice to the murder, has disappeared, and police are still searching for him.