DNA Tracing Leads to Arrest in Case of 2006 Murder of Woman

Oleg Dolya is suspected of killing Clara Rabin in her apartment after his DNA was connected to the crime scene

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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A murder scene, Rishon Letzion, March 14, 2020
A murder scene, Rishon Letzion, March 14, 2020Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

Nearly 14 years after Clara Rabin was murdered in her Ashdod apartment, police announced Sunday that they’ve found a suspect via DNA tracing.

The suspect, Oleg Dolya, 54, had been arrested previously for other crimes, but never had a DNA sample taken. Police were able to link Dolya to the crime by cross-checking the DNA of a relative  who was arrested a few months ago for an unrelated crime  with the DNA found at the site of the murder. The police are continuing to investigate whether anybody else was involved in the murder.

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Dolya has denied the allegations and any connection to Rabin, who was 67 when she was murdered, and prosecutors have yert to decide whether to charge him.

Rabin’s son found her dead in her apartment in August 2006, having gone there with his wife after his mother hadn’t answered the phone for hours, even though they were supposed to go to a family event together. An autopsy determined that she had been stabbed and suffocated.

Clara Rabin, who was murdered in 2006Credit: Israel Police

From the beginning of the police investigation, the suspicion was that the murder was a robbery gone wrong. Rabin used to tell people that she and her husband kept a lot of cash at home, and police assumed that this why Dolya went  to her house. The police have not been able to establish any previous connection between the two, which is why they suspect there may have been others involved in the robbery.

Another of Rabin’s sons, Gandhi, told Haaretz that his family was stunned by the police discovery. “It took us a long time to get over [the murder]. My brother, who found her, went through a very rough period,” he said. “Now we’re afraid to go back to that situation, it’s a little scary. To suddenly touch that wound again is difficult.”

In regard to the police's assumption that the attack was a robbery, he said that “at the time my father had $20,000 that he kept at home. My mother, who would give everyone whatever she had, told her friends that she had money in the house.”

The police found that Dolya was linked to the murder through relatively recent developments in DNA tracing that are being used in many investigations throughout the world. These technologies helped convict Daniel Nahmani for the murder of Noa Eyal 20 years later, and to charge Valery Sakovich in the murder of Vardit Bakernot, 26 years afterward. After a similarity was found between Dolya’s relative’s DNA and that found at the crime scene, detectives began investigating whether Dolya, who was known to police, had any connection to the crime.

Before arresting Dolya, police succeeded in getting a DNA sample from him using an “investigative trick” that they would not explain, without him knowing that he was being investigated for the murder. He was arrested on May 24.

The police did not comment on if there was any other evidence against Dolya besides the DNA, and claimed, without elaborating, that the place at the crime scene where the DNA sample was found points to Dolya’s involvement.

Police added that Dolya has yet to explain why his DNA was found in Rabin’s apartment, and that the crimes for which he’d been arrested in the past didn’t allow them to do a DNA test. Only in 2014, when the police had a DNA database of over 300,000 samples, did the Knesset expand the range of crimes for which DNA testing is permitted.

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