Murdered Israeli Teen Was Buried Alive, Suffocated to Death

Josh Breiner
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Seventeen-year-old Lital Yael Melnik
Seventeen-year-old Lital Yael Melnik Credit: Courtesy of family
Josh Breiner

An investigation of the murder of 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik has found that she was buried alive and that her death was caused by suffocation. According to police findings, the man suspected of murdering her buried her in a pit at a construction site in the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin.

The victim showed no sign of a struggle, raising the possibility that she was in a daze. The police are still waiting for the final autopsy report in order to determine the cause of death and learn whether she was under the influence of any substance.

The main suspect is a 49-year-old man who was working as a nurse at a psychiatric institution in Tirat Hacarmel, near Haifa, where Melnik had been hospitalized before. His name is under a gag order. The police investigation suggests that there had been a romantic relationship between the two in the past. The suspicion is that the murder was premeditated, and this is now being investigated by police.

The suspect is not cooperating with investigators and is exercising his right to remain silent. The Haifa Magistrate’s Court extended his detention on Sunday by another eight days. The police are charging him with the murder of a minor, interference with an investigation and violation of a restraining order, which had been issued at the request of the victim’s grandmother.

Lital Yael Melnik's funeral, this evening. Credit: Rami Shllush

Melnik was buried in Or Akiva on Monday. Her sister eulogized her, saying that they had seen ups and downs “ever since that filth of a person entered your life… I miss you so much. If only you’d believed us that we wanted what’s best for you. We wanted to protect you from the world’s evil and cruelty.”

The search for Melnik began last Friday, after her grandmother reported her missing. In the last days of her life, Melnik had started attending a boarding school in southern Israel. Two days ago, a security guard at the construction site where she was found reported that he’d seen Melnik and the man suspected of murdering her coming to the site on foot, where they then dug a hole together using two spades. The guard said that when he later went to the pit, he saw the victim’s partially buried body.

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