Netanya Man Arrested in Teen Son’s Death From Methadone Overdose

Police say father, a narcotics addict, gave the opioid to the 17-year-old.

Police attending a crime scene in Israel (illustrative).
David Bachar

A 39-year-old Netanya man was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of killing his 17-year-old son by persuading him to take methadone and large amounts of Ritalin. Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is used as a painkiller and prescribed as an alternative to heroin. The father is addicted to narcotics.

The teen died last year, but the father was arrested only on Thursday. A judicial order prohibits the publication of the name of the suspect and other details of the case.

On September 23, 2016, the police received a report of the death of the 17-year-old at his grandparents’ home, where he lived with his father. The police said an autopsy revealed the cause of death to be an overdose of methadone, commonly known in Israel as Adolan, a brand name. Some 2,000 milligrams were found in the boy’s system, five to 10 times the normal amount for users of the drug.

The police said they determined in their investigation that the suspect had encouraged his son to take methadone as well as large quantities of Ritalin, a stimulant usually prescribed to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD.

On Friday the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court ordered the father to remain in custody for four additional days on suspicion of negligent manslaughter, supplying drugs and encouraging a minor to take dangerous drugs.

Suspicions over the cause of death were first raised in the week after the teen’s funeral, when friends told his mother that for some months the boy appeared to be using drugs, in a departure from the young athlete’s past behavior.

Guy Ein-Zvi, the suspect’s public defender, said: “The father is mentally ill, and after great efforts he managed to kick his addiction. During the period in question he was receiving a replacement drug by prescription. After the tragedy, his mental situation deteriorated and he was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for a few months.”

The father denies the charges and says he did not know his son had been taking the drugs he kept in the house.

Man suspected in wife’s death

Meanwhile, a Petah Tikva man who is suspected of murdering his wife reportedly checked into a psychiatric hospital immediately following her death, although his lawyer said he had been referred to the hospital by the police.

About two weeks ago, police received a call that the lifeless body of a woman – later identified as Paz Ben-Yosef, 35 – was lying in the sidewalk under the window of her home. Police initially suspected she had committed suicide, but an autopsy revealed she had died some time prior to the discovery of her body and she had not been killed in a fall.

Findings at the scene also included indications that she had been killed. This prompted the police to arrest her 42-year-old husband last week, 10 days after the incident, on suspicion that he and his brother had dragged the body onto the sidewalk, in an apparent effort to make it look like a suicide.

The police are still investigating potential motives for the suspected murder.

The deceased woman’s husband is known to the authorities for his psychiatric problems and had been hospitalized on several occasions for psychiatric problems. His lawyer, Gil Gabbay, of the Public Defender’s Office, said the police referred the man to a psychiatric hospital following his wife’s death.

The suspect’s brother, 38, was also arrested last week. His lawyer, Izhar Konforty, also from the Public Defender’s Office, said his client denies any involvement.

In an unrelated case, the decapitated body of a 33-year-old woman was found in her Tiberias apartment last Wednesday. Police arrested her ex-husband, 34, who had been walking around on the street holding the woman’s severed head.

The Petah Tikva incident is the fourth case this year of a woman allegedly killed by a family member. There were 119 such cases around Israel between 2011 and 2016.