Eduard Kachura was charged Monday with aggravated murder for the murder of Yael Melnik, 17, whose body was found in a pit at a construction site in a Haifa suburb several hours after she was reported missing in October. Police say she was buried alive.
“[Kachura] intentionally caused [Melnilk’s] death after a genuine process of consideration and reached a decision to kill with extreme cruelty,” the indictment said.
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He is also charged with several other offenses, including illegal consensual sex while exploiting a relationship of dependency and violating a court order. He faces a life sentence for the murder.
Kachura, 49, was a nurse at a psychiatric hospital where Melnik had previously been hospitalized, and they were known to have a relationship.
When Melnik’s body was found, Kachura told detectives that they had dug the pit together as “therapy” for her suicidal thoughts. But he said he did not cover her head with sand and had no idea how that happened.
The indictment acknowledges that they dug “a kind of grave” together because of her psychological problems, stressing that Kachura was well aware of them. Melnik then entered the grave and Kachura covered her with earth. Initially, she could still breathe through a breathing tube. But then, the indictment said, he decided to kill her.
“With the intention of killing her, [Kachura] completely covered [Melnilk’s] body and face with sand and gravel while she was still alive, using a shovel,” it said. “[Kachura] then removed the tube from [Melnilk’s] mouth and, for several minutes, prevented her from breathing or from leaving the grave, thereby causing her death. [Kachura] then left the scene.” Melnik died of suffocation.
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Kachura also had a sexual relationship with Melnik while she was under 18, “exploiting a relationship of dependency,” the indictment said. In addition, he violated a protective order obtained by Melnik’s grandmother that barred him from all contact with the girl. Despite this order, “the defendant and the deceased continued their relationship and met often,” the indictment said.
On October 1, it continued, Melnik left the residential facility where she lived and came to Kachura’s home, where the two of them spent the next several hours. At 10:36 P.M., after the grandmother reported her missing, police came to Kachura’s house looking for her. But when Kachura didn’t answer the door, they simply went away.
Fearing the police would return, Kachura and Melnik left his house and began roaming around Krayot. The next morning, her body was found at the construction site.
Kachura was arrested two months ago, but the indictment was delayed while the prosecution struggled to disprove his version of events. However, the evidence against him was bolstered over the last week.
The most significant development in the case came from the Institute of Forensic Medicine’s response to questions the prosecution asked about its autopsy report. The autopsy concluded that Melnik was buried alive and that her body showed no signs of violence or struggle.
Some of the institute’s experts argued from the start that this couldn’t be a suicide, because had she sought to kill herself, her body would have reflexively tried to extricate itself from the grave. But this view was recently bolstered by an opinion from a pulmonary specialist, and that is what led the prosecution to decide to indict Kachura, on the grounds that he must have prevented her from exiting the grave.
An expert geologist’s opinion also bolstered this view. It said the way the sand had collected on Melnik’s body didn’t fit the theory that she covered herself, indicating instead that someone else had covered her.
The position of her body also indicated that she was killed, the experts said. Her elbows were peeking out of the ground and her palms were flat on the ground, just centimeters from her mouth.
Finally, the autopsy found that her hands were clean. As Haifa District Court President Judge Ron Shapira pointed out during a bail hearing, this belies the theory that she buried herself.