The man suspected of killing his girlfriend, 22-year-old Maya Vishniak, on Saturday night in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan told police that he “heard voices” telling him to kill her and that he obeyed them, sources familiar with the investigation have said.
Elad Rath, a lawyer for the suspect from the Public Defender’s Office, said his client appears to be in poor mental health, which may have precipitated the killing. On Sunday, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ordered the man, whose name is barred from publication, held for an additional eight days.
The killing took place in the suspect’s apartment in Ramat Gan, where he was living with his mother. He appears to have strangled Vishniak, a resident of Oranit, northeast of Tel Aviv, with his bare hands, police said.
According to initial police findings, when his mother came home, the suspect told her what he had done, but when she sought to call the police, he allegedly stabbed her with a kitchen knife, lightly wounding her. Police came to arrest the man, but he lost control and resisted arrest, they said, and later confessed to the murder.
A police officer told the court that the suspect is being investigating for both Vishniak’s murder and the attempted murder of his mother. The police asked that he be denied bail.
“This involves very serious offenses,” said Magistrate’s Court Judge Anat Yahav. “They are not only serious, but on their face, the circumstances of the commission of the crimes is at the most serious and despicable level conceivable.”
In ordering the suspect held for eight days, the judge noted that he also appears to have tried to obstruct justice. She ordered him referred for a preliminary psychiatric examination.
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At Sunday’s hearing, the police representative said after the suspect was brought to the police station, he again became unruly and tried to attack the police. As a result, although he was arrested at roughly 9 P.M. on Saturday, his interrogation only began in the middle of the night, at 3 A.M., after he had calmed down. He was questioned for four hours.
Police asked the court for permission to search the cellphones belonging to the suspect and Vishniak in an effort to determine a motive for the killing. The police representative said the suspect appears to have been planning other crimes.
Public defender Orit Hayoun, who is also representing the suspect, said that police should have sent him for a psychiatric evaluation immediately. “The investigators chose to question him despite his condition, and only today [Sunday] was a psychiatrist ordered to conduct an evaluation,” she said. “The very fact that he wasn’t examined immediately raises suspicions that the investigation is biased.”
Neither Vishniak nor the suspect had ever come to the attention of the authorities before, and the suspect’s neighbors said they weren’t aware of any previous violence between the two. One neighbor, who described the suspect as a quiet man, added that she was surprised by what had happened.
Vishniak had recently returned from a post-army trip to East Asia with some friends. She was an outstanding student who majored in chemistry and visual arts in high school.
Her parents, Hila and Ariel, said she always viewed the world through rose-colored glasses. They described her as happy, mature and talented, saying that everything she touched turned to gold. Things were easy for her, and she was a success at everything that she attempted, they said.
“Maya was an attentive granddaughter and we had a very special connection – deep and genuine,” said her grandmother Rachel, who described her as “intelligent, creative and open-minded.”
Vishniak is the eighth woman murdered in Israel since the beginning of the year and the fourth since the beginning of April. In addition, the Social Affairs Ministry has reported that four women have committed suicide in circumstances involving domestic violence since the coronavirus crisis began in March, a pandemic that prompted weeks during which the population was under lockdown. The number of domestic violence complaints received by the ministry during the second half of April was also four times the figure during the first month of coronavirus restrictions.