Double Homicide Suspected After Couple Found Shot in Central Israel Apartment

The female victim had complained to police over threats from an ex-boyfriend but declined to stay at the women's shelter to which police had referred her.

Police officers stand outside an apartment building where a couple was found shot to death, Rishon Letzion, Israel, May 25, 2016.
Tomer Appelbaum

A man and a woman – a mother of two – were found shot to death in a Rishon Letzion apartment Wednesday in what police suspect was a double-murder, but say might have been a murder-suicide. They are searching for the woman’s ex-boyfriend, who threatened her earlier this week.

Police said they believe the 34-year-old man and 29-year-old woman were murdered by someone who fled the scene afterward, but because the woman suffered multiple gunshot wounds while the man was killed by a single shot to the head, they are also examining the possibility that the man murdered the woman, then killed himself.

A Magen David Adom ambulance is seen outside of the apartment where a couple was found shot to death, Rishon Letzion, Israel, May 25, 2016.
Uzi Perlmutter

On Sunday, the woman went to the Rishon Letzion police department to report that her former boyfriend, with whom she had broken up five months ago, had not gotten over the break-up and was threatening her life. The woman said that in recent months, he had slashed her tires, followed her, threatening her over the telephone and met up with her in what he claimed were chance encounters.

Police decided she should not return home and they referred her and her two children to a shelter in the north for victims of domestic violence. After arriving at the shelter, the woman decided she did not want to remain there with her children, and felt an obligation to return to work, so she returned to her Rishon Letzion apartment, police said. 

Moti Agami, who holds the social welfare portfolio at the Rishon Letzion municipality, said the woman “said she didn’t want to stay at the shelter because she was cut off from a telephone and couldn’t be in touch with her partner and with her mother.” Agami added: “The social worker beseeched her to remain in the shelter because she was in danger, but she chose to return home. After a few hours, we heard what had happened.”

Many women leave shelters despite getting advice that they should stay on. It is estimated that about 40 percent of women in shelters from domestic violence leave within less than a month. 

“A great many women believed that it wouldn’t happen to them,” said the director of a shelter unconnected to Wednesday’s killings. Authorities cannot force a woman against her will to remain at a shelter for victims of domestic violence. 

Since the beginning of the year, eight women have been murdered in Israel in circumstances involving domestic violence. Last year 18 women lost their lives to domestic violence, and since 2011, a total of 109 women have been killed in such circumstances.

After receiving the woman’s complaint on Sunday, police say they attempted to locate the ex-boyfriend, searching the homes of relatives, and trying to find out if he left the country. The man was known to law enforcement authorities and had been convicted of property crimes.

The woman’s children, whose biological father is unconnected to the homicide case, will apparently remain with him for the immediate future.

The woman’s mother called the police after coming to the apartment at about 2 P.M. Wednesday and finding the victims badly wounded and unconscious. Magen David Adom rescue crews called to the Pika Street apartment pronounced the two dead at the scene.