Israeli Kibbutznik Charged With Killing Mother Over Money Issues

After beating her, suspect and his wife allegedly moved the mother's body, trying to frame death as a result of natural cause.

Murder suspect Chen Ayalati in Nazareth court on June 19, 2016.
Gil Eliyahu

An Israeli kibbutznik and college lecturer was charged on Sunday for killing his mother two months ago and stealing her credit card.

Chen Ayalati, 50, was indicted at the Nazareth District Court along with his wife Felicia Suissa Vana, for credit fraud and obstruction of justice.

The murder took place in April but the case had been under gag order.

The indictment says the Ayalati couple were in dire financial straits, and lived in an apartment they rented from his mother, Miriam Ayalati, above her home in Kibbutz Mahanayim, in northern Israel. The couple used the older woman's credit card without her knowledge.

On the day of her murder in April, Ayalati had had an argument over finances with his mother. He asked for help and his mother replied that she had no assistance to offer. She also demanded that the couple move out of the apartment.

Ayalati then beat his mother, breaking her frenulum - the membrane that holds the tongue - which caused her to choke. Vana came to the scene when she heard the tumult. When the couple realized the woman was dead they moved her to a bed to try to make it appear as though she had died of natural causes.

At first the authorities suspected Ayalati's death was natural. But a daughter and her husband lodged a complaint with police that they suspected foul play on the part of a son and daughter-in-law, and demanded an autopsy.

Police said they went ahead with an autopsy only after they thought the son's objections to the procedure seemed suspicious. Forensics tests found that the woman had indeed been murdered.

According to the inditement, the Ayalatis tried to withdraw funds by credit card from the mother's account on the day she died. Vana was arrested on suspicion of credit card fraud in early May.

Police Superintendent Eyal Harari said that Ayalati, the suspect, who lectures at Tel Hai College and is also an achitect, tried to implicate his wife in the murder. "He has not confessed but there is supporting circumstantial evidence of the use of (credit) cards," Harari said.

Ayalati's defense attorneys Suheid Agha and Roslin Othman said he denies the charges. Vana's attorney said her client has been in custody for more than a month, and also denies the charges.