Mother Whose Infant Drowned in Hotel Jacuzzi Suspected of Murdering Him

During questioning she gave several versions of what happened, including one in which she admitted to drowning the child because she believed God commanded her to leave the child in the water

The mother of the month-old baby who died two weeks ago in a hot tub in Ashdod is suspected of murdering him, the Be’er Sheva District Court said Sunday. The mother admitted to drowning the child and reenacted the act.

Police refused to say what the father is suspected of, but the allegations are less severe than those against the mother. At first he was also a murder suspect, but he has since been released.

During questioning the mother gave several contradictory versions of what happened, including a version in which she admitted to drowning the child in the Jacuzzi at an Ashdod hotel because she believed God had commanded her to leave the child in the water. A preliminary psychiatric examination established that the mother is not competent to stand trial and is not responsible for her actions. The woman has been hospitalized.

People close to the family told Haaretz that the woman had suffered from delusions after her first son was born, but at the time she received psychiatric treatment. That boy, now 7 years old, is staying with an uncle. If the mother is indicted she will undergo another psychiatric evaluation.

The mother insisted on taking a room with a hot tub, the investigation showed.

In addition to murder, the mother is suspected of destroying evidence and obstructing justice. Ten other people are also implicated in the case, some of them for obstructing justice. According to investigators, the father called relatives after the baby’s death to consult with them on how to alter the crime scene to conceal what happened. When police got to the hotel room, the hot tub had been emptied of water.

An autopsy done on the infant did not show unequivocal evidence linking his death to drowning, but the examination of tissue samples is continuing. The family had objected to the autopsy for religious reasons and petitioned the court to prevent the post-mortem. The High Court of Justice approved a limited autopsy in the presence of a doctor approved by the family.

The mother’s lawyer, Shani Farjun, said, “This is a case in which the broader the picture gets, including the opinion of the district psychiatrist, the more we see that this is a sad and difficult story — and not just because of the tragic outcome. From the first day we met our client it was clear that we’re talking about someone with an unstable emotional state. The court accepted our request and ordered her forcibly hospitalized.

“Naturally we cannot at this stage relate to the version of events she gave, because these things are still being clarified as part of the police investigation.”

Outside a court hearing on the death of a one-month-old infant drowned in a hotel Jacuzzi in Ashdod, Israel, April 2018.
Ilan Assayag