Fyodor Beshnery, 26, of Haifa has been under arrest for about a month as a suspect in the murder and possible rape of four women in different parts of the country from 2013 onward, police said on Tuesday after partially lifting the gag order on the case. The latest murder occurred this year.
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Beshnery confessed to one of the murders to a police informant.
Police said they suspect that the murders also involved serious sex crimes. Police did not raise the issue of sex crimes during Beshnery’s bail hearings, but did decide to raise it in the press statement they issued on the case on Tuesday.
The investigation began in southers Israel about two months ago, when the body of a young woman was found in a burned apartment. The arson investigator thought the fire had been caused by an electrical short, but the forensics lab cast doubt on that conclusion, saying some of the evidence found at the scene indicated that a crime had been committed.
Police then conducted another search, during which they found Beshnery’s DNA at the crime scene and his cell phone not far from the apartment.
Police also found his DNA at the scenes of two other murders in northern Israel. They are investigating suspicions that he had a prior acquaintance with one of the two victims.
The fourth murder occurred in central Israel a little over a year ago. That case, too, involved a dead woman found in a burned apartment, and findings at the crime scene were similar to those in the other three cases. In this case, however, investigators haven’t yet managed to find evidence linking Beshnery to the killing.
“The investigation is complicated and is being conducted in several parts of the country, under a gag order,” the statement said. “Today the publication of his photograph and other identifying details was permitted, in order to allow the public to report to the police about any additional crimes, with an emphasis on sexual crimes, which anyone in the public may have been exposed to, or been a direct victim of.”
As part of their investigation, police unearthed the body of a woman who was originally thought to have died of natural causes in order to see whether it showed signs of the same modus operandi employed in the other murders.
Beshnery immigrated to Israel five years ago and worked as a repairman. He is a divorced father of two and is currently living with a female partner.
Attorney Lior Ronen, representing the suspect as a public defender, told Haaretz that the police’s implication that Beshnery is suspected of multiple sex crimes is misleading and untrue, because in all the court hearings on his case, only one sex crime has been mentioned.
Ronen said that the suspect, who has no criminal record, denies all the allegations against him.
“His complaint against the unit that’s investigating him is that they have violated his basic rights,” Ronen said. “On top of that, he has already been under arrest for more than 40 days and despite this, the police have yet to show him any significant evidence linking him to the suspicions against him, which prevents him from mounting any defense.”