Son, Living in Park With Parents, Held for Allegedly Strangling Mother to Death

Alexander Korilov, who lived with his parents in Tel Aviv's parks, was arrested Monday night by police for allegedly strangling his mother Margarita to death. His father Dimitri was also arrested on suspicion of involvement.

Yesterday, police brought the husband to the park where Margarita was killed, where he explained what had happened. He told police that he awoke when his son tried to strangle him, and the two fought.

Alexander has refused to cooperate with police and has exercised his right to remain silent.

The father and son were brought before a judge yesterday, who extended their remand for nine more days. The judge sent Alexander to Abarbanel Hospital for urgent psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

Detectives told the judge that Alexander is suspected of murdering his mother, and that a week ago the two fought, and he tried to strangle her.

Alexander's defense attorney, Avi Cohen, says his client is not communicating with him.

"It is sad that in 2009, Israeli society learns of a family of three living in the streets for years. I don't know when [my client] showered last."

The attorney noted that the police have only the father's account, even though he did not witness the murder.

Police were called to the scene at about 2 A.M. over reports of a fight on Shaul Hamelech Street in Tel Aviv. The officers found the father and son at the scene and held them for questioning.

They then learned they were a homeless family, and had lived in the city parks for some years.

Most recently the family had taken up residence on benches near the Dubnov garden.

When the police searched the area, they found Margarita Korilov wrapped in a blanket, dead on a bench.

The father's attorney, Nir Alfasa, said the son attacked his mother after she told him not to sleep with his shoes on.

The father claims to have woken up and heard Alexander shouting: "Rita, Rita" as he was choking his mother.

The family is well known to the police and to social services. The family members have said they came to Israel from France and were forced to live in the street after they were refused entry back into France.

Tel Aviv police sources said yesterday that many efforts had been made to assist the family, but they had turned down all offers.

"They would sit for hours, reading books and newspapers in Russian. Before they moved here [Dubnov] they lived on benches on Zeitlin Street. I tried to help them, give them food, but they turned it down. They were very clean. The mother would clean and comb the son's hair," Zvia Brold, a nearby resident, said yesterday.

Maya Yavin, an art student at the nearby Tel Aviv Museum, said the family "would always be sitting around talking about books they read. They looked like a normal family, except they lived in the street."

"They told me they had come from France and could not go back. We tried to have them filmed for the news programs, and sought to give them food, but they turned it down. Once in a while they would accept medicine or other little things," she added.

"During my meetings with them they were not very cooperative," says Yoav Ben Artzi, deputy director of the municipal authority for homeless addicts and prisoner rehabilitation. "Their answers to my questions were 'yes' and 'no.' We had a problem with language so we brought social workers who spoke Russian, but it was an angry exchange and we could not understand the reasons for it. At other times they were just silent, looking at us as if we were strange."

Ben Artzi says social workers tried to move the family to a shelter during the cold winter nights, but the family refused.

"On February 19, a psychiatrist evaluated them but did not see a reason to hospitalize them," Ben Artzi says. He adds that the doctor thought they were paranoid, and were feeding on each other's fear, but that the psychiatrist could not decide who was the source of the problem.

"This is a tragedy. Before the murder there were no signs of aggression. I could never have foreseen such an extreme scenario. They looked so united."