Suspect in J'lem Murder Remanded for Psych. Evaluation

The suspect in the stabbing murder of his Jerusalem landlady was remanded yesterday until Sunday by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court.

Police said the suspect, Avi Dar, confessed to stabbing Tzipi Nehamo to death and expressed remorse. On Sunday, Dar will be sent for psychiatric evaluation under prison conditions, which will last until the following Friday.

One of Dar's attorneys, Yaron Barzilay, presented a document to the court revealing that an indictment against Dar had been set aside after a psychiatric report determined he was unfit to stand trial. That was after he bickered with his Jerusalem neighbors several weeks ago.

The psychiatric evaluation ostensibly contradicts a mental-health evaluation of Dar a few months ago, when he was arrested after his neighbors complained to the police. That evaluation determined that Dar could be held under normal conditions rather than in a psychiatric facility.

The district psychiatrist who examined Dar after his arrest Tuesday came to the same conclusion.

Dar confessed to stabbing Nehamo to death on Tuesday at about 6 P.M., when she came to the apartment with an elderly couple who were interested in renting the dwelling in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. Nehamo used her key to enter the apartment and while she was showing the couple around, Dar allegedly stabbed her repeatedly.

"The handwriting was on the wall," one neighbor said at the scene. She described an incident where Dar broke into her home and beat her with a stick while she was nursing her baby, at which point her husband called the police and held Dar until they arrived. "This man will get out, perhaps too quickly because they'll claim he's not fit to stand trial, because this country can't protect it's citizens," the neighbor said.

Dar told investigators yesterday that he murdered Nehamo because she tried to show the place to other potential tenants, although he had warned her not to do so when he was at home.

Police said yesterday that Dar knew Nehamo was coming to show the apartment, and they believe he planned the attack and prepared in advance. Police Superintendent Eli Cohen said that Dar and Nehamo had previous confrontations over rent. "We knew about the complaints against him. There was a series of mutual complaints in the context of fighting among neighbors. The police deal with tens of thousands of such complaints every year. We could not predict, based on these complaints, that things would end in murder," Cohen said.

Cohen said Dar was arrested a few weeks ago following one of the complaints, sent for psychiatric examination and released by the court.

Police said they found that six complaints had been filed against Dar by his former neighbors in Kiryat Tivon, in addition to the four complaints filed by his Jerusalem neighbors. Four of the cases in the north were closed for lack of public interest.

In 2006, a mental health evaluation at Tirat Carmel Hospital determined that Dar should be committed.However, a few days later he was released, although the court had determined that Dar was dangerous to the public. Individuals close to the 2006 psychiatric evaluation said it had "fallen between the cracks," and the district psychiatrist had not noticed. Dar moved to Haifa after his release from the hospital, and six months later he moved to Jerusalem.

In May 2006, Dar was arrested for seriously injuring a neighbor in Kiryat Tivon, Yitzhak Gigi. He reportedly harassed his neighbors for seven years. "It was a nightmare ... I didn't leave the house without my husband," Ruth Gigi said, adding that they felt the need to arm themselves with tear gas when they left the house.

Dar was born in the United States in 1973. He is the eldest son of Arnon Dar and Yehudit Dar. People close to Dar, who has a bachelor's degree in archaeology, described him as "brilliant."