An elderly woman who was choked to death in her Jaffa home in 2010 was murdered by a couple in order to steal money for rent, police in Tel Aviv said Sunday, following the arrest of suspects.

Shoshana Levi, 78, was found bound and without vital life signs in her home by paramedics.

Subsequent examinations found that her attackers had shoved cloths and a tennis ball into her mouth, leading to asphyxiation.

The investigation was led by the central unit of the Tel Aviv district police, which gathered DNA and forensic evidence from the murder scene.

Dep.-Cmdr. Nissim Daudi, a senior officer in the unit, told The Jerusalem Post that the investigation hit an initial dead end after a year-and-ahalf of work, before a breakthrough was made.

“When we re-examined the case, we discovered that a neighbor had visited Levi for thirty minutes, two weeks prior to the homicide. We launched an undercover investigation of the neighbor and her family,” he said.

The woman, Samar Abu Khamed, an Israeli Arab woman, had moved to the Kalkilya area of the West Bank since the homicide, but was originally from Jaffa. Police began a complex operation to get DNA evidence from Khamed and her family, and secretly got a first sample from Khamed’s sister.

After comparing the sister’s DNA to that found in the crime scene, forensic officers informed Daudi’s unit that he was in the right direction.

“Look for someone in her family, we were told,” Daudi said.

Police proceeded to secretly take DNA samples from all of the sister’s relatives by arranging for them to visit police stations and government offices, and placing them in situations in which they would leave DNA behind, such as offering them a glass of water.

In April, a DNA match was found between Khamed and the crime scene.

Khamed and six relatives were arrested in the middle of the night early on May 3, in a large police-IDF operation in the West Bank.

Within two days, Khamed confessed to the killing, and tied Omar Koran, her ex-husband, to the crime.

Two days later, police were back in the West Bank searching for him.

“We had not been aware of him in the first round of arrests,” Daudi said. “He spotted a police roadblock while riding on a horse, and began to flee on horseback.”

Police units chased him down and arrested the suspect.

Khamed reenacted the homicide on Sunday. Police said a third suspect drove the couple from Kalkilya to Jaffa and back on the day of the murder. The other four suspects allegedly assisted the couple.

The main murder suspects said they became burdened with debts and stole from Levi to pay rent, police added.

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