A serial con man was convicted on Tuesday of murdering both his first and third wives by the Lod District Court in a saga that dates back to 2009 and from which he might have escaped if not for a TV program which aired in 2010.
Originally, police had closed the Shimon Cooper case until Channel 2 aired a program on March 25, 2010 about the murders, which caused a public uproar and eventually led to a reopening of the investigation and an indictment.
A web of lies, scams and a fictional story about a Mossad hit overseas were at the center of the case.
With a haze surrounding the facts, even the original indictment was substantially incomplete, only referencing Cooper’s murder of his third wife, Jenny Cooper.
That indictment alleged that Cooper was a serial con man who seduced and married his third wife, and then murdered her on the night of August 20-21, 2009.
Cooper accomplished the murder by injecting Jenny with an overdose of tranquilizers.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Mariah Zakotsky, an accomplice and alleged lover of Cooper’s, was also arrested in 2012 under suspicion of providing Cooper with the tranquilizers he used to kill Jenny.
Cooper had long told Jenny that he worked in a top-secret capacity for the Israeli security establishment, as a cover for the times he’d disappear for days at a time.
According to police, during the investigation Zakotsky admitted that Cooper pulled the same ruse with her, and that she supplied him with tranquilizers after he told her he needed them to carry out an assassination for the Mossad in an undisclosed location outside the country.
Cooper met Zakotsky in 2006 and started a relationship with her, while still with Jenny.
Little by little, Cooper took legal steps to ensure he would possess all rights to Jenny’s assets if she died.
He undertook these actions even though Jenny was only in her mid-40s and in good health, said the indictment.
By March 19, 2013, the Central District Attorney’s Office filed a request to amend its indictment against the serial con man to add a charge of murdering his first wife, Orit Cooperschmidt, to go along with the murder charges regarding his third wife.
The indictment said that shortly before Orit died, Cooper told her family members that she was suffering from depression.
Orit died in very similar circumstances to Jenny in January 1994.
Orit was found with an assortment of bottles of what appeared to be drugs, which she had swallowed nearby her, said the indictment.
However, the autopsy found that the drug levels in her body could not have caused her death on their own, noted the indictment, and her cause of death was left as unknown.
Cooper is also believed to have tried to kill his second wife, referred to as “S” under a gag order, using the same methods, but was never indicted in that incident.
The new charges arose from additional investigative activities that shed new light on Cooper’s method of operation in general, and regarding his first wife in particular.
According to the new charges, Cooper murdered Orit (the prosecution was still unclear how) and then set up a scene to make it look like she had committed suicide by overdosing.
Cooper then called family members and police, covering his tracks by being the person who notified everyone.
The case also went to the High Court of Justice in 2013 when Cooper tried to block additional television programs from running about the charges against him, but the High Court allowed the program to be aired.