Homeless man arrested for murdering Tel Aviv woman, 62

After being caught stealing NIS 3,000, suspect allegedly stabs victim to death, sets apartment on fire, immediately buys plane ticket to US.

By
October 26, 2011 14:50
3 minute read.
Forensic police unit

Forensic police unit. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

A man claiming to be a recent immigrant from Germany stabbed a Tel Aviv woman to death and set her apartment on fire following a botched robbery, police said Wednesday.

The suspect in the killing, a homeless man who goes by the name David Shwartz, was brought before the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Rachel Giano, 62, was found with stab wounds across her upper body, lying in a puddle of blood in her torched north Tel Aviv apartment.

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The court extended Shwartz’s remand by nine days and ordered him sent for a psychiatric examination. When Shwartz arrived at the courthouse, relatives of Giano screamed “you ruined our lives” and tried to attack him, with one managing to push Shwartz before police were able to hurry him into the courthouse.

The picture painted of Shwartz by Tel Aviv police is of a mysterious, 27- year-old homeless man who immigrated to Israel from Germany a year ago, claiming that he is half-Jewish. Since then, police say he has lived on the streets of Tel Aviv working odd jobs painting stairwells or doing gardening work.

According to deputy police commander Dudi Bar from the Yarkon precinct investigative unit, everything police know about Shwartz is based on what he has told them during the investigation and police are currently working to determine who he is, when he came to Israel, and what, if any, of his story pans out.

Bar said that Shwartz told police he met Giano three weeks ago when she asked for his help clearing out a flower store she ran on Ibn Gvirol Street near her apartment. Bar said that Shwartz quickly won the trust of Giano, who out of a desire to help him, hired him on a number of occasions to perform repairs in her apartment for a small fee.

Bar said that relatives of Giano told investigators that she had told them that NIS 1,000 had gone missing from her purse about 10 days ago. Relatives reportedly told her to be wary of Shwartz, but Giano refused to take their advice, and continued her relationship with Shwartz, partly out of a desire to help him.



According to police, on the day of the murder, Shwartz encountered Bar on the street outside her apartment and she invited him up to her apartment. Shortly thereafter, Giano went to the bathroom and Shwartz lifted NIS 3,000 from her purse. Giano caught him in the act and began screaming in English “I call the police!” at which point, police said Shwartz told them, he attacked her and then set the house on fire.


According to Bar, a manhunt was quickly launched for Shwartz, and officers went door to door in the neighborhood until they came to an apartment where witnesses said an acquaintance of Shwartz lived. Once the door was opened, police saw Shwartz inside the apartment, and as officers searched him, they found an airline ticket to the United States set to leave on November 2. Police said that after killing Giano, Shwartz told them he took the money he stole to buy the ticket at a nearby travel agency.

At the courthouse on Wednesday Shwartz’s attorney Itai Ben-Nun said of his client, “This is a man who is completely crazy from head to toe and he will be sent for a psychiatric examination.”

When asked about Shwartz’s mental state, Bar said that at no point during his interrogation did he mention any sort of mental illness, and the suspect did not express remorse when given the opportunity to do so.


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