Murder in Israel solved after nearly three decades of search

Several suspects were initially arrested for her murder, including her former IDF commander and her husband.

March 3, 2019 13:42
2 minute read.
Israel police car (Illustrative)

Israel police car (Illustrative). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Nearly three decades after the murder of Vardit Barkanot, police arrested Valery Sakobitz, indicting him in the 26-year-old cold case on suspicion of murder and rape against the young woman in 1993.

Barkanot was a 27-year-old photography student studying in Tel Aviv and was last seen getting into a car near the Le Guardia Bridge, however, she never returned home from her ride.

Worried family members then contacted police and after two days of searching, her body was found.

According to the charges, Barkonot entered a car close to the Le Guardia Bridge, with Sarkobitz inside. During the trip, Sarkobitz drove down Route 395 and along the way veered off during a dirt road into a forest in the area. When arriving at Sarkobitz's intended destination, Sarkobitz's physically and sexually assaulted Barkonot.

Afterwards Sarkobitz's strangled the young woman to death to ensure his escape from law enforcement, dragged her body 17 meters to a hidden rock garden in the forest, left her body there and absconded the scene in his car.

Several suspects were initially arrested for her murder, including her former IDF commander and her husband.

Over the years police continued to keep the case open, investigating leads when available in attempt to solve the 36-year-old cold case.

Recently, a team of researchers created a method to use the DNA evidence collected three decades ago to find the young woman's murderer. The research team after testing the DNA evidence then cross-referenced the lists to connect DNA matches to possible owners of similar vehicles in which the murder was committed in.

According to the research, Sarkobitz fled Israel and lived in Belarus for 13 years prior to his arrest this year, and upon his return to Israel, he was indicted citing sufficient evidence by the prosecution office.

Raya Barkanot, Vardit's mother told Walla News upon hearing about the indictment that she "hope[s] it really is true, I was disappointed a lot of these years, all sorts of hopes that later nothing came of it."

"Since the murder in November 1993 until the present day, the law enforcement system has not been quiet, intensive interrogation activities have been carried out over the past 26 years," said the Jerusalem District Prosecutor's Office. "Following technological developments related to the DNA adaptation and upon suspect's return to Israel after he was in Belarus for 13 years, the defendant was located and after interrogation, sufficient evidence was gathered that led to the filing of an indictment against him."

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