Murder-suicide suspected as mother and 4 daughters found dead

Foul play suspected in Jerusalem apartment blaze.

By
January 1, 2017 17:12
3 minute read.

Scene of deadly fire in Jerusalem

Scene of deadly fire in Jerusalem

 
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Police and emergency personnel are investigating whether a Jerusalem apartment fire, which killed the four young daughters of a woman who was found hanging lifeless, was a murder-suicide.

Details of the fire, which broke out around 5 p.m. Sunday, and the causes of the deaths in the sixth-floor apartment in the Talpiot neighborhood remain unclear.

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United Hatzalah EMTs and first-responders from its Psycho- trauma Unit were dispatched to the apartment on Hebron Road following reports of foul play.

Yossi Frankel, deputy commander for Jerusalem of the ZAKA rescue and recovery organization, and operations officer of the international team, said he saw the bodies of all five family members after first-responders entered the residence through the balcony.

“The call came in initially to report a fire, and we arrived at the scene to find five dead bodies, including a mother in her 30s, who committed suicide by hanging, and two girls around 12 and 13, a sevenyear- old, and a two-year-old,” Frankel said.

“The cause of death for the children is still under investigation, but what I can tell you is that it is being investigated as a murder-suicide. This is one of the hardest cases that ZAKA in Jerusalem has had to deal with over the past few years. From experience, I can tell you that it was a terrible scene.”

Another ZAKA volunteer described a “shocking scene.”



Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld did not comment on the circumstances surrounding the deaths, but said a joint investigation by police and fire officials has been launched.

“What we know until now is that firefighters and emergency units were called into Derech Hebron in Talpiot after five people were found there unconscious and later pronounced dead,” said Rosenfeld.

“There was serious damage in the apartment and its surrounding area, and an investigation has been opened by police and firefighters to determine the cause of the fire.”

According to an unidentified Magen David Adom paramedic, the apartment was full of smoke when first-responders arrived.

irst responders from the ZAKA rescue and recovery organization at the scene of a Jerusalem apartment fire on January 1, 2017 (MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

“I saw smoke coming from the last window on the floor,” the medic said. “I immediately went up along with firefighters, who broke down the door and entered the residence that was full of smoke.

“I saw an unconscious woman approximately in her 30s without a pulse. I provided initial medical checks, but she remained unconscious and shortly thereafter her death was pronounced.”

The Jerusalem Municipality released a statement saying that the family was not known to, nor was it ever treated by, the city’s social services department.

It added that several months ago the mother called looking for babysitting services, and was informed that the municipality does not provide that service.

Upon learning of the tragedy, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat dispatched social, education and psychological services employees to meet the needs of the locals traumatized by the deaths.

“A team of three social workers immediately left the area to handle the case and provide all necessary assistance,” Barkat said in a statement.

“In addition, two other social workers were sent to meet with the neighbors. At the same time, the education administration is prepared to send psychological services counselors to the educational institutions where students went to school with the daughters.”

Anticipating a devastated response from the girls’ classmates, Barkat said a meeting was scheduled for school staff on Sunday night, to prepare for Monday morning.

“The municipality will continue to help the family and the educational institutions the daughters attended,” the mayor said.

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