Police on Sunday morning were expected to receive the results of the autopsies conducted on the bodies of six members of a single family, who were found stabbed to death in a partially burned-out apartment in Rishon Lezion on Saturday morning, in a multiple homicide that has shocked the country.
The family - two grandparents, two parents and two young children - had gathered on Friday evening to celebrate the older child's third birthday. Two red party balloons could be seen hovering against the ceiling of the second-floor apartment on Saturday, over the heads of police officers examining the home.
The dead have been named as Ludmilla and Edward Oshrenko, both aged 56, Dimitri and Tatyana Oshrenko, 32 and 28, three-year-old Revital Oshrenko and three-month-old Natanel Oshrenko.
Police are seeking to determine whether a member of the family committed the murders before taking his or her own life, or whether a non-relative entered the apartment and stabbed the family members to death.
Early on Saturday morning, rescue services were called to the address on Rehov Nordau, after a report of a fire. Firefighters broke down the locked door and entered the home, where they discovered the six corpses.
Police came, and quickly realized that the deceased did not lose their lives in a fire, when stab wounds and pools of blood were found on and around every body. Officers described encountering bloody bodies lying in beds and other areas in the apartment.
Police believe the culprit lit one or more fires, in the hope that the bodies would be burned and the stabbings disguised.
"The family had no criminal past or disputes," Central District police chief Cmdr. Nissim Mor said, speaking from the scene. Mor compared the grisly scene to the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
The Central District's Central Unit was called in to lead the investigation, and a media gag order has been imposed.
Dozens of neighbors gathered around police lines sealing off the street, as emergency services personnel loaded body after body into waiting ambulances.
As one corpse covered by a white sheet was brought out of the building, a relative standing on the other side of the street broke down and wept. A man attempted to comfort her.
"At 8 a.m., I heard on the radio that a family was killed in a fire," Avi, a local resident, told The Jerusalem Post. "Then, an hour later, they said on the radio that they were stabbed.
"This is a shock. There is a murder every other day. It's become lawless in this country. There is no law," he said.
"This is a good neighborhood, a quiet area," Avi said. "The family owned a delicatessen around the corner from here."
A few dozen meters away, at the Dagan Deli, forensic officers were scouring the ground for evidence and questioning neighbors.
Back at the murder scene on Rehov Nordau, police had set up a mobile crime lab, as forensic officers moved in and out of the apartment.
Neighbors stood on their balconies looking at the police and press below. Young children from a Chabad center peered over their playground gate toward the murder scene, attempting to make sense of what they were seeing.
Earlier, the crime scene was visited by Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, who knew the family.
"I've known them for years," he said, adding that they made aliya from Russia in the early 1990s.
Tatyana and Dimitri ran a club and restaurant for Russian Israelis, Meseznikov said.
"I took part in all their family events, and in the baby's brit mila," he said. "They worked hard to succeed. This is an excellent family with many friends in the city."
The crime scene was also visited by Rishon Lezion Mayor Meir Nitzan and Deputy Mayor Vadim Kirpetchov.
Kirpetchov, who also knew the Oshrenkos well, said he was not aware of any serious financial difficulties or feuds in the family.
"I'm in shock and it's difficult for me to digest this," he said.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visited the scene late on Saturday afternoon, and received a briefing from detectives.
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