Alexander River searches 248.88.
(photo credit: Nati Shapira/ZAKA)
A 59-year-old man from Bat Yam was arrested by police in Haifa on Sunday over the murder and dismemberment of a woman and her daughter.
Police on Thursday lifted a court-imposed gag order on details of the arrest, revealing that the suspect, Eli Fahima, had a romantic relationship with Beatrice Rodov, 62, and had regularly visited her apartment in Ramat Gan.
The motive, police say, was "a dispute over money."
Rodov's mutilated body was discovered in Ramat Gan on August 12, in a garbage can that had been set alight. Two days later, the body of her daughter, Denise Rodov, 36, was found in similar condition in the Alexander River, north of Netanya. Both corpses had been decapitated and several limbs were missing.
Tel Aviv police set up a special investigations team tasked with the gruesome mission of locating missing body parts in the Alexander River.
The special police Lahav 433 unit and the National Serious and International Crimes Unit tracked Fahima down in the North by tracing the signal of a cellphone that he had taken from the murder victim's apartment.
Fahima was also in possession of a car that had belonged to Beatrice Rodov.
On Monday, Fahima was led into the Ramle Magistrate's Court under heavy guard for a remand hearing.
As soon as he entered court, he began protesting that he was framed, and he was immediately removed from the court, before being returned.
His attorney, Oren Shpekman, said his client denied all charges, adding that police had no solid basis linking Fahima to the murders.
"My client denies any connection with the murders," Shpekman, told The Jerusalem Post this week. "He leads a normative life, working as welder."
Fahima, originally from Kiryat Shmona, is divorced and has four children.
In Monday's remand hearing, Shpekman suggested that police had used cellphone tracking technology to place Fahima in the murder scene.
"My client has not objected to giving police DNA samples," he added.
"He would occasionally visit the murdered woman's apartment in Ramat Gan and stay over, so it would make sense to find his belongings there," Shpekman said.
Judge Zakaria Yemini extended Fahima's custody until August 27, and wrote in his ruling, "When I read the case material... I found a number of strange gaps between the suspect's answers and the questions he was asked in his interrogation."
At the same time, Yemini added, the confidential police report he received did not contain "evidence that directly ties the suspect to the crimes he is suspected of committing, although the evidence does in the very least present a reasonable suspicion against the suspect."
Those who know Fahima are shocked by his arrest, Shpekman said.
"He is known to his friends as 'Almonds Eli,' because he would visit friends at their offices and hand out almonds," he added.
"Everyone who knows him knows he is a nice, sociable guy. This does not fit," Shpekman said.
Police scuttled an attempt by a number of media outlets to have the media ban canceled earlier this week, sparking claims from sections of the press of heavy-handed usage of gag orders.
The Central District Court in Petah Tikva ruled that the media ban remain in place until Thursday evening, overruling objections by some reporters that the gag orders prevented the public from being reassured that a suspect had been apprehended, and prevented the public from being notified that a serial killer was not on the loose.
In 1974, Fahima's sister and her three children were murdered in a terrorist attack in Kiryat Shmona. Three gunmen from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command infiltrated from Lebanon and embarked on a massacre in an apartment building in Kiryat Shmona, shooting dead 18 people.
In his native town, Fahima became involved in a number of thefts and property crimes.