Lawyer Ariel Atari speaks to Daniel Maoz in court 311.
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
The 28-year-old son of a Jerusalem couple who were stabbed to death in their apartment on August 13 has been arrested, police announced on Wednesday.
Daniel Maoz, who has no criminal record, has hundreds of thousands of shekels in gambling debts, police said. Maoz was arrested at his apartment in Tel Aviv on September 11.
Cops investigating Ramot slayings far from spotlight
The bodies of Nurit and Noah Maoz were discovered on August 14 by another son, Nir, who went to the couple’s home in the northern Ramot neighborhood after both had failed to show up for work. Nurit Maoz worked at the Justice Ministry and Noah worked at a dentists’ office in the Malha neighborhood.
Police investigators were immediately suspicious of the fact that nothing was stolen from the apartment and there was no evidence of a break-in, meaning the murderer likely knew the couple. Though the police investigated the possibilities of a terrorist attack or a dispute over money, they quickly zeroed in on the son Daniel, whose story about his whereabouts on the night of the killings changed under repeated questioning and gave the police details only a murderer could know.
Daniel Maoz has hundreds of thousands of shekels in gambling debts to banks and private individuals, and police believe he may have been trying to use his inheritance to pay what he owed.
Two years ago, one of his brothers rescued him from similar debts, and Daniel swore to the family that he had quit gambling for good, police said.
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They believe his parents knew that he had returned to gambling and may have helped him out financially in recent months.
“They were a normal family, and supportive parents,” said Asher Lizmi, the head of special investigations for Jerusalem Police.
According to the investigation, Daniel arrived at his parent’s home on Saturday evening, and watched television with his father while his mother prepared for bed. Sometime shortly before 11, he got into an argument with his father and allegedly began stabbing him with a knife from the kitchen.
His mother came into the room to help, and he also stabbed her to death, police said.
Neighbors heard screams and shouts of “he’s murdering me!” but did not notify police. Police called the actions of the neighbors “regrettable.”
Daniel then returned to Tel Aviv and performed a variety of errands, including getting gas, taking money out of an ATM and visiting some of his gambling friends in an apartment in the city.
His friends told police Daniel was acting very strangely, asking suspicious questions about whether authorities could track people’s whereabouts using cellphones, and was disheveled with spots of blood on his shirt and a knife wound on his hand.
Police said Daniel then returned to his parents’ apartment in Jerusalem and tried to clean up the crime scene.
As police questioned Daniel, he changed his original story and told police he had been in the house at the time of the killings and tried to fight the attacker but had frozen in fear and did not notify police, worried that they would assume he was the murderer.
On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court remanded Maoz for an additional five days, until he is served with an indictment on Monday.
Siblings Nir and Tamar Maoz- Pullman sat stoically in the courtroom and refused to look at their brother, save a few glances. Police notified the family on Tuesday that they were going to indict Daniel Maoz in the murder of Nurit and Noah.
Police said the family was “in shock” but decided not to defend Daniel against the accusations.
His lawyer, Ariel Atari, maintained Daniel Maoz’s innocence outside the courtroom.
“A man who sees his two parents on the floor, murdered, doesn’t always behave in the most rational way,” Atari said.
“Only after he saw that the police was not going after the real murderers did he tell the police what he knew... You can’t explain behavior like this when a man goes into panic,” he said, citing Daniel Maoz’s service as a commander in the army and his “very normal” life as proof of his client’s innocence.
The bodies of Noah, 64, and Nurit, 60, were discovered covered in stab wounds on Sunday morning, August 14. Paramedics described a living room that was covered in blood.
Tamar Maoz-Pullman, the former captain of the women’s national basketball team, was in Romania for the European championships when she received the news of her parents’ murder. Both Tamar and Nir declined to talk to the media.
The Maozes are also survived by an additional son, Guy, a physician in New York.
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