49-year-old man suspected of premeditated murder of teenage girl

The 17-year-old girl was reported missing on Friday after she failed to return home to her grandmother, and her body was discovered buried in a construction site 24 hours later.

 Police at the scene where the body of 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik was found on a construction site in Kiryat Motzkin, October 2, 2021. (photo credit: ALON NADAV/FLASH 90)
Police at the scene where the body of 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik was found on a construction site in Kiryat Motzkin, October 2, 2021.
(photo credit: ALON NADAV/FLASH 90)

The body of a missing 17-year-old girl, identified to be Lital Yael Melnik, was found partially buried near a park in Kiryat Motzkin on Saturday morning, and a 49-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the premeditated murder.

The girl was first reported missing by her grandmother on Friday after she failed to return home to Or Akiva from the boarding school in the south of the country which she had started attending just last week.

Melnik’s grandmother acted as her legal guardian, and her parents do not reside in Israel, KAN News reported.

Her body was found in Kiryat Motzkin on Saturday morning after a passerby contacted the police to report suspicious activity, and what looked like a freshly dug pit, at a construction site near a municipal park. Upon their arrival to the scene, police found a partially buried body which they later confirmed to be the missing teenager.

When reporting her disappearance, Melnik’s grandmother gave police the name of a 49-year-old man from Kiryat Motzkin with whom the girl had shared a romantic relationship.

The suspect was employed as a nurse in a psychiatric ward in Tirat Hacarmel near Haifa, and it is there that the two are thought to have first met, as she was hospitalized there at the same time as he was employed.

During the police investigation into the murder, the suspect allegedly stated, according to N12, that Melnik's grandmother had issued a restraining order against him once in the past.

The body of 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik was found on a construction site in Kiryat Motzkin (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESMAN)The body of 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik was found on a construction site in Kiryat Motzkin (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESMAN)

Walla journalist Yoav Etiel reported via Twitter that police officers arrived at the man’s apartment on Friday night in order to question him about the girl’s disappearance, but found that he was not home. After the body was discovered on Saturday morning, they returned to his home, waited for him to enter, and arrested him.

Investigators have concluded that the murder was planned and prepared for ahead of time, and the suspect's fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime. They also discovered that the girl's phone had been turned off ahead of the murder, as was the suspect's.

Investigators are now working to determine possible motives for the murder.

Referring to the fact that the suspect was a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that the Health Ministry would look into the matter to see if there were any failings in a tweet on Sunday.

"I cannot get the shocking murder of Lital Yael Melnik out of my mind," he wrote. "Things like this just cannot happen. The police will carry out their investigation, and we will check if there were any failings and do everything we can to fix them. The health system needs to be a safe space for people in the most vulnerable state, definitely in the mental health arena. My condolences to the whole family."