The acquittal of Roman Zadorov on Thursday, after 16 years after being accused of the murder of Tair Rada, led to a public uproar over the possibility that Rada's killer may still be walking free.
Clinical criminologist Karen Alfentz, who followed the whole case and read the investigation materials, spoke with Maayan Adam on 103FM on Friday morning and shared her thoughts on the matter.
"I actually started this by wanting to make a presentation that Zadorov was the killer," Alfentz explained. "I started reading all the investigations, night after night."
Suspicions in the investigation
She continued, "I remember one interrogation that, as soon as I finished it, I felt it in my gut. I said, 'there's something here, the way he described the agenda, the orderly and organized details.' It made my stomach turn, and that means something very significant."
Alfentz claimed that "most people who come to interrogations don't know how to recall what they were doing that day down to the exact minute and seconds. usually, you can remember when you left for work and you have other details to remind you, but you won't remember it by specific hours or minutes.
"One of the things that bothered me was that he said he hitchhiked all the way to Kiryat Shemona, where he ate a hamburger, but said he was still hungry so he ate another. This description sounded like emotional eating after trauma. We know this from victims who have been sexually assaulted."
As she puts it, "During the investigation, he actually says this, and I started collecting everything relevant, like the phone records he released. Then you realize that at the time of the murder, his phone was silent, but all morning and all afternoon he was sending and receiving messages. So yes, what happened in this three-quarters of an hour is very disturbing. I think that some of my advantages are that, unlike law enforcement, I'm no investigator, I just read the materials and there are several edges to that. I saw different avenues left open."
The possibility of a false confession
As far as whether it's possible that someone who didn't commit the crime is able to take the blame due to external manipulations, Alfentz said the following.
"At a certain point when I was watching Zadorov being interrogated, I asked myself, 'What do I understand about false confessions?' As far as I'm concerned, as soon as there is a conviction, I went and read a lot of different materials. Certainly, people give false confessions and then they give a lot more details about the crime than the people who actually committed it.
"This process can be seen over several days. They put him in a cell and stress him out. He doesn't eat and loses a lot of weight. It's not that they don't bring him food, he just didn't want to eat the food brought by the holding facility. There's even a video where you can actually see that he wants to go to sleep so he does so, but then someone on the speaker takes out a bag and starts playing with it and then Zadorov wakes up and more questions are asked. It's a several-day process that gets him under pressure. He's already tired, he doesn't have anyone he can talk to properly and eventually he breaks down."
"I think that the ones who were there and carried it out were teenagers. There was some big setup to lead her into this trap."Keren Alfentz
The true identity of the murderer: The mysterious criminal network surrounding the Tair Rada murder
She further said: "I am not silent about Roman Zadorov. I went through many stages regarding this, but I don't think he committed the murder. As soon as I read the investigation materials from the teenagers, I understood.. what happened at the school. Many teenagers gave a lot of detail and said some very significant things about who was involved in the murder."
"I talked to a lot of teenagers and a lot of them also helped me. I think 95% of them said they know Roman Zadorov isn't the murderer. They also said it didn't surprise them that Tair was the one who was murdered."Keren Alfentz
Regarding the teenagers at the school who she spoke with during her personal investigation, she said the following: "I talked to a lot of teenagers and a lot of them also helped me. I think 95% of them said they know Roman Zadorov isn't the murderer. They also said it didn't surprise them that Tair was the one who was murdered. There was a much larger and more complex network here, most of the teenagers described it in the investigation, that pointed to other teenagers."
Clarifying, she said: "I don't think most of Tair's friends were involved in the act itself, but there was a sort of set-up here, like a spiderweb. There were all kinds of things that were basically driving her crazy, things that, as a child, you can say are 'no big deal.'"
Later, Alfentz said, as she delved deeper into the murder and found more details, friends and family members began to fear for her life.
"At first, most of my friends were very supportive of me. But soon as I realized that within this network there is a larger criminal network – and I'm not talking about a small-time drug dealer. There were friends who warned me to back off, saying it could destroy my family."
"How close were you to the truth?" Maayan Adam asked.
Alfentz replied: "I'm not working right now, and I think this is part of the reason why. I'm very close to the truth, no doubt. I think that the ones who were there and carried it out were teenagers. There was some big setup to lead her into this trap. But the point of closing this case is still far away – I can only do that with the Israel Police."
In conclusion, Alfentz said that "I believe in the system. I believe the state attorney today and the police commissioner will want to end this case. I believe they want to change the system, that they want to make a distinction between false confessions and actual criminal confessions, to change the way victims and teenagers are investigated. Because of these changes, which I think are taking place right now, I'm sure this case will end."