Disturbing story had fairy tale beginnings

Before she left France for Israel, missing Rose's mother described her daughter as "my treasure."

little rose 248.88 (photo credit: Israel Police)
little rose 248.88
(photo credit: Israel Police)
It's hard to believe, but one of the most sordid dysfunctional family stories started as a fairy tale. Marie-Charlotte Pizem was once so happy that she felt the need to share her feelings of love and fulfillment in a French family forum on the Internet (www.familles.com) among other happy mothers like herself. In Pizem's message to the mothers of the support group, shortly before she left France for Israel, she describes her daughter as "my treasure," and accompanying photos show a happy, well-treated young girl. Pictures of the brown-haired, blue-eyed girl have since filled the front pages of newspapers and been featured on TV newscasts. "Losing hope" was the banner headline in the daily Yediot Aharonot, along with a picture of Rose in a pink dress, gazing into the camera from under auburn ringlets. "A lousy day to be a police detective," was the front-page take of Haaretz. One of the pictures, showing the missing girl's face covered with chocolate, is accompanied by a caption rendered ominous by the following events. "Do you think there will be any chocolate for me in the place where my parents are taking me?" Another joyous text rendered macabre is Pizem's former stepfather's wedding speech, where he speaks of his respect for Pizem and her husband for having "a beautiful way of raising your child." But the roots of the dysfunctional family were already evident early on. Police investigators, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the remaining reporting restrictions, said Rose's father Benjamin was the illegitimate offspring of a brief relationship between Roni Ron and a French tourist, and the boy grew up in France without knowing his own father. Benjamin met Marie in France, and after Rose's birth the teenagers got married and visited Israel to explore Benjamin's roots. After meeting Ron, however, Marie fell in love with him and stayed on in Israel after Benjamin and Rose returned to France. A child custody battle ensued, amid suspicions of abuse of Rose by her father, investigators said. A French court awarded custody to Marie and she came back to Israel with the child, setting up a home with Ron and giving birth to two more daughters, now one and two years old. Netanya's welfare department said the two young girls were now in the care of social services. Police said Ron's sister Sigalit Kirschberg, who was murdered during a break-in at her home in northern Israel last month, ran away from home when she was 16, saying both she and her brother were gravely abused by their mother, Vivienne, the same person who raised the alarm after Rose disappeared. Police do not believe that Sigalit's slaying has any connection to Rose's case. Benjamin, the missing child's father, is in France. "At this stage he is refusing to cooperate with the Israeli police, and we cannot legally force him to do so," Cohen told reporters. "An Israeli police representative in France and a French official contacted him and tried to speak to him, but at the moment the biological father refuses to speak to the Israeli police." AP contributed to this story.