Police: Rose's grandfather killed her

Court remands Ronnie Ron and four-year-old's mother; search for girl's body focuses on Yarkon.

marie pisam rose mother 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
marie pisam rose mother 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A stunned Israeli public learned on Tuesday that police suspect the missing four-year old Netanya girl, Rose Pizem, was killed by her grandfather, Ronnie Ron, in his car three months ago. After a gag order was lifted, police revealed they had launched a search for her body in Tel Aviv's Yarkon River, where Ron is alleged to have dumped it in a suitcase. The possibility that the girl's mother, 23-year-old French immigrant Marie Pizem, had been in the car during the killing could not be ruled out, said a police representative, as police and the suspects' lawyer locked horns in court over Pizem's innocence. Ron and Pizem were taken into custody on August 12, police said on Tuesday, after a media ban on the investigation had been lifted. A surreal and complex web of abusive family ties was unveiled, as the public learned that Ron had taken Pizem, the wife of his son, Benjamin, as his partner. Benjamin, Rose's biological father, lives in Paris. Following their separate appearances before Judge Ron Levi, the court extended both suspects' custody by 15 days. Levi said evidence existed to suggest that Ron and Pizem were linked to the girl's disappearance. In court, a silent Ron placed his head in his hands. Later, tearful and looking distraught, Pizem answered some questions in Hebrew put to her by the judge. Revital Swid, who represents the two suspects, said Ron had been driving his granddaughter home, adding that she had been feeling unwell. "She did something which angered Ronnie, and he struck her on the head," Swid said. "She slumped her head, and Ronnie thought she was angry at him for hitting her. He then realized that the blow had killed her, and he panicked - he was terrified by the prospect of facing his partner, Marie. So he drove to the Yarkon River, placed the girl's body in a suitcase, and dumped it into the water," she added. Returning home without Rose, Ron had told Pizem that he had sent her daughter to a French boarding school, Swid said, adding that the young mother had believed her partner's story. In a possible sign of the legal battle to come, Swid's apparent attempt to exonerate Pizem from the slaying was angrily dismissed in court by police representative Eitan Sheinman. "Do you want me to explain what we know in front of the court?" he asked. "We have information, which we gave to the court, that Marie knew what happened to her daughter... this woman knows what happened, despite your attempt to portray her as innocent," he said. Police were not ruling out the possibility that Pizem was in the car during the slaying, Sheinman said. He asked why Pizem had not alerted the police despite not having heard from her daughter in three months. "She may not be such a good mother," Swid conceded, but Pizem had "launched a difficult legal appeal to bring Rose to Israel after learning that she was hospitalized due to physical abuse she suffered from her father, Benjamin, in France." Pizem's legal effort succeeded in 2006, when Rose arrived in Israel. But things quickly deteriorated after the girl began mistreating her two younger sisters, the lawyer said. Swid described a "generational chain of violence." Earlier, police had detailed the sequence of events from Rose's disappearance in May to the arrests made in August. Rose's great-grandmother (Ron's mother), who had periodically taken care of the girl, had sent a letter to the National Council for the Child on July 22, saying she was concerned for Rose's welfare and adding that she had not seen the girl for months. The Council had alerted social welfare services, who paid a number of calls to the couple's Netanya home, finding no one at home. After being alerted by neighbors that a confrontation with Ron could turn violent, social welfare services contacted the police by fax on August 3. Officers visited the address repeatedly, only finding Ron and Pizem at home on August 12. Ron had refused to open the door at first. He would not tell officers where Rose was, leading police to arrest him. Central Police District spokesman Shlomi Sagi denied allegations made by Dr. Yitzhak Kadmon, head of the National Council for the Child, who claimed police refused to act until receiving a written notification of a missing person. "If that would have been true than we would not have launched our search, as we have no written notification from Rose's parents," the spokesman told The Jerusalem Post. "The moment we received word from social welfare services, we sent officers to the address and waited for the parents." Sagi confirmed reports that Rose's father in France was not cooperating with police. "By law, we can't make him come here," Sagi said. "Right now, we do not have fruitful cooperation with him."