Rash of murders in North 'a coincidence'

Families vote "no-confidence" in police investigators.

crime scene 88 (photo credit: )
crime scene 88
(photo credit: )
As family and friends gathered Thursday at a cemetery in Misgav to bury 18-year-old Ma'ayan Ben-Horin, police denied that there was a common thread binding the recent increase in murders in the Northern District. With the early morning slaying of Haifa English teacher Rim Hussein Kasam Thursday, the number of murders in the district over the past 90 days rose to five. Kasam's body was discovered shortly after midnight on the doorstep of her Rehov Ben-Yehuda home in Haifa's Hadar neighborhood. The 36-year-old native of Rama taught at the Shizaf High School and worked her way up from poverty to a master's degree. The Hof Subdistrict Central Investigative Unit was charged with leading the investigation into the third of three murders this week in the North. Hours earlier, a 34-year-old man was found dead in Tiberias, and immediately following the discovery of the body, a gag order was issued by the Tiberias Magistrate's Court regarding all details concerning the case, including the victim's identity. That murder followed closely on the heels of the discovery of Ben-Horin's body in an undeveloped area near Yodfat. Hundreds gathered for the twelfth-grader's funeral Thursday evening, but family and friends remained with more questions rather than closure. Northern District Police Chief Cmdr. Dan Ronen insisted that none of the three murders this week, nor the murder in Karmiel last week or Ta'ir Rada's slaying over a month ago were related. "All of these murders show different characteristics and are completely different," Ronen said Thursday. But one senior officer in the Galilee Subdistrict told The Jerusalem Post that it was unusual to see so many murders in so short a period - especially taking into consideration the fact that all but possibly one of the victims had no criminal records. While details of the investigation into the Ben-Horin murder are under a gag order, rumors began to spread in the small communities of the western Galilee that Ben-Horin had been murdered after trying to hitch a ride. Youths in the area complained that they were forced to endanger themselves by hitchhiking, because the public transportation in the area is insufficient. However, that was far from the only complaint raised following Ben-Horin's brutal murder, which police believed occurred shortly after her disappearance Monday. When their daughter's tracks went cold, the Ben-Horin family hired the services of a private detective agency that specializes in locating Israelis missing overseas. And after Ma'ayan's body was found, the detectives stayed on to run a shadow investigation, parallel to that of the police. In doing so, the Ben-Horin family followed in the footsteps of the Rada family, who also enlisted the aid of veteran investigator Amos Peleg to try to work with police to improve the quality of the investigation into their daughter's December murder. While criminologist Dr. Danny Gimshi blasted the decision, describing the phenomenon as a further example of how individuals with financial resources could afford to reinforce state-sponsored services with privately funded specialists, others argued it should serve as a wake-up call for the law-enforcement community. The Le'an Organization Against Youth Violence, a non-profit group that has been working with the Rada family since their daughter's murder, spoke out Thursday in support of the victims' families' right to employ private detectives. Le'an head Tamara Mor said the organization, which sponsored Peleg's cooperation with the Rada family, said she had requested that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni allow "victims of crimes to have the possibility to request that an expert investigator assist police in investigations until there is a significant reinforcement of manpower and equipment of the police."