‘There was no sign that anything was wrong’

Tainted methadone suspected in drug-related deaths.

A teenager with a promising future and a young man who had fallen through society’s cracks were the pictures that emerged on Wednesday of the two victims of an apparent drug overdose, who were found in a central Jerusalem apartment on Monday night.
Rauf Zienelov, 21, and Lee Vatkin, 16, were discovered by Vatkin’s father around midnight on Monday, lying lifeless on a mattress inside an apartment on Tiberias Street in the capital’s Nahlaot neighborhood.
Vatkin had been looking for his daughter throughout the afternoon, after a number of calls to her cellphone had gone unanswered.
After scouring the streets for hours, he arrived at the apartment where Zienelov and Lee Vatkin had moved in together only three weeks previously, and began knocking on the door.
When no one answered, Vatkin went around to the side of the apartment and peered through a window, making the grim discovery.
Police and a Magen David Adom response unit were called, but it was too late. Zienelov and Lee Vatkin were pronounced dead at the scene, and an initial investigation showed that they had passed away some hours before they were discovered.
According to police, the two had possibly been using a batch of methadone – primarily used by recovering heroin addicts – that had been cut with a type of poison.
Their bodies were transferred to the L. Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir. Final toxicology results are expected within the coming weeks.
Zienelov’s father and grandmother, who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union some 14 years ago, expressed their deep sadness over his death on Tuesday, and told reporters that while he had experienced difficulties integrating into Israeli society, they hadn’t realized the extent of his drug use.
“He was a good kid,” Zienelov’s father, Bachram, who lives in Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood, said on Tuesday.
“I raised him alone, and he was my only child. He liked computers and playing the drums, which he excelled at.” But Rauf Zienelov also led a turbulent life, dropping out of school in the 10th grade and running into trouble with the law, conflicts that included drug offenses. He did not serve in the military.
His grandmother, Ludmilla, expressed her shock as well on Tuesday, telling reporters that she had seen her grandson only a few days prior, and “he seemed to be happy.” “I saw him last Thursday, and there was no sign that anything was wrong with him,” she said.
“He was smiling.” But Ludmilla said that after her grandson had left, he had called her to say that he wouldn’t be able to come to his father’s house over the weekend, and asked his grandmother to pass the message along.
“That was the last time I heard from him,” she said.
Zienelov was buried on Tuesday, with his father, grandmother and a handful of friends in attendance.
Vatkin, on the other hand, came from an Anglo-Saxon family in the upscale Jerusalem neighborhood of Baka. She had been accepted to a prestigious high school but stopped attending nearly two years ago after one of her teachers began to suspect her drug use.
Vatkin’s family has repeatedly refused to speak with the press, but her friends have set up a Facebook page in her name and writing various memories of her online.
“She loved life,” a friend wrote of Vatkin. “She took advantage of every moment, was as optimistic as possible, spontaneous, and did whatever came to mind.” A family friend who asked to remain anonymous added that she was “heartbroken” over Vatkin’s passing, and that her “thoughts and prayers were with the family during this difficult time.” “I had known her since she was born,” the family friend said.
“I was at her bat mitzva, and I had hoped to dance at her wedding.
This is truly a tragic ending to the life of a very beautiful and lovely girl.”