Meet the cunning man allegedly behind the murder of Sapir Nahum

Wahl Halayla will be charged on Monday with kidnapping and murdering Sapir Nahum. Here's what the investigation revealed.

 24-year-old Sapir Nahum, who went missing on June 2, 2022. (photo credit: COURTESY ISRAEL POLICE)
24-year-old Sapir Nahum, who went missing on June 2, 2022.

Israel Police filed a prosecutor's statement on Thursday against Wahl Robin Halayla, who is suspected of murdering 24-year-old Sapir Nahum. Police in the meantime released a video from the day of her disappearance, in which she is last seen walking home from her children's kindergarten in Acre, and the suspect is seen driving towards her in his car.

According to the police, the findings of the investigation have concluded that Halayla allegedly led Nahum from there to the place where her body was found, where he buried her after apparently strangling her.

Why was Halayla a suspect?

The 34 years old is Nahum's ex-partner. He was seen from the beginning of the investigation as the main suspect in her disappearance, as she was last seen getting in his car. He has a criminal background and is known to police as having been involved in illegal gun trading, drugs and violent activity.

Nahum's family expressed distrust toward Halayla, saying that they did not trust him and did not approve of his relationship with her. She had been in the process of suing him for child support when she disappeared.

 Police officers and volunteers search for Sapir Nahum, 24, who disappeared on June 2, 2022. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) Police officers and volunteers search for Sapir Nahum, 24, who disappeared on June 2, 2022. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

He was arrested the day after she was reported missing after admitting that he met her, though he claimed that he had nothing to do with her disappearance. He was released soon after, but then was arrested again. He had allegedly been acting suspiciously prior to Nahum's disappearance; it was later revealed that he had been repeatedly driving to the location where Nahum's body was later found.

A week and a half after she was reported missing, a body was found in the Bedouin village of Ibtin in northern Israel - Halayla's hometown.

Police confirmed it was Nahum's body the next day.

Is Halayla innocent?

Halayla's arrest had been extended seven times prior to the submission of the prosecutor's statement in order to complete the investigation. When he came to court upon the submission, he continued to claim innocence. 

"What do you expect me to do – that I lay on the floor and cry?" he asked in response. "I am an innocent man and it's all good."

His lawyer claimed that any modern state should not see a case handled the way this one has been. "He was arrested Saturday night on the way to a hospital with his mother and has since been detained, innocent of any crime," he said. He further claimed that Halayla has requested a polygraph test and that only select details of the investigation were leaked, including his criminal record, while other key points were not made known to the public.

"He arrived there not only that day to commit the murder, but also a few hours before, and another day for a few hours," a police spokesman said. 

The Police further explained that on the day of Nahum's murder, Halayla left his phone at home when he drove out to her, supposedly to avoid leaving a technological fingerprint. Nevertheless, security cameras filled in the gaps. Also filling in the gaps were topographical pieces of evidence, such as the fact that the burial place would require them to walk two kilometers, something that Halayla would not have been able to do with a dead body, meaning that he took Nahum there when she was still alive.

In the initial search for her body, the canine police unit passed less than 200 meters from her body's burial place, but was not able to find her because of how well she was concealed.

Investigation attitude

"He is one of the most manipulative suspects we've ever met. He's been disrupting the investigation in every way he can," a police spokesperson said. "He was constantly smug, dismissive and condescending. He would tell us, 'Find the body, then we'll talk. Until then, don't screw with me.'"

When Halayla found out that police had discovered the body, he apparently broke down while in his prison cell, but was calm again in front of investigators. 

Police explained that he had taken a polygraph, but was not interested in finding out about the results, which showed that he had been lying.

"'You do not want to know if you came out telling the truth or a lie?' he was asked constantly," the police spokesperson said. "'It has no evidential value,' he replied. 'I am not interested.'"

Yoav Itiel/Walla! contributed to this report.