Herzliya man indicted for murder of second wife

State files indictment against Mordechai Hai for allegedly stabbing second wife to death, 21 years after killing first wife.

Police car in Tel Aviv at night 311 (photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
Police car in Tel Aviv at night 311
(photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
Some two decades after he murdered his first wife, the state indicted 65-year-old Mordechai Hai in the Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday for stabbing his second wife, Elsie Lagundai, to death in their Herzliya home on September 18.
The indictment said that Hai attacked Lagundai with a kitchen knife while she was sleeping, stabbing her 10 times.
During the attack, Lagundai awoke and attempted to defend herself, at least once deflecting one of Hai’s blows, leading to him being moderately wounded on his leg, the indictment alleges.
Also, in the middle of the attack, Lagundai pleaded for her life, noted the indictment, but Hai ignored her pleas.
Hai did not stop attacking Lagundai until their four-year-old daughter ran into the room calling for him to stop – but Lagundai died from her multiple wounds, said the indictment.
A psychiatric evaluation determined that Hai is not in a psychotic state, and is aware of his condition. Court-appointed defense attorney Nir Elfasy said his client admitted to having killed his wife.
In 1991 the accused killed his first wife in a similar fashion, and was sentenced to 14 years in prison – but was deemed unfit for incarceration. Instead, he was sent to Abarbanel Psychiatric Hospital, where he served out his sentence.
Hai met Lagundai shortly after his release. They were married six years ago and recently separated.
Prior to the murder, the accused called police and asked that he be escorted to the couple’s home to gather his belongings, after which he left peacefully. He explained that he suspected his wife of being unfaithful and using him in order to be able to stay in Israel legally. The indictment said that the accused also believed that his wife was involved in prostitution and drugs.
Elfasy said of his client that “it is obvious that he is not a well man” and had become “an emotional powder keg” ahead of the incident. The lawyer added that he would focus on his client’s mental state and not deny that he carried out the murder.
The prosecution is seeking to detain the accused until the end of the legal proceedings against him.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.