Man indicted for scamming, murdering wife

Shimon Cooper, 51, is believed to have killed his first and third wives and of attempting to kill his second wife.

Handcuffs arrest police crime illustrative 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Handcuffs arrest police crime illustrative 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
A web of lies, scams and a fictional story about a Mossad hit overseas are at the center of a murder indictment filed on Monday against Shimon Cooper.
The Central District Attorney’s Office alleged that the 51-year-old Cooper was a serial conman who seduced and married his third wife, Jenny Cooper, before murdering her the night of August 20, 2009.
Cooper injected Jenny with an overdose of tranquilizers, presently unidentified under gag order, said the indictment.
Police are also still probing whether Cooper orchestrated the death of his first wife, Orit Coopershmidt, whom he married in 1983. The indictment said that shortly before she died, he told her family that she was suffering from depression.
Orit died in 1994, in very similar circumstances to Jenny. She was found with an assortment of bottles of what appeared to be drugs she had swallowed, said the indictment. However, the autopsy found that the drug levels in her body could not have caused her death on their own, noted the indictment, and her cause of death was left unknown.
Cooper is also believed to have tried to kill his second wife, referred to as S under a gag order, using the same methods. His relationship with S began in 1992 when he was still married to Orit. Cooper and S were married in 1995 and S’s family was generous with financial support.
When S learned that Cooper had told her family that she was suffering from depression and had convinced her parents to name him in their will instead of her, she divorced him, noted the indictment.
Around this time, the indictment alleged that S found drugs which neither she nor he had been using, but could be used to cause or fake death from an overdose, in their bedroom.
In late October 2012, police arrested Cooper on suspicion of orchestrating the murder of two of his ex-wives.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Mariah Zakotsky, an accomplice and alleged lover of Cooper’s, was also arrested, and is suspected of providing the tranquilizers which he used to kill his ex-wife.
On Sunday, the court lifted most of an earlier gag order on the investigation, allowing the publication of details of a case that appears to more closely resemble a movie script than a murder indictment.
Cooper met Jenny in 1999, the indictment alleged. After a short time dating, Cooper and his sons Adi and Beni moved in with Jenny and her two daughters on a kibbutz.
Cooper had long told his ex-wife, that he worked in a top secret capacity for the Israeli security establishment, as a cover for the times he would disappear for days at a time, said the indictment.
According to police, during the investigation Zakotsky admitted that Cooper pulled the same ruse with her, and that she supplied him with tranquilizers after he told her he needed them to carry out an assassination for the Mossad in an undisclosed location outside Israel. Cooper met Zakotsky in 2006 and started a relationship with her while still with Jenny, said the indictment.
According to the indictment, the age and weight of the man Cooper described to Zakotsky matched substantially with Jenny’s physiological characteristics.
Little by little, Cooper took legal steps to ensure he would possess all rights to Jenny’s assets if she died. He did so even though his wife was only in her mid-40s and in good health, said the indictment.
In 2008, Cooper also convinced Jenny’s parents to put their house in Jaffa in Jenny’s name, while not revealing to them that he was sole heir to Jenny’s estate.
According to the indictment, immediately after the seven days of mourning for Jenny, Zakotsky moved into Cooper’s house with him.
Cmdr. Bentzi Sao of the central Israel branch of the special YAMAR investigative unit said Sunday that the investigation against Cooper “is one of the more complicated that police have dealt with recently, dealing with events that took place years ago and were closed by investigators.”
Sao denied that the case was reopened due to pressure from Jenny’s family.
In March 2010, Cooper was the subject of a 30-minute segment on the investigative news program Uvda, which detailed the mysterious circumstances which lead to the deaths of Cooper’s ex-wives.
The program appeared to infer that Cooper committed the murders in order to inherit property, and in both cases wove the same web of lies about his classified work with the Israel security establishment and portrayed both wives as suffering from severe depression up until their sudden deaths.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.