"Murder for the sake of murder," these are the words used by the police to describe the actions of Yihya Farkhan, the man who – according to his own words – murdered teenage girl Dana Bennett in cold blood, and committed at least three other murders.
The details of the case were cleared for publication on Tuesday, almost six years after Bennett's disappearance and about a month after the police received the initial information that led to the case unraveling and the subsequent discovery
of her remains near Tiberias.
Farkhan killed all of his victims by beating them to death, and in all cases there was no apparent motive for his actions, save for the sheer lust for murder. Investigators defined him as a serial killer and said that "this is one of the largest cases the Israel Police have ever encountered."
The police investigation revealed that Farkhan, 33, of the northern village of Wadi Hamam, killed at least four people in recent years. Farkhan confessed in his interrogation that he kidnapped and murdered Dana Bennett on the night of her disappearance, on August 1, 2003; five months earlier he kidnapped and murdered a Czech tourist in Zalmon Stream; years earlier, when he was 18, he murdered one of his friends on the bank of the Jordan River and four years ago he murdered a cellmate in prison.
But this did not conclude the findings. Farkhan told the police that shortly after killing Bennett he raped a resident of Tiberias and tried to murder her as well, but she managed to escape; and that he also tried – but failed – to murder his own sister.
The investigation into Dana Bennett's disappearance, which was put on hold after the last round of searches in February 2008, was renewed nine months ago. For months investigators were working with virtually no leads, until about a month ago the police received information indicating that Bennett was murdered on the day she disappeared, and that Farkhan was linked to the case.
The tip led the police to a 22-tyear-old woman who admitted in her investigation to having witnessed Farkhan kill Bennett with his bare hands, as well as to being an accomplice in the murder. She further told the police exactly where the body had been hidden.
The young woman, who is now considered a murder suspect, recounted in her investigation how she and Farkhan met Bennett near a bridge as she was getting out of a taxi late at night. Farkhan sent the woman to persuade the young girl to enter their car, after Farkhan told her he was a hotel owner looking for new employees.
Bennett only realized something was wrong as the car turned to a dirt road near Wadi Hamam, but this was already too late. She tried to resist, but to no avail: Farkhan forcefully dragged her out of the car and started hitting her with his bare hands until she died.
Site where Bennet's remains were found (Photo: Gil Eliyahu)
Immediately after extracting the testimony from the suspect, police forces began canvassing the area where the body had reportedly been buried, under the guise of archeological excavations. Dana Bennett's remains were found shortly after.
In her testimony, the woman who aided Farkhan also implicated him in the murder of a Czech tourist named Sylvia Molrova, who was murdered in March 2004, at the age of 27; and whose body was discovered at the Zalmon Stream. Farkhan's accomplice witnessed this murder as well.
Last week, after investigators felt they had a solid case against him, they arrived at Farkhan's cell at the southern Eshel Prison and told him they have sufficient evidence proving he was the killer. Farkhan reportedly broke down and began cooperating with the detectives, giving them more and more information and implicating himself in other murders.
He confessed to a murder committed in 1994, telling the police he murdered one of his friends in a location near the Jordan River. The police confirmed that human remains were indeed found in the vicinity in 1995, but that the connection between it and Farkhan has yet to be ascertained.
In 2005, he told the detectives, he murdered his then-cellmate in a Tiberias detention facility, "For annoying him." After the man was dead he hung him in the cell and called the officer on duty, telling him his cellmate had committed suicide. The case was ruled as such until the confession.
Farkhan also told the police that shortly prior to Bennett's murder, he raped another woman living in Tiberias and tried to abduct her as well, but she got away. He also confessed to the attempted murder of his sister – by poison – which he said was supposed to be an "honor killing." His sister survived the attempt.
The investigation, held under a comprehensive gag order, was considered a highly sensitive case, with police and State Prosecutor's Office officials keeping in constant contact with Bennett's mother, Vikki. State Prosecutor's Office sources told Ynet that the indictment they intend to file against Farkhan will be one of the gravest ever filed in Israel.
Commander Avi Elgrisi, head of the Amakim Police's Central Unit, told a press conference Tuesday that Farkhan was arrested six years ago but as later released due to lack of evidence.
"This man is a bastard that killed my daughter in cold blood for no reason," Bennett's father, Benjamin, told Ynet. Bennett's parents were briefed on the details of the investigation Monday night, ahead of the gag order lifting.
"We knew this scenario was a possibility, but we had no way of even imagining how (she was killed)… now I have answers, I have someone to be mad at. I trust the police to make sure he gets what he deserves, that he's punished to the full extant of the law. I've seen all the energy everyone involved in this case put into it over the years, it gave me the strength to deal with it."
Commenting on the public support the case has received over the past six year, he said: "Knowing all these years that the public was supporting us and feeling our pain gave me the strength to deal with this tragedy. It was a privilege I will always remember."
Bennett's half brother, Assaf, added that there was a sense of closure: "I was so angry for six years. So frustrated, but now there is finally a sense of peace. Obviously, I want to see justice done and that this heinous killer gets the maximum punishment."