REHOVOT – Israelis are still shocked and grappling with difficult questions after a 15-year-old girl from the city of Rehovot, just south of Tel Aviv, was strangled to death by a 16-year-old boy for no apparent reason.
Maayan Sapir, a distinguished student who dreamt of being a model, left her home at 8 p.m. Friday on the way to a nearby shopping mall. The girl decided to take a shortcut, a fateful decision that led to her death.
The murder suspect, who has a criminal record, ambushed Sapir and strangled her. The murder has stirred an already raging debate regarding the leniency of Israel’s justice system and the failure to address growing crime and violence.
Most questions at this time focus on the fact the boy was staying at a juvenile shelter in the north of the country, with many here wondering why he was allowed to leave on vacation without supervision.
The Welfare Ministry has dismissed suggestions the youngster should have never been let out, saying he was involved in drugs and property offences, but has never engaged in violence.
Suspect watched TV after murder
An official at the ministry, Reuven Yaakov, said the boy in question comes from an Ethiopian family and has been dealt with by authorities for many years now.
“His parents divorced when he was very young. There were many problems in the family,” Yaakov said, and added this was the boy’s second vacation.
The youngster has already confessed to the murder, and during a court hearing Saturday it turned out he returned to the scene of the crime. The boy told police he is confused and at one point thought he hallucinated the murder.
At that point, the suspect called a friend and both of them went back to the scene of the murder, where they saw Sapir’s body. The friend promptly called police.
Detectives quickly arrived at the youngster’s home, where they found him watching television.
-Eli Senyor also contributed to this story