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Beit Shemesh murder-suicide suspect said to have mental health, drug abuse issues

City’s mayor says police never marked Alexander Savenok as a person of interest, despite a restraining order reportedly barring him from being near his children

Alexander Savenok, suspected of murdering his daughter and then killing himself, in an undated photo (Courtesy)
Alexander Savenok, suspected of murdering his daughter and then killing himself, in an undated photo (Courtesy)

New details emerging from the police investigation of a gruesome murder-suicide that shook the city of Beit Shemesh on Saturday suggest that the assailant had a history of mental health issues and drug abuse.

Alexander Savenok, 43, allegedly stabbed his 21-year-old daughter Liana to death on Saturday before killing himself. His ex-wife, Yulia, told police on Sunday that he had in the past threatened to harm himself and had been hospitalized with mental health issues.

Yulia said she was vacationing in the north of the country when she received the shocking news about the murder-suicide that occurred at her Beit Shemesh apartment.

Channel 12 news reported that Savenok had a police record for drug abuse. His body has been sent for forensic testing to see if he was under the influence of drugs when he committed the alleged murder.

Savenok had also invited his son, 17, to join him at the apartment, but the teen was delayed in arriving, the TV network reported. Police apparently believe that Savenok intended to kill his son as well, but that the teenager was saved by showing up late.

Liana, who recently completed her mandatory military service, had been out with friends on Friday night, according to the report. She met her father at the apartment on Saturday morning.

Liana Savenok, 21, who was stabbed to death by her father in a suspected murder-suicide in Beit Shemesh on July 23, 2022. (Facebook)

Eyewitnesses reportedly said Savenok was seen wandering the streets of the neighborhood on Friday night, after having not visited the area for months. He was said to have been dressed in ragged clothing.

Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch told Radio 103FM on Sunday that there was no indication of any threat of violence before tragedy struck and that the family was not known to welfare services.

“I know the family as a regular family that went through a divorce process,” she said. “I don’t know of any other background about the father, and the police didn’t mark him as a person of interest.”

“There was no one there who knew to prepare for such an incident. The neighbors were also surprised, and that is what makes it so tragic and hard,” she said.

However, according to the Ynet news site, Savenok had been served with a restraining order and was not even supposed to be in close proximity to either of his children.

Police enter the building where a father allegedly murdered his daughter and then killed himself in Beit Shemesh on July 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Activists have long complained that not enough is done to prevent violence against women in Israel, particularly in cases known to the authorities.

According to researchers at the Hebrew University-based Israel Observatory on Femicide, June was the deadliest month this year so far for the murder of women.

A study by the center examining the first half of 2022 found a 71 percent increase in femicide relative to the same period last year.

The center said in a January report that there were 16 cases of women murdered in Israel by a relative or a partner throughout 2021, and 21 cases in 2020.

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