Man indicted for murder, kidnap of ex-partner after she dropped kid at daycare

Prosecutors say Walaa Khalilah carried out a ‘planned and sophisticated murder’; suspect thought to have strangled mother of two Sapir Nachum before burying her body

(L) Screen capture from video of Walaa Khalilah at Haifa District Court, July 18, 2022. (Channel 12) and (R) Sapir Nachum
(L) Screen capture from video of Walaa Khalilah at Haifa District Court, July 18, 2022. (Channel 12) and (R) Sapir Nachum

A man was charged on Monday with the murder and kidnapping of his former partner, whose body was found 11 days after she was last seen getting into his car.

The indictments against Walaa Khalilah for the killing of Sapir Nachum were filed at Haifa District Court with prosecutors asking that he be held in custody until the end of legal proceedings.

Prosecutors said it was “a planned and sophisticated murder that was committed calmly and in a way that indicates great audacity and a lack of fear.”

Due to the condition of her remains when she was found, Nachum’s exact cause of death could not be determined, although police have ruled out shooting or stabbing, according to Hebrew media reports.

Strangulation is considered the most likely cause of death, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

Police have said that Nachum’s body was buried so deeply in the ground that the search could have gone on for many more months.

“If they had not found her that day, they probably would not have found her at all,” police said, according to Channel 12 news. “The dogs searched 150 feet from the body and did not find it.”

Israel Police conduct searches on June 5, 2022, for missing Acre mom Sapir Nachum. (Israel Police)

More details of the case were released for publication on Monday including that on the day of the alleged murder, Khalilah’s car was caught on surveillance cameras at several points between the city of Acre where Nachum disappeared and the area where her body was found 25 kilometers (16 miles) away.

The vehicle was then seen returning to Acre.

Khalilah has admitted during questioning to collecting Nachum in his car, but insists that it was not planned ahead of time — he has claimed he dropped off Nachum at a shopping mall in the city, but that version of events is not supported by CCTV footage. Last month, Khalilah failed a lie detector test about Nachum’s death.

Prosecutors say that Khalilah drove Nachum to the area where she was eventually found and that the two exited the vehicle. He then killed her and hid her body before driving home.

At the court hearing, Khalilah insisted that he is innocent.

His attorney Aviad Hayat described the case as “circumstantial” and claimed that aside from the CCTV footage, there is no evidence to tie his client to the murder.

Nachum’s sister, Eden, told reporters that she hoped Khalilah would be convicted and serve a long jail sentence.

“I know that he killed my sister, we will make sure that he sits for as long as possible and that he rots there.” she said.

Screen capture from video of Eden, sister of Sapir Nachum who was allegedly murdered by her ex-partner, seen at Haifa District Court, July 18, 2022. (Twitter)

Worry over Nachum’s fate began on June 2 when the daycare called the family to say that she had not arrived to pick up her daughter.

By 8 p.m. in the evening, Nachum’s sister reported her disappearance to police.

The suspected motive for the murder is Sapir’s request to receive child support from Khalilah.

Police uncovered her body near the Bedouin village of Ibtin — about 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Acre — 11 days after she was last seen.

In addition to her 2-year-old daughter, Nachum is also survived by an 8-month-old baby.

Khalilah, the father of Nachum’s two young children, had been arrested before for violent offenses and vandalism. Nachum’s relatives have told Israeli media that he had previously served many years in prison.

Khalilah was known to the public from TikTok, regularly uploading videos of his vandalism. He was recently arrested after entering Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk with a group of friends on a horse and cart and causing a disturbance, an incident that was filmed and posted to the social media app.

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