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In reversal, suspect in 17-year-old girl’s murder to remain in custody

Accepting police appeal, judge extends Edward Kachura’s remand, overriding lower court ruling to release him to house arrest for 14 days

Lital Yael Melnik. (Facebook)
Lital Yael Melnik. (Facebook)

A court on Monday extended the remand of the 49-year-old male nurse suspected of killing 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik last month, reversing a lower court’s decision to release him to house arrest.

The Haifa District Court ordered Edward Kachura to remain in custody until at least Tuesday, accepting police’s appeal against the earlier ruling to release him to 14 days of house arrest after several weeks in detention.

Judge Ron Shapira said Kachura had maintained his right to silence during police questioning, strengthening the “evidentiary basis” against him.

Shapira also warned that the suspect posed a “high-level risk,” if released.

Melnik’s family hailed the reversal, with her grandfather clapping in the courtroom upon hearing the decision.

“Well done,” the grandfather said to the judge, according to the Ynet news site.

The decision came after the Haifa Magistrate’s Court ruled that Kachura, a nurse at a psychiatric facility in the north who met Melnik when she was hospitalized, should be released to house arrest, with the judge saying police were struggling to establish their case against the suspect.

Police representative Tomer Kaslassy had told the magistrate’s court during the hearing that the case was “legally complex” and was proving difficult to make.

“In light of the fact that this is the first event of its kind in the State of Israel, there is a need for attention to detail, especially by pathologists and doctors,” he told the court.

Kachura’s lawyer, Boris Sherman, told the court he believed it was “doubtful whether the investigation will lead to an indictment for murder or even manslaughter.”

Edward Kachura, suspected of killing Lital Yael Melnik, 17, at Haifa Magistrate’s Court on October 10, 2021 (Screen grab/Kan)

Upon hearing the Haifa Magistrate’s Court decision to release Kachura, Melnik’s sister Ruth yelled at Judge Tal Tadmor: “Are you normal? I beg you, do not release him. He is a mentally ill killer, he murdered my sister.” Melnik’s grandmother fainted in the courtroom.

“This is a black day for the prosecution, the nightmare of our lives has come true,” the victim’s family said in a statement in the immediate aftermath of the court’s decision, according to Channel 13 news.

“It’s the result of the prosecution’s continued failure to handle this case, dragging its feet, scared of a man who took the life of a 17-year-old girl,” the family said.

“A month and a half ago, our Lital Yael was murdered. Today, the prosecution murdered her for the second time, murdered our soul. We will not give up, and will fight for this delusional decision to be changed,” the family said.

Kachura was reportedly involved in Melnik’s treatment and then engaged in an illicit sexual relationship with her.

Investigators suspect that Melnik, whose body was discovered at a construction site in the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin, was buried alive.

Kachura had previously claimed that Melnik asked him to bury her as part of her treatment, citing some kind of “rebirth” therapy.

Police reportedly believe Kachura and Melnik had sexual relations even while the teen was staying at the psychiatric care center.

Six girls hospitalized alongside Melnik told the Walla news site that Kachura had a “special relationship” with a number of girls at the facility.

Kachura’s lawyer Sherman told Channel 12 earlier this month that he hoped his client would soon be released, emphasized that the girl was above the age of consent, and dismissed any ethical concerns.

“It has been reported in the past that there was an affair. In our opinion, it was legal. The moral issue is, of course, irrelevant here,” Sherman said.

Police at the scene where the body of 17-year-old Lital Yael Melnik was found, at a construction site, in Kiryat Motzkin, October 2, 2021. (Alon Nadav/Flash90)

The Health Ministry has reportedly decided to open an external investigation into the conduct of the psychiatric facility that will begin after the conclusion of the criminal probe into the murder.

Police believe that Kachura murdered the teen on October 2, after discovering that Melnik had disclosed their relationship to a close friend.

Melnik’s body was discovered after a security guard called police, saying that he had seen a man and a young woman arriving together at a construction site near his workplace, with the man later leaving alone.

Police, arriving at the scene, found the girl’s body half-buried in a freshly dug grave.

Melnik was studying at a boarding school in the country’s south. She was reported missing by her grandmother a day before she was killed, after she failed to arrive at her house as planned.

The grandmother told police that Melnik had some form of relationship with an older man. In the past, the grandmother had a restraining order issued against the suspect to keep him away from her granddaughter, according to the Haaretz daily.

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