Israelis arrest suspect in U.S. teen's slaying

/ Source: The Associated Press

Israeli detectives have arrested a man who confessed to the 2003 murder of a U.S.-born teenager and three other killings, including that of a Czech tourist, police announced Tuesday.

Police identified the suspect as a 32-year-old man from an Arab village in northern Israel, the region where the killings occurred. The man, Adwan Farhan, was already in custody on suspicion of raping an Australian tourist when a tip led homicide detectives to him last month.

"So far according to our inquiries, the suspect is believed to have committed four counts of murder ... one attempted murder, rapes, two attempted kidnaps and other crimes of violence," said Avi Algarassi, the police investigator who led the six-year manhunt.

The 2003 disappearance of 18-year-old Dana Bennett captured the nation's attention at the time, since abductions are rare in Israel and it happened during a period of intense fighting with the Palestinians. Algarassi, however, said Farhan's acts had no apparent motive.

Bennett's remains were discovered in a field last month but were only identified last week. A court gag order barred reports of the arrest until Tuesday in order not to hamper the police inquiry. Police said Farhan confessed to the killings just days ago.

Bennett was born in Chicago to Israeli immigrant parents and grew up in Los Angeles. After her parents divorced when she was 14, she returned to Israel with her mother.

Investigator details murders
She had just started work in a restaurant in the northern town of Tiberias when she vanished. Because of her U.S. citizenship, the FBI assisted in the investigation.

Algarassi said Farhan committed his first murder in 1995, at the age of 18, when he battered a man unconscious then threw him into the Jordan River.

In July 2003, Algarassi said, Farhan and a 16-year-old girlfriend picked up Czech hitch hiker Sylvia Molrova, 27, killed her and dumped her body in a remote spot. He said Molrova's family had been informed of the arrest.

The same month, the couple lured Bennett into their vehicle and Farhan beat her to death and again concealed the body in the northern hills. She was not raped, Algarassi added.

In 2004 or 2005, he allegedly attempted to murder his sister but failed.

Police said Farhan, who had been arrested many times for sexual offenses, arms possession and armed robbery, also killed a cellmate while in custody in the Tiberias police station, and then faked the murder to look like suicide.