Anat Elimelech was born in Jerusalem on the 8th of March 1974 to parents Billy and Avi. Anat attended high school in Gilo. She was bright and ambitious and from a young age it was clear she would grow up to be successful.
In 1991, when she was 16 years old, Anat won “Miss Kenyon” a local beauty pageant. From there she was contracted as a model for an agency called ‘Look’. But it wasn’t her career that brought her fame… She started making the entertainment and gossip columns because of her love life. At the Miss Kenyon pageant, she met celebrity hairdresser, David Afuta. He was 14 years older than her, 30 when they met. But the age difference was no issue. He was married, but as his affair with Anat grew serious, he walked out on his wife Smadar and their two children. After the separation, David and moved in with Anat in an apartment in Jerusalem.
David and Anat was one of Israel’s hottest couple. The press reported on their comings and goings like they were royalty. The fact that they were both beautiful and famous made for great tabloid stories.
In 1993, Anat competed in the Miss Israel pageant and was awarded the title “Queen of Grace”. Two years later, she auditioned to be the next ‘Wheel Girl’ on the game show ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and although she did not get the job, it was clear that the camera loved Anat.
She was offered a couple of roles, mostly in children’s shows like ‘Afrochim’ and ‘Golden Heart Flower’. In 1996, she was the face of an ad-campaign for Israeli supermarket chain ‘Hiperkol’. In the summer of 1997, Anat hosted an educational TV show “HaChofesh HaGadol”.
The 23-year-old Anat was outspoken, confident and charming. Her career seemed to be paved in gold as she went from one job to the next. David’s hairdressing career was also booming and he had an impressive list of clients, among them Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife.
From the outside in, it looked like David and Anat had a life dreams were made of. But theirs was a relationship riddled with issues. It was a passionate affair filled with jealousy. He was very possessive of her and interrogated her about other men, often suspecting she was seeing other men behind his back. One actor in particular: Oded Menashe. They worked together in rehearsing for Festigal, an annual song and dance contest held around Hanukkah time.
Anat was not happy in her relationship anymore. She confided in a friend that David wasted his money and for the most part, she was forced to support him. She tried to leave him many times, but he always threatened that he would end his life if she ever left him, so she stayed.
In 1997, Anat finally broke up with David and moved back in with her father and stepmother Moriah who lived in Givat Ze’ev. This was in time for the Jewish New Year – family Celebrations. Anat was frazzled and sad, but positive to make a fresh start. She focussed on her career, and had plans of entering the annual singing competition ‘The Festigal’ and sing the song ‘Ballerina’.
David couldn’t handle the rejection. Two months after Anat had left him, he was still trying to bounce back. He called a friend and said that he was in ‘a serious depression’. He put up large photos of Anat in his apartment. He lost a lot of weight as the grief of losing her meant that he didn’t want to eat anymore. He also went to see astrologers to tell him the future of the relationship.
David called Anat and asked her to come over so they could talk. Anat never left the apartment alive again. David held her captive for a week, threatening her at gunpoint. She called her friend Inbal Lerner to come to her rescue. Anat told Inbal before that David was a bit crazy and that he said if she was with another man, ‘neither of us will be here’.
When Anat didn’t show up for a catch-up and she didn’t answer her phone, Inbal went to the apartment she used to share with David. On the intercom, Anat answered, crying, said that David had locked her in and taken the key. Her friend said she’d to call police, but then she heard David in the background. He told Anat to tell her friend that if she called the police he would do stupid things. Inbal was afraid and called Anat’s parents.
Just as she was about to leave, Anat appeared as if from nowhere and knocked on her windshield. Her friend let her into the car and Anat was distraught, said that she was afraid that David would do something to harm himself. By this time, Anat’s father had arrived and he called the police. When police arrived Anat assured them that she was okay. She didn’t want David to get into trouble and protected him.
Anat’s father requested police confiscate David’s personal firearm, as he was afraid he would use it on Anat. Or to commit suicide. But the weapon was never taken, because Anat intervened and asked her dad to withdraw his request.
Despite her turbulent love life, Anat appeared on Channel 2’s Dudu Topaz’ show along with other participants in Festigal. She was out all night after the TV show and only stopped in at David’s place in Ramat Beit HaKerem on Tuesday morning, December 2nd 1997 at 8am. She was on her way to university to attend a lecture.
Avi Elimelech was concerned when his daughter did not answer his calls in the morning and drove to David’s apartment. When he arrived, he saw Anat’s car parked in the driveway. He pressed the buzzer on the intercom, but there was no answer. He called both Anat’s and David’s phones, also no answer. Then he called David’s brother Yosef, who joined him outside the apartment complex, along with David’s father.
Yosef also tried calling and buzzed the intercom – no one answered. By this time, Avi was convinced something was wrong and called police to the scene. They arrived around noon and proceeded to wait for a locksmith in the driveway. While everyone waited, Yosef climbed onto the roof and made his way to David’s balcony. From there he broke a window to get inside.
Once inside, he came upon an horrific scene. He found the bodies of David and Anat, lying on the living room floor. There was a big amount of blood – there was evidently a shooting. In Anat’s hand was David’s firearm.
Police interviewed neighbours and processed the scene. Neighbours said they overheard an argument, but that wasn’t unusual when it came to David and Anat. Then three shots were fired…
From the scene, investigators concluded that Anat shot David, then herself. He had two bullet wounds in the rib cage, one fired at close range. Anat had one bullet wound, also fired at close range, to her chest.
Police made this statement:
“It is clear that this is a case of a murder-suicide. The question is who shot whom and then committed suicide. Until we have incontrovertible evidence, we won’t announce any conclusions.”
They made it clear that no third party was involved.
Autopsies on Elimelech and Afuta were conducted the day after the murder at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir.
Investigators assessed the situation and concluded that even though David was bigger and stronger than Anat, she was the one who had fired two shots into him and then turned the gun on herself.
The news of the murder-suicide made the headlines, no one could believe that the golden couple died in such a tragic way. In reaction, the prime minister said that it was “shocking news”. Anat’s family felt that the media was slandering her name and that she could not have been the one who pulled the trigger.
Anat Elimelech was buried in a separate cemetery (Har HaMenuchot) for people who had ended their own lives, as is custom in Jewish religion. It was very difficult for her family to accept that her final resting place was among suicide bombers. The fact that her grave was dug before the investigation was completed made them feel like Anat had been vilified, branded a suicide-killer.
Her funeral was attended by many of Israel’s celebrities, Channi Nahmias, Dana Dvorin, Efrat Reitan, Oded Menashe and Erez Tal. Her dad addressed the media at the funeral, saying:
“The reports that Anat is having an affair with Oded Menashe put David under terrible pressure.”
At ‘The Festigal’, participants honoured Anat by singing the song she chose to sing, ‘Ballerina’.
Anat’s family insisted that police conducted a second investigation. They found many inconsistencies in the first investigation. Three weeks after Anat’s death, the findings of the second investigation was published.
What they found was astonishing. They concluded that when David’s brother Yosef entered the murder scene, he tampered with evidence. He was inside before police and when he unlocked the door from the inside, the first person to enter was his other brother, Shmuel.
It was actually David who had killed Anat, not the other way around. This fact was confirmed by forensics. Shooting trajectory analysis, fingerprints on the firearm, gunshot residue on David’s hand as well as blood splatter evidence proved that the first investigators jumped to conclusions before processing the scene properly. Interviews with friends and family members who knew the couple and saw them in the week leading up to their deaths filled in the missing pieces.
Prosecution decided, however, not to charge David Afuta’s brother and he was released. The case was closed in 1999.
Anat’s body was exhumed in 2001, four years after her death, and moved to a plot in the main cemetery. Her family sued Yosef Afuta in 2005, as well as David Afuta’s Estate, and also police for a total of NIS 9.25 Million, demanding that the court would formally rule that it was David who had shot Anat and not the other way around.
David’s estate was bankrupt. He had burnt through all of his money. His wife said that they never legally divorced and she always thought that when David and Anat finally went their separate ways, that he would come back to her. He left her the house, but never paid any alimony.
Anat’s family was compensated with about the equivalent of 80,000 dollars in March 2011, 13 years after the murder-suicide. The court ruled that David’s two brothers, Yosef and Shmuel were the first to arrive on the scene. They concluded that Yusef had moved the gun in an attempt to protect his brother’s reputation, so he won’t be labelled a murderer who committed suicide).
The last images of Anat alive, on the Dudu Topaz show, was an unsettling foreshadowing of what was to come. She was a field reporter, out and about on the streets of Jerusalem, dressed as an angel. And that is how she will always be remembered: young, talented, beautiful – sadly taken too soon.
©2020 Evidence Locker Podcast
All rights reserved. This podcast or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a podcast review.