A Suspicious Death

jonquil323 By jonquil323, 15th Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/14i-at46/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

As a member of the Border Patrol, I was sent to investigate a missing shepherd.

Missing Persons? Not this time.

I served with Israel's Border Patrol between 1989 and 2000.
It was a spring afternoon when we were in the higher mountains close to Jerusalem. We were about to return to the station near Bet Shemesh to sign off on the jeep and go home. A call came in on the radio telling us about a 70-year old shepherd who had gone out with his flock at 7:00 AM. The sheep began to return by themselves around 2 PM. The family was worried about the fate of the old man. A missing person notice generally waits 24 hours before the police take an interest, assuming that something will develop and the case will be closed. An old man not returning with his sheep was not treated as a missing person, but as suspicious. Several jeeps were sent to the area to look for the shepherd. By the time my jeep arrived on the scene, the man's body had been found. At this point we were relieved of responsibility for the event, and the commander from Jerusalem took charge. Our officers were sent to comb the vicinity for possible suspects. I remained in the clearing with the jeep while there was a big commotion down the slope in a heavily forested section. They needed to establish the cause of death. Apparently an examination of the corpse produced inconclusive results. Had the man suffered a heart attack and then fallen, hitting his head as he tumbled down the hill, or had someone attacked him, causing him to fall and hit his head? Without witnesses or a confession, only an autopsy would shed light on the chain of events. The man's family, however, was observant of Orthodox Jewish law and refused an autopsy.
By this time the news of the possible terrorist attack had made its way to the media and reporters and photographers were arriving on the scene to do their work. At this point an officer spotted me doing very little near the jeep and assigned me the task of keeping the media away from the body. Using the term loosely, I admit, I became a bouncer, barring the gentlemen of the press from going down the slope to speak to the policemen and family members somewhere in the forest. While I am not a big or heavyset man, there is something about a policeman, in uniform and with a rifle, which deters people and gains their cooperation. It also helped that I did not know exactly where the body was or what was going on. I remember that several reporters asked me questions which I couldn't answer. My job was simply to keep them at bay. Their interviews could wait until after decisions were made and the players began to disperse. In the meantime I was the doorkeeper for this tragic event.
Several weeks later one of the possible suspects, a guard from a nearby orchard, was arrested for attacking a soldier and trying to steal his rifle. In his interrogation, the guard confessed to pushing the old shepherd in an attempt to steal the man's pistol. The pistol had remained at home that day. Because there had been no autopsy, and the cause of death had not been established, however, the suspect's confession could not be used to charge him with murder or even manslaughter. He served time for the lesser crime of attacking the soldier.


Criminal, Missing, Suspicious, Terror

Meet the author

author avatar jonquil323
I grew up in Long Island, studied English at McGill in Montreal, and soon afterwards moved to Israel where I have lived on kibbutz for over 30 years.

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