Man accused of attacking wife with hammer as kids sleep nearby

The couple reportedly got into a fight after the 35-year-old dad got home from work.

WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT: A man who allegedly brutally beat his wife to death with a hammer while their children slept in the same apartment has been arrested by police.

Josiah Leitel, 35, reportedly told police that he and his 31-year-old wife Darya Leitel got into a fight when he came home from his job at a nightclub at 5am and began drinking in Haifa, Israel, on March 17.

Then — according to local media — he flew into a rage when his wife challenged him. He allegedly strangled her before hitting her with the hammer. The couple's three daughters were sleeping just a few feet away in their rooms.

Darya Leitel, with her husband Josiah Leitel and their children, undated.
Josiah Leitel, 35, reportedly told police that he and his 31-year-old wife Darya Leitel got into a fight on March 17. Source: Newsflash/Australscope

"I work in a nightclub. I came back around 5am completely sober. I was sitting and drinking beer. One of our daughters woke up and my wife woke up, too," Leitel reportedly told officers. "She saw me drinking and got angry at me. She asked, 'Are you drinking again?'. An argument started. She pushed me and then I pushed her back. I didn't mean to kill her."

After the alleged attack, Leitel called police and paramedics who declared Darya dead at the scene. "When they fought, he would leave the house and move to a different neighbourhood," Darya's father Antoine reportedly told local media.

"She was with me last week and didn't tell me there was a problem. She was the smiliest in the world. I don't understand what happened to my daughter. She didn't tell me there was violence. She wanted to leave him and for that, he murdered her. I don't have a daughter now. It's awful."

osiah Leitel, 35, kissing his 31-year-old wife Darya Leitel.
Family and friends have shared their heartbreak and shock over the 31-year-old mum of three's death. Source: Newsflash/Australscope

Couple previously referred to welfare services

The couple were referred to welfare services in 2021 and Leitel had allegedly threatened to kill his wife in the past, according to local media.

"The couple was referred to social services in 2021 as a result of a relationship crisis," the head of the Welfare Administration, Meira Kiperman, said. "The couple was treated throughout that year by social services on a number of levels."

Darya had also previously complained that her husband had threatened her in the past, with local media reporting that he was currently being tried for the threats.

Friend saw wife just hours before her death

One of Darya's friends, named as Daniella Mazor, said she was "not processing" the mum's death.

"I saw it on the news and I came over here hoping it wasn't her. Yesterday she was at my place until 7pm. There was no concern that something would happen to her otherwise I would never have allowed her to leave and I would have told her to stay at my place."

Photo shows Darya Leitel, with her children, undated.
The couple was referred to social services in 2021 as a result of a relationship crisis. Source: Newsflash/Australscope

Daniella said that Darya, who had reportedly been studying psychology and Spanish, was "a wonderful person, a dedicated mother to her three daughters and beautiful outside and in."

Daniella added: "She knew that a breakup wouldn't be easy, and she said she would do it soon."

"She was even looking for a new home. I didn't know the suspect, the relationship between them wasn't normal. She didn't get the things she deserved, but she stayed for the girls. I didn't like the quality of life she was living with. She knew she had to leave her husband but was looking for the right timing." The investigation is ongoing.


National domestic violence helpline can be contacted on 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

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