Mother of 6 found dead in Samaria forest, skull smashed by rock

Esther Horgan had been declared missing by her family Sunday after not returning from a jog.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Terrorism is suspected in the death of Esther Horgan, 52, who was found in the early hours of Monday morning lying in a forest near her home in northern Samaria.

The mother of six had left the village of Tal Menashe to go for a run late Sunday morning. Her husband declared her missing at 8:00 p.m. when she had not yet returned and all contact with her was lost. Large forces of police and volunteers from search-and-rescue units as well as nearby villages started combing the area with the help of a helicopter.

Horgan’s body was found around 1:00 a.m. in the nearby Reihan Forest, her death apparently caused by a large rock striking her head.

One of the Magen David Adom paramedics on the scene said there was nothing to be done but declare her death.

“When we arrived, we were led to a place where a 52-year-old woman lay unconscious,” said Assaf Tapuhi. “We performed medical tests, she was not breathing, without a pulse and without any signs of life, and within a short time we had to pronounce her dead.”

While officially police are saying they only suspect that it was an act of Palestinian terrorism, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan had no such inhibitions.

Calling the artist and marriage counselor a “precious woman, so full of kindness, of help to people,” he said, “she goes out to get some exercise in the middle of the day one minute from her house in the heart of Israel, and is murdered by savages in such a cruel way. And I ask, what kind of barbarians, like in the Middle Ages, are these, to smash the face of a 52-year-old woman with a rock in cold blood. What kind of evil are we facing?”

He then added, “Israel will triumph, they won’t break us.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “I share the deep grief of the Horgan family following the heinous murder of Esther, of blessed memory.”

“Security forces are already working to get their hands on the heinous murderer. We will never accept a reality in which human life becomes cheap,” Gantz said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The late Esther Horgan was brutally murdered when she went out for a run near her home. The security forces will apprehend the murderer as quickly as possible and we will settle accounts with him. I would like to send deep condolences to the family.”

In an interview with Channel 12, a relative, Eitan Naveh, eulogized Horgan as “Special, doing good for her whole environment, welcoming, always happy to help, everything she did was just good.”

Horgan leaves behind a husband, two daughters and four sons, the youngest of whom just turned 13 years old three months ago and celebrated his bar mitzvah. The burial will take place after her body is examined at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, the only facility in Israel authorized to conduct autopsies in cases of unnatural death.