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ISRAEL: Police investigating death of U.S. tourist in mysterious attack

December 19, 2010 |  9:14 am

Israeli authorities are investigating a strange and violent incident that left one woman dead and another injured this weekend. Many people are convinced this was a terrorist attack; other people say things don't add up. Police are investigating all options.

Normally, the Beit Shemesh countryside is a good choice for weekend picnics and hiking, offering visitors its woods, nature trails and other attractions. But this Saturday, something was wrong in the scenic landscape.

Picnicking weekenders were surprised Saturday afternoon when a woman staggered up to them suffering from multiple stab wounds, her hands tied behind her back, and pleaded for help. She and a friend had been stabbed, she said. She managed to escape but her friend was missing.

The woman, identified as Kaye Susan Wilson, was taken to a Jerusalem hospital with serious injuries. Police, army and emergency personnel set up a command center in the woods and began a massive manhunt for the missing woman and any leads on the perpetrators.

Wilson, a tour guide and recent British immigrant living in Israel, told investigators she and a friend, Christine Logan, had been hiking around an archaeological site known as Hirbet Hanut. When they sat down to rest on a nearby hill, two men showed up, asking them if they had water.

Wilson hastened to brush them off. They were Arabs, she said. The men soon left, but nagged by a feeling something was amiss, Wilson said she and her friend headed back to the marked path. 

Stabilized but still in intensive care, Wilson spoke to the press from her hospital bed Sunday. Wilson told the media that after the men left, she got her small knife ready. A "woman's knife," she called it. But the men came back out of nowhere with a long knife and attacked them both. Noting a curious detail, Wilson told reporters her assailant had removed her Star of David chain "like a gentleman" before proceeding to stab her where it had hung.

Wilson played dead in the bushes, listening to her friend's breathing fading, as Wilson fought to remain conscious until she forced herself to move.

Hundreds of police, soldiers, emergency personnel and volunteers searched for Logan. The next morning, she was found dead. A gag order has been issued on all details from the crime scene where Logan was found Sunday morning.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the motives behind the incident were not yet clear-- it may have been a terrorist attack. Regardless of the motive, a very serious incident occurred in a typically calm area. A woman has been murdered, and "we're not taking any chances," Rosenfeld said. The investigation was assigned to the Jerusalem police special task force and continues on two levels, the spokesman said, both operational and intelligence.

Israeli police had identified Logan as an American tourist and a U.S. citizen, though no additional information was released. A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv said they were aware of the reports but could not confirm reported details, as the investigation was still ongoing.

-- Batsheva Sobeman in Jerusalem