Samuel Sheinbein, an American killer who fled to Israel in 1997, was shot and killed during a raid on an Israeli prison where he was serving a 24-year sentence. Special forces were called in to raid the prison when Sheinbein had taken a guard’s weapon, and shot three guards.
Sheinbein fled the United States in 1997 after murdering 19-year-old Alfred Enrique Tello Jr. in Maryland. Sheinbein went to Israel where he was granted political refuge and protection from extradition. The lack of cooperation from the Israeli government with Maryland authorities almost sparked a national incident. Israel refused to give up Sheinbein to the United States, as they were following a law which prevented the extradition of Israeli citizens to foreign authorities or countries.
Sheinbein had been granted citizenship because his father, Sol Sheinbein, was born in Israel. Montgomery authorities and prosecutors accused Sol of assisting his son to escape the country in 1997. Sol Sheinbein moved to Israel after being charged by Montgomery police for obstructing and hindering an investigation.
Sheinbein was prosecuted in an Israeli court in 1999 for the murder he was accused of committing in Maryland. In the trial he confessed to killing Tello by strangling him with a rope, and dismembering the body with an electric saw. He had also worked with another teenager named Aaron Needle, who committed suicide in a Maryland jail. After this incident Israel changed their policy, allowing Israeli citizens to be extradited to foreign countries, as long as they serve their sentence in Israel.
Sheinbein, who was 34, had somehow gotten control of a guard’s weapon and used it to shoot three other guards. Two of the guards were seriously wounded, while the other suffered minor injuries. Israeli Special Forces shot and killed Sheinbein in their attempt to retake the prison complex.
After hearing news of the American Sheinbein being shot and killed in Israel, John McCarthy, the Maryland state attorney who originally investigated Sheinbein’s case in 1997, described Sunday’s events as “a shocking end to one of the most brutal cases ever committed in Montgomery County.”
During his stay in the Israeli prison, Sheinbein was allowed to take furloughs outside of the prison – during one leave he had attempted to buy a pistol online.
While many are generally unsure about why Sheinbein did what he did, some are claiming that it was due to his recent mental and psychological problems. His attorney, Orit Hayoun, said that she had spoken with Sheinbein a few days prior to Sunday’s events, and that she had been “concerned about his state of mind.” Hayoun had requested that Sheinbein be placed under strict 24-hour watch after hearing Sheinbein sound “suicidal.”
In his 1999 court sentencing in Israel, Sheinbein was eligible for parole in 2003. Israeli prison officials have yet to respond to questions about the specifics of why he was not let out on parole. Although Sheinbein had successfully escaped America from a possible life sentence for the brutal killing of Alfredo Tello Jr., justice caught up to him when he was shot and killed in Israel on Sunday.
By Tyler Shibata