Côte St. Luc brother’s state of mind questioned

Sister, 14, was ‘quiet and respectful’

By PAUL CHERRY, CHARLIE FIDELMAN of the Gazette contributed to this report, The Gazette August 11, 2010

Maor Attar’s state of mind is expected to be called into question now that he’s been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing of his 14-year-old sister.

Police say Attar, 18, is believed to suffer from a psychological problem, and major crimes investigators are trying to determine whether he had already made some sort of serious violent gesture or threat toward his sister Shirel in the past. According to a police source, Attar’s problem with his sister is “believed to have been chronic.”

Many of the neighbours who lived near Attar’s house in Cote St. Luc were surprised to learn Monday night that Shirel even had a brother.

But by now, everyone on Randall Ave. probably knows about the quiet teen who is alleged to have killed Shirel, a student at Marymount Academy, and then made an attempt to end his own life by ingesting something toxic.

Walking by the Attar home yesterday, Yidan Bettan, 15, said none of Maor Attar’s friends want to talk about it.

Yidan attended the same school as Attar, who graduated last year from Hebrew Academy.

“There are 300 kids in the high school; we all know one another,” Yidan said. “I was shocked it was him. He was very quiet. I would never believe that would happen. I can’t believe he’d do that to his sister.”

Yidan said Attar had just come back from Israel and was studying “at a religious CEGEP.”

The parents are separated and the father lives in New York, Yidan said.

Attar now faces a first-degree murder charge, to which he pleaded not guilty yesterday through legal-aid lawyer Louis Huot at the Montreal courthouse.

Attar could not appear before a judge, but was arraigned instead by telephone while he listened from a bed at the Jewish General Hospital. The case is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 8 and Attar will remain in custody at least until then.

Attar had to be hospitalized after he was found Monday night wandering around near the corner of Alpine Ave. and Merton St., a block away from his home where his mother found Shirel’s body inside a bathtub hours earlier.

The girl had been beaten and stabbed several times and Montreal police investigators had information that led them to believe Attar, who was not home when his mother discovered Shirel’s body, might be suicidal. A Cote St. Luc public security officer located Attar after Montreal police released his description and an advisory that he was being sought as an “important witness” in his sister’s death.

Attar was questioned and a decision to charge him with the premeditated death of his sister was made early yesterday afternoon.

On Randall Ave. yesterday, neighbours talked of Shirel and her older sister, 19, as friendly people who often walked their small white dog around the neighbourhood. By some estimates, the family moved into the neighbourhood about five years ago. With a basketball net and a Honda Civic parked in the driveway, the two-storey home looked like any other that can be found in a Montreal suburb. But at least a few neighbours expressed surprise that Shirel and Karine had a brother.

“I didn’t realize there was a brother because I never saw him there before,” said Irene Koningsberg, a neighbour who lives a few doors north of the family.

Koningsberg said she looked forward to running into Shirel and her sister because she also has a small dog and they would chat about their canines.

“They seemed like nice girls, quiet and respectful.

“It’s terrible,” she said. “I didn’t sleep last night. It was a shock, because when it happens in another neighbourhood it’s not a surprise. But in this neighbourhood, it is. It is hard to believe.”

Another woman who lives in the neighbourhood, who asked to be identified only as Susan, said she would also talk briefly with Shirel while she walked her dog.

“She reminded me of my niece. Now I wish I had spoken to her more. She was a really nice person, very polite,” Susan said. “I knew she had an older sister, but I didn’t know she had a brother.”

Michael Peres, 20, a friend of Shirel’s older sister, said he had to take the day off work yesterday after learning what happened.

“I tried to go to work this morning,” he said.

“My boss looked at me and told me to take the day off, After I heard this news, like, it was very, very sad and very unexpected. It is not something you would expect from a family like that. Let me tell you that.

“I’m sure this is devastating for her.”

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