For over 25 years I have been dealing with investigations and intelligence services. I don’t recall any investigation that was as bizarre as the one ordered from me half a year ago. Our investigation agency was approached through the website. The client,
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By: Uri Shitrit

For over 25 years I have been dealing with investigations and intelligence services. I don’t recall any investigation as bizarre as the one ordered from me half a year ago. Our investigation agency was approached through the website. The client, a respected and educated man from northern Israel presented us with the following story:

“My sister was killed in a car accident 25 years ago. We were living in a kibbutz down south back then. We left the kibbutz after my sister’s death and moved to live in the city. We would visit her grave once every few years. This January I went to visit the grave. The tombstone was cracked. According to my recollection from previous visits, the grave and tombstone were not in their normal place. I have a feeling that someone removed my sister from her grave and transferred her to another location”

“Why?  What reason and motive would someone have to do such a thing?” I asked.  “If someone did move the grave, it is probably out of intent to bury a recently deceased family member next to the grave of someone else who died years ago, around the time of my sister’s death,” he replied. I continued in my line of questioning, and without being cynical asked, “do you really think someone is capable of doing a thing like that?”  “I don’t know.  The family is tense and so we decided to approach a private investigator to find the answer”.

I recovered pretty quickly from the content of the request. I started to energetically study the case at hand, just as though it was a normal, routine kind of case that we deal with on a daily basis. I thought of a few investigative directions. I started to formulate the most appropriate cover story in order to crack this odd, but curious and especially challenging case.

Inspiration for a cover story came from Michal Shalev’s book, “One Hundred Winters.”  The writer had conducted comprehensive and deep research into the history of her family for the last one hundred years. I decided that I would go in the same direction.

I got back to the client.  I told him of the investigative direction that I had thought up. I collected every possible bit of information about his family. We built a family tree together. We decided that I was planning on writing a book about “My New Family”.

I was the writer, so to speak, and was married to one of the client’s cousins who had immigrated to Australia after World War II. We had recently returned to Israel and in the framework of a journey to discover the roots of my family, I was touring around Israel in order to write about those who had left us and those who remained to tell our story.

I called the southern kibbutz, and spoke with the director of the archive. I explained the purpose of my visit, and we set an appointment to meet the following week. The week passed. I arrived at the archives in the morning, and asked for details regarding the deceased. I was told that the archives had burned down a few years ago. Nothing was left of the history that I was searching for.

I went to the kibbutz cemetery and spoke with the person responsible. I repeated my cover story. He got excited about the story and cooperated with me. We went to the grave of the deceased, where I openly photographed it along with the line of adjacent tombstones. I asked about the family histories of all the people buried under the tombstones.

The person responsible for the cemetery became impatient. “What exactly are you looking for?”  I explained to him that my family had reason to believe that the deceased sister’s grave was moved from its original site in order to make room for the burial of the family member of another person in the same row.

The cemetery manager was insulted and became irritated. According to the collective kibbutz mentality that he subscribed to, moving a grave without notifying the family of the deceased was just too much. I didn’t give up. I insisted. I demanded to see the cemetery records. He led me into his office and pulled out a nylon file with the cemetery records, prepared ten years ago.

From glancing at the cemetery file I learned that there were precise sketches and notes for every plot. Every grave was numbered, and labeled with the deceased’s name. I photographed the relevant pages. I returned to my office. I transcribed the tapes of conversations that I held. I checked the sketches from the cemetery file. And just as I thought to begin with, such things never happened. The grave of the deceased was never moved.

I prepared a detailed investigation summary report. I gently and sensitively recommended to the client to let go of the case. I emphasized that his suspicion had no basis. On the human level, I recommended that he let his sister “rest in peace”.  The client thanked me for the investigations and for giving him peace of mind, and serenity was granted to his family as well.