BEIRUT: A janitor working at a monastery in the Kesrouan region of Sahel Alma has admitted to raping and killing a Lebanese woman who had been praying at the religious place.
The body of Myriam al-Ashkar, 28, was found Tuesday covered in blood, naked from the waist down.
Syrian national Fathi Jabr al-Salateen, the janitor at Our Lady of the Annunciation monastery in Sahel Alma, north of Beirut, told police he had raped Ashkar before killing her by cutting her throat Monday afternoon.
According to the investigation, Salateen, from the city of Hama, Syria, did not know the victim, but had been watching Ashkar, who regularly came to pray at the monastery’s chapel.
Salateen said he had tried to rape Ashkar on the chapel’s old stone staircase but then took her to his room.
After the gruesome rape and killing, Salateen said he wrapped the victim in a burlap bag, carried her on his donkey to the woods surrounding the monastery and tied to dump her in a steep valley.
However, his attempt to hide the body did not go according to plan. Instead of tumbling to the valley below, Ashkar’s corpse got stuck in a tree. A Lebanese Army helicopter managed to recover the body.
“She was holding the bible in one hand and a rosary in the other when she went to the monastery to pray,” Ashkar’s mother said, sobbing. “She’s a believer.”
“We want to see the criminal hanged as a lesson to others,” a relative of Ashkar cried.
The Ashkar family reported the 28-year-old as missing when calls to her mobile phone went unanswered after she had left the house.
Ashkar told her parents and fiancé she would be gone for just a couple of hours to pray.
Medical examination showed that Ashkar had been “subjected to physical abuse just prior to the rape," a security source told The Daily Star.