A religious student at an Orthodox Jewish school is found bludgeoned to death in his dormitory.

Smiling Chaim Weiss

Chaim Weiss

Chaim laying in his bed in the corner of his room

Someone killed Chaim while he slept

CASE DETAILS

Orthodox Jews trace their roots back 5,000 years to the time of Moses and they live according to strict codes that have remained unchanged for centuries. To maintain their traditions, many communities have established yeshivas, which are schools that emphasize the principles of Orthodox Judaism.

A banner with hebrew inscriptions in the main hall of a Yeshiva

Chaim studied at an Orthodox Yeshiva

On November 1, 1986, Don Daly, a veteran Nassau County police detective, was dispatched to a yeshiva in Long Beach, New York, to investigate the murder of one of its students. The victim was 16 year-old Chaim Weiss. A single blow to his skull with a sharp object had severed his spinal column.

Investigators found no murder weapon. There was no evidence of a robbery and no signs of a struggle. Detective Daly realized that this would be unlike any other homicide investigation in his 25-year career:

“Initially, we were dealing with a Saturday, which is the Sabbath. When we arrived at the scene sometime around 8:00 in the morning, it was difficult to talk to anybody at that particular time because the people we’re dealing with, being Orthodox Jews, they’re not able to write. We couldn’t take statements from anybody. We got the impression a lot of the students at that time were afraid to talk to us or were little shy.”

Chaim sitting against a wall reading a book in the hallway outside his room

He was last seen reading outside his room

As he investigated the scene, Daly thought the killer might have been familiar with the yeshiva and the customs of Orthodox Judaism. It appeared that Chaim had been killed while he was sleeping. His body was then moved, first from the bed to the floor, and later, to another spot two feet away. According to Det. Daly, Chaim’s window was left wide open on the chilly October night:

“It would be customary in the religion to open a window or a door to let the spirit out. It would also be customary for the body to be taken off the bed because the body should be at the lowest point and the coolest point. The coolest point being the floor, compared to the bed.”

Another ritual would point to a third puzzling clue. One of the rabbis asked to leave a memorial candle in the room, to burn for seven days. The crime scene was then sealed. However, two days later, another candle mysteriously appeared. Det. Daly said that no one in the school ever admitted to having placed it in the room:

“If they lit that candle as a gesture of sympathy or love for Chaim, why wouldn’t they come forward and say that? That’s certainly a good thing to do. Nobody came forward with that.”

A window left half open

The open window had a ritual meaning

Detective Daly set about piecing together the final hours of Chaim Weiss’ life. He learned that Chaim was an outgoing, likable teenager who was at the top of his class. He had been attending the yeshiva in Long Beach for 2 1/2 years. On the day he was killed, Chaim left class with his friends to attend services. Afterwards, he returned to the dormitory. Hours later, Det. Daly said, two classmates saw Chaim reading in the hallway:

“Many of the students do that. Because of their religion, they don’t put lights on and off at that time, on the Sabbath. It was dark, so the lights are left on in the main hallway. The students sit out in the hallway and read.”

Police think the killer probably knew the layout of the dormitory and was probably aware that Chaim was one of only two students without a roommate. Det. Daly:

“We did have one student who felt that he heard his door open up sometime during the night and then close again, but he assumed it was his roommate. There are a lot of questions that we haven’t been able to answer. We really never got any leads in this case. Nothing from the outside, which is unusual.”

A few days after the murder, Detective Daly called a meeting with the students, teachers, and rabbis. But almost every question he asked was answered by silence.

“We learned at one point that, in their particular orthodox religion, unless you have proof or another witness, mere suspicion alone is not enough to go and say anything or to accuse somebody.”

Police eventually polygraphed 40 students and several of the school’s teachers and rabbis. No suspects or motives were revealed. Who killed Chaim, and why, remains a mystery.

Anton Weiss is Chiam’s father:

“The not knowing makes it much more difficult for me to cope. Certain things I accept. My son’s dead. But the murderer is still loose. All these unanswered questions make me feel very, very uneasy.”

Why would anyone brutally murder a 16-year-old boy who had no known enemies? Police have uncovered only one significant clue — a jogger stated that he saw a young man a few blocks from the school on the morning Chaim’s body was found. All attempts to identify the student have been unsuccessful.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season four with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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37 Comments

  1. Avraham

    I remember the case and have always been intrigued by it. Although I never learned in long beach, I learned in a parallel Yeshiva and was in long beach for a entry test a few years later and heard all the talk about this case from the boys.

    I have no idea who did this crime. In 1994 I was in israel and I was learning in Yeshiva. I dormed with this kid who was a good few years older than me tall and was originally from the US and who had a violent temper, and couldn’t sleep unless it was completely dark.

    I don’t know why but at the time I thought he killed Chaim. Something about this guy. I once went near his closet and saw he had a 24 hour candle in his closet. One that they light for the dead.

    It may have been connected to molestation of course I don’t know

    I had a theory that it was a business fight between partners parents and they sent someone to the school to kill the kid or send a message to the kid and they killed the wrong kid. Golden flow and J&J two milk companies. Just a feeling but who knows the truth. They sent someone to beat up the kids or hit the kid to send a message. The person they sent was a Jewish kid at risk and he mistakenly killed the kid. The wrong kid. Or perhaps a mafia hit on a kid and they got the wrong kid.

    That was the theory I had.

    I think all the talk about Jewish traditions of this case is garbage and not connected to the case. The window open, the body on the floor, has nothing to do with religion. Perhaps to do with the murderer wanting to hide the body until he realized that it wasn’t possible.

    Opening of the window definitely had nothing to do with the soul and perhaps the murder was thinking of throwing the body out the window and hiding the body until he realized that he couldn’t, or thought otherwise.

    People who murder don’t all of a sudden become experts in Jewish traditions. They have bigger problems to worry about. Like hiding bodies, or getting out of trouble, or covering up their tracks to not get caught.

    In terms of the school and the rabbis there, I don’t think Rabbi Pitter could kill a spider let alone someone with an axe. I knew him somewhat a few years later. I never knew rabbi Cooper, but can’t imagine any of the rabbis there would or could kill. It would seem to have been a young person, as they are much more prone to do the impulsive crazy thing.

    The school told the kids not to tell the cops that someone did something or they suspect someone unless they knew foresure. That is actually quite logical, as you don’t want them to arrest people for no reason. It doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    If the murderer was one of the students, someone other than the murderer would definitely know in a school setting. The Yeshiva, and the boys of the Yeshiva at the time would have figured it out in a millisecond, especially a murder. The school the rabbis and the students, and it would have been common knowledge among all the students who studied there at the time.

    There would be no way to hide if for 30 or 40 years forget that thought. Having been in an out of town Yeshiva and knowing the culture, it’s obvious to me a few things.

    1. The students didn’t know who did it. They truly didn’t know.

    2. A rabbi who was molesting him would never have killed him in the dorm, and on a Friday night. Just never. Makes no sense whatsoever

    3. The most likely scenario is

    A. a single student molestation or anger/fight scenario. Killed him with a blunt object by mistake, and tried to hide the body after he realized he was dead. He was never caught because he hid in plain sight. No one suspected him and no one knew it was him 5%.

    B. A hit by a business partner, a divorce custody case, who was screwed by a parent in the school and he sent someone after the kid of the person who screwed him for revenge. He sent a kid at risk who was knowledgeable about the Yeshiva perhaps an old student of the school. He was meant to beat up the kid. He hit the kid and killed him. Probably the wrong kid. 95%

    The guy who killed him was perhaps the kid at the boardwalk 10%

    Nobody knew who the murderer was because he wasn’t actually any of the actual students. But was familiar with the school. 80%

    This is all I can think up.

    Reply

  2. jacinta

    ReligiousJew
    DECEMBER 23, 2017 AT 5:18 PM
    Complete ludicrousness, child sacrifice is absolutely, 100% explicitly forbidden by Jewish law. In response:- In the Catholic faith, child sexual abuse and homosexuality is 100% forbidden as well, how many thousands of kids have been preyed upon while that law was in effect. Therefore, explicitly forbidden is moot, we are dealing with human nature which cannot be quantified and in some instances, controlled.

    Reply

  3. thinkingoutloud

    a perfect blow to the head and instant death is no accident. someone who was close / involved with Chaim knew he would be alone and knew they could easily access his room. and this person must be familiar with the religion as the followed certain ritual meanings after his death. i am sure someone knows something but they could be too scared to tell which is understandable. just wish at least one person could give any other clues or information to help give his family peace.

    Reply

  4. Timmy

    In November of 2017, Chaim’s father Anton was interviewed by a news station and recalled several bizarre incidents prior to his son’s murder. In July of 1986, Chaim had called him from summer camp. He was crying and saying that he wanted to come home. According to Anton, this was very out of character for him. In August, Chaim went to visit his grandparents in Europe. During this time, the yeshiva’s principal, Rabbi Avrom Cooper, called Anton several times, asking when Chaim would be back home. He felt that this was suspicious. On another occasion, Cooper had Anton bring Chaim to his home to talk with him alone. After meeting for about ten minutes, Chaim returned to his father. However, he was reluctant to talk about the meeting.
    Anton suspects that Rabbi Cooper may have information about Chaim’s murder. Some have speculated that he may have been involved. However, no one has been charged in the case.

    Reply

  5. Jay

    You took his life and i know you have read all of the comments here. How do u live with this kids blood and soul on your conscious? Your life is nearing the final stretch. Confess. You will not rest in heaven until every last bit of debt is repaid until u serve your time for this horrendous crime. Chaim will have his vengeance! If i were u i would take my own life. You dont deserve to live. Your a coward. And will burn in the hellfire for your sin.

    Reply

  6. MLB Alumnus

    I attended that school three years later. While there, I heard from older students about there having been what would be viewed in the orthodox world as a problem of homosexual liasons between certain students. I heard further rumors that the victim had somehow been involved in it. Years later, when I was in Yeshivah in Israel, there was a divorced fellow attending the same yeshiva, who had left Mesivta of Long Beach before I attended. One night he invited me to his parent’s vacation apartment near downtown Jerusalem, with the offer of a normal American bed for the night. He shared that he had been good friends with the victim (which is odd given the age difference.) He told me he had been divorced because his wife accused him of sexual deviance. He had adamantly denied such accusations and even refused to divorce her for a long period. He had the support of top rabbis, as his father was a known successful and influential businessman in the orthodox world. Later that night, at his apartment, he sexually assaulted me. I told him that if he did not speak to his mentor at the yeshiva within three days about his behavior, then I would. He acted like he had no idea what I was talking about, so i realized i would get nowhere with his word against mine. A few years later, when we were newlyweds, my wife and I met this person when we were leaving a store in upstate New York. This person asked me why I did not invite him to my wedding. I told him that he knows why, but if he insists, I will tell him in front of my wife. He acted completely clueless and dumbfounded and we quickly walked away from him. Fast forward about 19 years, and I saw him at a wedding in the same town in upstate New York. He was not sure if it was me and was eying me from afar. I nearly vomited right then and there and got the hell out of there. In my mind, a character like this guy could easily have killed Chaim in a crime of passion, yet pathologically compartmentalize it to the point that he referred to him as his friend. He did the same with me.

    Reply

  7. Its Solved

    I don’t believe this case will ever be solved. For us, the viewers. With the location, nature of the crime, and unknown motive, its been taken care of, “in house”. I think they always knew who did it. That student has already confessed and been forgiven.

    Reply

    • NothingIsThatSimple

      That doesn’t make sense because it’s against Jewish law to kill someone. There’s no such thing as confessing to a Jewish rabbi and the rabbi to pardon.

      Reply

  8. Anonymous

    This is very sad, a child lost his life, it is heartbreaking. Just by reading what is presented and keeping in mind the police do hold information back from the public that only the killer would know. At first, thinking it was another student; however do believe it to be a person of authority. The murder is unsure of himself. The murder observing religious law after the heinous act, tells it’s an adult. Perhaps he(Chaim) saw or heard something or another student disclosed something to him about a teacher or rabbi? They say police have DNA evidence, they can go back and test every student and employees working there during that time. The killer knew the law and knew no one would talk because of Sabbath, which gives him time. The second candle being placed….if it were a student(s) the reason for not saying so is because they know or have an idea of who it could be. If it were the murderer returning to place a candle, following law. The kid who said he heard his door open and then close knows something. Police aught to talk to him.

    Reply

    • anonymous

      There were two students who did not share their room with anyone else. If someone opened the door of a shared room that tells me that he was unsure of which room to go to. Maybe he meant to murder the other student who slept alone. Maybe it was a mistake.

      Reply

    • Eleanor Williams

      I had a insight on Chaim a few weeks ago after I was looking at his cute picture , as I sat very quiet to feel his spirit in my mind and in my heart , as I let my spirit and mind travel through darkness as I think about Chaim and his friendly smile , with my thoughts on his death as I call his name from the spirit World up obove , with my mind I am calling Chaim , as I ✋ wait to hear with my mind , I am still sitting quiet with my eyes close , as I now am traveling over water in my mind, I start to ask God can I please reach Chaim Weiss soul , as I speak with my mind because I do know that all Power comes through the Father as I keep the star of David in my heart, mind, and spirit as I call out for help from Annelies Marie Frank soul to help me find Chaim Weiss in your World ,and it is not easy as the. spirit World take your energy and I must even drink water and eat oats , because you are dealing with the Super Natural Powers from God !!! I am now walking through a cemetery in my insight but I am not walking alone as I look at the grave stones in my mind, I am thinking who voice is this ghost walking beside me and talking as I can see that now I am in the Light , I stand very quiet as I feel with my gift , and I know this is Annelies my sweet little angel , but I never speak with my mouth to the spirits , but with my mind , as I can hear them with my ears and mind, but I am still scare and I do not know why, and I never rush questions on them as I be wanting to do , like ask Chaim spirit what happen when I do see him , if he would be up to talking to me at all , as I am thinking why am I even in this cemetery looking for his grave with a female ghost which is Anne spirit that brought me here and as I feel with my insight the energy of evil that a older Jewish man also walk the path also through the cemetery to look for Chaim Weiss grave site , as I am now in his dorm room in my insight I can see a older Jewish Rabbi put the window up a little, as I feel his thoughts in my mind on Chaim Weiss he is finally gone and I see the smoke go out the window from his cigar , and Chaim wanted me to know that it was never about the Jewish religion but for the killer to make sure he do his Evil best to Clean Up his sinful Mess after Killing him , and now Heaven has Chaim , and death is Not the end !! as ChaimWeiss soul Lives for Ever .RIP little

      Reply

  9. Anonymous

    Religion or not,, it is ridiculous that these students and rabbis didn’t come forward with their suspicions. A kid was murdered!! This many people living in close quarters, there is no doubt that, at the very least, the students have suspicions and or have noticed unusual behavior by their fellow students/ teachers. There is no doubt in my mind that somebody from that school is responsible. Now it’s time for ANYONE to be an adult and just overall caring person and come forward with your suspicions. Please give this family some closure! That is what God would wantyou to do!

    Reply

    • Jewish Man

      Maybe they just didn’t have any suspicions. The detective was simply suggesting that might be why nobody would speak to him, he didn’t know for sure. It’s entirely possible, and likely probable, nobody had a clue. Perhaps though some people do have suspicions and I can tell you from experience even in this kind of culture, people do come forward and speak to the police or even send anonymous letters. The fact none of that happened (that we are aware of, they may have kept it from the public) suggests nobody knew anything.

      Reply

  10. Brad

    The new theory is that a fellow student did it but the staff covered it up due to the students father being influential. Unfortunately the police don’t have the evidence to arrest the student

    Reply

  11. Brad

    The new theory out is that a student killed him and it was covered up by the staff as the student had a father who was influential

    Reply

  12. jen

    Idk I still feel like one of the Jewish men did it…was this boy being molested just curious butto be that knowledgeable of the religion and it’s ritiuals someone in that school did it no doubt

    Reply

  13. joe

    I attended the school. I don’t believe it was pre-meditated murder by a student or rabbi. The fact that someone cared about honoring a corpse, as per the religion, does not mean that person committed a crime, or that a religious person committed the crime. The school had over 200 religious guys that year in attendance, and every single one of us would have wanted to honor a corpse properly. It is considered a grave sin to not do so, thereby disgracing the departed. Honoring the deceased is NOT a crime. There is no evidence of anything sexual having occurred, and no one ever claimed there was. I believe an accident occurred, either during some horsing around (as high school boys do) or an actual fight between two boys, that resulted in blunt force trauma to the skull. That resulted in his death. The person involved was probably too scared to talk to the police. They certainly should have, and still should come forward. This is my belief, as a student of the school with knowledge of both the school and the religion. it is not based on any actual knowledge of the particular case.

    Reply

  14. Quietguy

    This was a crime of a sexual nature and it was committed by a fellow student. I have worked with this population and it was a crime dealing with sexual experimenting and when Chaim rebuffed the advance, all hell broke lose. He was attacked while he was sleeping as well. Now you know

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  15. hopeful

    a big shot rabbii did it any one could figured that out.
    curse this man by g-d

    Reply

    • Huh?

      I schooled in the same school as Chaim Weiss. I also slept in the same dormitory as Chaim Weiss. We shared the same rabbis. I don’t know why you’d think it was a rabbi, but I can tell you from my experience with the rabbis that it definitely wasn’t any of them. Your comment is ridiculous.

      Reply

  16. hopeful

    one thought no one thought is that it could have a sacrificial killing because in the jewish religion child sacrifice goes way back a lot of people dont think thats true but it is its even found in the torah espesically areas spoken with moses its found in exudus and else wear in the torah what jews dont understand is there food law was giving to ritulisticaly clean them selves to be ready on random when moses was told to sacrifice notice torah says food laws where for the children of isreal not for the adults this was to clean them of impuritys preparing for sacrifice on any giving time came for that calling bad rabbis fooled there on people for behalf of there religion there religion is an occult most often know and feared all around the world for its sacrificial torture and killing of people and animal it is also attached to heavy bad music also as well as the entertainment world many people around world feared there children around them because they where know for kidnapping and sacrficing children there reputition is bad a lot do they try to looked presentable to society they seem to be more playful then respectful in peoples opion of them they also cant trust theselves lokk what happen here how sad victim trusted hes own but look what they to him proply a rabbi did this i would say thinking the pure youngster was pretty for sacrifice been a smart and well educated youngerster with proud good looks not all have this i belive this is why he was chosen out of the other children i make bet just find the one how arranged that youngster to be put in a room by himself was probabaly done deliberated and premiditated for sure i hope they catch this bad rabbi i say diffenit inside job curse this man how did this by g-d .

    Reply

    • Franklin

      Wow…that’s all one sentence…how do you say it without taking a breath?

      Reply

    • Lee

      WOW… This is so misguided, ludicrous and antisemitic. I have no words for your ridiculous claims, the only one I will address is, the children of Israel. The children of Israel does not mean children and not adults, Israel is Jacobs other name, therefore, the children of Israel just means the children of Jacob ie. the decedents. Before posting such inflammatory comments maybe do some very basic research.

      Reply

    • ReligiousJew

      Complete ludicrousness, child sacrifice is absolutely, 100% explicitly forbidden by Jewish law.

      Reply

  17. Eric

    It was a pick ax and the reason, was jelicy, he still works there. I get

    Reply

  18. brian

    If you google chaim weiss sitcomsonline there is a 39 page chat room discussing the case. There is a good chance the murderer came from the outside because there was a broken lock on one of the side doors that lead directly to chaims room. Every student had a roomate except chaim. If a student did it there is a good chance their roomate would have noticed the missing for a while.

    This is the most interesting case ever on unsolved mysteries. If I could only see 1 case solved this would be it.

    Reply

  19. victoria

    I always thought that the murderer was otro alumno enamorado de chaim,
    and as it is sin in their religion was a crime of passion.
    maybe chaim
    It was his impossible love.

    Reply

  20. grahamclayton

    The case was reopened and a $25,000 reward posted in 2013:

    http://hamodia.com/2013/05/28/da-reopens-baffling-tragedy-of-chaim-weiss-zl/

    Reply

  21. Karen Momot.

    I have been studying criminal law for years…also profiling….I lived on L.I…born and raised.and this case has been on my mind for years…from what I have learned so far is that it was a inside killing , someone between the ages of 14-18 …because the murder was done at an time when all was quiet and new their way around , it was thought out carefully , but within a few days of the murder…something was building inside of someone who had to put an end to his problem with Chaim….maybe jealousy , maybe a friend ship on the outs , maybe it was a case of secret bulling…….It is very rare for a murderer to go back to a murder scene once , let alone twice….that was to make sure his victim was dead….knowing that a window had to be opened…which means even though the killer and eliminated his problem…he followed the rules of death in his religion…that points to a person of the same faith….this person who did this did not care after his job was done..he got away with it which means he can just eliminate when things get in his way…truly a person with no conscious…he’s a cool sociopath…and now he’s grown up…but they never change….I hear there re-opening the case as a cold case…good luck , go back and re-interview every student from that day…stories change over the years….he’s married now and out there in the community , living his life….some body knows some thing but only he knows the whole truth and what happened…time to put this pic. together…wish I could work this case….it would be my honor…..

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  22. Dahlia

    One of my favourite unsolved crimes. Poor Chaim, I hope justice is served soon!

    Reply

    • Karen Momot.

      This is a case that has me stumpted….inside job…I believe so….glad to see a 2014 reply….as long as people find interest , this case may one day be solved…….

      Reply