Police say Bensimhon, an anesthesiologist from Allentown, Pa., had driven six hours to Cleveland Heights with intentions of administering the Big Sleep to Dr. Alan Hoffer, who is engaged in a bitter divorce with Bensimhon’s daughter, Danielle Bensimhon.
The attack was thwarted, however, when Hoffer, after stepping out his back door at 5:30 a.m., heard rustling behind him. The 66-year-old Bensimhon, garbed in a black mask and purple surgical gloves, swung the metal bar at Hoffer, hitting him repeatedly in the head and arms. Although bloodied and dazed, Hoffer, a neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, was able to overpower the 5-foot-7 Bensimhon and restrain him until his neighbors called police.
Cleveland Heights police charged Bensimhon, reportedly a veteran of the Israeli Army, with attempted aggravated murder, breaking and entering, and possession of criminal tools. Investigators recovered a backpack at the scene, apparently belonging to Bensimhon, that contained hypodermic needles and various injectable sedatives.
Law enforcement officials said they have not ascertained whether Danielle Bensimhon had prior knowledge of her father’s intentions. On the morning of the attack, Hoffer was planning to drive to the Cleveland airport to pick up his young daughter, who lives in North Miami Beach with Danielle. Hoffer and his estranged wife are involved in a custody battle over their daughter.
The couple are scheduled to begin their contested divorce trial on Sept. 30. Danielle, who moved to Florida two years ago, works as a realtor and is also a cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. She previously was a cantor at Congregation Bethaynu in Pepper Pike, an eastern suburb of Cleveland.
Hoffer’s father, Dr. Barry Hoffer, told police there had been problems between his son and Dr. Bensimhon in the past, “including threats.”
(Update) Dr. Bensimhon was indicted Sept. 12 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on charges of kidnapping, felonious assault, attempted murder, and attempted aggravated murder.