An 85-year-old Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust was murdered and her body burned in what Paris police are now investigating as a hate crime. Mireille Knoll was stabbed at least 11 times before her Paris apartment was set ablaze Friday, report the Local and the BBC. Two male suspects, aged 22 and 29, were arrested Monday and face possible charges of anti-Semitic murder, aggravated robbery, and destruction of property, reports the Times of Israel. On Facebook, Knoll's granddaughter describes one of the men as "a Muslim neighbor [Knoll] knew well." Knoll's son says she treated the man "like a son." Local media, however, report the man had threatened to set fire to Knoll's home following his release from prison for molesting the 12-year-old daughter of a woman who looked after Knoll.
"We are really in shock," says Knoll's son, noting his mother had "no money" to tempt her alleged killers. Authorities initially said they were "not excluding any hypothesis" regarding the motive of the killing. But on Monday, the Paris prosecutor's office said anti-Semitism was likely to blame. "For the family, it's almost a certainty," French MP Meyer Habib said in a Facebook post after speaking with Knoll's relatives, per the Local. She noted Knoll escaped a roundup of 13,000 Jews in Paris in 1942—almost all of whom would later die in Nazi death camps—thanks to her mother's Brazilian passport, per the BBC. Many are now pointing out similarities in the case of 66-year-old Jewish woman Sarah Halimi, murdered in Paris last April. In February, the murder was ruled an anti-Semitic crime. (Read more anti-Semitism stories.)