Welcome to the Forward’s series on unsolved Jewish murders. The cases run across continents and class divides, and have rocked Jewish communities around the world.
Aliza Sherman, mother of four, was a devoted caretaker in her family. Family, in fact, was her professional calling: she worked as an in-vitro fertilization nurse at the renowned Cleveland Clinic. Sherman continued to live with her ex-husband, Sanford, for over a year after filing for divorce, to try and keep the worst effects of a separation from afflicting her children.
Her parents, survivors of the Holocaust, had met and fell in love in the displaced persons camp. Sanford’s parents were also survivors; they were married for over 30 years.
“She really tried to be strong,” Jan Lash, one of Sherman’s closest friends, told Cleveland Magazine.
In March 2013, on a Sunday afternoon, Sherman went to visit her divorce lawyer’s offices in a mall in downtown Cleveland. A court date for the divorce case was set for the coming Tuesday.
Around 5:30 p.m., employees of the mall heard screams and ran downstairs to find Sherman trying to stand with blood pouring out of her arms and mouth. She had been stabbed 11 times — on her neck, back and arms. When first responders loaded her into the ambulance, she was barely conscious. She was pronounced dead at 6:14 p.m.
Security cameras captured a person running — with a slight limp — from the location where Sherman was found. Sherman still had her wallet. None of her jewelry had been taken.
After the killing, Jennifer, the Shermans’ only daughter, further distanced herself from her father, while her brother Jonathan declared at the funeral, “My father had nothing to f—-ing do with this!”
Sherman and Sanford had had a rocky marriage. Their children had called the police to intervene in their loud, violent fights numerous times. Fights had erupted from disagreements as small as what prizes to hand out in a game of dreidel. Sherman filed for divorce in 2011.
“I am really afraid he is going to have me killed,” wrote in an email to herself one night in 2012.
But suspicion also fell on Sherman’s lawyer. Gregory Moore had been handed the case by his associate after the latter had his law license suspended. Moore tried to delay the case as much as possible, and eventually faced charges of having called in bomb threats to courts to try and delay three other cases.
Though he initially told police he had been waiting for Sherman in his office, digital records later proved he had been out of the office for nearly an hour when Sherman was stabbed.
Jennifer eventually took Sanford to court over what she claims was $2 million that he owed to his mother. Over the course of the trial, it was revealed that Sanford had been having an affair for four years leading up to the divorce. In a deposition, a lawyer for Sanford said that Sanford had asked him about committing “a perfect murder.” The lawyer had given his opinion.
“Don’t use your car or don’t let your car be seen,” he said in testimony. “Don’t use a gun because it could be heard. Don’t use your street clothes. Use something that would cover up your entire body, your face, your hands.”
In January 2016, Moore, Sherman’s lawyer, was indicted for tampering with evidence.
No further arrests have been made. With help from an anonymous donor, local authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of Sherman’s murderer.