Man arrested in connection to 79-year-old's death - WNEM TV 5

Man arrested in connection to 79-year-old's death

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Genesee County Sheriff's Office Genesee County Sheriff's Office

Flint Township police arrested a man they believe is responsible for the murder of a 79-year-old holocaust survivor.

First responders were called to a home on Lennington Court at the Cambridge Square Apartments in Flint Township on Dec. 19. When they arrived they found Leonid Yufa dead.

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"Everyone loved him. Everyone," said Irina Yufa, victim's daughter.

Police said it is believed Yufa died as a result of asphyxiation.

On Thursday, Dec. 21, Flint Township Police detectives developed a person of interest in their investigation.

Dmitri Zavalnitski, a 32-year-old resident from Flint Township, was arrested and lodged in the Genesee County Jail. 

On Friday, Dec. 22, the case was presented to the Genesee County Prosecutor and the following charges were authorized:

  • Homicide-felony murder
  • Home invasion 1st degree
  • Possession of burglary tools
  • Home invasion 2nd degree
  • Possession of marijuana

Zavalnitski was arraigned on those charges in the 67th district court.

Irina said this is a huge loss to her family.

"He told jokes, played piano. He just loved to make people happy," she said.

She said her father lived on Lennington Court. She said he loved sports and spending time with his grandchildren.

He was also active in the community. He was a member of the Flint Jewish Federation.

"He will absolutely be missed," said Steven Low, executive director of the federation.

Low said Yufa was a holocaust survivor who had a zest for life.

"A person who had a great sense of humor. He loves sports and it's going to take us awhile to process this," Low said.

Irina said even though he always wore a smile on his face, his life was anything but easy.

"Someone killed him. They did it horribly. Father already had a very difficult life because he was a holocaust survivor. And he came here after being a Jewish refugee from the former Soviet Union. And yesterday it was an even more horrible ending," Irina said.

Devastated family members said the man lived in a bottom floor apartment at Cambridge Square. He was found about 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Irina is stuck wondering why someone would hurt her loving dad who never hurt anyone.

"I don't know. It must've been a horrible person. I just hope this person will be found and I hope this person can’t sleep at night,” Irina said. "Every time this person closes their eyes, he or she will see my father's face."

Anyone with information is urged to contact Det. McBride with the Flint Township Police Department at 810-600-3250.

Funeral services were held on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. at the Chapel of Machpelah Cemetery in Flint.

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