Freshly covered by a midweek coat of snow, its only activity a few motorists and a young couple pushing a stroller along the sidewalk, Beachwood’s tree-lined Penshurst Drive neighborhood appeared outwardly calm mere days after it was turned upside down by the news that one of its residents, Aliza Sherman, had been brutally stabbed to death in downtown Cleveland.
In a week otherwise marked by the celebration of Passover, there was a prevailing sense of sorrow – symbolized by a bouquet of flowers left on the front doorstep of Sherman’s home March 27.
Among those grieving the loss of the 53-year-old Sherman, victim of a suspected homicide March 24, was her friend of 30 years, Gilda Katz.
“She was supposed to come to dinner tonight for seder,” said a tearful Katz while standing with family outside her home on the morning of March 25. “I still can’t believe it. It’s surreal. It’s a horrible loss for her family, her friends and the community.”
Katz said her and Sherman’s children are all about the same age and grew up together.
“She was the most caring and giving person anyone could ever meet. All of my children thought of her as a second mother,” said Katz, a member of Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood. “She knew everyone’s favorite candy. All of my children love her.”
Cleveland police received a call at about 5:30 p.m. March 24 reporting that a female was heard screaming in the area of 75 Erieview Plaza, near the intersection of East 12th Street and the Galleria at Erieview.
Upon arriving at the scene, officers found Sherman’s body covered in blood. She was transported to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where she died as a result of her injuries.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office subsequently determined that Sherman died as a result of multiple stab wounds, which she suffered to her torso, according to Cleveland police.
Further investigation revealed that Sherman was still in possession of her purse when police arrived, though it’s unknown whether anything was stolen. Her car was towed from the scene, Sgt. Sammy Morris said.
The Beachwood Police Department has no involvement in the case to this point.
“We made notification to contact Cleveland police (about the incident), but that was it,” Beachwood Police Chief Mark Sechrist said March 25.
However, dating back to Nov. 2, 2000, Beachwood police have 23 incident reports associated with the Shermans’ address. Reasons for the calls range from reports of grand theft and threatening phone calls to civil matters and concerns for animals in the house, according to police records.
The most recent call to Beachwood police was made at about 1 a.m. March 25 – about seven hours after Cleveland police received the initial report of the incident. Sherman’s husband, Sanford, called to report suspicious vehicles parking near the house and driving away when he looked out the window. When police arrived, no cars were in the area, according to police records.
Of those 23 reports, 14 were filed after the Shermans filed for divorce, which was on June 20, 2011, according to Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court records. The Shermans had court dates scheduled for March 26 and Wednesday, April 3, for a contested divorce trial, according to the court docket.
Court records also show that the office of Aliza Sherman’s attorney, Joseph Stafford, is at 55 Erieview Plaza – about 300 feet away from the address to which Cleveland police responded on March 24.
Sherman was a mother of four: Jennifer, Jason, Jeremy and Josh.
On her Facebook page, Sherman listed being a 1977 graduate of Hebrew Academy of Cleveland and a Cleveland Clinic employee.
“At a time when Jews across the globe gather with their loved ones and experience our people’s inspirational journey from exile to redemption, this is a particularly difficult tragedy for her family, for our community and for the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Simcha Dessler, education director at Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, on March 25. “While I did not know her first hand, I do know her family, who are exceptional people, and I am told that as a nurse, she provided care with kindness and compassion, thereby touching lives.”
Rabbi Barry Kislowicz, head of school at Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood, said Sherman’s youngest son, Jeremy, is a high school senior there.
“This touches the school community very deeply,” Kislowicz said March 25. “Our hearts and thoughts are with the Sherman family. We shared our condolences with them. We are doing everything we can from a school perspective to support Jeremy, and (we’re) offering broader support to any of our other students and parents who need it.”
Two of Sherman’s other children, Jennifer and Jason, graduated from Fuchs Mizrachi, according to a statement issued by the school.
Cleveland Clinic also issued a statement on March 25: “We are saddened by the tragic death of our longtime employee, Aliza, who was an in vitro fertilization nurse. She has touched many lives and will always be remembered for her warmth and kindness. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.”
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Cleveland Police Homicide Unit at 216-623-5464 or Crime Stoppers at 216-252-7463.
CJN Staff Reporters Sue Hoffman and Ed Wittenberg contributed to this report.