Serial Stabbings Suspect in Michigan

Man suspected in three Virginia attacks

By COREY WILLIAMS and Matthew Stabley
|  Thursday, Aug 26, 2010  |  Updated 8:02 PM EDT
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Leesburg Attacks Linked to Michigan Serial Killer

AP

An undated photo of Elias Abuelazam released by the Arlington, Va., County Police Department.

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Serial Stabbing Suspect Has Strong Virginia Ties

Police in Leesburg want to investigate the serial stabbing suspect in the 2009 stabbing death of his neighbor.

"Person of Interest" Held in Serial Killings

A person of interest in serial stabbings across three states was arrested at about 10 p.m. Wednesday.
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A man suspected in 18 attacks resulting in five deaths in three states, including three attacks in Leesburg, Va., was ordered held without bond Thursday in one case after being extradited to Michigan.

Elias Abuelazam, 33, was arraigned by video in a Flint court on a charge of assault with intent to murder in connection with a July 27 stabbing of a 26-year-old Flint man. Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said he expects to file homicide and attempted homicide charges in other cases soon.

Prosecutors asked for a $10 million bond, citing the severity of the attacks and concern that Abuelazam, who is Israeli, is a flight risk.

"This is one of 14 incidents of murder and assault with intent to murder. Five people are dead. The rest faced death and are seriously injured," Leyton told the judge in asking for the high bail. "He is not a citizen of the United States. The court should do all it can to make sure he stands trial in Genesee County where he ran rampant, created havoc and attacked innocent citizens."

Judge Nathaniel Perry III then ordered him held without bond.

Defense attorney Brian Morley said he didn't contest Perry's decision because it's a discretionary decision by the court.

"My understanding is he was not fleeing the country, he was heading home," Morley said. "I could see where it suggests flight. At this point, with the town nervous and inferences of flight, I can see where the judge is coming from."

Morley said he met briefly with Abuelazam before the arraignment.

"His frame of mind was, 'What's next?'" Morley told reporters.

Abuelazam was escorted by two Michigan State Police sergeants and two troopers from an Atlanta jail to Flint Thursday morning. In addition to the 14 Michigan cases and the three Virginia cases, he's also suspected in a similar stabbing in Ohio.

After arriving on a small Michigan-owned plane in Flint around 12:15 p.m., Abuelazam, wearing a bulletproof vest and handcuffs, walked about 30 yards across the tarmac and was whisked away in a police van to the Genesee County jail.

The attacks started in late spring, and a pattern emerged after a dozen more men were stabbed between late June and early August.

The three Leesburg attacks happened Aug. 3, 5 and 6. In the first and second incidents, a 15-year-old boy and a 67-year-old man, respectively, were stabbed. In the third attack, a 19-year-old man was struck with a blunt object.

Police in Arlington, Va., said Abuelazam was arrested there during a routine traffic stop Aug. 5 at 1:15 a.m. Leyton said Arlington police found a knife in the driver's side door and a hammer on the floor of the vehicle. Arlington Detective Crystal L. Nosal said police realized he was wanted on a simple assault warrant in Leesburg, about 30 miles away, but a magistrate released him on personal recognizance, meaning he was responsible for returning to court.

Survivors described the attacker as a big man wearing a baseball-style cap and feigning the need for car help or directions.

The description matched Abuelazam, who was arrested in Atlanta as he prepared to board a flight to Tel Aviv. He grew up northwest of the Israeli city in a small Arab Christian community in Ramle, where he had been a suspect in a screwdriver stabbing earlier this year.

According to Loudoun County court records, Abuelazam was arrested in December 2007 and charged with felony gun possession. Those charges were dropped the next year. He was also charged with misdemeanor assault in 2008, and had an August court date scheduled. Police in Leesburg want to know if Abuelazam is connected to the fatal stabbing of a man in his Leesburg home last year, when Abuelazam lived nearby.

Police believe the attacks may have been racially motivated. All but two of the Michigan victims were black men. In Leesburg, the victims were African-American or Latino. Survivors reported their assailant said little during the attacks, and never mentioned race.

Abuelazam was arrested Aug. 11 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as he was about to board a plane for Tel Aviv.


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