Elias Abuelazam serial stabber case befuddles experts
Criminologists say the serial stabber may be a hybrid criminal: someone who is motivated by the grievances of a mass killer but uses the tactics of a serial killer. Police arrested Elias Abuelazam in Atlanta Wednesday.
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"If this had been a mass killing, if the killer had shot to death a number of people in the same category all at once, it would have made more sense," says Mr. Levin.Skip to next paragraph
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An early report suggests that anti-Americanism may not have been a factor.
The Israeli Internet newspaper Ynet reported Friday that federal counterterrorism investigators are part of the investigation because of Abuelazam's Arab name. "Initial indications, however, are that US officials cannot find the slightest trace of evidence or intelligence linking the man – a 33-year-old Christian who grew up in [the Israeli town of] Ramla – to terrorism," Ynet writes.
Abuelazam agreed to be extradited to Michigan so that he could fight the current charge – and the others expected to be filed.
Though Abuelazam reportedly has a Florida driver's license, he spent time in Flint, Mich., and worked at a party store where his manager has told the Associated Press that he didn't seem to harbor any racial resentments. Authorities have said Abuelazam has an uncle in the Flint area and a sister in Leesburg.
All but four of the stabbings happened in in the Flint area. They began May 24 and crescendoed at the end of July, when attacks occurred daily.
Three of the stabbings occurred in northern Virginia at a time when Abuelazam was known to be there. In fact, police in Virginia stopped Abuelazam last week for failing to obey a stop sign. They briefly impounded Abuelazam's car because of an outstanding assault warrant against him.
Abuelazam was released, and the three Virginia knife attacks happened shortly afterward. The Virginia police said they had no knowledge of the Flint stabbings and so had no reason to hold him.
The final stabbing that police connect to Abuelazam was of a church custodian in Toledo, Ohio, Aug. 7.
Police allege that Abuelazam would approach lone victims at night, asking them for help with his car or for directions. Once they were off their guard, he would stab them, police say.
After police received numerous tips, Abuelazam was apprehended by four police officers at Hartsfield-Jackson international airport in Atlanta on Wednesday night after being paged over the airport intercom and told to report to a ticket counter. He was set to board a plane to Israel.
Passengers on the Tel Aviv-bound Delta plane said he appeared tense, according to the Associated Press. He was talking to someone on his cell phone "about not being violent and different things like that," passenger Eugene Williams said after the plane landed in Tel Aviv, the AP writes.