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Published: Thursday, 8/26/2010

Serial stabbings suspect ordered held without bond

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FLINT, Mich. — A man suspected in 18 attacks in three states, including five fatal stabbings, was ordered held without bond Thursday in one of the cases 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 is a flight risk, and the defense deferred to the judge to set the bail. Judge Nathaniel Perry III then ordered him held without bond.

Earlier in the day, Abuelazam was escorted by two Michigan State Police sergeants and two troopers from an Atlanta jail.

Abuelazam arrived on a small Michigan-owned plane under tight security at a secluded runway far from the main terminal at Bishop International Airport in Flint around 12:15 p.m.. Wearing a bulletproof vest, leg irons and handcuffs, he walked about 30 yards across the tarmac and was whisked away in a police van to the Genesee County jail. He will be held there in solitary confinement, authorities said.

Police vehicles and officers were positioned at the fences around the airport to keep spectators away, and a nearby hangar had been cleared out protectively, Michigan State Police Lt. Stephen Sipes said.

“If we had received any type of threats to this individual we would have pulled the plane into the hangar and closed the door,” he said.

John Potbury, an assistant county prosecutor, said Abuelazam will be arraigned on the single count of assault with intent to commit murder.

Brian Morley, Abuelazam's attorney, said he expected the arraignment to be done by video and that it would be “perfunctory.”

“I expect nothing out of the ordinary,” said Morley, who said he hadn't yet met with his client but expected to do so hopefully before the arraignment.

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

In the U.S., Abuelazam is suspected in 14 attacks in and around Flint, three attacks in Virginia and one in Ohio. The victims were men aged 15 to 67. Most were black, but investigators don't know whether race was a motive.

On Aug. 11, investigators went to a market outside Flint where Abuelazam had worked for a month. A store video showed Abuelazam matched the description of the suspect. He had not been seen at work since Aug. 1, when he told people he was off to Virginia.

Using electronic records, investigators tracked Abuelazam to Atlanta's airport and arrested him at the boarding gate.



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