Police: Israeli man also suspect in Israel stabbing

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However, Israeli police said Abuelazam was a suspect in a stabbing attack early this year, although charges were never pressed.

A senior police commander said Abuelazam was believed to have stabbed a close acquaintance in the face with a screwdriver during an argument in a parked car about six months ago. The commander said police dropped the case because the victim refused to cooperate with investigators.

He said Israeli police would request samples of Abuelazam’s DNA to investigate unsolved stabbings in the Ramle area. The city is known as a violent hot spot of drug activity.

The commander spoke on condition of anonymity because he was barred by police rules from speaking to the media.

The alleged victim in the attack, Ziad Shahin, denied being assaulted by Abuelazam but had a large scar from his right ear to his throat. Speaking outside his candy store in Ramle, Shahin said he was born with the mark.

Ramle’s roughly 3,000-member Arab Christian community is tight-knit, and residents were extremely cautious about discussing Abuelazam’s past.

Acquaintances said Abuelazam’s father died of illness when he was a baby, and that he was raised by his single mother and four sisters. The family owned a grocery store and two other shops in town, and the mother was well regarded. Abuelazam, a member of Ramle’s Greek Orthodox community, attended two prestigious Catholic schools, they said.

Abuelazam’s most recent visit came earlier this year, and he returned to the U.S. in the spring, shortly before the stabbing spree began in Flint, with the attacker approaching men on lonely roads at night and asking for directions or help with a broken-down car. Then he would pull out a knife, plunge it into his victim and speed away.

All but four of the 18 attacks occurred the Flint area. The others were in Leesburg, Va., and Toledo, Ohio. In one case, the attacker used a hammer.

The youngest victim was 15; the oldest 67. At least 15 victims were black, although there’s no evidence that race played a role, authorities said. A motive was not known.

Robert Keppel, a retired Washington state homicide detective who profiles serial killers, said it’s rare for someone to attack males exclusively.

Whoever is responsible for the 18 attacks, “he’s just getting off on stabbing people. He’s not guaranteeing that they die,” said Keppel, who investigated the Ted Bundy homicides in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s.

“For some reason, the satisfaction is just in the action of the stabbings,” Keppel said. “He’s only turned on by the act of the approach and the initial stabbing. He’s got some hang-ups. … He’s a rare killer among rare killers.”

Also Friday, police in Leesburg, Va., said they were investigating whether Abuelazam is responsible for the March 2009 stabbing death of a 44-year-old man who lived across from Abuelazam in a townhome community.

If authorities connect Abuelazam to that slaying, he could face the death penalty. Michigan, where the other deadly attacks occurred, does not have capital punishment.

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