The number of attacks believed to be tied to suspected serial killer Elias Abuelazam is getting longer as police in Virginia began investigating today whether he also stabbed his former neighbor to death.
In addition, police in Israel said the Israeli-Arab stabbed a friend in Israel about six months ago. No charges were filed against Abuelazam because the stabbing victim, who survived, declined to press charges, Israeli officials told the Associated Press.
The attacks would bring to 20 the total number of victims allegedly knifed by Abuelazam.
Leesburg, Va., Police Chief Joseph Price said his officers are trying to determine whether the death of Jammie Lane is linked to Abuelazm. Lane, who was 44, lived across the street from Abuelazam at the time of his stabbing death in March 2009.
If convicted of murder in Virginia, Abuelazam could face the death penalty. Currently he is charged with one murder in Michigan, which does not have the death pently.
He is a suspect in the stabbing of 18 men in Michigan, Virginia and Ohio. Five of those victims died.
Abuelazam, described as a "gentle giant" by a former co-worker, appeared in a Georgia court in shackles today and was a full head taller than the officers who escorted him into the court room for the extradition hearing. Judge Richard Hicks repeatedly explained what extradition was before Abuelazam decided to waive his right to fight it.
When first confronted with his options, Abuelazam asked the judge, "Is it possible to ask to think about it?"
The judge informed the suspect that he could put off going to Michigan to fight the criminal case for as long as three months.
"I will fight the case in Michigan," Abuelazam finally decided. "Why should I wait 90 days, right? That's the most common sense. It sounds more logical to me to go now than to wait three months."
At the conclusion of the short hearing, as the suspect was escorted out of the court, Hicks wished him "good luck," to which Abuelazam responded, "Thank you."
Abuelazam, 33, was apprehended Wednesday night at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport as he waited for his flight to leave the country, officials said. He was tracked to the airport after investigators followed a new lead that originated in Michigan.
A complex picture of Abuelazam is emerging today as one former coworker called him a "gentle giant" even in violent situations but a former family member says he was abusive.
"There was a bit of abuse," James Hirth, the father of Elias Abuelazam's ex-wife, told ABC News. Hirth said Abuelazam was rough with his daughter before the couple divorced in 2007.
Abuelazam was also arrested in Virginia on Aug. 5 for an outstanding warrant for misdemeanor assault in which Michigan police said they believe he assaulted his former brother-in-law. At the time, Abuelazam was not identified as the serial killer suspect, so Virginia police released him.
But the cross country stabbings, not to mention the domestic abuse and assault allegations, do not at all fit with the image of Abuelazam that a coworker paints of the man.