FLINT, Mich. – A man suspected in a series of stabbings in Michigan and two other states has been charged with murder and four new attempted murder charges, a prosecutor announced Monday.
Elias Abuelazam, 33, is charged with open murder in the Aug. 2 killing of Arnold Minor in Flint, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said. If convicted, he faces life in prison with no chance of parole.
Abuelazam previously had been charged in just one case, the attempted murder of a 26-year-old man. He was arrested at an Atlanta airport on Aug. 11 while trying to travel to Israel, his native country, and is being held in the county jail.
Abuelazam "terrorized our citizens," Leyton said. "We've got the guy responsible for these crimes. ... We will convict him. We will lock him up for the rest of his life. His victims deserve nothing less."
Abuelazam's lawyer, Brian Morley, said the new charges were expected and he's already received some evidence from authorities.
The charge of open murder gives Leyton the option to later amend it as the case proceeds to first-degree murder or murder committed during another felony.
Minor was found in the street, stabbed in the chest and stomach. Surveillance video from a nearby convenience store showed Abuelazam's green vehicle in the area at the time of the killing, Leyton said.
Authorities later matched Minor's DNA to blood in the vehicle, he said.
"He's going to have a hard time explaining that," Leyton said of Abuelazam.
Five men died and nine were injured during a series of stabbings in the Flint area from May to early August. Abuelazam also is a suspect in two stabbings and a hammer attack in Virginia and a stabbing in Ohio.
In explaining the four new attempted-murder charges, Leyton said there was a common thread: The victims were asked for help or directions before being attacked.
"We suspect that he was preying on vulnerable, African-American men, cruising the areas of the city of Flint and the surrounding suburbs where he might find such individuals and try to take their lives and destroy them," the prosecutor said.
Flint Police Chief Alvern Lock believes that a fear of helping strangers has ebbed since Abuelazam's arrest but not completely.
People "have to use their best judgment. They need to be careful," Lock said.