Man held in stabbings probe identified

By the CNN Wire Staff
August 12, 2010 1:53 p.m. EDT

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- Authorities have identified the man arrested at the Atlanta airport as Elias Abuelazam, 33, in connection with the stabbings of 20 people in Michigan, Virginia and Ohio.

He was arrested Wednesday on a charge of assault with intent to murder. Five of the stabbing victims died.

A judge in Flint, Michigan, issued the arrest warrant.

Two sources said the man is an Israeli citizen who is in the United States legally. A federal law enforcement official involved in the investigation said the man was traveling on an expired Israeli passport.

The attacks have occurred in Michigan, Virginia and Ohio since first beginning in May. Police were conducting a multistate search for a suspect and had recently released a composite sketch.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they arrested the man at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday as he attempted to board Delta Air Lines Flight 152 bound for Tel Aviv, Israel, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A Department of Homeland Security official said the National Targeting Center had looked at the passenger list and saw his name on the manifest.

Upon confirmation of his identity, the man was placed in the custody of the FBI and Atlanta Police Department.

The Transportation Security Administration asked Delta officials to hold that particular flight, a Department of Homeland Security official said. The official said the man was apprehended on murder-related charges as he was boarding the aircraft.

A federal law enforcement official involved in the investigation said the man was traveling on an expired Israeli passport.

Atlanta police said Thursday that officers at the airport precinct were involved in the apprehension and detention of a man sought by Michigan authorities for questioning in connection with a series of homicides and stabbings.

Leesburg, Virginia, police spokesman Chris Jones did not release the man's name and did not refer to him as a suspect.

"We just want to be absolutely certain that we're not rushing to judgment on that ... He's certainly a very strong person of interest," Jones said. "We just want to make sure that the link is 100 percent solidified, to link him to the incidents."

Over the past week, investigators from the Michigan Task Force, Leesburg police, Toledo, Ohio, police, FBI and other law enforcement agencies investigated leads and tips from the public.

Michigan stabbing suspect linked to Virginia, Ohio attacks

One of those tips on Wednesday "developed into a strong investigative lead that identified an individual who has ties to both the Flint, Michigan, and Leesburg, Virginia, areas," police said.

"While this is a key step in the investigation, there are still many issues that need to be addressed before we identify this individual as the person responsible for this horrific crime spree," police said.

Stabbings, deaths raise fears in Flint, Michigan

Another federal law enforcement source said the suspect remains in custody in Atlanta and will have an initial appearance there in next few days.

Authorities have said the same person is responsible for three recent attacks in Leesburg, the stabbing deaths of five people and injuries to 11 others in the Flint, Michigan, area and a stabbing Saturday that injured one man in Toledo.

Police have been asked if the incidents are racially motivated. Fourteen of the 16 victims in Michigan were African-American, police said. Flint is a majority African-American community. In Leesburg, two victims were black, and one was Hispanic.

The Michigan attacks began May 24, with the most recent taking place August 2. The three attacks in Virginia occurred August 3 and 5 and Friday.

The Michigan victims' ages ranged from 17 to 60, according to authorities. All the victims have been men.

The suspect is said to have approached victims who were on foot during early-morning hours, asking for directions or other assistance to lure them closer to his car, police said. Toledo police Sgt. Bill Wauford said the method of attack in the Ohio case matched the Michigan incidents.

The five slain Michigan victims were David Motley, Emmanuel Dent, Darwin Marshall, Frank Kellybrew and Arnold Miner. ... tml?hpt=T2