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"Serial Stabber" Suspect Elias Abuelazam Indicted in Ohio Attack; Charged with Murder, Attempted Murder in Mich.

Elias Abuelazam (AP Photo)
Suspected "Serial Stabber" Elias Abuelazam Indicted in Ohio Attack
Elias Abuelazam (AP Photo)

TOLEDO, Ohio (CBS/AP) An Ohio grand jury has handed up an indictment on attempted murder charges for Elias Abuelazam, the man suspected in a series of at least 20 stabbings across three states last spring and summer.

The indictment of the Israeli native stems from a stabbing attack against a church janitor in Toledo.

Authorities believe Abuelazam committed the attack that began in May in Flint, Mich., killing five and injuring nine others. He is also the suspect in two stabbings and a hammer attack in Virginia.

On Friday, Abuelazam, 33, was charged with felonious assault in the early August stabbing of custodian Tony Leno, who was reportedly standing outside a church when a man asked for directions before he began stabbing him.

Leno, 59, survived the attack and is undergoing rehabilitation.

Abuelazam was apprehended and placed in custody Aug. 11, while attempting to board a plane in Atlanta to escape to his native country.

Authorities say Abuelazam is currently in Michigan where he faces one murder charge in the death of Arnold Minor, who was stabbed in the chest and stomach on Aug. 2., in addition to five attempted murder charges. But prosecutors in northern Ohio want their share of the case when Michigan is finished.

"If our case is a good case. It's a strong case. And we have good proof and solid evidence, we should go forward with it. And if we have to wait a bit until he's finished in Michigan, we've done that before," Julia Bates, Lucas County prosecutor said according to CBS affiliate WTOL.

The attack in Ohio was starkly similar to those in Michigan. The common link that seems to bind the victims' stories is that they were either asked for directions or help before being heinously attacked, according to authorities.

"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," said Mich. prosecutor David Leyton.

Though most of the victims were African American, authorities have said evidence does not reflect whether race was a key motive.

A not guilty plea was automatically entered for Abuelazam a little more than two weeks ago when the first murder charge was filed in the case.

In Minor's death, the charge of open murder gives Leyton the option to amend it to first-degree murder or murder committed during another felony. In either case, Abuelazam faces the possibility of life in prison.

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