FLINT, Mich. – An alleged serial killer already charged with murder in a three-state stabbing spree was charged Thursday in two more killings, including a case in which authorities said blood was found on his shoelaces.
Elias Abuelazam now is charged with three murders in the Flint area as well as five attempted murders, all tied to a string of attacks that panicked the area last summer.
"I can't imagine the grief you must feel," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton told victims' relatives who attended a news conference. "We in law enforcement care."
Abuelazam was charged with open murder in the deaths of Darwin Marshall, 43, in Flint on July 26 and Frank Kellybrew, 60, in Flint Township four days later.
The open murder charge gives Leyton the option to amend it to first-degree murder or murder committed during another felony. In any case, the penalty is life in prison.
In Marshall's death, investigators were greatly aided by a witness who said she recognized Abuelazam, Leyton said.
In the probe into Kellybrew's death, Leyton said blood on Abuelazam's shoes matched the victim's DNA. The shoes were in luggage seized at an airport in Louisville, Ky., where Abuelazam was catching a connecting flight to Atlanta on Aug. 11, the prosecutor said.
Abuelazam, 34, was later arrested in Atlanta while trying to fly to his native Israel.
"Mr. Abuelazam is not an American citizen but he will face American justice," said Leyton, who is the Democratic candidate for Michigan attorney general in the Nov. 2 election.
Defense attorney Ed Zeineh said he met with Abuelazam on Thursday and "he's rolling with the punches."
"There are holes in these allegations. I feel we can establish reasonable doubt," Zeineh said.
Fourteen people were stabbed, five of them fatally, in the Flint area from May until August. Abuelazam also is charged with attempted murder in a similar attack in Toledo, Ohio, and is suspected in stabbings in Leesburg, Va., where he once lived.
A common thread is that many victims were asked for help or directions before being attacked. Most victims were black, but authorities have said there's no evidence that race was the key motive.
Zeineh said Abuelazam got a boost this week when his mother, Iyam al-Azzam, traveled from Israel to visit him in jail.
"It gave him the ability to stay strong," Zeineh said. "When you're down, seeing your mom helps."