UPDATE: Leesburg stabbing spree—crime blog
08/12, 11:11 a.m.
Suspect’s former place of employment releases a statement
Scott Zeiter, CEO of North Spring Behavioral Healthcare, released a statement Thursday night about Abuelazam’s employment at the Piedmont Behavioral Health Center branch in Leesburg:
“Elias Abuelazam was formerly an employee of North Spring Behavioral Healthcare. His employment at North Spring ended in 2008. We understand that he may be a suspect in certain crimes committed in 2010. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.”
08/12, 7:30 p.m.
County tax records link suspect to three separate Leesburg addresses
Suspect Elias Abu Elazam is now linked to three Leesburg addresses, according to personal property tax records.
He was on Leesburg tax rolls from 2001 to 2008, Commissioner of Revenue Robert Wertz told the Times-Mirror Aug. 12.
From 2005 to 2006, Abu Elazam had property assessed at 113 Adams Drive NE in Leesburg.
From 2006 to 2008, he had property assessed at 723 Fieldstone Drive, Apartment 202, in Leesburg, near Battlefield Parkway.
The Fieldstone Drive property was jointly owned by Elias Abu Elazam and a woman named Jessica Nicole Elazam, according to personal property tax records. Wertz did not know the relationship between Elias and Jessica Nicole.
There are no other records before 2005 because certain pieces of personal property tax information expire after a few years, Wertz said.
At some point during this seven year period, Abu Elazam was also receiving mail at 414 Dodd Drive in Leesburg, Wertz said. Wertz did not know when he started and stopped receiving mail there. The Dodd Drive property has been owned by Joseph and Marvat Farran since 1998. Wertz did not know what the relationship was between Abu Elazam and the Farrans.
8/12 6:34 p.m.
Scarce social media presence
A search for “Elias Abuelazam” on Myspace.com produces only one find. Eliasabuelazam has only one friend on the social networking website – the founder of Myspace, Tom Anderson.
He has no blurbs: He has nothing listed in the “About me” section or “Who I’d like to meet.” He’s listed as “Single” and his horoscope sign is “Virgo.”
Visit the myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/eliasabuelazam
A search for “eliasabuelazam” turned up the Twitter name, “elias1234567,” He has no followers, profile or tweets. He is following one person.
Visit the Twitter page at http://twitter.com/elias1234567
08/12, 4:05 p.m.
A man with the same name as the suspect lived on Adams Drive in Leesburg for five years
According to Gary Clemens, Clerk of the Loudoun County Circuit Court, a man named Elias Abuelazam bought a condo at 113 Adams Drive in Leesburg in November of 2002. He sold this condo in August of 2007.
“My land records do not provide any information as to whether this was a permanent residence or a rental property,” Clemens said in an email Aug. 12.
This information aligns with the report of the Leesburg resident who lives at 120 Adams Drive and claimed to be Abu Elazam’s neighbor.
08/12, 3:55 p.m.
Leesburg residents and employees react to the attacks
Lorraine James, Lovettsville resident, employee of Leesburg Veterinary near where the Aug. 6 attack took place, white female
Q: How did you feel when you learned one of the attacks was committed right near here?
A: Well, I’m sure glad our building has cameras. On Tuesday afternoon I actually saw a vehicle that matched the description of the suspected vehicle exactly. I called the cops and the Chief of Police showed up. They were glad that we called because they said that anybody who has even the slightest suspicion should call. It turned out to be nothing, but I’m glad I called.
Q: How does it make you feel that someone was hit in the back of the head with a blunt object very close to your place of employment?
A: It’s scary. But we’ve since increased our security measures here. No one is allowed to leave this building at night alone. We’re open until 8, so with day light savings time coming up, it will start to get dark around 5. When you need to go to your car, you walk with someone. We’re all about the buddy system now. If there is anything suspicious going on, come back inside, lock the door and call the cops. Don’t hesitate. All in all, these crimes have made people acknowledge that they always need to be aware. Kids shouldn’t be walking around at night with headphones in their ears. They need to be aware of their surroundings.
Q: How does it make you feel that you have to step up security measures in Leesburg?
A: Honestly, it makes me feel secure. We have a huge floodlight out here now. It just makes me feel safe. I’m glad they have stepped up the security.
Q: On Aug. 5, local police had stopped the suspect for a traffic violation and he was taken into custody due to a 2008 crime. Obviously, the police let him go. The next night, he attacked someone right near here. How does that make you feel?
A: Well, I guess somebody didn’t do their homework. I guess somebody didn’t push the right button in the computer. They should’ve known about those recent crimes. Thank God the 19-year-old that got hit didn’t die, because it sounds like that crime could have been prevented.
Allison Tegler, Leesburg resident, officer manager of Leesburg Veterinary, white female
I’m personally angry that these crimes were primarily geared towards black people. My daughter’s soccer coach is a 24-year-old black man and when I picked my daughter up from soccer practice the other day, she said, ‘Mom, I’m sad, I hope coach is okay. I don’t want anything bad to happen to him.’ However, I am glad that this younger generation is aware that people are people, no matter what color they are.”
Maurice Shorts, Leesburg, 34, black male
All I can say is, he’s lucky he didn’t run into me. It’s that simple. I’m trained with military hand-to-hand combat. I’m a third-degree black belt, I know taekwondo; so yeah I would’ve taken him out.
Q: How do you feel about the fact that he was attacking people from behind?
A: That’s cowardice. That’s a coward move. You want to stab somebody, you should be able to look at the person, then maybe you’ll realize you’re not a killer. When the first attack happened, I was actually sitting outside with some friends talking. It makes you think… we could’ve seen him. He could’ve come after one of us.
Q: How do you feel about the fact that he was targeting black men?
A: There’s a lot of sickos out there. Some people target black men, some people target white. Obviously it was racially motivated. Some killers have that mentality where they only target a certain type of person. Either way, it’s all bad. But again, I wasn’t worried. I walked around here at night during the attacks, no problem.
Q: You may be able to defend yourself but the 67-year-old man that was stabbed near here may have not been able to.
A: That’s true. I actually know that guy. It was really unfortunate for him. He’s a good man, well-liked in the neighborhood. I hope he recovers fully.
Q: Did you fear for your two small children?
A: It would only scare me if I wasn’t with them. If I’m not around, then no, I wouldn’t want them walking around at night alone.
But I’m glad they caught the guy, it makes everyone rest a little easier.
8/12 3:50 p.m.
It was a tip that set it off.
Late in the afternoon August 11, a tip developed into a strong investigative lead that identified a person with ties to both Flint, Mich., and Leesburg, Va., according to the Leesburg Police Department.
Elias Abuelazam, also known as, Elias Abu El Azam, a white man born August 29, 1976, was arrested without incident at approximately 10 p.m. at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on charges of serial killings and assaults in Michigan, Ohio and Virginia, officials said at a press conference at 2 p.m. on August 12.
Abuelazam is an Israeli citizen of Arab descent. He was boarding an airplane to Tel Aviv when he was stopped by Customs and Border Patrol with the assistance of the Federal Air Marshal Service and the Atlanta Police Department.
Officials said he was not on a watch list. In 2007, he spent “about a month” in jail for a misdemeanor because he provided incorrect information when applying for a firearm license in Virginia. He did not put on the application that he had a felony conviction for fraud in California in 1995, according to Loudoun’s Commonwealth Attorney Jim Plowman.
More details from the press conference will follow.
08/12 3:10 p.m.
A man with the name of Elias Abu Elazam has a Facebook page
A search for “Elias Abu Elazam” on Facebook brings up a profile with a picture that matches the mug shot of stabbings suspect Elias Abu Elazam. Due to online Facebook privacy settings, no other information is available beyond his gender, although there is the option to both add him as a friend and send him a Facebook message.
To visit the Facebook page, click here.
08/12 2:30 p.m.
Leesburg resident claims to be Abu Elazam’s neighbor
Suspect Abu Elazam has been linked to two addresses, in Leesburg. One is on Dodd Drive NW, off of West Market, as indicated by court records. The other is on Adams Drive NE, off of Edwards Ferry, as confirmed by divorce court records.
A 31-year-old Leesburg resident on Adams Drive claims to be a former neighbor of Abu Elazam’s. The neighbor said he’s lived there all his life, and that Abu Elazam moved there in 2004 and lived there for three to four years, “right behind” the neighbor’s house.
When he saw the sketch of the suspect as posted by various news sources, he said, “I knew this guy. I used to be next door neighbors.” He confirmed this again after looking at the AP photo used by various news sources.
He remembers Abu Elazam as having a wife, but does not recall any children.
He did not ever speak with Abu Elazam but recalls Abu Elazam occasionally waving at him. He also remembers Abu Elazam driving fast through Adams Drive, in a maroon, four-door Toyota Camry with a tan interior.
The reason Abu Elazam eventually left, according to the neighbor, was that “he abused his wife.” They argued a lot, the neighbor said.
The neighbor claimed to recall an instance in which Abu Elazam knocked his wife down in the doorway. The cops were called, and the wife left shortly afterward, the neighbor said.
Less than a year after that, Abu Elazam left the area, the neighbor said.
08/12, 1:45 p.m.
Suspect has very strong Leesburg ties
Suspect Abuelazam (or Abu Elazam according to some news sources) worked for the Piedmont Behavioral Health Center in Leesburg in 2002, when he filed a worker’s compensation claim and listed a Leesburg address as his residence. It has not been confirmed how long he worked at the center or where he lived in Leesburg. The CEO of the center has promised to release a statement shortly.
According to civil court records, Abuelazam was previously married to Dawn Costello. He also has a sister in Leesburg.
According to the manager of the party store in Flint where Abuelazam was most recently employed, Abuelazam took some time off to see his sister. Two days later, on Aug. 3, the Leesburg attacks began.
08/12, 12:54 p.m.
Suspect was arrested Aug. 5 in Loudoun for 2008 assault charges
Early Thursday morning, investigators announced that a suspect in the case has been taken into custody.
Currently held on unrelated charges, this suspect has strong ties to both Flint and Leesburg.
The arrest came at 10 p.m. Wednesday, when officers from Customs and Border Protection arrested him at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
He was attempting to board a Delta flight for Tel Aviv, Israel. Court records indicate the suspect’s name is Elias Abuelazam.
A review of Loudoun County General District Court records show several minor traffic infractions against someone by the same name dating back to 2003 and an Aug. 5 arrest for a misdemeanor assault that occurred in November 2008.
After Abuelazam was served an arrest warrant Aug. 5 for the November 2008 assault, he was released on a personal recognizance bond, according to court records.
A statement from the Leesburg Police Department, 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.”
Reports indicate that the suspect was taken into custody in Atlanta, Ga. while attempting to board a flight out of the country.
08/12 6:53 a.m.
Person of interest taken into custody Aug. 11
A person of interest was taken into custody Aug. 11 in connection with a series of stabbings in Leesburg that may be related to several slayings in Flint, Mich., and an attack in Toledo, Ohio.
Police have received several tips on the case since Monday, after a Leesburg Police detective linked the Leesburg attacks, which targeted two black people and a dark-skinned Hispanic person, with the incidents in Michigan, Leesburg Police spokesman Officer Chris Jones said.
Late yesterday afternoon one of those tips developed into a strong investigative lead that identified someone who has ties to both the Flint and Leesburg areas. Investigators from the Michigan Task Force, Leesburg and the FBI worked this lead through the night. A person of interest was taken into custody, Jones said.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Steve Sapp, the person of interest was taken into custody at about 10 p.m. at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport where he was trying to board an international flight to Tel Aviv.
“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,” Jones said.
Check with loudouni.com and LoudounTimes.com for ongoing updates on this evolving news story.