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Suspected serial killer arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

A male suspect wanted in a series of homicides and assaults in Michigan, was apprehended by the Atlanta Police Department's airport precinct, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, on Thursday, according to Carlos Campos, spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department.

Elias Abuelazam, 34, was detained at Gate E-17, on Concourse E at the airport, an Atlanta Police Department incident report states.

"Mr. Abuelazam was transported to APD [Atlanta Police Department] headquarters, and later, the Atlanta City Jail, to await questioning by Michigan State Police," said Campos, in a prepared statement.

According to Campos, Atlanta Police received a phone call from the Michigan State Police Department, headquartered in Lansing, Mich., on Wednesday, Aug. 11, at about 9:30 p.m., concerning Abuelazam. Campos said that Michigan police advised Atlanta police that Abuelazam was waiting to board a Delta Air Lines' flight departing to Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Aug. 12.

"Three officers and a sergeant from our airport precinct were dispatched to the gate, where they had Mr. Abuelazam paged over the intercom," said Campos.

Campos said that in response to the page, Abuelazam approached the ticket counter, where he was taken into custody without incident, after confirming his identity.

According to the report, the Michigan State Police Department was informed that Abuelazam was detained. Michigan police faxed over a copy of a warrant to Atlanta police, and several investigators from the Michigan State Police Department arrived in Atlanta, at 4 a.m., the report said.

"The Atlanta Police Department's Airport precinct is proud to have participated in this apprehension," said Campos. "But it's important to note that the investigative portion of this case is being handled by other law enforcement authorities [Michigan State Police Department]."

Campos said he could not discuss further details about the case.

First Lt. Gene Kapp, of the Michigan State Police Department, said there were 14 stabbing assaults linked to Abuelazam, which occurred in Genesee County, Mich., including the City of Burton and the Charter Township of Flint. A large number of those assaults happened in Flint, Mich., he added, during a phone interview.

Out of those 14 assaults, five were homicides, said the first lieutenant.

Kapp said an edged weapon was used in these assaults, and the assaults were conducted in a similar manner. The assaulter would ask his victims for directions, or say that there was something wrong with his vehicle, "and stab them at that time, and several of them [victims] numerous times," said Kapp.

He said the stabbing spree, in Michigan, occurred, from May 24, to Aug. 2.

Kapp said Abuelazam is also believed to be linked to an assault in Toledo, Ohio, and three similar assaults in Arlington, Va.

Previously, Abuelazam was stopped by police in Arlington, Va., for not obeying a highway sign, while driving his 1996 green-over-tan Chevrolet Blazer, said Kapp. Police noticed Abuelazam had a warrant for an assault and was arrested, on Aug. 5, he added.

"He was arrested in Arlington, Va., during this [stabbing] spree," said Kapp.

Abuelazam's Chevrolet Blazer was released, the same day of his arrest, at 7:52 p.m. According to Kapp, eventually, Abuelazam was also released.

"He was released," he said. "We don't know if he was posted bond, or released with a court date."

"We [Michigan State Police Department] believe the suspect is the same in all of these [assaults]," said Kapp. He added that he does not have any information about when the assaults took place in Ohio and Virginia.

Kapp said the Michigan State Police Department formed a task force, on Aug. 7, and began to put out sketches and descriptions of Abuelazam. "Within two and a half days we had 400 tips," he said.

Kapp said it is believed that Abuelazam drove back to Michigan, from Virginia, because his vehicle was found in the Wolverine State. From Michigan, Abuelazam was tracked flying to Louisville, Ky., where he took a connecting flight to Atlanta.

He said Abuelazam has already been charged with one count of murder in Michigan.