The suburban Chicago landlord accused of stabbing a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy to death and badly wounding his mother was ordered held behind bars Monday while federal authorities opened a hate crimes investigation into what they say was a deadly anti-Muslim attack.
Dressed in an orange prison-issued jumpsuit, his hair disheveled, 71-year-old Joseph Czuba answered “yes sir” to the judge but otherwise sat quietly in a Will County courtroom where he was formally charged with three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated battery and two counts of committing a hate crime.
Investigators said the deadly attack that resulted in the death of Wadea Al-Fayoume was linked to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East.
In the petition requesting that Czuba be detained, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Fitzgerald said that right before the attack, the landlord confronted the boy’s mother, Hanaan Shahin, and “told her he was angry at her for what was going on” in Israel.
Shahin “stated she responded to him ‘let’s pray for peace’,” the petition said. Shahin “stated Czuba gave her no chance to do anything … then attacked her with a knife.”
Czuba, the boy’s mother told investigators, was an “angry” man. His wife, Mary, told investigators that Czuba “listens to conservative talk radio on a regular basis” and became obsessed with the war between Hamas and Israel. [Continue reading…]