Thursday, August 12, 2010

Man Arrested in Michigan Serial Killer Case

(Aug. 12) -- A "person of interest" linked to the three-state knife attacks that killed five people in Michigan has been taken into custody, authorities said today. Media reports said he was arrested at Atlanta's commercial airport as he tried to fly to Israel.

"He is currently being held on unrelated charges," Leesburg, Va., police spokesman Chris Jones told reporters. "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."

The case garnered national media attention last week, when authorities in Flint, Mich., announced that a lone serial killer was responsible for more than a dozen stabbings in the city since mid-May. The case expanded this week, and officials now believe the same person is responsible for attacking 20 men in Michigan, Ohio and Virginia, killing five.

All but two of the 20 victims were black.

During the past week, investigators from law enforcement agencies including the Michigan Task Force, the FBI and police in Leesburg and Toledo, Ohio, have been working to identify the serial killer. A composite sketch was released this week.

The task force received hundreds of tips during the investigation, and one of them led to a beer store in Beecher, Mich., north of Flint, where the person of interest previously worked, according to media reports.

The manager of Kingwater Market told Detroit's WDIV-TV the man started working there on July 5 and hadn't been seen since Aug. 1. He said the man was polite and didn't treat blacks differently than other customers.

"He was friendly. He was a nice guy," manager Abdullah Farrah told the TV station.

Steve Cornell, manager of the Family Dollar store next door, agreed.

"He was very nice to the ladies and walked them to their cars at night," Cornell told AOL News by telephone. "With guys, when you went in there, if he didn't know you, he was a little bit [standoffish]."

"I was quite shocked," Cornell said of the arrest. "You never expect anything like that."

Once the man was identified, investigators were able to electronically track him to Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport. At the time of his arrest, he was reportedly on a Delta flight preparing to fly to Israel.

The man was traveling with an expired Israeli passport, according to CNN, citing anonymous law enforcement officials,

The most recent attack occurred in Toledo on Saturday, when a minister was stabbed outside his church. Investigators were initially hesitant to link the attack to the serial killer but have since announced their suspicions that he is responsible, WSUA 9 News reported.

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