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Stabbings suspect returns to Michigan from Georgia

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Suspected serial killer extradited
  • Elias Abuelazam has arrived in Michigan
  • He is suspected in 18 attacks in three states that left five people dead
  • NEW: One attacked Michigan man says suspect deserves the death penalty
  • Abuelazam was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia

(CNN) -- A serial killing suspect was returned to Flint, Michigan, on Thursday amid tight security from Atlanta, Georgia.

Elias Abuelazam is suspected of slashing 18 victims in Michigan, Virginia and Ohio, killing five of them, from May through August.

A phalanx of police officers led Abuelazam, wearing jail-issued sandals, blue shorts, a T-shirt and a bulletproof vest, from the plane to a waiting van upon his arrival in Michigan about 12:20 p.m. ET.

He will be arraigned at 3 p.m. in the 68th District Court of Flint on one count of assault to commit murder, authorities said in a statement. The investigation continues, and more charges are expected, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said.

One of Abuelazam's alleged victims, Richard Booker of Flint, told CNN he planned to be in court for the arraignment.

Booker recalled he had gone for a walk to the store, and encountered a man who asked him to help him get his truck hood open. As he was doing so, the man grabbed him from behind, he said.

"He had a Bowie knife ... he tried to gut me or something," Booker said.

Video: Stabbing suspect held without bond
Video: Stabbing victim's family speaks

"He stuck me, fell on top of me," he said. He said the man wounded him on his arm and "tried to stab me in the face and throat. I punched him in the nose and he kind of got off me a little bit."

Booker managed to escape and make it home, where he passed out on his porch. He said he lost six pints of blood by the time he got to the porch.

"I just flipped out," he said. "I didn't know what the heck was happening."

The suspect, he said, is a "stone-cold maniac killer."

"I just wish they had something on him in Atlanta or Virginia, where they have the death sentence," he said. In Michigan, he will go to prison and "everybody's going to have to pay for it."

Booker said he would like to see his attacker die. "He basically tried to kill me," he said. "I spent a couple of weeks in an ICU, and I was so close to death I was on a respirator, and they had to replace all my blood, eight pints of blood. He's killed several people and a few people have gotten away, like me. He didn't try to rob (me), nothing."

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said Abuelazam will be held in an 8-foot-by-13-foot cell with no television, and will be locked up 23 hours a day.

A jail psychiatrist will examine Abuelazam on Friday, he said, because there are concerns he could harm himself. Everything in the cell is "breakaway," so the suspect cannot hang himself, Pickell said. A deputy will check on him every 15 minutes, and he will eventually move to an even more secure cell, the sheriff said. Abuelazam will be in restricted housing, separate from the jail's general population.

Pickell described the case as the most high-profile in all his years of law enforcement.

Abuelazam, an Israeli citizen living legally in the United States, was arrested August 11 at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. He was trying to board a flight to Israel when he was taken into custody, police said.

Authorities had Abuelazam in custody twice in the past month, both within hours of when stabbings were reported, but he was released. Police said he had not been linked to the attacks at the time. He was arrested August 5 after a traffic stop and July 29 for allegedly providing alcohol to a minor. He was fined $125 in July.

In the traffic stop arrest, in Arlington, Virginia, police arrested him after learning he had an outstanding warrant for assault. A knife and hammer were found in his car. Authorities now believe both weapons were used in the string of stabbings. One attack happened in Virginia hours after Abuelazam was released.

Most of the stabbing victims were African-American. Federal officials have not provided a motive for the attacks, but Leesburg, Virginia, Police Chief Joseph Price has said he believed the attacker was targeting African-Americans.

Abuelazam is believed responsible for three attacks in Leesburg, the stabbing deaths of five people and the wounding of nine others in Flint and a stabbing that wounded a man in Toledo, Ohio. The suspect is said to have approached victims who were walking during the early morning hours, asking them for directions or other assistance to lure them near his car, police said.

In an August 13 hearing in Atlanta, Abuelazam waived extradition to Michigan.

CNN's Susan Candiotti, Adam Reiss and Marylynn Ryan contributed to this report.