Prosecutors on Monday alleged that Joseph Czuba, the 71-year-old white man accused of fatally stabbing a Palestinian mother and boy in a Chicago suburb over the weekend, had become paranoid listening to conservative radio segments about the war between Israel and Hamas.
Czuba was arraigned on Monday, making his first court appearance in an orange jumpsuit with matted hair, The New York Times reported. He faces charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime, and an aggravated battery charge for allegedly stabbing his tenants, 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mom, Hanaan Shaheen, inside their home.
In court documents obtained by the Times, prosecutors allege that Czuba had become fearful that their Palestinian background made him a potential target for violence.
Czuba’s wife told investigators that her husband “listens to conservative talk radio on a regular basis” and had become obsessed with the Middle East war, NBC reported.
Prosecutors reportedly said Monday that Czuba had texted Shaheen on Wednesday and demanded that she “move out of the home” she was renting from him.
Czuba’s alleged hate took a violent turn on Saturday. Prosecutors say he confronted the mother and son outside their home and said he was enraged by the situation in Israel. Shaheen tried to plead with Czuba, prosecutors said, but it was to no avail: Just seconds after she said “let’s pray for peace,” prosecutors claim she was chased into her home and stabbed repeatedly.
A judge denied a request for bail by Czuba on Monday, saying he remains a threat to Shaheen—who is still recovering from stab wounds in the hospital—and “the community in general.” His next court date is on Oct. 30.
Czuba’s arraignment took place the same day mourners gathered at a funeral for Al-Fayoume. The boy’s body was placed in a small white coffin that was draped in a Palestinian flag.
Nazmi Hannon, a close family friend who described the father as a “brother” to him, spoke to The Daily Beast from the site of a funeral service on Monday.
“I just remember all the little things. How he smiled, how he played, how he ran around,” he said. “He was running around playing just last week, and now he’s in a casket.”