A man accused of murder, attempted murder, and a hate crime in an attack on a Palestinian American woman and her young son is scheduled to appear in court on Monday following his indictment by an Illinois grand jury.
Joseph Czuba, 71, is expected to enter a plea at an arraignment on eight counts in the indictment filed last week. He is charged in the fatal stabbing of Wadea Al-Fayoume, 6, and the wounding of Hanaan Shahin on Oct. 14. Authorities said the victims were targeted because of their Muslim faith.
Shahin told police that Czuba, her landlord in Plainfield in Will County, was upset over the Israel-Hamas war and attacked them after she had urged him to “pray for peace.”
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This photo shows Wadea Al Fayoume’s father, Oday Al Fayoume, right, and his uncle Mahmoud Yousef attending a vigil for Wadea at Prairie Activity and Recreation center in Plainfield, Ill., on Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
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Shahin, 32, is recovering from multiple stab wounds. Hundreds of people attended her son’s funeral on Oct. 16.
The murder charge in the indictment against Czuba describes the boy’s death as the result of “exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior.”
Defense attorney George Lenard has said he won’t comment on the case outside court. Czuba, who is in jail, is expected in court in Joliet, 50 miles southwest of Chicago.
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Shahin asked the public to “pray for peace” and said her son was her best friend in a statement issued last week through the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The stabbings were part of rising hostility against Muslim and Jewish communities in the U.S. since Hamas attacked Israel.