PLAINFIELD, Ill. (TCD) — A Chicago-area man now faces hate crime charges after he allegedly fatally stabbed a 6-year-old boy and injured the child’s mother due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
According to a statement, on Saturday, Oct. 14, Will County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Plainfield Township Police officers responded to a call on the 16200 block of South Lincoln Highway about a stabbing between a landlord and a tenant. When law enforcement officials arrived, they found 71-year-old Joseph Czuba sitting in the driveway with a cut on his forehead. Medics took him to a nearby hospital for treatment.
When deputies and officers went inside, they found the two victims suffering from stab wounds to their chest, torso, and other parts of their upper bodies. A 32-year-old woman sustained a dozen stab wounds and was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Medics also transported a 6-year-old child to the hospital in critical condition, where he died from his injuries. He reportedly still had a large knife in his abdomen.
The pathologist conducting the autopsy determined the boy, who was identified as Wadea Al-Fayoume, was killed with a 12-inch serrated military-style knife with a 7-inch blade. Wadea had been stabbed 26 times.
Following his release from the hospital, investigators spoke with Czuba, but he “did not make any statements to detectives regarding his involvement in this heinous attack.” Will County detectives, however, allege Czuba targeted Wadea and his mother “due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”
The Justice Department announced Sunday, Oct. 15, that they have opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the boy’s death and the attack on his mother, Hanaan Shahin.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago bureau said in a statement Wadea and Shahin were Czuba’s tenants. Wadea’s father told CAIR-Chicago that Czuba allegedly knocked on Shahin’s door, tried to choke her, and screamed, “You Muslims must die!”
Shahin reportedly ran to call for help, but when she got back, Wadea had been mortally wounded.
Wadea’s funeral and burial is Monday, Oct. 16.
CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said, “Our hearts are heavy, and our prayers are with the darling boy and his mother. As we await the official investigation of the local authorities, what we can confirm at the moment is that we have a murdered child in his own home, a 6-year-old who had just celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and a mother lying in the hospital in serious condition, both stabbed over a dozen times.”
Rehab said the events that transpired are “our worst nightmare.”
The Chicago Jewish Community Relations Council released a statement following Wadea’s killing, saying, “We condemn this heinous act in the strongest possible terms. Wadea Al-Fayoume and his mother were attacked, and Wadea was murdered, because they are Muslim. May Wadea’s memory be a blessing to all who knew and loved him and may his mother experience a full recovery.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker wrote, “To take a 6-year-old child’s life in the name of bigotry is nothing short of evil. Wadea should be heading to school in the morning. Instead, his parents will wake up without their son. This wasn’t just a murder — it was a hate crime.”
Pritzker added, “And every single Illinoisan — including our Muslim, Jewish, and Palestinian neighbors — deserve to live free from the threat of such evil.”
The Will County Sheriff’s Office says Czuba is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crime, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
TRUE CRIME DAILY: THE PODCAST covers high-profile and under-the-radar cases every week. Subscribe to our YouTube page for podcasts, exclusive videos, and more, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.