Wadea Al-Fayoume Murder: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

wadea al-fayoume

CAIR/Mugshot Wadea Al-Fayoume and Joseph Czuba

Wadea Al-Fayoume was a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy who was stabbed to death by his landlord in Illinois because he was Muslim, according to the Will County (Illinois) Sheriff’s Department.

Joseph Czuba, 71, is accused of stabbing the boy and his 32-year-old mother on October 14, 2023, according to the Will County Sheriff. Czuba was the family’s landlord in Plainfield Township, about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, sheriff’s officials said.

Wadea’s mother, Hanaan Shahin, survived the attack, NBC News reported.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Joseph Czuba Is Accused of Stabbing Wadea Al-Fayoume 26 Times Because of the ‘Middle Eastern Conflict Involving Hamas & the Israelis,’ Sheriff’s Officials Say

Sheriff’s officials wrote in the release that Czuba’s motive was the “Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”

“Joseph Czuba was charged with First Degree Murder, Attempted First Degree Murder, Hate Crime (2 counts), and Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote.

“The Will County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office for their assistance in working with detectives regarding Joseph Czuba being formally charged in this senseless and cowardly act of violence. Joseph Czuba was transported to the Will County Adult Detention Facility and is awaiting his initial court appearance.”

Court records obtained by NBC News indicated that prosecutors accuse Czuba of confronting Shahin and telling her “he was angry at her for what was going on” in Israel.

Shahin “stated she responded to him ‘let’s pray for peace,'” the petition said, according to NBC News. Shahin “stated Czuba gave her no chance to do anything … then attacked her with a knife.”

According to NBC News, Czuba’s wife, Mary, told investigators he “listens to conservative talk radio on a regular basis” and was obsessed with the war between Hamas and Israel.

2. The Mother of Wadea Al-Fayoume called 911 After Running Into the Bathroom & Trying to Fight Off the Attacker, Officials Say

joseph czuba

Will Co SheriffJoseph Czuba

On October 14, 2023, at approximately 11:38 a.m., “deputies with the Will County Sheriff’s Office were sent to a residence located near the 16200 block of S. Lincoln Highway in Unincorporated Plainfield Township regarding a stabbing. The residence is located near the intersection of S. Lincoln Highway and Lily Cache Road in Plainfield.”

According to the sheriff’s release: “Responding police personnel were advised that the female caller, age 32, dialed 911 after her landlord had attacked her with a knife. The female victim stated that she ran into the bathroom and continued to fight off her attacker as she dialed 911.”

The release continued: “Deputies with the Will County Sheriff’s Office and officers with the Plainfield Police Department responded to the scene. Upon their arrival they located the suspect, Joseph M. Czuba (age 71) of Plainfield sitting upright outside on the ground near the driveway of the residence. Joseph Czuba had a laceration to his forehead and was later transported to a local area hospital for treatment.”

According to the release,

Deputies located two victims inside the residence in a bedroom. Both victims had multiple stab wounds to their chest, torso, and upper extremities. Both victims were transported to a local area hospital for treatment. The 32-year-old female was transported in serious condition and over a dozen stab wounds to her body. The eight-year-old male had over a dozen stab wounds to his body and was transported in critical condition. The eight-year-old later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased by a doctor at the hospital.

The release continued:

The suspect, Joseph M. Czuba, was treated and released from a local area hospital and was transported to the Will County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex for questioning by detectives. Thus far, no criminal charges have been filed. This active investigation will continue throughout the evening and into tomorrow while members of the Will County Sheriff’s Office continue to gather additional evidence and conduct interviews.

Detectives have been able to determine that there is no further danger to the public. The suspect has been taken into custody and the weapon used in this heinous crime has been recovered. The Will County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Plainfield Police Department for their assistance in this incident. Additional information will be provided when appropriate.

However, a later updated release said:

It was initially reported to police personnel that the juvenile victim was eight-years-old. That initial information was incorrect, and juvenile victim is six (6) years-old. The six-year-old male was transported to the hospital in critical condition. The boy later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased by a doctor. On 10/15/2023, an autopsy was conducted on the six-year-old victim. The forensic pathologist conducting the autopsy removed the knife from the abdomen of the boy at that time. The six-year-old boy was stabbed twenty-six (26) times throughout his body. The knife used in this attack is a twelve-inch serrated military style knife that has a seven-inch blade.

The suspect, Joseph M. Czuba, was treated and released from a local area hospital and was transported to the Will County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex for questioning by detectives. Joseph Czuba did not make any statements to detectives regarding his involvement in this heinous attack. Despite the suspect not providing a statement to detectives, personnel were able to gather enough information through interviews and evidence to formally charge Joseph Czuba with numerous criminal offenses.

3. Wadea Al-Fayoume’s Father Told Reporters He Wants His Son ‘to Be an Avenue That Solves This Conflict’

Wadea Al-Fayoume’s father, Odey Al-Fayoume, spoke through a translator.

“I am here because I am the kid’s father, not because I’m political or religious or anything. I am the father of a child whose rights are violated and there are families in Palestine who I think should understand what I’m saying,” he said. “This issue is not between two countries. It’s an international issue. I’m not fit to talk about it. I want my son to be an avenue that solves this conflict.”

“What we have is a murdered Palestinian child by someone who is radicalized by the environment in which we live right now, that casts Palestinians as human animals,” said Ahmed Rehab, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago to ABC 7. “This person had no track record with the family. As a matter of fact, the father says he had built a treehouse for the boy, and allowed him to swim in a makeshift pool and brought him toys.”

“He knocked on the door and that he attempted to choke her, and said, ‘You Muslims must die,’ and attempted to stab her, and stabbed her. And, she went to the bathroom and called 911. And, this was all in her own words,” Rehab said to the television station.

4. Wadea Al-Fayoume, Who Was Born in the United States, Was Remembered as a ‘Warm, Kind Child’ Who Had Just Celebrated His Birthday

According to CNN, Wadea was a kindergartner who had just turned 6 years old eight days before the stabbing.

CNN reported that “community advocates” described Wadea “as a warm, kind child who focused on enjoying life with his friends and playing outside, and who loved his parents and family deeply.”

Wadea’s mother left the West Bank 12 years ago and the boy, who loved soccer and basketball, was born in the U.S., according to ABC 7.

“He loved his toys, he loved anything with a ball – basketball, soccer — he loved to color. He loved to swing around,” Rehab told CNN.

5. The Final Words of Wadea Al-Fayoume Were ‘Mom, I’m Fine,’ Reports Say

According to CNN, the child’s final words were “Mom, I’m fine,” according to Wadea’s uncle, Yousef Hannon. “You know what, he is fine. He is in a better place.”

CAIR wrote in a statement, “We are shocked and disturbed to learn that a landlord in Chicago expressing anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian views broke into a Muslim family’s apartment and attacked them with a knife, injuring the mother and killing her 6-year-old son, Wadea Al-Fayoume. … The Islamophobic rhetoric and anti-Palestinian racism being spread by politicians, media outlets, and social media platforms must stop. Now.”

Governor J.B. Pritzker released a statement on X, saying, in part, “To take a six-year-old child’s life in the name of bigotry is nothing short of evil. … Every single Illinoisan – including our Muslim, Jewish, and Palestinian neighbors – deserves to live free from the threat of such evil.”

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