Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Elias Abuelazam: The Multi-State Serial Stabber

Outside at Night —Alone

The knife attacks and killings attributed to a serial stabber, sometimes referred to as the "Flint serial killer," are believed to have begun on May 24, 2010, a Monday, in Flint, Mich. On that date, David Dwayne Motley, 31, was killed in an attack at approximately 6 a.m. on Leith Street and North Dexter Street. Police found his body in a residential yard a short time later, after receiving a call about "a man down." Motley had been stabbed repeatedly and died at the scene.

David Dwayne Motley
David Dwayne Motley

All of the violent attacks appear to have been committed on unsuspecting victims, and all of the victims seem to have been strangers to the perpetrator. The victims, as far as police have so far announced, were mostly men with dark skin. Police are uncertain, though, whether the attacks were racially motivated or the victims picked out at random. Flint's population is predominantly black, so some authorities do not believe that the victims were chosen because of their race. Many of the surviving victims' names have not been released, some at their own request.

The stabber's victims were outside at night, alone, and some were approached by their attacker using the ruse of either needing directions or help with a vehicle that had broken down. After gaining a victim's confidence, according to Flint police lieutenant T.P. Johnson, the attacker would then pull a knife and attack.

Emmanuel A. Muhammad
Emmanuel A. Muhammad

"A knife is a very personal weapon," Johnson added. "To stab somebody repeatedly, there has to be some rage going on."

The victims injured or killed in the attacks ranged in age from as young as 15 to as old as 67. Although detectives had been investigating the violent crimes from the time they began, it would be more than two months before the pattern of the attacks became apparent to them.

The second fatal attack came nearly a month later, on June 21, 2010—also a Monday—when Emmanuel Muhammad, 59, was knifed approximately 2:00 a.m. on Wood Street and Avenue B in Flint. His body was found a short time later; police had few clues and no suspects. At first, there was little to suggest that Motley's and Muhammad's deaths were linked, and at that time there was no evidence that a serial killer was at work.

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