Plainfield landlord charged with hate crime in killing 6-year-old Palestinian boy and stabbing his mother
CHICAGO (CBS) – A Plainfield Township property owner has been charged with murderBecause they were Muslims.
Prosecutors said Joseph Chuba, 71, wanted the victims out of the house they had rented from him, and believed he and his wife were “in danger,” because he feared the woman he stabbed “would call her Palestinian friends or family to harm them.”
Chuba now faces several charges, including three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, and two counts of hate crimes. The two victims were targeted because they were Muslim and because of the war between Israel and Hamas, according to the Will County Sheriff’s Office.
During his first court appearance Monday, a Will County judge refused to release Chuba before trial, after prosecutors said he posed a danger to the boy’s mother and the public.
The Ministry of Justice also opened an investigation into the case. The FBI is also now looking into federal hate crimes charges.
The boy’s mother, Hanan Shaheen, 32, told investigators that on Saturday morning, the homeowner, Chuba, attacked her with a knife as she ran to the bathroom to call 911. According to the Will County Sheriff’s Office, Chuba stabbed her. More than a dozen times, and her 6-year-old son, Wadih Fayoum, 26 times.
Will County prosecutors said Shaheen told police that Chuba knocked on her door Saturday morning, and the two got into an argument about the war between Israel and Hamas. Chuba told Shaheen that he was angry with her because of what was happening in Jerusalem, prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
When Chuba attacked Shaheen with a knife, she locked herself in a nearby bathroom to get away from Chuba, but she was unable to bring her son into the bathroom with her.
That’s when Shaheen called 911 and reported that her son had been stabbed, and said that she did not leave the bathroom until the police arrived, according to the prosecution.
Prosecutors said Shaheen had two other children, who were later found to be with their father in Chicago, and were not home at the time of the attack.
Investigators also questioned Chuba’s wife, who said he frequently listened to conservative radio programs and was “deeply interested” in the conflict in the Middle East. Chuba wanted Shaheen and her son out of the house they were renting from, and she believed he and his wife were “in danger” and that Shaheen was about to “call her Palestinian friends or family to harm them.”
Chuba was an Air Force veteran who was honorably discharged from the military, was self-employed, owned several properties in Plainfield, and was a longtime member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Plainfield, the public defender said for Chuba. He also has ongoing health issues due to his prostate cancer diagnosis.
Chuba is scheduled to return to court on October 30.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wadih had just celebrated his birthday two weeks ago.
Ahmed Rehab, CARE’s executive director, said of Wadih’s father’s description of him: “He was a beautiful boy who loved his family and friends. He loved football. He loved basketball, and he paid the price for the atmosphere of hatred.”
Neighbors like Eva Case saw the crime scene Saturday night. The horrific details behind the stabbing left her in awe.
“I don’t care what the situation is,” she said. “Don’t take it out on someone who is innocent of life.”
Neighbors who live near Chuba said the mother and son moved into the house four years ago. Neighbors said they kept to themselves.
As for Chuba, neighbors described him as eccentric, and said they sometimes worried about the signs in front of the house. Some of them were political and religious.
“I see the guy who lived there out there gardening all the time, every week. And every time I come home, he’s out there,” Case said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it had just issued a statement a few days ago warning against creating an anti-Muslim atmosphere where anyone could be harmed.
Rehab said about Wadih: “He has no idea about these major issues happening in the world, but he was forced to pay the price for them.”
Family members said the toddler’s father was present at the press conference on Saturday but was too shocked to speak. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it was disgusted not only by this horrific act but also by the exaggeration of the day of jihad. They said they believe that if there had been no anti-Muslim rhetoric, this would not have happened.
Wadih’s uncle, Youssef Hanoun, said, “This crime awakens fear within us.” “We are not animals, we are human beings. We want people to see us as human beings.”
Both Muslim and Jewish organizations have condemned the horrific attack, including the Jewish Community Relations Council of Chicago (JCRC) and the Anti-Defamation League.
“It’s appalling and completely unacceptable,” said David Goldenberg of the Anti-Defamation League.
Goldenberg said the Plainfield boy’s tragedy highlights the responsibility that media outlets, social media companies and leaders bear when using their platforms.
“How people get information and who they get that information is really important,” Goldenberg said.
President Joe Biden Issue a statement On Sunday, he condemned the attack, saying: “As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of intolerance and hatred. I have said time and time again that I will not be silent in the face of hate. We must be clear and unequivocal. There is no place in America for hatred against anyone.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, too Issue a statement He described the attack as “nothing short of evil.” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson expressed his condolences, saying: “This despicable hate crime is a shameful reminder of the devastating role Islamophobia plays in our society.”
Plainfield District 202 issued the following statement:
“We send our deepest condolences to the family and our 202nd District community on the tremendous loss of our student.
Social work and grief counseling are available today and we will continue to provide support services to our students and staff in the coming days. Our staff will closely monitor students for any signs of emotional distress which will be treated and supported.”
CBS 2 has learned that Wadia’s funeral will be held Monday at 1 p.m. at a mosque in Bridgeview.