Armanious - Garas Killings: Suspects Caught

Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the murders of Hossam Armanious, Amal Garas, and their daughters; the motive appears to have been robbery. The Star-Ledger reports:
In the days after an Egyptian immigrant couple and their two daughters were stabbed to death in their Jersey City home, the two ex-convicts now charged with their murders went on with the routine of their lives.

Edward McDonald, 25, along with his wife and two young daughters, spent three nights sleeping in the apartment directly upstairs from the rooms where the four bodies lay. Over the next seven weeks, he dutifully showed up at his job paving parking lots.

Hamilton Sanchez, 30, continued commuting between the Newark halfway house where he was finishing a federal sentence and his job cutting hair at Sweets barbershop, a hangout for artists and rappers in downtown Jersey City.

But there was one difference.

Once a day or so, starting on Jan. 12, prosecutors say one of the suspects or someone connected with them would visit a Bank of America branch and withdraw a few hundred dollars -- using an ATM card belonging to Hossam Armanious, who had been stabbed to death along with his wife and children on Jan. 11. ...

Read the full article at the link. There are just a couple of things I want to comment on:
"There were so many different theories put on the table early on, some by law enforcement and some by the public," said Joseph Billy, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Newark office. "There was hate written all over this crime, in terms of violence and magnitude. But at the same time, there was nothing coming on to the investigators' table that suggested this was done by any kind of extremism, beyond the violence of it."

The violence of it -- the fact that Armanious, 47, his wife Amal Garas, 37, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, all had been bound, gagged and stabbed to death -- led the victims' relatives and friends to believe simple robbery could not have been the motive.

But prosecutors say the killings were committed to cover up a robbery after Monica recognized one of the masked intruders as McDonald, the tenant from the apartment upstairs.

As Special Agent Joseph Billy's word suggest, it was reasonable for law officers - and the public - to consider that this might have been a hate crime. But it now seems clear that the killing was not, in fact, a hate crime, but rather an egregiously horrific robbery without any religious motivation.
DeFazio said his investigators were looking into financial motives from the start. But he also said rumors that Armanious, a devout Coptic Christian, had received death threats from Muslims in a religious chat room proved a "hindrance" to the investigation.

"It had to be looked into, we had no choice," he said. "But certainly there were resources dedicated to that which maybe could have been used for other purposes."

Read the whole article at the link.

Meanwhile, Maria Sliwa at Chronwatch has an interesting update on the New Jersey Coptic Christian murders, which includes an interview with Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio. Apparently written shortly before the arrest of McDonald and Sanchez, Sliwa's article portrays a defensive prosecutor who refuses to discuss a possible religious motive in the killings. Sliwa confronts DeFazio with the allegation that Robert Spencer, director of JihadWatch.org, provided DeFazio's office with detailed information on possible suspects, which the Prosecutor ignored:
Spencer says he obtained information, from sources close to the murders, that the Halal butcher [whose daughter Sylvia Armanious had encouraged to convert to Christianity] had planned the killings for months and that several of his accomplices are still in the country. Spencer says police are investigating.  But when DeFazio was asked about the information his office was provided, he said: “None of that was given any credence by any law enforcement agencies. Our office has not received any names.”   But Spencer gave the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office very detailed information, (names, locations and phone numbers) of the alleged murderers and their accomplices.  When reminded of this, DeFazio then said that he did receive this information, but he appeared uncertain if all those named were questioned before this avenue of investigation was closed. 

DeFazio is certain about one thing. All talk of religious extremism is off limits. “This case has nothing to do with religious extremism,” he said.  “And if you keep asking these questions, I won’t continue with the interview.” 

Sliwa's article may also be found at FrontPage.

More on this as it develops.