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WND

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Suspects arrested in NJ family slayings

Former tenant of murdered Coptic Christians reported in custody

 

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Posted: March 4, 2005

12:30 p.m. Eastern

 

 

 

2005 WorldNetDaily.com

 

Authorities have made a major break in the case of the slain Jersey City family, with two suspects scheduled to be arraigned today.

 

Although the Hudson County prosecutor's office isn't releasing the names of the two people or saying what the charges are, local press reports one of them is a former tenant of the building where the Coptic Christian family lived and was found murdered Jan. 14.

 

As WorldNetDaily reported, Hossam Armanious, was found in his home with his wife and two daughters -- Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8 -- bound and gagged with their throats slashed.

 

The Bergen County Record reports 25-year-old ex-convict Edward McDonald is one of the two people in custody. Investigators interrogated McDonald for much of the day yesterday and raided his apartment, but declined to name him a suspect in the killings.

 

McDonald was released from federal prison in April 2004 and spent time in a halfway house before moving into the second-floor apartment of the Armanious' two-family home with his girlfriend, according to an unidentified cousin of McDonald cited by the paper. The couple was living there when the slayings occurred but moved out about a month ago.

 

"He didn't live there too long," the cousin said, according to The Record. The Armaniouses "asked them to move out. ... [Torres] told me she was surprised that she didn't hear anything during the murders."

 

Sources close to the investigation told WABC-TV surveillance video from an ATM led to the arrests.

 

Someone using Hossam Armanious' debit card drained thousands of dollars from several of his accounts during a string of ATM visits in the days following the murders, Hudson County prosecutor Edward DeFazio told The Record.

 

The suspect used the Bank of America card and Armanious' personal identification number at ATMs in the Heights section of Jersey City and in midtown Manhattan for five days after the murders, DeFazio said.

 

"It's a significant first step in the course of the investigation," DeFazio told the paper. "We believe that the person who was using the ATM card is at least associated with the killers."

 

The grisly crime touched off a firestorm of controversy, with Christians questioning whether the murders were religiously motivated, and the Muslim community condemning the rush to judgment.

 

Armanious, a native of Egpyt, was known to frequent Internet chat services to advocate for Christianity, often debating with Muslims.

 

Two months before his murder, according to authorities, Armanious received a death threat from a Muslim PalTalk user: "You'd better stop this bull ... or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you."

 

Armanious also was a leader of an online ministry to the Muslim-American community.

 

WND reported Wednesday a Coptic Christian leader called on the FBI Civil Rights Unit to open an investigation to determine whether the massacre was a hate crime.

 

Previous stories:

 

Church leader calls for FBI probe

 

Family of slain Christians speaks out

 

Source: Slayings resembled Islamist executions

 

Christians stalked on Islamic website

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