Vigil Held For Family Slain In Jersey City

POSTED: 8:20 am EST January 31, 2005

UPDATED: 12:02 pm EST January 31, 2005


JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Dozens of people gathered Saturday night for a candlelight prayer vigil at the home where four members of an Egyptian immigrant family were found brutally slain earlier this month.

Many attendees made passionate pleas to the community, urging them to remain peaceful and unified while investigators pursue leads in the deaths of Hossam Armanious, a 47-year-old Coptic Christian, his 37-year-old wife, Amal Garas, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8.

The family's bound and gagged bodies were found in their Jersey City home Jan. 14 -- one day before the family planned to hold Sylvia's Sweet 16 party -- after concerned relatives went to authorities because they had not been able to contact the family for several days.

Some people soon speculated that Hossam Armanious had angered Muslims with Internet postings in a religious chat room. Those claims led to widespread tension between Christians and Muslims in Jersey City, which sparked numerous scuffles at the family's funeral earlier this month.

And while no arrests have been made, Hudson County authorities have said nothing so far supports the theory. And many of the 150 people attending the vigil -- mostly Coptic Christians from New Jersey and the New York City area -- said they wanted the event to be a symbol of peace and unity for the shaken community.

"Until the police investigation is over, we do not want to point the finger at anyone," Mickey Raid, of Westchester, N.Y., told The Record of Bergen County.

"A lot of people have been emotional and upset and have said some angry things, and we just want people to know we're all in this together," Raid said. "We want to show that there is a peaceful way to honor this family and react to this."

2005 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.