Skip to comments.Robbery, not religion, behind family's killing
Posted on 03/05/2005 12:17:35 AM PST by SmithL
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - The upstairs tenant of an Egyptian Christian family found slain in their home in January and another man have been charged in the killings, and authorities said Friday the motive was robbery, not religious fanaticism.
Two men already on parole for drug offenses pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder in the Jan. 11 killing of the Armanious family, which had caused tension between Christians and Muslims in New Jersey.
Edward McDonald, 25, who rented a second-floor apartment above the Armanious family, and Hamilton Sanchez, 30, were ordered held on $10 million bail.
"I didn't kill nobody, man," Sanchez said as he was led from the courtroom. McDonald, wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and black pants, stared at the floor during the hearing.
Authorities said Hossam Armanious, 47, his wife, Amal Garas, 37, and their children, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, were slain three days before their bodies, bound and gagged with puncture wounds to their heads and necks, were found Jan. 14.
In the days after the slayings, about $3,000 was withdrawn from Armanious' bank account using his ATM card, and investigators were able to get surveillance video from cameras over those cash machines, officials said.
Both men were arrested Thursday.
"I'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: The motive for these murders was robbery. This was a crime based on greed, the desperate need of money," Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said.
DeFazio said officials believe a planned robbery spiraled out of control when the 8-year-old loosened her bonds and recognized McDonald. He is accused of killing her to avoid identification, and Sanchez is accused of killing the three others, DeFazio said.
The slaying had caused speculation that Hossam Armanious might have angered Muslims with opinions he posted in Internet chat rooms under the user name "I Love Jesus." The arrests were welcomed by Christian and Muslim groups who said they were disturbed by the religious tension.
Sorry, but they've been placing WAY too much emphasis on the possible "robbery" motive ever since the crime took place, trying to make the public believe the brutal, assassination-style murders of this Christian priest and his entire family were simple robbery and not the "T" word, (t-e-r-r-o-r-i-s-m). It reminds me of my daughter when I used to walk into the kitchen and she'd be sneaking cookies. She'd hear me coming and say, before I even entered the room, "Daddy, I'm not taking cookies".
Since when do greedy robbers bore holes into their victims' necks and slash tattoos of crosses?! The police have found themselves a convenient scapegoat.
Have any ideas?
. . .I would rather just admit I was wrong; and actually, I just did. . .'bon appetit' ;^)
Am so glad the police have taken care of this; now it is the Court's turn and I hope the perps pay the highest price possible for their heinous crime.
cant wait to see all the replies by the "OMG! IT JUST HADDDD OT BE MUSLIMS WHO DID THIS!!!!!!!!!" crowd. Me tinks they'll avoid this like Democrats avoid common sense
"Two men already on parole for drug offenses pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder in the Jan. 11 killing of the Armanious family"
There you have it...
. . .and the 'code'? (Yes, it is possible to figure it out. . .just not likely in this scenario) . . .
that said. . .my first thought was a 'set up'. .
By the same token, however. . . it is possible that to make this killing look like someone else did it. . .they decided they had no choice but to get really ugly. . .
Lie dectector tests? They can explain how it is; they were using bank card post killings? They have alibis? (Forensic info not mentioned?)
I'm not buying this. Robbers aren't in the habit of slitting throats. That's the Muslim form of taking care of the infidels.
Wouldn't be too difficult to leave it "lying around" somewhere where they might pick it up. For instance, how long after the death of the family was it until the card was first used?
When they are trying to make it look like there is a religious motive?
Let's wait and see the evidence before jumping to the conclusion that this is a coverup.
The story stinks on ice.
Could be that these two were hired.
Bump for later reading
I am also not ready to embrace the official theory, nor the named suspects as being correct. Several things still out of place...
Then there's this from the Northeast Intelligence Network:
According to sources speaking to the Northeast Intelligence Network on the condition of anonymity, McDonald is not believed to be the only person involved in this slaying - and might not have committed the murders himself.
While incarcerated in the federal system, he reportedly associated with a group of inmates who were actively involved in Islamic counseling - receiving radical fundamentalist Islamic literature during his incarceration. The prison source told Northeast Intelligence Network director Douglas Hagmann that there is indeed a religious component to the murders, although McDonald is not alone. Investigators from this agency are continuing the investigation to determine the veracity of those claims.
I don't have any independent confirmation of this, but I'll be looking into it.
Two suspects in the Armanious case have been arrested, and authorities are saying that religious hatred had nothing to do with the crimes -- it was just a robbery gone bad.
That, of course, does nothing to mitigate the horror or heinousness of the crimes themselves, or to assuage the grief of the relatives of the victims. It does, however, seem to eliminate the possibility that these killings were an American version of the Theo van Gogh murder in Holland: a Sharia-prescribed killing in a non-Muslim country for what is a crime only under Islamic law.
CAIR-NJ President Magdy Mahmoud declared: "All those involved in the investigation of this brutal crime deserve praise for their diligence and for resisting efforts by hate-mongers from outside our state to use the tragedy as a way to damage interfaith relations."
Is that all it was? Hatemongers trying to stir up trouble and portray a robbery as something it wasn't? There is no doubt whatsoever that that is how the media elite will portray the weeks between the discovery of the bodies and the arrests of McDonald and Sanchez. But legitimate questions remain, and I am neither going to apologize for accept Mahmoud's "hatemonger" tag for asking them. I hope that facts will come out at the trial that will explain some of the features of this case that make it appear not to have been a simple robbery:
1. Early reports stated that Hossam Armanious regularly engaged Muslims in discussion on the PalTalk website -- discussions that became so heated that one Muslim threatened him: "You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you." This was reported in the New York Post and attributed to an eyewitness who saw the threat on the site at the time.
What was done to investigate this threat? Did they find and question any Muslims who had had discussions online with Hossam Armanious? Did the Hudson County Prosector's Office question the man who asserted that it was made? Did they determine that the threat had not, in fact, been made at all? That seems most likely. If that is the case, on what evidence did they arrive at that conclusion?
Whatever the case, note that the report of this threat came not from "hatemongers outside the state," but from a Coptic Christian friend of Hossam Armanious.
2. If the motive was robbery, why was the family killed? Presumably to prevent them from identifying McDonald and Sanchez. But then we are evidently to believe that McDonald and Sanchez made repeated trips to ATM's to withdraw money -- with the quite visible ATM camera staring them in the face each time. Maybe they are irredeemably stupid -- certainly there is a lot of stupidity among petty criminals -- but it does at least raise eyebrows.
3. If the motive was robbery and the family presumably surprised McDonald and Sanchez by being at home, leading the pair to murder them, why were the murders done with such precision? Why was so much care taken to slit their throats in a uniform manner? Why wouldn't these guys simply have killed them in the quickest, easiest way possible?
4. Not long after the murders, I was contacted by a Coptic Christian who identified himself as a close friend of the Garas family (Hossam Armanious's wife's family). He claimed to have detailed information about the murders, and he gave it to me. His sources and his information appeared to be solidly based and at very least worth investigating. Some of it has been reported recently: a halal butcher whose daughter was converted to Christianity planned the murders for several months in revenge for the conversion. He fled the country shortly after the murders, but he planned them along with three others who are still in the country. The Copt gave me the names of all four, along with phone numbers and other details for two of them.
I had no idea whether or not the information I had been given was true, and I never claimed that it was. But it warranted investigation. I passed it on to the Hudson County Prosecutors Office. Neither I nor my source was contacted about any of this information for three weeks after I filed the initial report. The only time I spoke to an official there, he was unfailingly polite but unmistakably condescending and clearly believed nothing that I had to tell him. From what I understand the Copt who told me all this fared little better.
Meanwhile more information was coming from other sources, including but not limited to relatives and other close friends of the victims, that seemed to corroborate what I had already been told. When Edward DeFazio was asked about all this, his answer was self-contradictory -- leading me to a few more questions: Did his office make any attempt to find out if a halal butcher had really gone missing in the Jersey City area? Did they make any attempt to question the others named by the Copt? I happen to know that a reporter called one of these men and asked him what he thought of the killings. He began smoothly to speculate about robbery, drugs, etc. But when the reporter asked him about the possibility that it was a revenge killing for a religious conversion, his shock was palpable. His smooth veneer vanished and he suddenly began to sputter and search for words. Did this happen when the police questioned him? Did they question him at all? If not, was it because they had a presumption that this information was worthless on its face? If they did, on what did they base that presumption?
And one more time for Mr. Mahmoud: the information I got did not come from "hatemongers outside the state," but from several friends and relatives of the murdered family.
5. If the motive was simple robbery, what are we to believe about all this? That a Copt invented the story of the death threat, and that other Copts invented the story of the conversion and revenge plot? That it was just coincidental that a couple of lowlifes happened to murder this family in the same manner in which Muslims murder blasphemers and other enemies of Islam?
I hope Edward DeFazio will be courteous enough to answer. But considering that he recently forbade a reporter even to ask him about possible religious motivation for the killings, I won't be holding my breath.
I'm taking the high road here and admitting I was wrong to jump to such conclusions about the murder of this family. Perhaps you can take the high road as well and not rub it in the faces of those who believed as I believed.
No kidding? Heaven forbid that any faithful follower of the paedophile-in-chief would take such offence .
It's quite common for petty (and not so petty) criminals to stumble across the scene of someone else's crime and dip into the cookie jar so to speak. And, by all accounts, neither of the two "suspects" is going carry off the prize for being the sharpest knife in the drawer.
These two are going to get well and truly stitched up. A political decision has already been reached that Islam could have played no part in the murders.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.