Vigil held Tuesday for Unincorp. Plainfield Muslim boy fatally stabbed in apparent hate crime

Unincorporated Plainfield stabbing suspect targeted boy, mother because they were Muslim, officials say

Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Vigil held Tuesday for Will County boy stabbed to death
A vigil was held Tuesday for Wadea Al-Fayoume, an unincorporated Plainfield boy stabbed to death in an apparent hate crime; Joseph Czuba is charged.

PLAINFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- A vigil was held Tuesday night for the 6-year-old boy who was stabbed to death at his home in unincorporated Plainfield over the weekend.

Hundreds united in grief and shock in a gymnasium. Many parents brought their children, some the same age as Wadea Al-Fayoume, who was murdered eight days after celebrating his sixth birthday.

He was laid to rest in Bridgeview Monday.

"The energy, love, understanding that you've brought here tonight should not end as we walk out those doors," said Zulfie Khan, president of Al-Aqsa Community center.

"One of the elements of this village is a desire by this community and so many thousands in this community to make a statement rejecting hate because that is not who we are as Plainfield," said Mayor John Argoudelis.

Wadea was a student at Central Elementary School. The district told parents it's keeping "a close eye on children for any signs of emotional distress," and that its school safety plan includes "increased monitoring of student and staff interactions."

At the vigil, mourners honored Wadea with their silence but also with their voice, which they said has never been clearer.

"Wadea, beyond being the victim of a hate crime, is now a source of light and is now the face of a movement hopefully in Illinois, in America to get people to really open their eyes," said Nuhi Faheem of American Muslims Assisting Neighbors.

On Monday night, people gathered outside of a Joliet hospital to pray for his 32-year-old mother, who was also hurt in the Saturday morning attack that police are calling a hate crime.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Gov. JB Pritzker met with the family.

Those gathered outside the hospital Monday night prayed for peace and justice.

"It's devastating; she was targeted because she was Muslim," said Nesreen Abulaban, who was supporting the family of the boy killed.

Prosecutors said Al-Fayoume was stabbed to death by his mother's landlord.

Joseph Czuba, 71, has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, battery and hate crimes.

In court Monday, prosecutors detailed how Czuba allegedly attacked the mother and child in his unincorporated Plainfield home, where the Palestinian American family rented rooms.

The mother told prosecutors "Czuba was angry at her over what was going on in Jerusalem."

She responded by saying, "let's pray for peace."

That's when she said he attacked her with a knife.