'My son filled my heart': Odai Alfayoumi, father of 6-year-old Wadee Alfayoumi
PLAINFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- It's been a difficult month and a half for the father of 6-year-old Wadee Alfayoumi.
On Saturday, he sat down with ABC7, praying justice is served while remembering what made his son so special.
Life has come to a near full-stop for Odai Alfayoumi.
About a month and a half ago, his 6-year-old son was killed and his ex-wife, Hanaan Shahin, was seriously hurt in an alleged hate crime by their landlord in unincorporated Plainfield. Shahin and her son were about to leave their apartment to pick up her two other children when the stabbing happened.
Odai recalled the moment he got that call from the Will County sheriff.
"I'm confused. He told me, 'Wadee killed,'" Odai said. "I said, 'No, Wadee is still a kid.' He said, 'No, somebody killed him.'"
Odai spoke in Arabic for the rest of the interview, and said it hurts to think about the murder of his son and why it happened.
The father recalled what his ex-wife told him, saying the suspect, Joseph Czuba, yelled, "All Muslims must die" before stabbing her and her son more than a dozen times.
Odai went on to say, "I want to make it clear my son is not Palestinian. He's Jordanian, but he didn't die because he's Palestinian or Jordanian. He died because he's Muslim."
Authorities previously told ABC7 the boy's name is spelled, "Wadea Al-Fayoume," but Odai clarified that the spelling of his son's name is "Wadee Alfayoumi" during his interview with ABC7.
Odai said it's hard to understand this murder, because the family moved to the U.S. from Jordan about a decade ago, and Wadee was born here as an American.
"I came to this country because I felt like it's safe," Odai said. "And, here's what happened to my son."
"The Arab community asks what weapon killed my son," Odai said. "It may have been Joseph Czuba with his knife, but to me, he only did that because of what he watched in the media and heard from elected officials for weeks when it comes to the war in Gaza."
Odai said there was an outpouring of support after the Oct. 14 attack, but now, he feels conflicted as the war in the Middle East continues.
"Joe Biden called me crying, telling me about his son that he lost. His wife was also on the phone, crying," Odai said. "He said, we need to meet and we can help. Then, later, he hung up and announced more U.S. support for Israel on the same night."
Odai explained the hobbies Wadee loved so much, including his love for cars, which began when he was only about 1 year old.
"He says we would put him in the car, and he would be happy, then take him out, and he starts crying," Odai said. "Then, he started to love playing all types of sports as he grew up."
Now, Odai is being represented by Coplan and Crane as they've filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Czuba, his wife, Mary, and their property management company.
Allegations in the lawsuit accuse Czuba of texting his wife about his hatred for Muslims. The lawsuit also claims Czuba wanted Wadee and his mother to move out of the south suburban home they rented.
Odai says it's hard to understand that type of hatred.
"I'm not with Israel. I'm not with Hamas. I'm with the innocent people. No one deserves to treat anyone like that," Odai said.
Since he lost his son, Odai says he had to quit his job at a factory to handle legal matters. Now, he's driving for Uber in his spare time.
"I'm finding that people recognize me," Odai said. "People I pick up open up the topic and feel for me. People tell me I look like I haven't eaten much, so they try to invite me over, but that slows my work down to make money."
Now, Odaiis hoping to go back to Jordan soon and be with his family for some time as this criminal case plays out.
"Life is still ahead of me," Odai said. "My son filled my heart, and we had a great life together."
Odai said he hopes one day a street, school or shelter can be named after Wadee, so his life is never forgotten.
ABC7 reached out to Czuba's wife and management company regarding the wrongful death lawsuit, but has not heard back.