close
close

Details of New Jersey ‘Predator’ case involving Chester County man – Daily Local

Details of New Jersey ‘Predator’ case involving Chester County man – Daily Local
Details of New Jersey ‘Predator’ case involving Chester County man – Daily Local

As a Chester County man is scheduled to appear for a hearing accused of attacking an elderly man he believed to be a child molester, details have emerged about a similar incident that occurred around the same time as the local New Jersey case.

In both incidents, videos of the encounters were posted on social media and provided police with evidence of the alleged crimes.

Ahmad Wasfi Al-Azzam of Uwchlan is scheduled to appear before District Judge Marc Lieberman for a preliminary hearing on Friday. He faces charges including kidnapping to facilitate a serious crime, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, trespassing, terroristic threats, possession of a murder weapon and false imprisonment.

He is being held without bail in the Chester County Jail after waiving his right in June to fight extradition to New Jersey, where he is wanted on a warrant issued by Mt. Laurel police on charges including kidnapping, assault and theft.

Wanted photo of Ahmad Wasfi Al-Azzam

Courtesy of West Chester Police Department

Ahmad Wasfi Al-Azzam (courtesy of West Chester Police Department)

In the New Jersey case, police said a man went to a mall to meet another person he met through Grinder, a gay dating website. When he got there, the person he had arranged to meet pulled out a knife, forced him to bind himself with zip ties and stole his phone and wallet before attacking and threatening him.

The attack in West Chester occurred in mid-May. However, the incident in Mt. Laurel occurred several weeks earlier and was actually not uncovered by Phoenixville police until early May.

According to a June 5 affidavit filed by Kevin Scheuren of Mt. Laurel, police there were notified of an incident that occurred in the northern Chester County community on May 1. At the time, Officer Jeremy Fonseca reported having an encounter with a man who said he was associated with a group that tries to lure and capture pedophiles. He said the group’s name is “Juujika” and it has an Instagram account.

Phoenixville police were able to identify the man as Al-Azzam based on the vehicle’s registration and driver information, as well as videos from the Instagram account “realjuujika,” one of which was recorded during the incident in New Jersey.

According to Scheuren’s statement, the video shows a suspect dressed in black and wearing a mask confronting another man in a parking lot outside a Dick’s Sporting Goods store. The man in black, armed with a knife, forces the other man into his car, orders him to put zip ties on his hands, and questions him about whether he came to the parking lot to meet a 16-year-old boy.

The other man claims he came to meet a grown man, not a 16-year-old. But the man in black holds a knife to him, threatens to stab him, and forces him to hand over his phone, which he uses to try to access the man’s bank account.

When this fails, the suspect drags the man out of the car and physically attacks him. The video of the incident shows the man with a bloody and swollen head.

Police were able to review surveillance video from the parking lot and identified a black Toyota that resembled the car the man had driven in Phoenixville and that was associated with Al-Azzam. They also interviewed the victim, who confirmed he had gone to the parking lot to meet a person he had been talking to via grinder and text messages. He said the man he met, who was a stranger, took his keys, wallet, glasses and phone before throwing them away and leaving the area.

He was later able to match the Instagram account on which Scheuren had followed the attack in the parking lot with Al-Azzam.

Al-Azzam, 26, of Uwchlan, was arrested and questioned by Chester County authorities on June 11. At the time, he accused himself of the West Chester robbery.

The investigation began on May 26, when West Chester detectives Jerry Ferriola and Greg Cugino went to Penn Presbyterian Hospital to interview the West Chester victim, who was being treated for a “brain hemorrhage” sustained during an attack at his home in the southwest part of the county.

During three interviews, the man told officers that sometime between May 18 and May 22, he spoke in a chat room with an unknown person who said he was 18 years old. At one point, that person said he was actually only 15, and the man said he could not continue the conversation. The other person then offered to send him a gift, which the man accepted. He was told a Lyft driver would soon deliver him a milkshake and two cheeseburgers.

At around 11 p.m. that night – the man could not remember the exact date, but investigators believe it was May 20 – someone knocked on his door, and when he tried to open it, a person wearing a black mask forced his way in and tied his hands with tape, then beat him with a small hammer for about an hour.

He used a mobile phone to record the beating and forced the man to make statements that he was a paedophile. He then searched the house, taking the man’s wallet containing cash and credit cards, as well as the keys to his car, which was parked outside. The man then told him not to bother calling the police because he had “a very fast car.”

When the man went outside the next day, he saw that three tires on his car had been slashed. He did not immediately call the police.

On June 10, detectives interviewed Al-Azzam at the district police headquarters. In the recorded interviews, Al-Azzam admitted to being the creator and owner of the Instagram account realjuujika and admitted to possessing items that police found in his home and linked to the beating, including a small hammer.

While he initially denied having anything to do with the attack on the elderly man, he eventually admitted that he was the person seen in the videos hitting him. He admitted to slashing the tires on the man’s car.

There is no evidence that any of the men allegedly attacked by Al-Azzam had contact with minors prior to the encounter.

You can contact editor Michael P. Rellahan at 610-696-1544.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *