Police believe Elias Abuelazam’s stabbing spree started in late May when he killed a 31-year-old on a dark street in Flint, Mi., but Flint police did not discuss the possibility of a serial killer until late July, when the area had six stabbings over six straight nights, says USA Today. By the time they reached out to Michigan State Police to create a task force to track the killer in the first week of August, 14 people had been attacked, five fatally. He later became a suspect in attacks in two other states.
Steven Egger, a University of Houston-Clear Lake criminology professor, said a lack of communication among police departments is a nationwide problem that routinely delays the realization that a serial offender is operating in an area. “Police officers are not trained to network,” Egger said. “If they identified the pattern earlier, maybe they could’ve saved some lives.” Others believe Michigan police put the pieces together as fast as can be expected given the complexities of the stabbing spree. “People think it’s such a snap because they watch ‘Criminal Minds,’ ” said Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychology professor at DeSales University in Pennsylvania who has written about serial killers. “It’s such a disservice to law enforcement because you have all these arm-chair detectives thinking it’s so obvious in retrospect.”