Davis police are expected to announce an arrest Thursday in the case of a serial stabber who has killed two men, left one woman in critical condition and terrorized the bucolic college town just west of Sacramento.
The city police department announced via a post on its Facebook page Thursday morning that it would hold a news conference at 2 p.m., and that it "continues to have a person detained in the two homicides and attempted homicide" that have taken place in various outdoor locations around town in the last week.
A source briefed on the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly said police planned to announce they had arrested a man who was detained Wednesday afternoon after he was spotted in a park near the site of the second fatal stabbing. The man, who had long, wavy dark hair and wore black Adidas track pants, matched the description that witnesses in two of the three attacks had given of the assailant.
Police said they would be holding off on any official comment about the case until 2 p.m., out of respect for the family of the second victim, Karim Abou Najm. Najm, a UC Davis student and 2020 Davis Senior High School graduate, was viciously stabbed and killed in Sycamore Park on Saturday evening as he biked home from a university event. His family held a memorial service for him earlier Thursday.
The spate of violence has terrified residents, and sent a paralyzing chill through a laid-back college town that usually bustles with bikers and joggers, its parks bursting with dog walkers and the sights and sounds of youth sports.
The unease began with the April 27 fatal stabbing of a well-known town character, 50-year-old David Henry Breaux, a Stanford University graduate who slept in the town's Central Park and was known for his gentle proselytizing on the need for human compassion. Two days later, Najm was attacked about 9:15 p.m. while biking through Sycamore Park in a residential neighborhood near campus.
Then, Monday night, a homeless woman in her 60s was attacked as she slept at 2nd and L streets, near railroad tracks on the downtown edge. She was stabbed through the canvas of her tent and transported to UC Davis Medical Center, where she remains in critical condition.
As the seemingly random violence cast a pall over the town, FBI agents and homicide detectives from around the region streamed in to help the small police department crack the case. Davis — surrounded by fields of sunflowers and tomatoes and orchards of almonds and peaches — is said to be so safe that many residents don't lock their doors and young children frequently bike or walk to school alone. Before the recent stabbings, the last reported homicide in city limits was in 2019, according to local officials.
But in recent days, the city's street cafes and extensive network of bike paths have emptied out as residents hunkered down.
The city's popular Little League canceled night games. UC Davis canceled evening classes, and some professors moved even their daytime classes online because students have been afraid to leave their dorms. Numerous businesses around town started shutting their doors early. The city's famed farmers market called off its fruit stands and food trucks Wednesday.
And many people who hadn't locked their homes in months began digging through drawers, looking for their keys.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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