PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence police have filed new charges including murder against a man arrested following a pair of violent incidents in the city last week.
Isaiah Araujo, 20, now stands accused of killing Mai Jweinat, 50, as well as assaulting her two children and breaking into a building she owns, Major David Lapatin announced Monday.
Jweinat previously operated a restaurant at 654 Admiral St., according to Lapatin, and her family had lived on-and-off in the apartment upstairs. She went there to pick up some items when she found Araujo, who police allege had broken in to steal things.
“We believe she was startled by the intruder who was already inside,” Detective Capt. Tim O’Hara said Monday. “A struggle ensued between Araujo and Jweinat and he killed her as a result of being found inside that building.”
O’Hara said officers were dispatched to the building around 4 p.m. Friday and arrived to find Jweinat’s son suffering from head injuries. The investigation revealed Gregory Jweinat and his sister had gone to check on their mother when they encountered Araujo and another struggle ensued.
Araujo broke free and ran off, according to O’Hara, and was at large for about an hour before he was found hiding in some brush nearby.
O’Hara said Mai Jweinat was found dead in the kitchen while police were speaking with her son and daughter.
“Very bad outcome of that incident for that family and we’re trying to clean it up for them as fast as possible,” Lapatin added.
Araujo was initially charged with assault with a deadly weapon and breaking and entering, but through conducting interviews, police were able to establish probable cause to charge him with Mai Jweinat’s murder, as well as a second count of assault with a deadly weapon.
Araujo and Gregory Jweinat were both taken to the hospital on Friday and have since been released.
Mai Jweinat’s daughter tells Eyewitness News the family is planning to hold a vigil to remember the woman who was a mother to the entire community.
Since Friday, some members of the community have left candles and sacraments outside the building while others helped repair the windows and doorways that were damaged.