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On Saturday, Marlon Haywood received a message from her tenant: "I'm on the run for BIG TIME."
In the house they shared outside Pittsburgh, Mr. Haywood knew his tenant, Matthew Karelefsky, as a troubled man. The landlord has hidden his own firearms, fearing that Mr. Karelefsky will harm himself or someone else.
And in Brooklyn, Rabbi Jonathan Max knew Mr. Karelefsky as a man who had sworn a vendetta to kill him.
New York police on Saturday arrested Karelefsky on two counts of attempted murder and a criminal arson attack. He is accused of setting fire to Rabbi Max's multifamily home in Midwood early Thursday morning, a fire that has left at least 13 people hospitalized.
Mr Karelefsky, 51, had written online that he came from group homes and host familiesand he's converted to Christianity because he had been a victim of sexual abuse in the exercise of Orthodox Judaism like a child.
On social networks and other websites, Karelefsky accused Rabbi Max of being the one who mistreated him. On his forearm, he had a tattoo that said, "Never give up the HATRED – KILL Rabbi Max.
Rabbi Max denied the prosecution Sunday. "I did not know him when I was a child," said the rabbi. "I met him in adulthood with children." The two men had worked together at Mesivta Yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Berlin, more than ten years ago. they shared the lunch hour and Rabbi Max met Mr. Karelefsky's family.
"He's a very kind guy," said Rabbi Max. "You talk to him, he's the nicest guy. There is no anger in me towards him. He is sick. How can you be angry at the disease? "
But these days, the rabbi said, "When you take the word" rabbi "and you put it next to abuse, people think it's a natural association."
The problem began when Mr. Karelefsky began to have marital problems and accused the rabbi of encouraging his wife to leave him, said Rabbi Max. After the marriage is over and One of Mr. Karelefsky's sons stayed a few days with the rabbi and his wife.Mr. Karelefsky began to threaten to kill him, said Rabbi Max.
"You can go around for years declaring your determination to kill someone, and that is, O.K., a shrug of the shoulders," said the rabbi.
Mr. Karelefsky, who was due to appear on Sunday, could not be reached for comment.
On Sunday, the voice message coming out of the phone number posted by Mr. Karelefsky on his LinkedIn page and on social media, said in Hebrew, "reduce forever Jonathan Max and his memory of the surface of the earth".
Last fall, Mr. Karelefsky moved to a Haywood-owned suburban Pittsburgh home, which said Mr. Karelefsky was upset but surprised to learn of the arrest.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Karelefsky told him that the local police had questioned him after someone had reported that a man was threatening a rabbi at a gas station.
Mr. Haywood stated that for several months Mr. Karelefsky had told him that he was coming and going in New York. where he said that he had been accused of threatening a rabbi. Mr. Haywood said that he did not know the details of the case, but that Mr. Karelefsky had told him that he had been acquitted of the charges.
"I thought everything was under the bridge," said Haywood.
The fire that broke out on Thursday broke out around 4 pm at the rabbi's home, spreading to two neighboring houses and wounding at least 13 people, including three firefighters.
According to the police department, nine people were transported to the Maimonides Medical Center in a stable condition, with injuries that are not life threatening. Three firefighters and a medical worker were also taken to the hospital, according to the fire department.
When the firefighters who responded to the call Thursday arrived, they discovered that the house and the neighboring house were engulfed by growing flames. Around 4:30 am, more than 39 vehicles, firefighters and emergency officers responded to the call.
It took more than three hours to control the fire, said a spokesman.
Sean Piccoli contributed to the report.