(Editor’s Note: The post has been updated to include the introductory paragraph that was missing due to a technical error.)
Over the past few days much has been learned about Grafton Thomas, the man who carried out a machete attack at a New York rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration. On Monday he was served with federal hate crime charges. Prosecutors said they found several journals in his home “containing drawings of swastikas among other Nazi goodies,” that on four recent occasions Thomas “had used his cell phone to search ‘Why did Hitler Hate the Jews,'” and that approximately a week before the attack he’d searched for Jewish temples in New York City and on Staten Island. In addition to those revelations, we’ve learned the following:
1. He was kicked out of the Marine Corps
The Marine Corps issued a statement via email on Tuesday stating that Grafton Thomas started boot camp at Parris Island, SC on November 20, 2002 and was booted on Christmas Eve 2002 “for fraudulent enlistment.” The statement did not go into detail about what that fraud was. In true New York Post style, the publication opined that Thomas “apparently never got enough training to effectively wield a machete.”
2. He had to be forcibly removed from a room rental in Utah after selling drugs
In 2013 Thomas was evicted from a home in Salt Lake City in which he’d been renting out a room for more than a decade, but refused to leave until he was forced to by a judge. The family who owned the home claimed in court documents that he’d stolen property from the home and was selling drugs out of his room. Craig Erkelens, whose spouse’s family owned the home, said of Thomas:
“He knew just enough about the law to stay there as long as he could. He was a difficult and aggressive a–hole and a real prick. He wasn’t stupid, he really knew how to manipulate the system.”
3. He lied on his resume in spectacular fashion
In a handwritten resume obtained by the New York Post Thomas claimed that his boot camp experience went through January 2003 and that “his Marine Corps achievements [are] “mental discipline,” “Survival skills,” “Teamwork” and “learned How to function under pressure.”
4. He has a long history of mental illness and was “off his meds” for weeks
During a press conference Thomas’ attorney revealed that his client was diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses 10 to 12 years ago, had been hospitalized, and was living with his mother after his latest hospitalization.
Thomas “suffers from auditory hallucinations and demons” and had been prescribed at least three medications: the depression-and OCD-battling Prozac, anti-schizophrenic Seroquel and Latuda for bipolar symptoms.”
Thomas had been “off his meds” for weeks before the attack and “seemed to be stunned” to hear about what he had done, according to his attorney.
Thomas headed to a rabbi’s home in the Rockland County town during a Hanukkah celebration and stabbed five Hasidic Jewish men Saturday evening because he “seem[ed] to indicate that he was following directions that evening to destroy” and that a “piece of property was in the house that he needed to destroy,” the lawyer said.
All of that could explain why he wasn’t precise with the machete. “He swung up and down, left and right. He swung wildly, and that might have something to do with why more people weren’t hurt,” Rabbi Shmuel Gancz of Chabad of Suffern told The Post.
5. He was arrested for “menacing a cop” last year but was set free
A retired NYPD officer who is now a judge in Greenwood Lake, New York, set Thomas free after the case “resulted in an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal,” meaning that if Thomas didn’t commit a crime in the year after the adjournment the charges would be dropped. Justice Keith Garley said he could not comment on the case because it was sealed, but that the choice was made by the District Attorney’s office. Thomas’ mother asked that her son be committed to inpatient treatment during a May 14, 2019 court hearing but the judge refused, according to Ms. Thomas’ pastor.