Monsey Hanukkah stabbing victim Josef Neumann dies three months after attack
Josef Neumann, the most gravely wounded victim from a Hanukkah machete attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, died on Sunday, law-enforcement sources said. He was 72.
Neumann was one of five men allegedly hacked by Grafton Thomas on Dec. 28 while celebrating the Jewish Festival of Lights in Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s home.
The 18-inch machete allegedly used by 37-year-old Thomas “penetrated [Neumann’s] skull directly into the brain” his family said in a statement at the time.
Two days after the attack, a graphic photo posted to Twitter by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council showed Neumann on a respirator and lying comatose in a bed at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
Two long rows of stitches that ran parallel to one another were over his left eye.
Despite his very critical condition, Neumann’s family was holding out hope that he would emerge from his coma.
And, in fact, he did show signs of improvement for a while, even though doctors said that if he did survive he would have significant brain damage.
“We hope he wakes to a changed world with peace, unity and love for all,” his youngest daughter, Nicky Kohen, said less than a week after the attack.
“Let’s stand up together and stop the hatred.”
Thomas was charged with five counts of attempted murder and federal hate crimes.
The FBI has claimed Thomas kept anti-Semitic journals and surfed the Internet for possible targets before settling on the Rockland County community.
He could face an upgraded murder charge now that Neumann has died, sources said.
Thomas was allegedly covered in blood and had the machete stashed under the passenger seat of his car when NYPD cops busted him in Harlem about an hour after the attack.
Defense lawyer Michael Sussman has denied that Thomas is anti-Semitic, saying that his client has a history of psychosis and was off his meds at the time.
Sussman in late January asked a federal judge to approve a competency evaluation for Thomas, arguing that a defense-hired psychiatrist found him incompetent to stand trial.
Before the attack, Thomas had more 20 encounters with police in Greenwood Lake — about 22 miles northwest of Monsey — where he lived with his mother, according to police documents obtained by The Post.
He was arrested twice by Greenwood Lake Police, once in 2002 for allegedly smoking marijuana, and again in 2009 for allegedly assaulting a man.
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