The man charged with pushing his way into a Rabbi's home and attacking five Hasidic Jews with a machete in the Rockland County hamlet of Monsey was already on the radar of the local police department. Grafton Thomas of Greenwood Lake, New York was charged with hate crimes in the December 28th attack. But police in Ramapo, the town that includes Monsey, had spoken to the man before while investigating a prior violent crime.

On November 20th a Hasidic man was beaten and stabbed on his way to morning prayers at a local synagogue. A blurry video of what appeared to be a Honda Pilot was seen in the area and detectives tracked it to the home of Thomas’s mother, Kim Kennedy. She was questioned by law enforcement and so was Thomas, who was using the car on the night in question. Both were let go without charges.

Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said detectives had no way of knowing what Thomas would allegedly do a month later.

“We didn't know anything at that time,” Weidel said at a press conference. “And we had no evidence and we had no probable cause to do anything but follow a lead, which we did.”

But when Thomas was arrested in the December 28th attack, detectives recognized his name.

“And the detectives go wait a minute, isn’t that the guy we interviewed from Greenwood Lake and the answer is yes,” Weidel explained. “Now with that information and the fact that we now have him involved in a criminal act, we are able to obtain a federal search warrant.”

Weidel said the car is being examined for possible evidence in the earlier attack.

In addition to federal hate crime charges, local prosecutors have charged Thomas with five counts of attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. According to the federal complaint, Thomas’s cell phone contained searches for Jewish temples in the area and his personal journals found at his mother’s house, where he was living, contained anti-Semitic sentiments.

But prior to living with his mother, Thomas lived in a dusty cabin in Wurtsboro, a village in Sullivan county. His lawyer, Michael Sussman, said that law enforcement authorities had not searched the cabin, but he went there and removed papers that showed the ramblings of a madman and several bottles of unused psychiatric medications.

“We videotaped our extrication of all that material. We brought in professionals to document it, chronicle it, to copy it,” Sussman said. “So that we can make it available to the other side as evidence in a criminal case which I think a lot of it will be.”

CD’s and books were also taken. Sussman said there was nothing to suggest anti-semitism or hate in any form but that instead his client is seriously mentally ill. He wants Thomas examined to see if he’s mentally fit to stand trial.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the cabin or what was inside it.