American teacher stabbed to death in restroom of Abu Dhabi mall

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 03, 2014 8:24 PM

DUBAI (Reuters) - An American teacher was stabbed to death in a ladies' toilet at an Abu Dhabi shopping mall police said, in a slaying apparently carried out by an assailant dressed head-to-toe in a traditional black robe and gloves.

The suspect's entry and exit from the scene, while clad in a black abaya worn by many women in the Gulf Arab region, was caught on surveillance footage released by authorities, who left open the possibility the bulky figure could have been a man in disguise.

"Investigations are still under way to identify the suspect's identity and gender. Witnesses reported that the culprit was fully covered wearing an abaya, black gloves and face cover," police said in a statement.

The victim of Monday's killing was identified by ABC News and other U.S. media as kindergarten teacher Ibolya Ryan, the Romanian-born mother of 11-year-old twins. ABC said she previously taught school in Colorado.

Police said the victim was stabbed to death with a "sharp tool" following an argument in a women's restroom.

On the surveillance footage, the robed suspect is seen stepping off an elevator, briefly interacting with a security guard, then taking a newspaper before walking toward the restroom.

Some 90 minutes later, the suspected attacker runs back into the lobby as shoppers scatter, shakes off a woman who tries to stop the suspect, and boards an elevator to a parking garage before fleeing.

The tape ends with footage of a bloody trail of footprints leading from one of the restroom stalls.

A profile of Ryan on a recruitment website describes her as Hungarian, born and raised in Romania, who taught in four countries including the United States over the past 15 years.

"I wanted to experience the Arab world and experience their culture and daily life," Ryan wrote.

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According to her LinkedIn profile, she worked as a special education teacher in Denver from 1997 to 2001 and for a wireless company before returning to education in Hungary, Austria and Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi police said they were caring for Ryan's sons pending the arrival of their father, her ex-husband.

The U.S. Embassy in the United Arab Emirates posted a statement in October saying an anonymous post on a jihadist web forum had called for attacks on American teachers in the region, but that it had no credible evidence of any such plots.

(Reporting by William Maclean in Dubai and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney)