Hossam Armanious, 47, who along with his wife and two daughters was found stabbed to death in his Jersey City home early Friday, would regularly debate religion in a Middle Eastern chat room, one source said.
Armanious, an Egyptian Christian, was well known for expressing his Coptic beliefs and engaging in fiery back-and-forth with Muslims on the Web site paltalk.com.
He "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians," said the source, who had close ties to the family.
The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.
"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," [emphasis mine] was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange.
But Armanious refused to back down, according to two sources who use the Web site.
Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy would neither confirm nor deny that cops and prosecutors were looking into the religion motive, saying only that "nothing is being ruled out." But a relative of the mayor who answered the phone at Healy's home said there was information the murders were "religion-related."
A family member who viewed photos of the bloodbath said Sylvia seemed to have taken the most savage punishment.
"When we saw the pictures, you could tell that they were hurt really, really bad in the face; especially Sylvia," said Milad Garas, the high-school sophomore's great-uncle.
The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia's throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross.
Both the deacon and uncle poured cold water on the theory that the family were the victims of a robbery gone wrong. [Cash had been taken, according to the police.]
"This is not a robbery, Ayed said. "We found all of the jewelry in the house. They didn't take anything."
LGF reports on the indignant denials that Muslims could have been responsible.
A NYTimes report quotes unidentified authorities dismissing the stabbing of a Coptic Cross on the daughter.