Crime & Safety
August 13th, 2012
By Robbie Brown
After Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun canoed through the city, rescuing neighbors and bringing them bottled water — until he was wrongfully arrested by the police. His wrenching story of 23 days without a court hearing became the plot of Dave Eggers’s book “Zeitoun,” and turned him into a New Orleans hero.
But in recent years, the stable, loving relationship between Mr. Zeitoun and his wife, Kathy, that was described in the 2009 best seller has taken a series of dark turns. The couple divorced last year after he was convicted of assaulting her. And on Wednesday, the New Orleans police charged him with plotting to have Kathy Zeitoun, her son and another man murdered.
Mr. Zeitoun, 54, is back where he was seven years ago — in a New Orleans jail — on three charges of soliciting murder, said Remi Braden, a police spokeswoman. She said detectives had “credible information” of the plot.
His arrest was a jarring twist for the main character of the acclaimed book. It follows Mr. Zeitoun after the storm as he ferried desperate neighbors to higher ground in his secondhand canoe. But Mr. Zeitoun, a Syrian-born American citizen, was arrested by the police and National Guardsmen who mistook him for a terrorism suspect and detained him for days at a Greyhound Bus station and then a maximum-security prison. Charges against him were later dropped.