A traumatized father has revealed his baby began losing clumps of hair after a vengeful neighbor injected their doorstep with poisonous chemicals.
Florida resident Umar Abdullah said Xuming Li, a chemistry PhD graduate, used a mystery concoction to make his family sick during a month-long campaign of ‘torture’ earlier this year.
Abdullah, 36, told DailyMail.com the Chinese national is believed to have used strong opioid painkillers methadone and hydrocodone, mixed with a noxious element which scientists are still working to identify.
Li was arrested after Abdullah set up a secret camera in a plant pot outside his home on Palm Springs Boulevard, Tampa, and caught him in the act.
The 36-year-old chemistry researcher was charged with possession of a controlled substance, battery assault against the homeowners, and aggravated stalking.
Li was caught after the family father, Umar Abdullah, reported being plagued by an ‘obnoxious smell’ and difficulty breathing for more than a month, until he hid a camera in a potted houseplant outside their Tampa home. (Pictured: Abdullah with his baby daughter)
The recent University of Southern Florida graduate was caught on camera after the family planted a hidden lens in a potted houseplant outside their home
Abdullah revealed that along with vomiting, dizziness and severe headaches, his family suffered hair loss, and they found ‘clumps of hair’ on their baby girl’s pillow several times in June this year.
‘Our baby was losing her hair,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘In that one month, we noticed our baby’s unusual hair in the shower.
‘We Googled and realized babies don’t experience hair loss, and we noticed our hair in the shower as well.
‘We can’t prove that it was linked, but we feel that it was because of the chemicals.’
Li had been studying at the University of Southern Florida (USF), but Abdullah said the school ‘took very swift action by bringing an expulsion sanction’ against him following the incident.
Abdullah added that he was shocked by what his secret camera recording revealed because Li had seemed like a ‘regular guy’ and even a ‘friendly’ neighbor who often stopped to chat in the hallway.
He told the DailyMail.com that Li is also a father to two young children – though he has never seen Li with the kids despite regularly seeing his wife taking them to the playground.
Li lamented over losing sleep and hearing noise from Abdullah’s apartment
Umar Abdullah, who lives in the home, said he noticed an ‘obnoxious’ smell and he, his wife and baby daughter began vomiting so he planted a camera outside
Their relations were rosy in August 2022, when Abdullah’s baby was born, with Li sending him a text to ask how his wife and newborn daughter were doing.
Abdullah told the DailyMail.com Li even came to their door with gifts for their daughter, and congratulated them by text on their ‘really adorable girl’.
But his noise complaints began days later, with Li asking if the family could ‘walk slower’ to prevent him hearing their footsteps at night.
Text messages seen by DailyMail.com show how Li regularly complained about minor noises – from the toilet seat moving to someone dropping their phone on the ground.
Meanwhile, Abdullah offered to buy cushioned footwear to reduce the impact of their footsteps, and to visit Li’s apartment so he could see what it sounded like for himself.
But tensions reached a head in March this year when Abdullah’s family visited, and Li called the police on them within 15 minutes of their arrival, complaining about the noise of their luggage scraping across the floor.
Neighbor from hell Xuming Li allegedly contaminated a Florida family’s doorstep with so much ‘chemical agent’ their baby got sick. They hid a camera outside their Tampa home and caught him in the act (pictured)
Abdullah’s hidden camera footage showed Li appearing to take a syringe out, fill it with clear liquid, and inject it into the crack in Abdullah’s door frame
Three months later, Li sought his revenge by planting a noxious mix of chemicals at the family’s front door while they were away at an Ohio conference.
When they returned in early June, they were plagued by an ‘obnoxious’ smell and soon began feeling sick while losing clumps of hair.
Abdullah believed the smell to be coming from his air conditioning unit or his water heater, but plumbers and officials who investigated found no issues.
His landlord even replaced the heater and had his air ducts and vents cleaned – but the chemical smell persisted.
Desperate to find out what was plaguing his family, Abdullah called the fire department who sent in a Hazmat team – but their tests drew a blank.
‘I was sniffing the place like a dog,’ he said.
The sniff test led him to his doorway, where he found a small crack in the corner.
Only now beginning to suspect some form of tampering had taken place, Abdullah set up a hidden camera in a potted plant outside his door.
The footage showed Li, wearing casual tracksuit bottoms, crouching and appearing to place something beneath their door
His daughter became sick again, prompting Abdullah to check the footage – and he was shocked by what he saw.
‘We were shaking,’ he said. ‘We can’t imagine that he is coming and doing something.’
The footage showed Li, wearing casual tracksuit bottoms, crouching and appearing to place something beneath their door.
Horrified, Abdullah adjusted the camera angle from door-level to eye level to catch what Li was doing in the moments before.
This time, his footage appeared to show Li extracting a syringe, filling it with clear liquid, and injecting it into the crack in Abdullah’s door frame.
The terrified father immediately got his family out of the house and called police.
He rushed his family to hospital in a panic – an experience he described in his victim impact statement for a hearing against Li at the USF, resulting in his expulsion.
‘My heart was wrenching as my head felt like it was spinning,’ he said in the statement seen by DailyMail.com.
‘My wife and I rushed to the emergency room, clutching our precious daughter, fearing the worst.
‘We were shaking,’ Abdullah told WFLA. ‘We can’t imagine that he is coming and doing something’
‘Seeing her tiny hand with an intravenous catheter, enduring those painful pokes and tests, tore me apart inside.
‘Her innocent face, contorted with pain and fear, filled my soul with unbearable anguish.
‘All because of that heartless criminal, Mr Xuming Li, whose actions had brought such misery upon our little angel.
‘My eyes welled up with tears as I held my daughter close, praying for her safety.
‘The thought of her having to bear this suffering because of someone’s sinister deeds was too much to bear.’
Abdullah said he was relieved the tests showed ‘nothing critical’, but his doctor advised his family to inform all their future consultants about the incident in case they suffered ‘elevated blood platelet levels and any potential long-term effects’.
‘We are still living in constant trauma, haunted by the memories of that dreadful day,’ Abdullah said.
‘Now, after a month, almost every other day, we still clean and disinfect the door area with disinfectant, hoping to rid ourselves of the any poison that the monster injected for us to inhale.
‘Since the incident, we’ve lost our sense of security, and we can’t leave our home alone.
‘My wife and daughter used to enjoy their mornings out while I work, but now they’re paralyzed by fear and do not dare to go just by themselves.’