WINCHESTER, Mass. -- A man has been held without bail on charges he stabbed a young woman to death with a hunting knife in the Winchester Public Library.
Investigators said 23-year-old Jeffrey Yao stabbed Deane Stryker multiple times in the head and upper body after coming at her from behind while she was studying.
According to a narrative outlined by the assistant district attorney, Stryker got up and tried to make her way to the lobby as Yao attacked her.
Seventy-seven-year-old Lester Taber stepped in to help and was cut on the upper arm before other bystanders eventually got in the way and caused Yao to drop the knife, prosecutors explained.
"It’s a tragedy you could see it happening to anyone," Taber said. "You know it’s a tragic situation, I express my condolences to the family of the young girl.”
Stryker was taken to the hospital, where the coroner's report states she died from about 20 knife wounds.
According to prosecutors, Yao has a history of hospitalizations for mental illness and was last treated in October of 2017.
"He's in shock," J.W. Carney, Yao's attorney, said. "He's very flat. He's just trying to make sense of where he is and why he's there."
Stryker earned high marks at Northeastern University, working as a resident assistant, before switching to the University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“Their mom obviously is struggling to make sense of all this,’ family friend Brad Harrington said.
Stryker’s mother and two younger sisters faced the death of the girls’ father several years ago.
“Everybody was just so proud of her,” Harrington said, “She was a remarkable kid. The family has shown tremendous resilience over the years when they’ve had to deal with struggles.”
Yao has been charged with murder and assault with intent to murder with a dangerous weapon, he's being held without bail/
After the killing, Winchester Public Library released a statement offering condolences to everyone who has been affected.
“The Staff and Trustees are deeply saddened by the tragic event which at the Library (Saturday),” the statement said. “Our thoughts are with the young woman’s family and those who were injured and deeply traumatized. We are doing everything we can to cooperate with the investigation and will remain closed until at least Tuesday.”
Since the attack, friends and family have been leaving tributes to Stryker outside the building.
“She was a wonderful friend to my daughter,” a woman said. “A compassionate, loving person. Probably one of the nicest people I ever met.”
Prosecutors have still not yet released a motive.
Cox Media Group