• With great sadness, a family says goodbye to 'The Little Engine That Could'

    By: Dalton Main

    Updated:

    WINCHESTER, Mass. - A young woman’s life was cut short as she sat in the library last weekend, studying for her dream career. 

    Deane Stryker, a medical student at University of New England, had always wanted to be a doctor, her mother told Boston 25 News Thursday. 

    But the 22-year-old was buried Thursday after a brutal and completely random attack at the Winchester Public Library. 

    “Deane was ‘The Little Engine that Could,’” her mother, Michal Kenny, said in a statement sent to Boston 25 News. “She gave her every effort to whatever she did and accomplished so much in her short life.” 

    Stryker was in a reading room at the Winchester Public Library when police say Jeffery Yao came up behind her with a hunting knife and began stabbing her. 

    According to his lawyer, Yao didn’t know Stryker and there was no reason for the attack. His attorney only said Yao suffers from ‘extreme mental illness.’  

    “She would also hope beyond hope that something would be done so that what happened to her, couldn’t happen again,” Stryker’s mother said. 

    That’s the kind of compassion and empathy she was known for, her mother says. 

    “He approach to medicine was to strengthen and understand the whole body as a whole system, not only treat symptoms,” Kenny explained. 

    Stryker had shadowed a family friend at Medford Wound Center while she was in high school. There, on her ‘overwhelming’ first day, she saw patients with severe neglect. 

    Her mother said Stryker got in the car after that day and cried, “then said: ‘I never want to be in a room with someone who is suffering and not know how to help them.’” 

    Stryker was the kind of person who would have stepped in to help if she saw someone being attacked as she was, like the 77-year-old man who was stabbed trying to help her that day. 

    It’s a senseless tragedy her family is struggling to cope with. 

    “There was so much more she wanted to do, see, experience, accomplish and be a part of,” Kenny said. “It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to her today.”

    MORE: 'A troubled existence': The Winchester man accused of murdering a total stranger

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