A first-year medical student stabbed to death at a Massachusetts library this weekend was a domestic violence and mental health awareness advocate who “showed great promise as a student doctor,” the University of New England president said.
Deane Kenny Stryker, 22 was sitting at a table at the Winchester Public Library Saturday morning when she was attacked by a man with a 10-inch hunting knife, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office said.
Jeffrey Yao is accused of coming up behind her and stabbing her unprovoked, prosecutors said. Stryker managed to get up and try to run away, but the attack continued, prosecutors said.
A man who tried to intervene was stabbed in the arm and survived, prosecutors said.
Stryker suffered about 20 wounds, prosecutors said in court today.
Stryker, a first-year student at the University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, “was just beginning her journey toward becoming a physician and showed great promise as a student doctor who was passionate about medicine and helping others,” university President James Herbert said in a statement.
“She was an advocate for domestic violence and mental health awareness, and an active member of her college community,” Herbert said. “She served as an orientation leader and was part of a student organization that provides confidential peer support to other students who need a place to turn when they are struggling.”
Cantor Beth Levin of Temple Shir Tikvah, who knew Stryker for about 10 years, told reporters she was “heartbroken and soul-sick,” the Boston Globe reported.
“Deane was full of love and gentleness, and she was part of our community as a babysitter and as a spirit that just made everyone feel good wherever she went,” Levin said, according to the Globe. “She just represented all that is good in each of us. Kids felt it; adults felt it. She was trusted; she was responsible.”
Herbert said, “We send our deepest condolences to Deane’s family and friends, who are facing an unthinkable tragedy,”
Counseling will be available at the university, Herbert added.
Yao, 23, who was known to police, was arrested and charged with murder and armed assault with intent to murder, prosecutors said.
Yao appeared in court this morning and was ordered held without bail. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Yao’s defense attorney told reporters today that his client has a long history of mental illness including hospitalizations, adding that Yao’s parents are devastated for the victim’s family, ABC affiliate WCVB reported.
The motive remains under investigation, prosecutors said.
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