Jeffrey Yao, 23, was arrested and charged with murder after fatally stabbing a 22-year-old woman and injuring another inside a Massachusetts public library in what his attorney calls a “completely random attack.”
Yao fatally stabbed Deane Kenny Stryker and injured a 77-year-old man who was reportedly stabbed while trying to stop the attacker in the Winchester Public Library’s reading room on Saturday morning. He is being treated at a hospital and is expected to survive, according to the Associated Press via Boston.com.
Yao, who has also been charged with assault with intent to murder, reportedly yelled “incoherently” as he was being arrested.
“This case is very, very related to his extreme mental illness,” his lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., told reporters on Monday, adding, “There’s no indication that he knew the woman, just a completely random attack.”
“The preliminary investigation suggests that the female victim was seated at a table in the library when the suspect approached her, unprovoked, stabbing her multiple times,” District Attorney Marian Ryan told media during a press briefing.
Ryan added that Yao used a 10-inch blade hunting knife to stab her in the torso and head. An autopsy on Sunday revealed that Stryker was stabbed 20 times, according to Middlesex Assistant District Attorney.
When the other patrons saw the victim stumbling from the reading room into the front side of the library, they tackled Yao and held him until police arrived. The woman was rushed to a local hospital but soon died due to her injuries.
“With respect to motive, possible knowledge of the parties of each other, that is all part of the early and ongoing investigation, which we’re conducting right now,” DA Ryan noted, adding that Yao is “known to police,” without going into further details.
Horrible news. I went to High School with this person and sat near him in AP Economics. I’m not exaggerating when I say he didn’t shower for six months straight.
He exhibited plenty of mental health issues, but clearly nothing was done about it. https://t.co/gLW9dA02Wd
— Nick Pappas (@NickAPappas) February 24, 2018
Yao, currently being held without bail following his arraignment on Monday in Woburn District Court, is scheduled for a probable cause hearing on April 11.
“The ideal outcome for a tragedy like this is for the defendant to be found not guilty because of his mental illness and have him committed to a maximum security hospital where he will remain up to the rest of his life,” said Carney.
He added that Yao has previously been hospitalized for his mental illness and was on pretrial probation after being arrested for allegedly trying to break into a neighbor’s home last fall.
“I want to thank men and women who were present at the Winchester Library, who came to this woman’s aid and corralled the suspect until the police were able to get there and place him under arrest,” Winchester Police Chief Peter McDonnell was quoted as saying.
Yao’s Facebook page hinted he is from the city of Jinan in China and was living in Winchester prior to the attack.
His neighbors told the Boston Globe that he had been quiet in his youth but exhibited “strange” behavior while growing up. He has reportedly broken into houses, threatened people on the street and other violent outbursts in the past, indicating signs of mental issues.
Feature Image via Associated Press/Winchester Police Department