Jeffrey Yao, 23, was held without bail after pleading “not guilty” to fatally stabbing a woman. The unprovoked attack occurred at the Winchester Public Library on Saturday morning. His lawyer maintains Yao has a severe mental illness.
On Monday, February 26, Jeffrey Yao pleaded “not guilty” to charges against him in the lethal attack against Deane Stryker. Yao has been charged with murder and armed assault with intent to murder.
The judge ordered that he be held without bail.
On the morning of Saturday, February 24, Yao entered the Winchester Public Library in Winchester, Massachusetts and allegedly stabbed Stryker, 22. He is said to have attacked her from behind, stabbing her 20 times with a 10-inch hunting knife.
Stryker got up from the table and tried to escape, but Yao chased her down, stabbing her for a second time.
Lester Taber, a 77-year-old library patron, tried to distract Yao, ordering him to stop. Yao turned his attention on Taber and cut his across his upper arm, before turning back and stabbing Stryker for a third time.
Other library patrons were able to get between the two and separate them. Stryker fell to the ground with the knife still stuck in her neck.
The subdued Yao put his hands into the air and was taken into custody by Winchester police.
Stryker was rushed to hospital, but was pronounced dead.
Taber was treated and released from hospital.
In court, prosecutor Kate Cimini commented, “This was a vicious unprovoked attack with a knife on a young woman in a public place,” adding that Yao had had several run-ins with law enforcement in the past.
Yao’s defense attorney, J.W. Carney, Jr., said the Massachusetts man had a long history of mental illness, including multiple hospitalizations. And that the fatal stabbing “shocked his parents.”
Investigators haven’t confirmed a motive in the attack. Yao did go to the same high school as Stryker, but Yao’s lawyer has maintained that his client didn’t know the victim.
Neighbors Lived in Fear of Jeffrey Yao
It’s difficult to say though that Yao’s actions shocked his neighbors. Residents that lived on the same tree-lined street as Jeffrey Yao said they “lived in fear.”
Yao was known to break into homes. He has smashed glass in the road, thrown chairs, and made threatening gestures to people on Farrow Street. Neighbors had reported Yao to authorities.
After news of the fatal stabbing broke, neighbors stood together, saying they had all seen it coming.
“We knew something would happen,” said Leslie Luongo. “We didn’t know when.”
Luongo said that she was so afraid of Yao that she would run to her car every morning when she left for work at 5:00 a.m. She also said that residents secured their children indoors and kept baseball bats close at hand.
Like others in the neighborhood, Luongo had gone to authorities with her concerns. Police allegedly told her not to worry; they were shadowing Yao when he went out at night.
For their part, Winchester police declined to comment on her allegations.
Neighbors of the Yaos said his parents were nice and that Jeffrey Yao wrestled and ran on his high school’s cross country team.
In a December 15, 2017 Facebook post, Yao says, “The life advice I wish I could give my younger self is… Don’t spend so much time on wrestling, quit that and focus on studying and friends.”
Deane Stryker Remembered as a “Special Kid”
Friends of Stryker described her as a young woman committed to helping others as a physician. To that end, she was studying at the University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Maine. They also said she cared for children at the local Temple Shir Tikvah.
“We’ve all known them very well for a long time. Just an extremely nice family, a remarkable family. Their mom obviously is struggling to make sense of all this,” said family friend Brad Harrington.
“Deane is a special kid and overcame some real obstacles in her life. She decided early on that she wanted to be a doctor,” he added.
On her Facebook page, Stryker is seen smiling next to family, friends, and animals at home and on her many travels.
Jeffrey Yao will next appear in court on April 11.