Deane Stryker, a 22-year-old aspiring doctor, was stabbed to death on Sunday while studying at the Winchester Public Library in Massachusetts. A 77-year-old man tried to intervene and help Stryker, but was also stabbed and has suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to police.
Stryker’s former high school classmate Jeffrey Yao has been arrested as a possible suspect in her death, CBS Boston reports. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail, the Boston Herald reports. Even though the two went to high school together, Yao’s attorney said they didn’t know each other.
"Jeff has a long history of mental illness, including multiple hospitalizations," Yao's attorney told The Boston Globe. "This terrible tragedy, which shocked his parents, is unquestionably related to his severe mental illness."
Stryker was in her first year of medical school at University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She was an orientation leader and an advocate for domestic violence survivors and mental health awareness, the president of her college said in a statement, according to Mass Live.
After being stabbed she was rushed to a nearby hospital where she died. The man that tried to help her is expected to be okay, but remains hosptialized, according to a statement released by the Middelsex District Attorney's office.
"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," according to the press release. "The male victim was stabbed in the arm while attempting to intervene."
Yao has been charged with both murder and assault.
"Deane is a special kid and overcame some real obstacles in her life. She decided early on that she wanted to be a doctor," family friend Brad Harrington told CBS News. One such hurdle was the death of her father in 2014. Her dad, Dr. Timothy Striker, was questioned about his girlfriend’s death in 1993. He was never charged in connection with her death but was later found responsible in civil court, and was ordered to pay the murdered woman’s family $15 million, according to NECN. He was sent to jail, where he eventually died, after pleading guilty to perjury in connection with the murder investigation.