Deane Stryker, the young woman who was viciously stabbed to death as she sat reading in a Winchester Public Library, was a promising medical student who was known for helping the less fortunate, including those with mental health issues.
Deane, 22, had suffered past tragedy in her life, when her father was investigated in connection with a high-profile murder. Despite that challenge, she was forging a career in medicine. Authorities are accusing Jeffrey Yao, 24, of attacking Deane as she sat at a table in the Winchester Public Library in Massachusetts on a Saturday morning. It appears the crime was a random attack.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Deane Stryker Was a Medical Student Who Was a Student Leader Helping Those With Mental Health Issues
Deane Stryker had a bright future ahead of her. According to UNE President James Herbert, writing on Facebook, Stryker was a “first-year student in the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine” who 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.”
Herbert described himself as “shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of our students, Deane ‘Kenny’ Stryker, who was killed on Saturday. We send our deepest condolences to Deane’s family and friends, who are facing an unthinkable tragedy.”
The college president described Deane’s leadership on campus.
“She was an advocate for domestic violence and mental health awareness, and an active member of her college community. 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,” he wrote.
“She was one of the most genuine, open, happy people I’ve ever met,” said Ben Thomas of Syracuse, New York, to The Press Herald. “She was like a bright shiny ball of energy that lit up those around her.”
2. Stryker Was Stabbed 20 Times From Behind During the Brutal Attack
The horrific sequence of events unfolded in the public library when, prosecutors allege, Yao ambushed Stryker from behind during the attack, which occurred on a Saturday morning on February 24, 2018. Yao is accused of using a 10-inch hunting knife to stab Stryker 20 times.
“This was a vicious unprovoked attack with a knife on a young woman in a public place,” the prosecutor said as Yao was held without bail.
About 10:30 a.m., several 911 calls came into the police department, authorities said in a news conference. The library is located directly across from the street from the police station. The police located two people suffering from stab wounds. One was Stryker, who later died form her wounds. A 77-year-old man also sustained non life-threatening injuries in an attempt to help Stryker.
Stryker was seated at the table in one of the reading rooms studying and doing some work when she was attacked, the district attorney said in the news conference. She was approached from behind by Jeffrey Yao, of Winchester, according to the prosecutor, who alleged that Yao began striking her with what appears to be a hunting knife with a 10-inch blade, stabbing her in the head and upper torso. Stryker suffered numerous slash and stab wounds. She fled the table and tried to get to the front lobby, toward the door, according to the DA. She made it out into the lobby where other patrons came to her aid and cornered Yao, the DA said. However, it was too late to save her.
Yao was charged with murder and assault with attempt to murder with a dangerous weapon. The motive remains under investigation.
The police chief thanked the people at the library who “corralled” the suspect and came to Stryker’s aid. The library had been open for about an hour. The reading room is located off the main lobby. Two people were seated in close proximity to Stryker, and one of them was the man who suffered wounds when he tried to help her. He was later identified in the Boston news media as Lester Taber.
3. Deane Was Remembered as a ‘Simply Beautiful Woman’ Inside & Out
Those who knew Deane Stryker remembered the young woman’s kind demeanor. “This was a senseless crime against our dear and loving next door neighbor for many years,” wrote one woman on Facebook. “Deane was a simply beautiful woman, inside and out and she leaves a loving family and a community behind that is simply heartbroken.”
Wrote another woman on a Facebook comment thread, “Deane was our babysitter when she lived near us. She was the brightest light and had such a beautiful soul even at a young age. This is so hard to comprehend. Our thoughts and prayers are with her mom and sisters. The world will miss you Deane Stryker.”
A friend wrote, “There are no words to describe the sadness that fills the world after the loss of a young woman filled with potential. Our time in WHS band was great and i will forever cherish those memories. Deane Stryker, May you live on forever in our memories.”
4. Stryker’s Father Died in Prison After His Girlfriend’s Death Sparked an Investigation
Stryker had already endured a great deal of hardship in her life. According to NECN, she was the daughter of Dr. Timothy Stryker, who was questioned in 1993 by police “after the death of his girlfriend, Dr. Linda Goudey.” Although he didn’t face criminal charges in Goudey’s death, according to NECN he lost a civil judgment to her family in the amount of $15 million.
“Dr. Stryker was later sent to prison after pleading guilty to perjury related to the investigation. He died in prison in 2014,” the site reported. Boston10 also confirmed the familial tie between Dr. Timothy Stryker and Deane.
5. Yao’s Lawyer Claims He Is Mentally Ill
Yao has been charged with the crime, and his lawyer alleges that Yao is mentally ill. According to The Boston Globe, Yao’s attorney – who previously represented Whitey Bulger – told the news media, “This case is very, very related to his extreme mental illness.”
“There’s no indication that he knew the woman, just a completely random attack,” the defense attorney added to The Globe.
Yao was known to police, authorities said, but they declined to elaborate on that in the news conference. According to the Boston Globe, Yao “was on pre-trial probation following his arrest last fall for allegedly attempting to break into a neighbor’s home.” A neighbor told the Globe she was so frightened of Yao that she would run from her house to her car in the morning to go to work.