Winchester Public Library Stabbing Leaves One Woman Dead, An Elderly Man Wounded

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A violent attack that took place on Saturday morning at the Winchester Public Library in the Boston area ended in the death of a 22-year-old woman and the injury of a 77-year-old man who tried to save her life. The suspect, Jeffrey Yao, 23, has been arrested and charged with murder. Yao is in police custody awaiting his arraignment on Monday.

According to, several 911 calls were placed to the Winchester Police Department to report the stabbing. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan told the press at a Saturday afternoon press conference that authorities arrived quickly to the scene.

Winchester Public Library patrons, including the 77-year-old man, who was in “close proximity” to the victim, managed to stop the attack and subdue Yao. In the process, however, the senior citizen was stabbed in the arm. While his injury is reportedly non-life threatening, the young woman suffered multiple stab wounds to her head and the upper part of her torso. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

District Attorney Ryan reported that the 911 calls started to come in at around 10:38 a.m. on Saturday. The 22-year-old woman had been studying in a reading room off the library lobby when Yao approached from behind. He was armed with what Ryan believes to be a hunting knife. Yao attacked her and she tried to flee unsuccessfully, according to the district attorney.

Man in handcuffs
This is a close-up of a man in handcuffs.Featured image credit: Brian A JacksonThinkstock

“Mr. Yao began striking her with what we now know to be a — what appears to be a — hunting knife with approximately a 10-inch blade,” District Attorney Ryan said. “She suffered a number of slash and stab wounds to the head and upper torso.”

Winchester Police Chief Peter MacDonnell expressed gratitude for the library patrons who risked their lives in an attempt to save the young woman. MacDonnell also praised his officers for their swift response. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old’s wounds were too severe to overcome. Yao had already done too much damage.

Yao and the two victims are all from Winchester. reported that Yao has been charged with the young woman’s murder as well as assault with intent to murder the 77-year-old man. The suspect is in custody and will be held without bail until his Monday arraignment in Woburn District Court.

As far as Yao’s motive for the heinous crime, the district attorney prefers to wait for the results of the investigation rather than speculate. Ryan did mention that police had prior contact with Yao, but did not disclose the circumstances surrounding that interaction. The young woman’s identity will be held until authorities have notified her next of kin.

“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,” Ryan said.