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Salem State Professor Released From Hospital, Stabbing Suspect Charged

SALEM (CBS) --  A Salem State University professor has been released from the hospital after prosecutors say he was stabbed 23 to 30 times by a senior biology major he didn't know.

Stephen Chastain, 24, faces several charges including attempted murder, strangulation and mayhem after allegedly surprising Professor Pierre Walker in a campus bathroom as he was washing his hands.

Prosecutors say Chastain came out of a stall and put his hand on Walker's shoulder trying to pull him in and strangling the 58 year old until he passed out.  When Professor Walker came to he was under attack, repeatedly stabbed in the chest, arms, neck and hands in a violent assault that spilled into the hallway.

It was a chaotic scene on campus as a nearby EMT came to his rescue and two witnesses followed Chastain alerting police to his whereabouts.

A court clinician who evaluated Chastain says there's a psychiatric history, "including thinking that conversations were connected and referential to him and contain hidden meanings," said Dr. Joyce Parrotta.



Salem State stab
Crime scene tape outside Meier Hall after stabbing at Salem State University (WBZ-TV)

Students saw the commotion and were concerned the University took over an hour to notify them of the incident.

"There were a lot of rumors going around. We wanted clarification because we didn't know what happened," said student Taylor Burroughs.

The University has told students, "The suspect was apprehended quickly negating any additional threat to the community."

According to a police report Chastain told investigators he had been up for five days and been taking drugs.  His mother had no comment as she left court, and Chastain has been ordered to undergo further evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital.

"There's a question of competency and responsibility and under Massachusetts state law that's got to be looked into," said his court appointed attorney Rebecca Whitehall.


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