Salem State University Student Allegedly Stabs Professor

Salem State University says the suspect is Stephen Chastain, a senior at the school

Pierre Walker, a 58-year-old Salem State University professor, was amazingly being released from the hospital Thursday, just one day after investigators say he was stabbed 23-30 times on campus - allegedly by a student.

That student, who did not show his face in court, was identified as 24-year-old senior Stephen Chastain, a biology major from Salem.

Prosecutors say Chastain allegedly attacked Walker, an English professor and Beverly resident, while he washed his hands in a bathroom in Meier Hall around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

"This defendant exited the stall from behind him and put his hand on the victim's shoulder, he tried to pull him into the stall, the victim tried to fight him off, but the defendant began to strangle him to the point where the victim actually passed out," said Assistant District Attorney Erin Bellavia. "When he woke up, he was able to get to his feet, however the defendant began to stab him in the chest, arms, neck and hands."

Prosecutors say Walker was able to escape to the hallway where he yelled for help.

Chastain was arrested minutes later, heading in the direction of his home, after allegedly taking off the pants and jean jacket he was wearing.

"That jean jacket was recovered, inside of that article of clothing was a knife that was found," Bellavia said.

"I haven't slept in five days. I'm schizophrenic and have been off my meds ... I've been taking magic mushrooms," Chastain said, according to court paperwork. "My thumb is broken from strangling."

According to officials, Chastain and Walker did not know each other.

Pierre Walker
Salem State University
Pierre Walker

Chastain's defense attorney said his relatives came to court to support him.

"They're family and they're devastated, as all of you would be if your son was in this difficult situation," said defense attorney Rebecca Whitehall.

Students at Salem State say they're still in shock over what happened.

"I couldn't believe it had happened while I was in the building," freshman Nicholas Bettencourt said.

"It's just kind of scary that it was just so close to home," said junior Lisa Sawyer.

The judge ordered Chastain to undergo a mental health evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital. His next court date it April 19.

Chastain's attorney pleaded not guilty on his behalf to the charges against him, including attempted murder, mayhem, assault with a dangerous weapon, strangulation or suffocation, and assault and battery.

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