A senior at Salem State University accused of stabbing a professor Wednesday night has been charged with attempted murder.
Stephen Chastain, 24, was arraigned in Salem District Court Thursday on charges of attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, strangulation or suffocation, and assault and battery, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office. He was also ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital, authorities said.
Authorities said Chastain approached the 58-year-old professor from behind while he was washing his hands in a campus bathroom and strangled him until he passed out. He then allegedly stabbed the professor up to 30 times before the man was able to flee the bathroom. Chastain followed the professor and continued to attack him until witnesses intervened, authorities said.
The victim suffered a superficial wound to his neck and was transported to Beverly Hospital for treatment. University police apprehended Chastain a block away in Salem after a witness followed him and told officers where to find him, according to the D.A.’s office.
“It seemed to be very random,” said university spokeswoman Karen Murray Cady. “The professor did not know the student and we don’t believe the student knew the professor.”
A judge granted the D.A.’s motion requesting a dangerousness hearing, which will be scheduled after Chastain undergoes a mental health evaluation, authorities said.
The victim’s injuries are not considered life-threatening at this time.
“Representatives of the university did meet with [the professor] last night in the hospital,” Cady said. “Obviously, he’s clearly shaken, but he will recover from his injuries.”
The campus is secure and counseling is available to students, she said.
Chastain is due back in court April 19 for a status hearing.