BOSTON – A medical student stabbed to death in a Massachusetts library was “The Little Engine That Could,” her mother said Thursday.

Deane “Kenny” Stryker “was a very warm person, always did the right thing, loved to pull a prank, conducted herself with self-respect and respected others,” Michal Kenny said in a statement to The Boston Globe on the same day as her daughter’s funeral.

Stryker, 22, was killed Saturday at the Winchester Public Library.

The first-year student at the University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford wanted to be a doctor since she was a little girl, her mother said. In high school, she shadowed a family friend at a medical walk-in clinic.

“When I picked her up at the end of her overwhelming first day, she got in the car, cried awhile and then said: ‘I never want to be in a room with someone who’s suffering and not know how to help them,’” her mother wrote.

Jeffrey Yao, 23, is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to murder in Stryker’s death. His lawyer said Yao is severely mentally ill.


Prosecutors have called the attack unprovoked. Stryker and Yao attended Winchester High School at the same time but apparently did not know each other.

Stryker would want to make sure what happened to her did not happen to anyone else by improving the mental health system, her mother said.

“Her approach to medicine was to strengthen and understand the whole body as a whole system, not only treat symptoms. She would want the same approach in dealing with this,” she wrote. “Not to set up more security measures in libraries, but to understand what allowed this to happen and take care of that. There is so much that needs to be improved about our mental health system, its accessibility and effectiveness.”

Stryker is also survived by two sisters. Her father, Timothy Stryker, died in 2011.

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