MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A man accused of repeatedly stabbing a New Jersey woman at a Bed Bath & Beyond store had previously been charged with torturing a cat, according to authorities.
Tyrik Haynes, 19, was charged with attempted murder in Thursday’s attack and is being held on $1 million bail.
Police said he stabbed a 29-year-old woman, identified by her family as Kerri Dalton of Keansburg, multiple times while she was pushing her 5-month-old daughter in a stroller inside the store.
Police said Haynes stabbed Dalton at least 20 times, puncturing both of her lungs. Family members said somehow she was able to dial 911 for help.
Haynes made his first appearance in court Friday afternoon and didn’t seem to understand the judge’s questions, CBS 2′s Christine Sloan reported. He appeared dimly aware of his surroundings. His movements were thick, his face heavy-lidded. A woman believed to be his mother rushed from court without comment. Neighbors said they feel for her.
“I feel bad for his mom and his sister. Absolutely, absolutely I feel bad for them,” Jessica Dwyer said.
CBS 2′s Weijia Jiang spoke exclusively with the victim’s distraught husband Friday morning as he packed up his car in a rush to be with his wife at the hospital.
“She’s holding up, she’s strong, she’s a fighter, she’s my best friend, ” Roger Dalton said. “I want to thank everyone for keeping us in their prayers.
“She’s a newborn mother; thank God the baby wasn’t touched,” he added. “This guy came out of nowhere and I love my wife.”
Bed Bath & Beyond also released a statement saying “This is a horrible situation. We’re cooperating fully with the authorities.”
“He was a guy with a hood and then he walked over there and came like nothing happened and walked over that way and then the lady came screaming saying, ‘can you help me, can you help me, the lady got stabbed,’” said store manager Ana Palet.
Kerri Dalton was taken to Jersey Shore Medical Center where she was last listed in critical, but stable condition.
The incident left many shoppers at the Bed Bath & Beyond store shaken.
“Obviously this man was deranged, he had some psychological problems and I guess you’re not safe anywhere,” one woman said.
Thursday night, detectives searched the townhome Haynes shares with his mother and younger sister.
Last month, the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Haynes was arrested for torching a cat in Middletown.
SPCA Chief Victor “Buddy” Amato told the Asbury Park Press Haynes took one of two cats he bought online, brought it out to the woods in a cat carrier and used matches and aerosol to set the carrier on fire.
Psychologists say cruelty to animals is often a prelude to violence against humans.
“This is not the result of a couple of bad days or a bad month. This is someone that’s developed personality problems over time,” clinical psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi told CBS 2′s Lou Young.
Haynes was due in court in February on those charges.
Workers at a nearby Petco said he often went in to look at the animals.
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