Friday, March 27, 2009
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff March 26, 2009
Five people who stepped in to save a woman whose husband, police said, was trying to kill her with a butcher knife were honored yesterday by Boston's mayor and police commissioner.
"The action of these heroic individuals was truly the difference between life and death for the victim of this terrible assault," Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement, thanking them on behalf of the city.
The attack happened at about 8:35 a.m. on March 12 on the corner of Shawmut Avenue and W. Dedham Street in the South End, police said.
Aida Cepeda, 65, heard the couple, her upstairs neighbors, arguing, then saw them physically fighting. Cepeda called 911 and also yelled for help, police said.
Robert Asbury, 40, of Marlborough; Eustace Fitzpatrick, 57, of Boston; Cristobal Vizcaino of Boston; and Raul Estremera, 32, of Florida, who were working nearby, came to the aid of the victim after hearing Cepeda's yells.
They wrestled the suspect to the ground and held him until police arrived.
The victim, whose name was not released, told detectives that her husband was not happy living in America and wanted to move back to China and asked for money to do so. She said that when she told him she had no money, he began to verbally abuse her. Police said the abuse quickly turned physical, and she ran outside her home, with her husband in pursuit.
The woman suffered cuts on her hands, arms, feet, toes, and stomach, and had a visible amount of hair missing from the back of her head, where the suspect had grabbed her and thrown her to the ground, attempting to drag her back into the house.
The suspect, Zi Wen Chen, 49, of Boston is facing charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to murder, and threatening to commit a crime. He was arraigned March 12, and bail was set at $10,000. A pretrial hearing was set for April 10. Chen told detectives in an interview that he had decided to kill his wife by cutting her head off and then kill himself, police said.
Chen's attorney, Arnold P. Cohen, had no comment on the case.
"The quick thinking and swift actions of several citizens stopped this violent assault and saved this young woman's life," Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said.
After Chen's arraignment, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley urged people in abusive relationships to leave.
Victims of any crime can call 911 in an emergency. SafeLink, a statewide domestic violence hot line, can be reached at 877-785-2020, Conley's office said.
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