BANGOR, Maine — At 5 foot 2 inches and 115 pounds, Suphatsa “Maddie” Willey is tiny compared to the man she chased out of her coffee shop Monday after he used a knife to slice the neck of her pregnant niece.
Adrenaline fueled her, she said Tuesday while sitting at a small table inside Java Joe’s Cafe, at 98 Central St., which she owns with husband, Steve Willey.
Maddie Willey, a native of Thailand, spoke in broken English as she told the story of the attack that scared her 25-year-old niece, who is seven months pregnant, so badly that she’s afraid to go outside. Willey asked that her niece’s name not be printed.
Jason Dean, 32, of Bangor was charged Tuesday with attempted murder and aggravated assault. He stands over 6 feet tall and is heavy-set.
Dean said nothing after entering the coffee shop around 10:30 a.m. Monday, she said. He was inside the building for about 10 minutes and was standing quietly near a soda case when Willey’s niece said, “How are you doing today?”
“He just say nothing,” Maddie Willey said.
Her niece, who is not an employee but was helping out at the shop, then moved to a nearby sink to do some dishes. A couple of minutes later, the niece saw a shadow out of the corner of her eye. It turned out to be Dean attacking her, according to Willey.
Dean grabbed the niece by the throat and used a steak knife to cut her neck. She screamed and then, “He showed me the knife,” Maddie Willey said. “This happen really fast.”
Willey said her niece wiggled out of Dean’s grasp and there was a bit of running around inside the small shop, with the shop owner yelling loudly at Dean.
For a moment Dean stood at the counter holding the knife as if he were about to stab someone.
“He told me he not do nothing,” she said. “I said, ‘Stop it. You are not going to get away from here.’”
Meanwhile, the niece was able to get to a phone to call police for help and Dean ran outside, with Maddie Willey on his heels.
When he ran past the Kenduskeag Stream, Willey said, Dean “threw the knife in the river.”
As they ran, Willey continued to yell at Dean and he continued to deny his involvement.
“He told me ‘you crazy lady,’” she said. “He said he not do nothing.”
After chasing him through Norumbega Park, which is located between Franklin and Central streets, she confronted him again at the doors of Northeast Occupational Exchange at 29 Franklin St.
He attempted to go inside, and Maddie Willey tried to stop him, but “he pushed me off because he kinda a big guy.”
The two ended up inside the building where employees of Northeast Occupational Exchange, which is a social service agency that provides services to people who suffer mental health or drug abuse problems, tried to defuse the situation. Court records indicate Dean is a client of the agency.
Maddie Willey called her niece and informed her of Dean’s whereabouts. The niece called police, and within five minutes of the knife attack having occurred, police were arresting Dean.
Willey said she did not think of herself when she went after Dean.
“I could not forgive myself if I not get him for [my niece],” she said. “Who was going to find him?”
As she sat at the table Tuesday recalling the incident, Willey said her arms were sore from Dean pushing her, but otherwise she was OK.
“She just reacted on adrenaline,” said her husband, Steve Willey. “She did not want him to get away, so she ran after him.”
The shop owner said it’s obvious that Dean wanted to murder his niece.
“His intent was to kill her,” he said. “There was no doubt about that. This is severe. My niece is seven months pregnant. She’s shaken up. She doesn’t feel comfortable going outside.”
After learning more about Dean, and his long history of criminal threatening and assaults, Steve Willey said, “it’s unbelievable” that he was still out on the street.
“It’s mental illness, and it’s a sad story,” he said.