A Middlesex County grand jury charged Nikhil Dhar, a senior at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, last week with armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury and assault and battery. Police sources said Dhar stabbed Prof Mary Elizabeth Hooker, an associate professor of clinical lab sciences at her Fresh Pond home on December 22 after he followed her to her home from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, where she teaches science Hooker’s Griswold Street neighbours, including an Army reservist, played key roles in leading police to the alleged stabber. Police arrested a blood-spattered Dhar in a nearby yard with the help of cell phone calls from neighbours.
Dhar has been ruled "dangerous" by a judge and will remain in jail until trial. Friends and acquaintances of Dhar still cannot believe the incident and said that they were shocked to hear that the reserved student, an elected senator on the student government, had been arrested and charged in the attack of a professor. "Honestly, I would never have known that he would do something like this as he’s a nice kid and very active in school and always there for everyone," said a fellow student. Earlier, Dhar pleaded not guilty at his arraignment to charges of assaulting his professor with intent to murder, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon at Cambridge District Court on December 23.
In her report to the police, Hooker said Dhar knocked on her door and asked to speak about his grades. Earlier in the day, Dhar learned from Hooker that he had received a failing grade in her clinical hematology course. On seeing Dhar, who is working toward his bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science at the university, at her door, Hooker suggested they speak elsewhere, upon which he allegedly attacked her, dragging her to the yard and stabbing her several times with his knife, according to a statement by the professor. Dhar admitted to following his professor home from the Lowell campus after hearing about his grades, but denied that the knife belonged to him, according to police reports