WOBURN – A Connecticut man will be spending at least six years in state prison after a judge sentenced him last week in the brutal attack of a Wakefield resident at the Woburn Showcase Cinema in September 2011.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Thomas Billings sentenced Chantha Chau, 23, of New London, Conn., to 6-8 years in state prison with 5 years probation from and after his prison sentence with conditions that Chau have no contact with the victim, remain drug and alcohol free, submit to random drug and alcohol screenings, submit to a mental health evaluation and comply with any recommendations made by his treatment providers.
“Although this case is now complete,” said Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. “The frightening moments the victim lived through will stay with him. Within seconds, the victim went from sitting and relaxing in his car with the window down, to fighting for his life against someone attacking him with a knife, chasing him across a parking lot and tackling him. The random nature of the attack put fear in many people who heard about what happened.”
Woburn Police Chief Robert Ferullo added, “I am very proud of the collaboration and detective work which led to this defendant being brought to justice. Detectives Elizabeth Higgins and John O’Connor in particular showed exemplary efforts in taking the lead to uncover evidence. It was the combined efforts of officers with the Woburn Police Department and law enforcement from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Massachusetts State Police and our colleagues in New London, Conn. which led to the fair verdict and sentencing in this case.”
Evidence presented during trial showed that Chau approached the victim who was sitting in his car outside of the Showcase Cinema in Woburn at approximately 10 p.m., on Sept. 6, 2011. The victim, Charles Northrup of Wakefield, told police that the window of his car was down and he was in the vehicle waiting for a friend to arrive to then go watch a movie.
Northrup said that Chau came to the window, made a gesture with his hand like Chau wanted to borrow a cigarette and, when Northrup reached to get a cigarette, Chau began to stab him. Northrup was stabbed in the neck before managing to escape from the car by crawling across the passenger seat and exiting on the passenger side. Chau then chased Northrup through the parking lot, tackling Northrup and continuing to stab Northrup. Northrup broke free and then Chau fled the scene in the victim’s car.
Northrup was immediately hospitalized after the attack, had surgery for life-threatening injuries, and was hospitalized for about three weeks.
Police later recovered Northrup’s stolen car in New London, Connecticut. Months later, on April 23, 2012, Woburn Police Officer John O’Conner noticed an abandoned car with flat tires parked at the Holiday Inn, which is located adjacent to the movie theater. Upon investigation, police discovered that the car was registered to an owner in New London, close to where the stolen vehicle had been recovered. Authorities also were able to locate Chau’s name on a discarded receipt found within the vehicle. Both the owner of the vehicle and Chau were found to live in the same residence.
Upon further analysis, officers discovered that Chau looked similar to a composite sketch created as a result of the victim’s description of the assailant. Finger print evidence from the stolen car also came back as a match for Chau. A warrant was issued and Chau was arrested on May 9, 2012.