SALEM — A local man is accused of choking his therapist while armed with a pocket knife on Monday afternoon.
James Lavoie, 50, told employees at the Center for Life Management group home on Howard Street that he had an appointment with his therapist and was buzzed through a security door. He then tracked down the therapist and attacked her, Salem prosecutor Jason Grosky said on Tuesday.
Lavoie had the woman in a headlock and said she had “ruined his life,” Grosky said.
The woman told police she believed she was going to be choked to death and that Lavoie grabbed her by the back of the hair when she tried to escape.
The attack happened just before 4 p.m., police said.
A co-worker came to the rescue of the therapist and the two fled into another room and locked themselves in a bathroom, police said.
Lavoie fled from the home on foot, and police apprehended him at a nearby Veterans of Foreign Wars hall at gunpoint. After Lavoie refused repeated orders to drop the knife, police said, an officer kicked the weapon from his hand while he was distracted by a barking police dog.
Once he was taken into custody, Lavoie told police “he thought about plunging a knife into his neck but doing so would require him to take someone else with him,” Grosky said.
Lavoie was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail on Tuesday morning following a video arraignment in 10th Circuit Court in Salem.
He was arrested on charges of second-degree assault, reckless conduct and criminal threatening. Lavoie also has two pending cases in 10th Circuit Court in Derry on charges of criminal threatening and simple assault from incidents that happened on Nov. 9 and Jan. 14.
On Nov. 9, a highly intoxicated Lavoie “threatened to snap the neck of a female neighbor” in Derry and tried to punch a police officer while at the police station, Grosky said.
“He made general threats saying that he would take them all down,” he said.
Lavoie was arrested again on Jan. 14 after he told a CLM employee that “he wanted to kill a friend then put a knife to his chest and run into a wall,” Grosky said.
While being taken into custody at Parkland Medical Center, Lavoie “threatened to kill an officer and threatened to find the officer off duty,” he said.
A judge lowered Lavoie’s bail in that case to $500 cash after a hearing on Feb. 7.
Lavoie was supposed to be living with his mother and receiving therapy while his two court cases in Derry were pending.
Public defender Deb Dupont has questioned whether Lavoie is competent to stand trial in the Derry cases.
During his arraignment on Tuesday, Lavoie was without a lawyer. He told a judge he had no memory of attacking his therapist and said he lived at the CLM group home.
“Why do I got all these charges? I don’t remember anything about it,” Lavoie said.
Grosky asked a judge to bar Lavoie from all CLM properties and to have no contact with the therapist and three other employees who witnessed the attack.
“The state has significant concerns for the safety of these individuals, for the safety of CLM employees, the safety of the public, and the defendant’s personal safety,” Grosky said.