Woman charged in weekend stabbing death had attacked victim in 2020 at same high-rise

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A Manchester Police cruiser parked outside the O’Malley high-rise on Chestnut Street in Manchester as police investigated a stabbing death over the weekend. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – Four years ago, Vernon Hayford was stabbed four times by Carrie Drake who now stands accused of killing him by the same means and in the same apartment building.

Drake, 54, who was Hayford’s on-and-off-again girlfriend, is charged with second-degree murder for recklessly causing his death by stabbing him on Sunday, March 3, 2024, at the O’Malley Apartments, 259 Chestnut St.   

She also is charged with being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon. 

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Carrie Drake. File photo/2020, Concord Police

Drake waived arraignment on Monday in Circuit Court – 9th District Division – Manchester.  She is being held without bail.

Hayford, 75, lived at the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority high-rise on Chestnut Street which serves senior citizens and the disabled.

According to court documents, on Oct. 24, 2020, Drake stabbed Hayford four times: once in the wrist, once in the abdomen, and twice in the back left shoulder.

At the time, Drake lived at 12 East Side Drive, Building 1, Apt. 3, Concord.

The night four years ago when he was stabbed, Hayford told police Drake had a history of mental illness, specifically she was “schizophrenic,” had schizoaffective disorder, and had Attention Deficit Disorder. 

He told police the two had been dating “on and off” for about 2 ½ years.  That night, he and Drake were hanging out away from Vernon’s apartment and she began to have some sort of mental breakdown and thinking there were people “after her.”   About 7:15 p.m., they went back to his apartment on the eighth floor but Drake was continuing to act “schizophrenic.”

Drake, he said, suddenly grabbed a knife out of the kitchen sink and went after him with it.  He said she first stabbed him in his left wrist.  Hayford was able to run into the hallway and close the door before Drake made it out.  He held the door shut but he said Drake overpowered him and opened the door. 

As he attempted to run across the hall to a neighbor’s, Drake stabbed him twice in his left shoulder. He didn’t recall when she stabbed him in the abdomen. “It just happened so fast,” he told investigators.

Once he was able to get the neighbor’s door closed, he called 911 for help.

Officer Ryan Garland, in his affidavit, said when the elevator doors opened on the eighth floor, “there was a woman standing in front of the doors holding a blood-soaked knife and with blood covering her shirt and hands.”

Drake was bleeding profusely from self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest and neck.

She dropped the knife as ordered but did not get on the ground or put her hands behind her back as instructed.

Officers forced her to the floor and put her hands behind her back to handcuff them. Drake, Garland said, resisted and repeatedly said, “Just shoot me in the head!”

Judge David A. Anderson sentenced Drake on April 10, 2023 on two counts of first-degree assault:  On one she was given a 5 to 10-year suspended sentence, and 1 ½ to 3-year suspended sentence on the other, with all but 351 days suspended.  (She was detained in the Valley Street jail for 351 days before being sentenced.)   The sentence was conditionally suspended for 15 years.

Drake has a criminal record, dating back to 2007 when she was charged with attempted murder.  She was ordered to undergo a competency evaluation.  The attempted murder charge was dropped and she later was found guilty of second-degree assault and reckless conduct.  She served about nine months.

In July of 2022, Drake was arrested in Concord for threatening a woman with a knife at the Regency Hill Estates complex.  Drake told the woman, “I’m not going to hurt you that bad.”

When police arrived, they heard another woman yelling, “She needs to be locked up.

Drake was given a suspended sentence of 2 to 4 years on that charge.

The court record shows Drake has struggled with mental illness for many years.  Her mother, Carol Broadbent, told her defense attorney Julian Jefferson when he was preparing for Drake’s sentencing in the 2020 stabbing of Hayford, that Drake began experiencing significant mental health issues in her early 20s and has battled them ever since.

Drake has been hospitalized at the New Hampshire State Hospital 8 – 10 times since 1992, Broadbent said.  

She said her daughter does quite well when she is in a good, stable environment. Drake, she said, earned her bachelor’s degree and worked as a counselor for several years at Riverbend Behavioral Health Center.

In arguing for a suspended sentence for Drake in the 2020 stabbing of Hayford, Jefferson said it was undisputed that the incident was the “direct result of an acute and severe mental health crisis.”

Drake was treated at the Valley Street jail where she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and opioid dependence.

She remained jailed for a little over two months before being released on personal recognizance bail with stringent conditions including engaging in mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and remaining under house arrest unless employed.  She did that for 18 months before being given a suspended sentence.


About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.