BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — Two city detectives were watching the North Shore Medical Center parking lot late on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 3, when they spotted a man walking from the front to the rear of a hospital building.
They watched as the man walked to the back of the large lot, went between two parked cars and climbed a high fence onto Bertram Field, the Salem High School football field. At the time, the field was closed and under construction. Additional police units were called to search for the man, according to a Salem Police report.
Moments later, detectives stopped Timothy G. Wells, 25, of Woburn, walking from a wooden area behind the Bertram Field stands and asked what he was doing.
“He stated that he was meditating and trying to become one with nature,” police wrote in a report.
On Wednesday — 22 days later — Wells was arrested in New York state in connection with a double-stabbing earlier in the day on a shuttle bus at Salem State University. It was the last step, according to court and police records, in a saga that began weeks earlier in that hospital parking lot.
In that first incident on the night of Sept. 3, police said Wells was carrying a folding knife with a 4-inch blade in his front pocket. He was placed under arrest at 11:30 p.m. on charges of trespassing and violating the city knife ordinance, and taken to police headquarters.
A few hours later, at 2:20 a.m., an assistant clerk at Salem District Court arrived at the station, released Wells on personal recognizance and ordered him to appear in court for an arraignment later that day, according to police.
Wells never showed up, according to court records.
On the afternoon of Sept. 4 — that same day — Wells met with a therapist at Salem Hospital who, after their session, issued a Section 12 order out of concern he “had a very substantial risk of doing harm to himself,” according to a Salem State Police report. Under that order, a person undergoes a psychiatric examination and can be held for a three-day period or longer, according to state law.
Salem State Police picked Wells up that night as he was exiting Forest River Park, a city park across from the college. He was transported by ambulance to Salem Hospital.
It is not known whether Wells was admitted to a mental health facility. Citing health-privacy rules, a spokesman at Salem Hospital declined to comment.
Wells, a senior criminal justice major at Salem State, voluntarily withdrew from the college around the time of the Bertram Field incident. He had not been seen back on campus until this past Wednesday, according to Salem State Police.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporter Julie Manganis contributed to this report.