CHICAGO (CBS) — A man with no criminal history now stands charged with stabbing his roommate to death during a fight in their East Lakeview neighborhood apartment this week.

Herbert Van Stephens, 52, was charged with one count of first-degree murder in the Monday night incident inside an apartment in the 600 block of West Stratford Place, police said.

On Thursday, he was ordered held on $500,000 bond and a preliminary hearing was set for March 26, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Lisa Gordon said.

Killed in the fight was Stephens’ roommate, John E. Atkinson, 25. He was pronounced dead at 12:08 a.m. Tuesday at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. An autopsy found that he died of multiple stab wounds and incised wounds.

Around 11:25 p.m. Monday, a third roommate called police after he awoke to the racket of a struggle, and came out of his room to find his roommates fighting, police said. The man saw one of his roommates holding a knife, and both already looked like they had been stabbed.

Police have not said what touched off the fight, but said the two men were the only people involved.

Prosecutors said Van Stephens and Atkinson, his boyfriend, became involved in a verbal argument that quickly escalated. At some point, Van Stephens picked up a knife and stabbed Atkinson more than 50 times.

He was stabbed 30 times in the chest, which pierced his heart and lungs, and stabbed an additional 10 times to the abdomen, court records show. He also suffered multiple defensive wounds to both hands, both forearms and was stabbed in the leg, face, neck and back of both arms.

Van Stephens was also hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

Van Stephens will appear for a preliminary hearing March 26, Gordon said.

Stratford Place runs for a single block from Broadway to Lake Shore Drive, and is lined with dense multi-unit apartment buildings.


The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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