Murder of Annie Le
File:Le missing person flier crop.jpg
Images from missing person flier released by New Haven police. Right: 8 September 2009 surveillance image taken upon Le's entrance of research facility where she worked. Left: Undated and uncredited closeup of Le also on flier
Location 10 Amistad Street
New Haven, Connecticut
Date Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Attack type Strangulation homicide
Victim Annie Le
Suspected perpetrator Raymond J. Clark III[1]

The murder of Annie Le occurred September 8, 2009, on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Annie Marie Le (July 3, 1985 – September 8, 2009), a 24-year-old American doctoral student at the Yale School of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology, was last seen in a research building on the New Haven campus on September 8. On September 13, the day she was to be married, she was found dead inside the building.[2][3][4] On September 17, police arrested a suspect, Raymond J. Clark, III,[1] a Yale lab technician who worked in the building.[5] The case generated frenetic media coverage, with a news producer trampled in a rush to a briefing.[6]

Disappearance and death

On the morning of September 8, Le left her apartment and took Yale Transit to the Sterling Hall of Medicine on the Yale campus. At about 10:00 a.m., she walked from Sterling Hall to another campus building at 10 Amistad Street, where her research laboratory was located. Le had left her purse, cell phone, credit cards, and cash in her office at Sterling Hall. She entered the Amistad Street building just after 10:00 a.m., as documented on footage from the building's security cameras. Le was never seen leaving the building. At approximately 9:00 p.m. on the evening of September 8, when Le had still not returned to her home, one of her five housemates called police to report her missing.

Because they were puzzled that security camera footage did not show Le exiting the building at Amistad Street, police closed the whole building for investigation. Police also searched through refuse at the Hartford dump, where Yale's garbage is incinerated, looking for clues as to Le's whereabouts. The FBI, the New Haven Police Department and the Connecticut State Police were all involved in the search. On Sunday, September 13, her planned wedding date, authorities discovered Le's body inside the wall of a basement laboratory in the Amistad Street building. Bloody clothes had previously been found above a ceiling tile in the same building.[7] The building and the area are monitored by about 75 security cameras and the entrance to the building and the rooms inside the building require Yale ID cards in order to be opened and accessed. The basement where Le's body was found houses animals (mostly mice) that are used for experiments and research. Due to the high security measures in the building, authorities and Yale officials maintain that it would be extremely difficult for someone without a Yale identification card to enter the basement laboratory where Le's body was discovered, leading them to focus their investigation on Yale employees and students.[8]

These factors led police to treat the case as a homicide. This was confirmed by the Connecticut medical examiner's autopsy, which found that Le's death was due to "traumatic asphyxia due to neck compression".[5] On September 17 police arrested Raymond Clark, a 24-year-old lab technician who had been working in the building when Le disappeared.[5] The previous day he had been taken into custody after police had obtained a warrant to collect DNA samples from him; he had been released after providing a sample.[5]

News of the tragedy went worldwide, and expressions of sympathy were common, culminating in memorials held in New York and California, and the live broadcast of Annie Le's funeral on the internet. The Yale community also publicly mourned Le's death. The Yale Daily News reported that professor and Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis called September 14 the "saddest day to open class" since the day after September 11, 2001.[9] According to the police, the motive for the alleged murder is workplace violence, not an incident relating to romance.[10]

Personal life

Annie Le
Born July 3, 1985(1985-07-03)
Placerville, California
Died September 8, 2009(2009-09-08) (aged 24)
New Haven, Connecticut
Cause of death Traumatic asphyxia due to neck compression
Body discovered September 13, 2009
Residence New Haven, Connecticut
Nationality American
Ethnicity Vietnamese American
Education Yale University (PhD student in Pharmacology)
Alma mater Union Mine High School
University of Rochester
Height Template:Height
Weight Template:Convert/lb[11]

Le was born in Placerville, California, to a Vietnamese American family. She spent her childhood with her aunt and uncle.[12] Le was valedictorian of her graduating class at Union Mine High School, and voted one of two students to be, "the next Einstein." After earning approximately $160,000 in scholarship money, she attended and graduated from University of Rochester.[13] Her major was cell developmental biology, with a minor in medical anthropology.[14] Le was then accepted into a graduate program at Yale that would have led to her earning a doctorate in pharmacology. Her research had applications in the treatment of diabetes and certain forms of cancers. She was due to be married on September 13, 2009, in Syosset, New York, to Jonathan Widawsky, a graduate student in applied physics and mathematics at Columbia University.[15][16]

Le had previously written an article for Yale Medical School's B Magazine titled "Crime and Safety in New Haven," published in February 2009.[17][18]

Media coverage

In the wake of Le's disappearance and the discovery of her body, and the sympathy and outrage over the crime going worldwide, there was a backlash in some circles to the extensive media coverage, and while most acknowledged the crime was especially heart breaking, some questioned whether the level of interest was warranted.

Some commentators have suggested that the attention given by the media was inappropriately disproportionate to that given to other murder victims.[19] Slate contributor Jack Shafer opined that "Journalists almost everywhere observe this rough rule of thumb: Three murders at a Midwestern college equal one murder at Harvard or Yale."[20] The non-profit organization change.org criticized the media for providing so much coverage of the Le murder while nearly ignoring a murder of a college student in Dallas.[21] Connecticut Post columnist MariAn Gail Brown argued that there is a "pecking order" in the investigation of crimes, and that Le's murder attracted media attention because she was "an Ivy Leaguer. Translation: Someone who might earn beaucoup bucks. Someone who possesses sky's-the-limit potential. Vivacious and attractive, too."[22] Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma Executive Director Bruce Shapiro pointed out that journalists had missed the context of the story as one of thousands of deaths from workplace violence.[23]


Raymond Clark III is being held at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, a maximum security prison, on $3 million bail. He appeared in Connecticut State Superior Court on October 6, 2009, but did not enter a plea to the charges; if he is found guilty and convicted, he could be sentenced to death, or to life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.[24] His hearing was delayed until January 26, 2010, since not all of the materials in the case have been made available to lawyers.[25] Clark pleaded not guilty on January 26.[26] His pretrial hearing was scheduled for March 3, 2010 in New Haven[27] and pretrial evidence processing was set to until at least July 26.[28] In October 2010, Clark's case was continued, and his next hearing is currently scheduled for February 9, 2011.[29]

See also

  • Arlis Perry, Stanford University student murdered on campus in 1974
  • Christian Prince, Yale student murdered on campus in 1991
  • Suzanne Jovin case, involving the death of a Yale senior off campus in 1998
  • Murder of Robert Eric Wone, unsolved murder of Asian American lawyer in DC house that did not receive national coverage outside of LGBT, DC and Asian community news.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Arnsdorf, Issac; Miller, Zeke; Korn, Harrison; et. al (September 17, 2009). "CLARK CHARGED IN LE MED ’13 MURDER". Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/university-news/2009/09/17/clark-arrested-murder-annie-le-med-13/. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  2. "Yale Student Disappears Days Before Wedding". The New York Times. Associated Press. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/09/10/us/AP-US-Missing-Yale-Student.html?scp=6&sq=annie%20le&st=cse. Retrieved September 15, 2009.[dead link]
  3. Korn, Harrison; Needham, Paul (September 14, 2009). "Female Body Found at 10 Amistad St.; Police Suspect it is Annie Le Med '13". Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/university-news/2009/09/14/female-body-found-10-amistad-st-police-suspect-it-/. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  4. "Clues point to inside job in Yale killing". msnbc.com. MSNBC. September 14, 2009. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32810822/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Yale lab worker arrested in student's killing, police say". cnn.com (CNN). September 17, 2009. http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/09/17/yale.student.le/index.html. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  6. Bass, Paul (15 September 2009). "NBC Producer Trampled At Annie Le "Briefing"". New Haven Independent. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2009/09/nbc_producer_tr.php. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  7. "Yale student's killing 'completely senseless,' roommate says". CNN.com (CNN). September 14, 2009. http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/09/14/missing.yale.student/index.html. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
  8. Korn, Harrison; Needham, Paul (September 14, 2009). "BODY IDENTIFIED AS ANNIE LE GRD ’13". Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/university-news/2009/09/14/body-identified-annie-le-med-13/. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
  9. Arnsdorf, Isaac. "Gaddis: Saddest day to hold class since day after 9/11". Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/crosscampus/2009/09/14/gaddis-saddest-day-hold-class-day-after-911/. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  10. Cops Arrest Lab Tech In Annie Le Murder. New Haven Independent. Retrieved on 2010-12-27.
  11. Korn, Harrison; Ross, Colin; et al. (September 10, 2009). "GRADUATE STUDENT GOES MISSING". Yale Daily News.
  12. Cô gái gốc Việt thông minh và hài hước trong mắt bạn bè. VnExpress (2009-09-15). Retrieved on 2010-12-27.
  13. "University Community Mourns Alumna’s Death". http://rochester.edu/president/memos/2009/le.html.
  14. "Yale Student Vanishes Days Before Wedding". wfsb.com. WFSB. September 10, 2009. http://www.wfsb.com/news/20817193/detail.html. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  15. Latha Venkataraman. Columbia.edu (1999-02-22). Retrieved on 2010-12-27.
  16. Hamill, Kristen; McLaughlin, Eliott C. (2009-09-10). "Police: Yale student, reportedly bride-to-be, disappears". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/09/10/missing.yale.bride/index.html?iref=newssearch. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  17. Crapanzano, Christina; Leinwand, Donna (September 14, 2009). "Official: Person of interest identified in Yale homicide". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-09-13-yale-missing_N.htm.
  18. Le, Annie (2009-02). "Crime and Safety in New Haven". B Magazine. Yale University. Archived from the original on 2009-09-15. http://www.webcitation.org/5jnWl6Nsz. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  19. Chick, Kristen (2009-09-18). "Media frenzy over Yale murder draws criticism". Christian Science Monitor Global News Blog. http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/09/18/media-frenzy-over-yale-murder-draws-criticism/. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
  20. Shafer, Jack (2009-09-17). "Murder Draped in Ivy: Why the press can't get enough of Harvard or Yale murders". Slate. http://www.slate.com/id/2228705/. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
  21. Kelly, Matt (2009-09-17). "Thoughts on Annie Le: The Cops, The Media and Tunnel Vision". change.org. http://criminaljustice.change.org/blog/view/thoughts_on_annie_le_the_cops_the_media_and_tunnel_vision. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
  22. Brown, MariAn Gail (2009-09-14). "On the edge of Yale, murder's not a new story". Connecticut Post. http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/On-the-edge-of-Yale-murder-s-not-a-new-story-124970.php. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  23. Shapiro, Bruce (2009-09-18). "Yale Murder Begs Ethics Questions". Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. http://www.dartcenter.org/node/1978. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
  24. Kovaleski, Serge (2009-10-06). "Yale Killing Suspect Appears in Court". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/07/nyregion/07Yale.html. Retrieved 2009-12-22.
  25. Zuckerman, Ester (2009-12-21). "Clark Hearing put off until January". http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/university-news/2009/12/21/clark-hearing-put-until-january/comments/. Retrieved 2009-12-22.[dead link]
  26. "Suspect in Yale killing pleads not guilty". CNN. January 26, 2010. http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/01/26/connecticut.yale.killing/. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  27. Pending Criminal / Motor Vehicle – Search by Defendant, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch
  28. "Family Stands By Annie Le Murder Suspect". New Haven Independent. June 16, 2010. http://newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/family_stands_by_annie_le_murder_suspect/id_27033. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  29. "Yale killing suspect due back in court". Hartford Courant. February 6, 2011. http://www.courant.com/community/new-haven/hc-ap-ct-yalekillingfeb06,0,6401077.story. Retrieved February 8, 2011.

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