|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
10 Amistad Street|
New Haven, Connecticut
|Date||Tuesday, September 8, 2009|
|Attack type||Strangulation homicide|
|Suspected perpetrator||Raymond J. Clark III|
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. On September 17, police arrested a suspect, Raymond J. Clark, III, a Yale lab technician who worked in the building. The case generated frenetic media coverage, with a news producer trampled in a rush to a briefing.
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. 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.
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". On September 17 police arrested Raymond Clark, a 24-year-old lab technician who had been working in the building when Le disappeared. 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.
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. According to the police, the motive for the alleged murder is workplace violence, not an incident relating to romance.
July 3, 1985|
September 8, 2009 (aged 24)|
New Haven, Connecticut
|Cause of death||Traumatic asphyxia due to neck compression|
|Body discovered||September 13, 2009|
|Residence||New Haven, Connecticut|
|Education||Yale University (PhD student in Pharmacology)|
Union Mine High School|
University of Rochester
Le was born in Placerville, California, to a Vietnamese American family. She spent her childhood with her aunt and uncle. 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. Her major was cell developmental biology, with a minor in medical anthropology. 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.
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. 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." 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. 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." 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.
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. His hearing was delayed until January 26, 2010, since not all of the materials in the case have been made available to lawyers. Clark pleaded not guilty on January 26. His pretrial hearing was scheduled for March 3, 2010 in New Haven and pretrial evidence processing was set to until at least July 26. In October 2010, Clark's case was continued, and his next hearing is currently[update] scheduled for February 9, 2011.
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