- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 17, 2009

UPDATED:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Police say a Yale University lab technician has been arrested in the killing of a graduate student whose body was found stuffed behind the wall of a campus research building.

New Haven Police Chief James Lewis says Raymond Clark III has been arrested and his bond is set for $3 million.

Police had said charges would be filed against anyone whose DNA matches evidence found at the crime scene.

The state medical examiner says 24-year-old Annie Le was suffocated. Her body was found Sunday, the day she was to be married, in the building that housed the lab where both she and Clark worked.

Police were stationed outside a hotel in Cromwell, about 25 miles north of New Haven, where Clark had been staying, Capt. Roy Nelson said.

Authorities hoped to compare DNA taken from Clark’s hair, fingernails and saliva with more than 250 pieces of evidence collected at the crime scene on the Ivy League campus in New Haven, and from Clark’s apartment in Middletown.

“It’s all up to the lab now,” New Haven Police Chief James Lewis said at a news conference Wednesday. “The basis of the investigation now is really on the physical evidence.”

Clark is not talking to police, Lewis said.

“At some point he may be willing to answer questions, but at this point he has invoked his rights,” Lewis said. “He has an attorney. We couldn’t question him if we wanted to.”

Clark’s attorney, David Dworski, said his client is “committed to proceeding appropriately with the authorities.” He would not elaborate.

Police executed two search warrants — for DNA from Clark and for items in his apartment — late Tuesday. They served two more Wednesday morning, for more items from the apartment and for Clark’s Ford Mustang, Lewis said.

Investigators said they expect to determine within days whether Clark should be charged in the killing. He was escorted in handcuffs from his apartment and released early Wednesday into the custody of his attorney, police said.

Lewis said police expect to seek an arrest warrant for anyone whose DNA matches evidence at the crime scene.

A police lab is expediting tests on Clark’s DNA. University of Connecticut genetics professor Linda Strausbaugh says testing can be done in days if a case gets top priority.

Clark’s job as an animal-services technician at Yale put him in contact with Le, who worked for a Yale laboratory that conducted experiments on mice. She was part of a research team headed by her faculty adviser, Anton Bennett, that focused on enzyme research that could have implications in cancer, diabetes and muscular dystrophy. Members of the team have declined to comment on the case or their work.

Clark, his fiancee, his sister and his brother-in-law all work for Yale as animal lab technicians.

Le’s body was found stuffed behind the wall of the basement where lab animals are kept. The Connecticut state medical examiner said Wednesday that Le died of “traumatic asphyxiation.”

Authorities found her body Sunday, the day she was to be married, but released no details on how Le died. Traumatic asphyxiation could be consistent with a choke hold or some other form of pressure-induced asphyxiation caused by a hand or an object, such as a pipe.

Police are not commenting on a possible motive.

As a technician at Yale, Clark helped clean the cages of research animals used by labs around the Ivy League campus and had other janitorial duties, police said. The technicians help tend to rodents, mostly mice, used in experiments and can help with paperwork.

Since researchers generally try not to move animals from their housing for testing, students and faculty conducting experiments often visit the building where Le was found dead, school officials said.

Henry reported from Cromwell, Conn. Associated Press writers Susan Haigh and Dave Collins in Hartford, Conn.; Pat Eaton-Robb in Middletown, Conn.; and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York City contributed to this report.

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