- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009

A lab technician who had been under suspicion in the death of Yale University graduate student Annie Le was formally charged Thursday in a move that marks the first legal action in what has gone from a missing-person investigation to a murder case.

Raymond A. Clark III, 24, was arrested at a Motel 8 in Cromwell, Conn., about 30 miles northeast of Yale’s campus in New Haven, said New Haven police Officer Joseph Avery. Mr. Clark later appeared in court, and Judge Jon C. Blue ordered him held on $3 million bond.

“It’s obviously a very serious case,” the judge said.

The arrest comes nine days after Miss Le, 24, was reported missing. She studied at the research laboratory where Mr. Clark worked.

Her body was found Sunday — the day she was to be married — hidden in a wall in the basement of the research facility.

A medical examiner concluded she died of “traumatic asphyxiation,” meaning she could have been strangled or otherwise forcibly prevented from breathing.

New Haven police Chief James Lewis said investigators seized close to 300 items as possible evidence.

“Based upon numerous interviews, forensic evidence and information learned while viewing video surveillance, detectives have secured the arrest warrant for Clark,” he said. “This arrest warrant has been sealed so no other information can be released in order to comply with this court order.”

Chief Lewis added that Miss Le and Mr. Clark were not involved in a romantic relationship.

“It’s important to note this is not about urban crime,” he said. “It’s not about university crime, it’s not about domestic crime but an issue of workplace violence, which is becoming a growing concern around the country.”

Chief Lewis declined to explain his remarks further, and the motive for the killing remains unclear.

Mr. Clark looked glum during his brief court appearance. His eyes mostly remained lowered and he seemed to avert his gaze from everyone in the room.

He did not enter a plea and only nodded his head and quietly answered “yes” when Judge Blue asked whether he understood his rights. The Associated Press reported that Mr. Clark’s court-appointed public defenders declined to comment after the court proceedings.

Mr. Clark has been under constant surveillance since police publicly identified him Tuesday as a “person of interest,” and executed a search warrant on his apartment. Authorities also received a warrant to take samples from Mr. Clark to be used for DNA testing; the results of those tests have not been released.

Yale President Richard C. Levin said in a statement Thursday that Mr. Clark had worked as a lab technician at Yale since December 2004. Police have said his job responsibilities were similar to those of a janitor and that he cleaned animal cages.

“His supervisor reports that nothing in the history of his employment at the university gave an indication that his involvement in such a crime might be possible,” Mr. Levin said. “In the days and weeks ahead, we will redouble our efforts to educate the community about Yale’s zero-tolerance policy for violent, threatening and abusive behavior.”

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