Chief: Yale slaying an instance of ‘workplace violence’

The body of Yale University student Annie Le, 24, was found Sunday, the day she was to have been married.
New Haven Police Chief James Lewis on Thursday described the killing of Yale graduate student Annie Le as an instance of “workplace violence,” but he did not elaborate.

Raymond J. Clark III, 24, has been charged with Le’s murder and bond has been set at $3 million, Lewis told reporters at a news conference. Thursday morning, police arrested the Yale lab technician in the strangulation of Le, whose body was found in the wall of an off-campus research building. While the motive is still unclear, Lewis said police do not consider the killing a domestic crime and are treating it as the result of “workplace violence.” Lewis said there are growing numbers of incidents throughout the country “where things occur in a work environment among employees,” Lewis said. “And sometimes it’s difficult to tell.” Watch announcement of arrest Hours after his arrest, Clark appeared in court and did not enter a plea. Standing with chains on his ankles and his palms on the table, he looked only at the judge and spoke only to acknowledge that his rights were read to him. A court date of October 6 was set. Watch report on Clark’s background The family of Le’s fiance, Jonathan Widawsky, released a statement Thursday through their synagogue, Temple Beth El in Huntington, New York.

“We share in the grief of the family of Annie Le and are, collectively, doing our best to deal with our tragic loss,” the statement said. “… We want to thank all those who have been involved in our preparations for a wedding that was not to be for their quiet understanding.” The Widawskys said they will not be attending religious services in the future “in order to facilitate the safety, security and sensitivity of High Holiday services at our temple … it is a difficult time, and we ask that you allow our fellow congregants, in this holiest of seasons, to pray in peace. And we ask that you pray for the soul of Annie Le, and for healing, for her family, for Jonathan and for our family.” The family requested privacy “for the moment,” but added, “Annie will live in our hearts forever.” Cantor Sandra Sherry forwarded the statement to media outlets, noting that “we are entering our holiest season from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, known as the Days of Awe.” Sherry said she would have officiated at Le and Widawsky’s wedding. Le, a 24-year-old pharmacology graduate student, was last seen alive on September 8, the day she appeared in a surveillance video as she entered the four-story lab at 10 Amistad Street, about 10 blocks from Yale University’s campus. Her body was found inside the basement wall of the building on Sunday, on what was to have been her wedding day. She had been strangled, the Connecticut medical examiner’s office determined. The Widawskys suggested that donations made in Le’s memory go to the I Have a Dream Foundation, “the institution that Annie and Jonathan chose and suggested on their wedding registry.” According to its Web site, the foundation is aimed at empowering children from low-income communities to achieve higher education. Clark was initially taken into custody on Tuesday, after authorities obtained a search warrant for his home and a warrant allowing them to collect a DNA sample from him, Lewis said. He was later released, but police had been monitoring the motel where he was staying. Clark’s attorney, David Dworski, said in an earlier statement, “We are committed to proceeding appropriately with the authorities with whom we are in regular contact.” Lewis said Thursday’s arrest “went smoothly.” See timeline of case

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He could not release details about whether the DNA results led police to arrest Clark, who was initially described as a “person of interest” in the case. “This arrest warrant has been sealed, so no further information can be released in order to comply with this court order,” Lewis said. Yale University President Richard Levin said while the school’s administration is “relieved” by the news of Clark’s arrest, “we must resist the temptation to rush to judgment.” Clark, of Branford, Connecticut, is not a Yale student but has worked as a lab technician at the university since 2004 after graduating from high school. He lived with his girlfriend, who is also a Yale lab technician, according to police. Clark had nothing in his employment history at the university that “gave an indication that his involvement in such a crime might be possible,” Levin said in a statement issued Thursday. A faculty member described Clark’s job in the Animal Resources Center as maintaining colonies for animals used in research. The lab is located in the basement of the building where Le’s body was found crammed behind a wall.

Lewis said earlier that Clark and Le worked in the same building and passed in the hallway, but would not elaborate on whether they knew each other. Investigators have collected about 250 pieces of evidence, but authorities have not released information on what DNA evidence may have been found. Investigators said earlier that bloody clothing was found hidden above tiles in a drop ceiling in another part of the research building.