BODY IDENTIFIED AS ANNIE LE GRD ’13

Police tape barricaded Amistad St. Monday afternoon and kept reporters and cameramen at a one-block radius.
Police tape barricaded Amistad St. Monday afternoon and kept reporters and cameramen at a one-block radius. Photo by Nick Bayless.

The body found at 10 Amistad St. has been identified as the remains of Annie Le GRD ’13, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Connecticut.

The manner of death has been classified as a homicide, though the office declined to release the cause of death in order to facilitate the ongoing investigation into Le’s death. The cause of death will be released tomorrow at 3 p.m., according to the office.

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New Haven Police Department Assistant Chief Peter Reichard reveals that a body was found.
Nick Bayless
New Haven Police Department Assistant Chief Peter Reichard reveals that a body was found.
University President Richard Levin speaks to the press Sunday
Nick Bayless
University President Richard Levin speaks to the press Sunday
Grad students place flowers outside Amistad Park in honor of Annie Le GRD '13.
Grad students place flowers outside Amistad Park in honor of Annie Le GRD '13.
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Since it was classified a homicide on Sunday, the case is being investigated primarily by the New Haven Police Department. NHPD Spokesman Officer Joe Avery said Monday afternoon that there are no suspects, adding that police believe Le was targeted and her killing was not a random act.

Speaking to reporters outside Woodbridge Hall late Sunday night, University President Richard Levin conveyed the “deeply felt support of the entire Yale University community” and said “our hearts go out to the family of Annie Le, to her fiance, to her friends.”

“The investigation will continue,” Levin said. “We have every hope that it will be successfully resolved.”

Law enforcement officials have now sealed the building at 10 Amistad St. where Le’s body was found shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday. Footage from security cameras shows Le entering the building at 10 a.m. Tuesday but never leaving; now the investigation will focus on what she did and where she went once inside.

Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees campus security, said earlier this week that access to the rooms and labs inside the building is restricted and digitally monitored. Authorities said they know who was in the basement at the time when Le entered.

Robert Alpern, dean of the Yale School of Medicine, where Le was studying for a Ph.D. in pharmacology, said in a telephone interview Sunday night that access to the basement where Le was found is limited to certain people with approved Yale magnetic identification cards, as it is at all University facilities where research is conducted on animals.

“I think that it suggests it was someone who could get into that space,” he said. “It certainly would be extremely difficult for someone from outside of Yale to get into that space. Not impossible, but extremely difficult.”

Still, there remain more questions than answers about the circumstances of Le’s death.

Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said last week that Le’s fiance, Jonathan Widawsky , was not a suspect and that there was “not a worry” about his involvement in what was at the time considered a missing person case. She added that he and Le’s family have cooperated with authorities.

Along with the NHPD, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Connecticut State Police and the Yale Police Department all remain involved in the investigation.

Authorities first learned of Le’s disappearance when a roommate reported her missing at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, YPD Chief James Perrotti said. The police quickly began investigating the matter and learned that she took a Yale Transit bus from her apartment at 188 Lawrence St. to her office at the Sterling Hall of Medicine early Tuesday morning.

Later in the morning, she walked from that office to 10 Amistad St., leaving her purse, cell phone and wallet behind. She took her Yale identification card with her, and the surveillance footage shows her carrying another object as she entered the building. Officials have not said what she was carrying.

At 12:40 p.m. on Tuesday, a fire alarm sounded in the building. The special agent in charge of the FBI in Connecticut, Kimberly Mertz, said at a press conference Saturday that the alarm was caused by a release of steam from a laboratory hood. She said it was possible that the steam was intentionally released by a person.

There were few other leads in the investigation until the weekend. Authorities seized bloody clothes on Saturday, though a Yale police source said the fabric was not a piece of clothing that Le was known to have been wearing and said it was not clear at the time whether the fabric had human blood or animal blood on it.

On Sunday, after lead investigators arrived at Amistad Street in the morning, dogs from the Connecticut State Police were seen entering the building. The bloodhounds had been part of the search since Thursday, as had more than 100 law enforcement officials from the various agencies.

Some of those officers were in Hartford on Sunday searching through trash at the garbage incinerator there. Other authorities had searched through trash in the dumpsters outside the Amistad Street facility in prior days.

Mertz said Saturday that authorities had already interviewed “numerous people” who saw Le inside the building on Tuesday, but she declined to give any further details. There are 75 cameras around the building and in the surrounding area; investigators spent a large part of their time examining all the video footage to determine if Le, who was 4-feet-11-inches and weighed 90 pounds, could be seen exiting.

The killing is the first homicide in New Haven since mid-March and the first killing of a Yale student since Suzanne Jovin ’99 was stabbed to death on Dec. 4, 1998.

Reporting was contributed by Isaac Arnsdorf, Nora Caplan-Bricker, Florence Dethy, Zeke Miller, Martine Powers, Colin Ross, Divya Subrahmanyam, Victor Zapana and Esther Zuckerman.

Comments

  • Stephen

    No one should be allowed in the
    basement until a person is captured. What happen to Annie Le is more important that anybodys work! Really feel bad for the groom! The parents go back home but what does the groom do?

  • Yalie ’06

    Oh this is just so incredibly awful. My heart goes out to all of her loved ones and friends, to the Yale community, and to Annie herself. May those who knew her find peace one day and may her killer be brought to justice. What a sad sad day for all of us.

  • Anonymous

    Suspects would be some creepy professor or fellow grad student who had full access to the facility and knew enough about her to know she was getting married soon…tripping a simmering obsession into a pychopathic act.

  • James C.

    Since we now have confirmation of ID and foul play, police can focus on the issue of a motive. Once they know why she was killed, the killer will be found.

    No random predator or some other person, planning to kill her for whatever reason, would choose to carry out the crime in such a secured, cctv-monitored setting, in the middle of a workday, with the building full? This was clearly a crime of passion committed in the heat of the moment by a person who knew the victim. If the killer were any of her known freinds and/or family outside of the Yale community, they would have stood out like a sore thumb on the CCTV footage in and around the building. Thus, the killer was either a fellow student, a professor, or a Yale/Lab support staff employee who probably had card key access to the Lab building. Also, The timing so close to her planned wedding may point towards a suspect who was obsessed with the victim (this may or may not have been known to the victim). This killer will not be hard to find in my opinion.

  • NYC resident

    “The killing is the first homicide in New Haven since mid-March”

    Pretty incredible. Most cities that I have lived in have killings every day, and far less culture or activities than New Haven. Statistically, New Haven is one of the safest metropolitan areas in the United States.

    In NYC, a recent college grad was gunned down and killed in a random robbery right in front of my building, and even my neighbors living right above where the killing took place didn’t hear about it for weeks. It certainly wasn’t more than a brief blurb in the back of the newspaper.

    That shows the difference in terms of media coverage of this killling (national media circus) versus that of a poor, random 25 year old recent college graduate who happened to get robbed in NYC (virtually none, not even the neighbors knowing about it).

    Just to cite another instance, both a Columbia and an NYU student were killed when muggers pushed them into the street in Manhattan (they were hit by vehicles). Again, no coverage.

    In other words, New Haveners are lucky that they live in one of the most secure cities in the world.

  • AlwaysRight

    #4 by James C’s comment makes sense to me

  • from California

    I think you should ask yourselves at that college why even with the FBI involved everyone assumed she was a run away bride delaying the act of finding available blueprints to access the entire building before Saturday (5 days). Surely the dogs could have sniffed this out had they known what to look for. I hope they are going through the video tapes, frame by frame at the fire alarm vacating – seems obvious too but they may have missed that so I am suggesting it here.

    Who knows about a crawl space behind walls and who thinks about the void in the drop down ceiling of a commercial room they occupy? Not your average student, building occupant or professor. It seemed obvious to me that the maintenance staff, probably who had a relationship with her (I have worked many late hours and always know the maintenance staff personally) obssessed is my guess or an engineering student who understands the structure itself.

    And, for this university to gag their students (private citizens) and bar them from speaking to the media is so obvious a care of only their implied liability, shame on you YALE for not allowing your fearful students to speak aloud to protect your image, shame shame. This YALE, is part of the healing process; processing grief and fear……..so smart are we.

    I worked for a company once that inadvertently employed a known murderer of a 12 year old girl, they did the same thing. They actually issued a MEMO and dictated that it was against company policy for employees not to speak of it and or to each other or the media about it, for no other reason than shielding their image and loss of productivity (I think that was verbalized in the memo).

    This is the saddest story and I feel sorrow for her family and loved ones who knew her, what a loss what sounds like an incredible girl who might have found more cures for disease, how very sad. As a parent, my heart extends to that undeserving family.

  • Kelly K

    I think anonymous did it……….

    “tripping a simmering obsession into a pychopathic act”

    he would know and he wants us to know.

  • Hieronymus

    @#5
    That New Haven is “one of the most secure cities in the world” is just bullscheiss.

    Even *I* understand that the media play and hype is all about Yale; that a Hill resident wouldn’t even make Page 4; that had the murder victim been some poor black kid that you wouldn’t even know about it.

    Believe me: my heart goes out to the family; my prayers are for Ms. Le, that she be conducted post haste to the promised land. But, again, even *I* understand that New Haven is *not* Shangri La, most especially for its poorest and most over-lookable residents, that is, its natives.

    Poor Ms. Le; may she rest in peace and may her family find comfort in the Lord.

  • Anon

    Like so many, I question how it could take 5 days to find a body that was in an accessible part of the building. A “chase” is an open-able and normally unlocked space. Why were blueprints apparently so late in producing searchable options? Why does a potential crime scene remain open for business? Besides the potential for contamination of evidence, the default for a missing person should be worst-case, not best-case scenario. What if the victim was not yet dead when placed in the space? This is not reassuring in a world, and apparently a campus, where such crimes can be committed.

  • br10

    It’s not that hard to gain access to restricted areas. Just wait outside on your cell phone and enter when someone else does. The killer was probably aware of the digital monitoring and was keen to do just this.

  • Bosch

    May God give peace to Annie Le’s family, her fiance and his family, and her friends. Same wish for the most-desperate posters on this topic here and elsewhere around the Net.

  • GRD ’09

    My guess is that it was a lab tech; someone she knew and who knew the building well. As a student, you don’t get to know the janitorial and maintenance staff very well because they don’t stop in for long chats. Most of the clerical and administrative staff are female and therefore are unlikely suspects.

    Even at their most sociopathic, most grad students and professors and post-docs are too ambitious to risk prison and too smart to think they could get away with such a brazen attack.

    As a grad student, you have occasion to get to know lab techs quite well; well enough for them to perhaps know about an upcoming wedding; well enough for them to have made unwelcome advances; well enough for you to let down your guard when you see them in the lab.

  • wigeon

    Another Bright Soul who’s life has been taken, horrible my thoughts to the family of both Annie and her groom to be. May the person who commited this crime pay dearly. No one should suffer as she did and be discarded in a wall. Yale or not this is a person whom had a bright future in the medical field of research she may of had the chance to find a cure or a new drug to fight an unknown disease. May she rest in peace now not in fear.

  • Daniel M.

    This article was more well written than any other site.
    James C.,you make a very valid point. But, surely a professor, or student would be wise to the cctv, or entry logs. In the surveilance tape we see miss Le walking with something in her arms. What is it? If she left her personals at her office, then that means it was supposed to be a quick trip to maybe drop “something” off to “someone”. Also, if you notice the police didn’t say anything about what they saw on the surveilance tape, except for the fact she walked in, but never walked out.

    I am not trying to solve a crime, but I bet you she was at that building to meet her killer. Possibly to give him/her what was in her arms, and then return to her desk too finish her work.

    Rest in Peace Miss Le.

  • JBS

    Looks like the Bennett lab webpage is down:

    info.med.yale.edu/pharm/bennett/

  • @from California

    Can we not turn this into an anti-Yale tirade, please? As an undergrad, I have felt like Yale handled this in the only way they could have. They kept us abreast of the situation to the extent that they could while a missing-person investigation was underway, they cooperated with the media, and they held an incredibly moving and well-attended vigil tonight. Furthermore, I know of no one who has been “gagged”; I have lots of friends who have been quoted on the news recently, and not one of them have been chided. There has been no memo. Yale is our school, and we love it. And we’re ALL thinking of Annie Le tonight.

  • Bob

    I think they already have the guy. Reports have been leaked all day from inside sources that they have a fellow student in custody who failed lie detector test and has defensive type wounds on his body. The police are being very tight lipped for some reason. They probably just want to be absolutely sure before releasing any further details.

    Annie sounds like a very special and wonderful person. Read this article — it will break your heart:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/all/6618759.html

  • KatieV

    Perhpas I simply missed it but I have yet to see any bulletin issued by the Yale Police Department that meets the standards of a student public safety alert mandated under the federal Jeanne Cleary Act. You can be assured Security On Campus, a Pennsylvania-based campus crime watchdog group, is closely folowing this case.

  • Trish

    Well, I guess there will be an arrest happening before 3 tomorrow if they are going to notify us on the cause of her death. So sad and such a tragedy…

  • scientist

    Well, what she was carrying sure looked like a mouse cage, so in that case I doubt that she’d be giving it to anybody . . .

  • RD

    Sure hope this case isn’t botched a la Suzanne Jovin–remember her?–the Yalie whose murder has never been solved. And why was this? Because the police and school administrators were so sure it was one of her professors, or clung blindly to that erroneous theory, since a random killing would scare off too many potential students. Of course, in this case, they might just get their wish–of non-randomness–fulfilled. Then again, history could sadly repeat itself.

  • sherlock09

    Here is how this colossal tragedy happened:

    Fire alarm goes off at noon. Le is still alive and well, but she is down in the basement alone working on a project. She takes the time to wrap up her research and make sure all the animals are safe before evacuating with everyone else. The lab technician (who is THE suspect, according to all news sites without a mandate to tow Yale’s “say-nothing-of-this-to-anyone” line) finds himself alone with the pretty, diminutive Le, somehow knowing that the alarm was triggered accidentally (it happened in his lab?). He makes his move on a predatory impulse (more men have them than you’d like to know) and has his way with her. Then, once the adrenaline of the attack wears off, he strangles her in a sudden panic, stashes the body while the building is still empty, and throws his own now-bloody LAB SMOCK into the ceiling (thus the initial question of animal vs human blood).

    My evidence:

    1. Scratch marks on his chest clearly indicate frontal (sexual) assault.

    2. How else could anyone have perpetrated such a violent act in a building normally filled with hundreds of people?

    3. The police have been slow-playing this from the beginning, but even more so now that it’s clearly a homicide. Some people are seeing this as a cover-up; I see it as a stunned NHPD trying desperately to buy time as they realize they will soon need to break an absolute worst-case-scenario (brutal rape and murder of an attractive Yale student on school grounds in the middle of the day) to a national audience that has become infatuated with the dramatic story. Furthermore, President Levin has privately expressed his own fury at the handling of the investigation early on, suggesting they really didn’t have a clue until they found the bloody clothing on Saturday. The body was probably found immediately afterwards (thus the vehemently denied reports the next morning), and they suddenly saw they had had a rape/homicide under their noses for three days (!). This could only add to a desire to drag out the remainder of the public disclosures to reduce the embarrassing “duh” factor for the department.

    Thoughts?

  • UGSP scholar

    All they’ve been talking about are the tape recordings of the entrance and exit of the building. But what about the tape recordings inside the building?
    If they kept all the recording, they should be able to pin down Ms. Le’s route INSIDE the building. In research buildings, there are tons of cameras in the corridors, especially in the animal rooms.

    All our prayers and sympathy to Ms. Le, her family and her fiance.
    We are all grieving :’(

  • -

    YDN has done the best reporting on this story by a long shot.

    It’s hard to criticize an ongoing investigation, but if they don’t make any arrest(s) in the next day I fear this will turn into a fugitive situation. By making the bloody clothes and body discovery public so soon, yet not disclosing the nature of the suspect(s) or his whereabouts, the police are effectively levering this into a scenario whereby the perpetrator knows that he will certainly be caught if he sticks around. His only option is thus to flee.

    The reality is that as soon as the bloody clothes were found, the list of suspects suddenly becomes narrowed to only those people who went into that particular room on that morning(as known by prox ID entry logs). The arrest(s) should have been made concurrently with the announcement that the body had been found.

  • thom803

    Other websites are reporting that there is a lab technician in custody.

    So far, the rumors that everyone said were premature have proved to be true a day later….

  • smitty

    very interesting that the Bennett lab is down. Why???

    info.med.yale.edu/pharm/bennett/

  • Karen Lee

    The “search” for Annie Le by local law enforcement was as much an AFFRONT — as her murder.
    The FACT they delayed actually SEARCHING because they presumed she was a “run-away” bride is an AFFRONT to every intelligent woman.
    What an INSULT to Annie, her family, her fiancee to even SUGGEST MS. Le would be in the same company as lunatic run=away brides who run to Vegas and call in their own RANSOM demands. NO one with intelligence could EVER consider (even for a moment) that Annie Le ran away –leaving behind every piece of her identify, purse, cell phone, keys, ID, make=up etc. DID THEY THINK SHE BEAMED-up to Scotty?
    The active search SHOULD HAVE BEGUN in the FIRST HOUR. Using dogs, search teams & the latest electronic surveillance & search technology, infra-red, X-ray, blood-sniffing whatever.
    The FACT it was FOUR DAYS before they looked at bldg blueprints, called in the FBI or brought in dogs is INEXCUSABLE and (likely) actionable.

  • An inside job

    To Smitty:

    The Bennett website was one of the first to be pulled off the Yale site. The speculation is that it contains the name and photo of this potential suspect.

    Why that would make a difference to anything is beyond me, because one can still find the cached version of that page rather easily.

  • Yalie

    Can people please stop posting their own fantasies about what happened to Annie Le? Whatever did happen, posting your own ramblings about rape and strangulation on this site is not exactly helping the investigation (you think Poirot revealed his findings on anonymous message boards?), it’s just further exploitation of a young woman and her photographs, even after death.
    We’ve had no evidence at all that rape occurred – just the fantasies of “sherlock09″

  • Hm

    @#27

    Um… because one of the technicians attended URochester contemporaneously w/the victim?

  • from California

    Here’s the thing #17,

    I did not say that Yale issued a MEMO (I gave an actual account of an example of a company thinking protecting it’s interest of liability in a situation of a rape and murder of a twelve year old) never did I say that Yale issued a MEMO. It appears that Yale and the local police as well as FBI acted cautiously for these reasons as well because they ASSUMED she was a run away bride of 24, a shameful wrong assumption.

    No one it attacking your precious school and several people have been quoted in national papers citing the school has asked they not speak to the press and therefore they are unwilling to give their names or be quoted for fear of reprisal.

    Also, law enforcement, et.al. has issued broad contradicting statements that are unresponsive to the needs and not responsible to the Yale students or local citizens, i.e. “there is no one in custody or a suspect but you have no reason to fear for your own safety, we assure everyone the campus is completely safe as usual and are providing armed guards at your disposal should you need to perform your lab work or need assistance the maneauver throughout the campus.” Grow up smart Yale student, the real world operates on liability and your school officials are worrying about the bottom line for next year and the police are enabling them to do so. You are very much in danger until this murderer is in shackles.

    PEOPLE, everywhere have the DUTY to question poor or odd response to a crisis, in this case a potential murder of a missing girl rather than a run away bride who in any estimation life and safety was worth more than protecting the reputation of any school. (Roll the clock back to hurricane KATRINA and the botched FEMA response, or rather non-response, a regrettable example of ill gotten authority.)

    Rah Rah Rah, school spirit has no place in a murder investigation, be safe everyone.

  • Stephen

    If it was a Yale employee how
    could other Yale employees be trusted? How good a jod did HR
    do in hiring? How are other female students going to feel
    around male techs?

  • MT

    #13..WHAT????
    What in the world are talking about saying “grad students, post docs, and professors are too ambitious to risk prison and to ‘smart’? to risk prison?”
    …what?…it’s some of the people who ‘think they are too smart’ that get caught..and I hope this creep is executed if caught! The heat of passion has caused many a ‘smart man’ to make some of the most evil choices!