Raymond Clark III, an animal lab technician who works for Yale, has emerged as a person of interest in the investigation into the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13, law enforcement officials said Tuesday night.
Police said they served two warrants Tuesday night — one to search Clark’s residence in Middletown, Conn., and another to take DNA samples from his body. Still, police did not call him a suspect and did not serve Clark, 24, with an arrest warrant.
New Haven Police Department Chief James Lewis said at a hastily convened press conference that Clark would be released last night if he complied with the warrants, though police officials could not be reached for comment early Wednesday to confirm whether he was still being detained.
Lewis said Clark has been under watch since Le’s body was found Sunday, which was supposed to be her wedding day.
“We’ve been with him since we took this case over,” Lewis said, though he declined to comment on Clark’s possible motive.
Over 20 law enforcement officers entered his apartment in Middletown just before the press conference began in New Haven and escorted him into a car for transport to a police facility. Clark wore a white T-shirt and dark pants and was handcuffed as he left his apartment.
An evidence-gathering team from the NHPD arrived on the scene shortly after to search the residence. Lewis said authorities hope the evidence they gather there can be matched to some of the more than 150 pieces of evidence seized from the Yale research facility at 10 Amistad St. where Le’s body was found. Lewis added that police have reviewed 700 hours of video footage and interviewed 150 people, sometimes more than once, as part of the investigation.
Law enforcement officials focused their efforts on the narrow pool of people who had access to the basement and who may have encountered Le after she entered the building at 10 a.m. last Tuesday, University President Richard Levin said at a meeting of the medical school community Monday afternoon. Access to the basement area where her corpse was found is a restricted to specially authorized individuals who must use their Yale identification cards to access the floor.
A fellow animal technician said yesterday that Clark would have been intimately familiar with the basement where Le’s body was found because he spent most of his day in just two or three rooms there, tending to the research animals and cleaning their cages. The technician, who was told not to talk to the press, said Clark had worked at Yale for a few years, though his sister and her husband have worked at Yale for much longer.
Levin said in an interview Tuesday that Yale continues to assist investigators, though the NHPD is now in charge of the case.
“This really is in the hands of law enforcement at this point,” he said, “and so all we can do is be patient and wait for the results of the DNA test.”
Lewis said the tests would be finished in 24 to 72 hours.
Outside the apartment complex in Middletown, throngs of reporters gathered throughout the day as Clark’s name leaked out from investigators. Lewis said at the press conference that Clark has retained an attorney, and a person who works with Clark said Clark, his sister, brother-in-law and fiancée did not show up for work on the medical school campus on Tuesday.
At the Higganum, Conn., house where Clark’s sister and brother-in-law live, the blinds were closed, and shortly before 6 p.m. two people wearing hoods ran out of the house and into a black SUV.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Connecticut was supposed to release the cause of Le’s death on Tuesday afternoon but instead announced it would withhold that information indefinitely at the request of prosecutors. At the press conference, Lewis declined to comment on a report in The Hartford Courant that said Le died of asphyxiation.
A few hours before the press conference last night, Dennis Smith, a local pastor, read a statement in front of Woodbridge Hall on behalf of the Le family. As reporters crowded around him, Smith thanked the Yale community for its support and for respecting the family’s privacy.
“Our loss would have been immeasurably more difficult to cope with without their support,” he said on behalf of the family.
Reporting was contributed by Zeke Miller in Middletown, Conn., Colin Ross in New Haven and Victor Zapana in Higganum, Conn.