Clark a ‘nice guy,’ neighbors say

Law enforcement officials took Raymond Clark III into custody Tuesday night at the Middletown, Conn., apartment complex where Clark lives.
Law enforcement officials took Raymond Clark III into custody Tuesday night at the Middletown, Conn., apartment complex where Clark lives. Photo by lauren rosenthal.

In high school, Raymond Clark III pitched for the baseball team, made the honor roll and joined the Asian Awareness Club. Friends and acquaintances from high school described him as personable — certainly not likely to be a killer.

But DNA tests linking Clark, 24, to the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13 place him at the center of a brutal homicide investigation. Clark’s arrest is expected this morning — ten days after Le was last seen entering the research facility where her body was found last Sunday, stuffed behind a wall in the basement.

Raymond Clark III, 24, is seen in an undated photograph from his MySpace profile.
Raymond Clark III, 24, is seen in an undated photograph from his MySpace profile.

Law enforcement officials named Clark a “person of interest” in the case Tuesday night, when police served one warrant to search his Middletown, Conn., residence and another warrant to take DNA samples from his body. A neighbor at Clark’s Middletown apartment complex, who declined to give her name but said she was a high school student, said Clark had lived on the first floor of 40 Ferry St. for five months with his fiancée, Jennifer Hromadka, who is also an animal lab technician at Yale.

“I once bummed a cigarette off of him,” the neighbor said. “He didn’t look like the kind of guy who would [kill someone].”

Another neighbor, Sana Cotten, said Clark was not well-known in the apartment complex but that neighbors were surprised to see him under police surveillance Monday and Tuesday.

“He was a nice guy,” Cotten said. “Nothing alarming, nothing that would make you say, ‘He’s kind of weird.’ ”

Cheryl Preneta, who lived on the same street as Clark and took the bus to school with him when the two were children, said she dropped the television remote in her hand when she heard the name of a fellow Branford High School graduate on television Tuesday night. Preneta and other Branford High friends then took to Facebook to discuss the news.

“All of us can’t believe that he was questioned,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But we’re just waiting to see if the evidence points to him or not, and we’re all just hoping it doesn’t.”

Another Branford High graduate, Conor Reardon, who played on the school’s baseball team with Clark, said Clark was generally personable — he always greeted acquaintances on campus — and that he had a good sense of humor. Preneta added that Clark was “good-looking” and had a number of friends.

“There’s nothing bad about him that I could think of at all,” she said.

But Reardon acknowledged that Clark may have seemed distant and aloof to those who did not know him well. That was the opinion of Colleen Murphy, who said she was not very close with Clark and described him as quiet.

“When I would see him walking through the halls, he would look at the ground, wouldn’t really look at anyone,” she said.

All three high school acquaintances interviewed said they do not know what happened to Clark after he graduated. Even elements of Clark’s time in high school are confusing. Clark left Branford High for at least one year to attend Lyman Hall High School in Wallingford, Conn., where he also played baseball, Lyman Hall’s coach, Chuck Burghardt, said.

According to reports published in the New Haven Independent on Wednesday, Clark forced a high school girlfriend to have sex with him and “confronted” her when she wanted to break up with him. The article says she reported the incident to the police but did not press charges. The three people interviewed who were familiar with Clark during high school did not have any knowledge of this incident. The New Haven courthouse has no criminal record for Clark, and his criminal record in Connecticut is clean except for one speeding ticket.

Clark’s name surfaced in media reports Tuesday, and speculation about his potential role in the murder intensified Tuesday night, after police detained him to obtain evidence in the case. Reports brought to light a MySpace page shared by Hromadka and Clark, where more than a year ago Hromadka had denied rumors that Clark was having an affair with someone else in his lab.

Hromadka also wrote this on the Friday before Clark was detained, the New Haven Register reported: “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be, but before you start pointing fingers make sure your hands are clean!!”

Comments

  • ANGRYMOM

    A nice guy? Well, let me tell you a story about a demure guy in Scotland who was roundly regarded as a ‘nice, quiet fellow’ until he gunned down 15 babies a way back.

  • angrymom

    Yale now has a murderer walking amongst them.

  • anonymous
  • Resident

    Can the local community get some sort of apology from the national press, now that we’ve established the murderer was a nutty white kid from the ‘burbs, and not an “urban individual” from the scary local neighborhood? Even the YDN made a point of publishing a “town versus gown” take on this, long after anyone could have figured out it was going to be someone who knew the building intimately and had keycard access.

  • Celia Lyons

    There were quotes from past neighbors in other publications saying that Clark yelled at children and his girlfriend, and was controlling of his girlfriend, not allowing her to communicate with others. (This type of control is often present in domestic violence situations.) Since this article included quotes from other publications that supported the idea that Clark was a nice guy, I am wondering why the authors didn’t do the same in terms of quotes from other publications indicating Clark was less than nice.

  • Celia Lyons

    There were quotes from past neighbors in other publications saying that Clark yelled at children and his girlfriend, and was controlling of his girlfriend, not allowing her to communicate with others. (This type of control is often present in domestic violence situations.) Since this article included quotes from other publications that supported the idea that Clark was a nice guy, I am wondering why the authors didn’t do the same in terms of quotes from other publications indicating Clark was less than nice. This arrest may well have saved his current girlfriend’s life.

  • suburbanmom

    glad he has been arrested and things can move on from here..
    I think folks are rather naive when they say “he did not seem like a murderer,”
    what exactly does a murderer look like or sound like?
    interesting comment…

  • student

    How hysterical do you have to be to write: “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be, but before you start pointing fingers make sure your hands are clean!!” when your boyfriend has been arrested for murder? Poor girl.

  • @#3

    @#3

    Libel alert!

  • Some Yale Alum

    Ugh. Another nice guy.

    Michael Moore did a CLASSIC piece on “TV Nation” called “The Serial Killer Next Door.” After playing clips of neighbors remembering Dahmer, Rifkin, Gacey, etc. as “nice guys,” Moore rents a house on Long Island and hires a guy to engage in all sorts of serial killer activities–putting weird things into steel drums, chainsawing things at night, even casting shadows of himself out his front window chopping something with an axe.

    Guess what? Nobody noticed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwNf-3VHRhE&feature=PlayList&p=C01DB657895B6331&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=29

  • mc 00

    as a frequent critic of the YDN, i really have to hand it to you on the professional job done here. The NYT and other major news outlets took great pains to find anecdotal evidence that he fit the mold of a bad guy on Law and Order SVU, although at the time he had not even been charged with a crime (the NYT even found an old neighbor to give the perfunctory comment about how he “kept to himself” and in retrospect was creepy). This article takes a fair look at the evidence. Thanks for your very respectable work.

  • F

    Not a nice guy. See this about date rape and harassment of a fellow student in his high school at the end of this article:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2009/09/17/2009-09-17_lab_tech_raymond_clark_under_arrest_in_the_murder_of_yale_student_annie_le.html

  • anonymous

    My concern is that several blogs and even a news outlet or two released the name of another Yale employee (a person of Asian descent) as the probable killer (they didn’t even bother with terms like “person of interest” or “suspect”), apparently simply on the basis that a person with a foreign-sounding name worked in the building as a lab tech and on a theory that the killer must share ethnic similarities with the victim. It seemed that they got ahold of a list of techs. They ended up being wrong about not only that staffer’s possible involvement but about her gender as well. Now her name will be associated online with this horrible crime for years to come.

  • ASIAN OBSESSION

    This guy had an obsession with East Asian girls – which explains why he joined the Asian Club in high school. He probably killed her out of jealousy, that if he can’t have her then no one should.

  • Fact Check

    Just a note- he wasn’t a member of the Asian Club. He jumped that photo when it was taken. But don’t let that stand in the way of the press spinning a good yarn.

  • Jefferson Follower

    Has anyone heard of “Innocent until proven guilty”? The fact is the young man is accused of this crime, but there are others who had a motive to kill Ms. Le…like her department head, Dr. Slessinger…he’s got a sordid past, with sexual harassment, patent stealing and involvement with biological warfare programs. Could Ms. Le have been onto the truth about H1N1, so she had to be silenced?

    Mighty convenient to have a “quiet white guy” like Clark to pin this on.

  • facebook

    Hromadka’s facebook page is pretty open. Bunch of pics with her and the BF, errr murderer.

  • YaleJanitor

    @ByAsianObsession

    I agree. He must have had an obsession – what I can fully understand. When I work on Campus, I always watch these tiny hotties from China or Vietnam showing off what they have to offer. Soooo cute! But he really did not have to off poor Annie!

  • WeWantJustice4Annie

    Is everyone so narrowminded these days or do they ever think outside of the box? Could there be more? It seems way too easy, like a set up. Could this guy really have acted all alone?

    My thoughts on why this girl is dead is maybe she saw/heard something she wasn’t suppose to and had to be silenced to prevent whistleblowing.

    Time to think “outside of the box” and reconsider all of the “facts”, and “evidence” that are presented in all of the media.

    See here to see what I meant by thinking outside of the box:

    http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=134859.360

  • nudleman

    Even if his guy is convicted, it will be only for 2nd degree murder – perhap he only wanted to show Annie Le how the animals felt and just got carried away. If you want real justice…

  • With angry Mom

    Looks can be very decieving. Many thought Ted Bundy was a doll and the list goes on.

    I reckon the “cat” scrathches will tell a great deal and what was under Annie’s nail. In HS she had an interest it said in forensics and she was a scientist, not only did she fight for her life she ensured a legacy of forensic evidence. Annie rest in peace in the Arms of the Angels. Hoping that Annie’s death/homicide will lead to legislation that stops both verbal, emotional and physical bullying an epidemic in the workplace. She wuld want that I reckon, to effect change. I also hope Yale will help Annie’s family with the costs associated with this the investigation and with the future murder trial travel.

  • Huh????

    #21 “Hoping that Annie’s death/homicide will lead to legislation that stops both verbal, emotional and physical bullying an epidemic in the workplace.”

    That would have prevented this murder how???

    In case you hadn’t noticed, there is already a law against killing people. Didn’t seem to be particularly effective as a deterrent.

  • @ #10

    Can’t believe the people on that Moore clip–makes me wonder if neighbors would be unlikely to speak up today as in Kitty Genovese’s time.