On the ground: Medical students react to news of arrest

No caption.
No caption. Photo by Florence Dethy.

As the Yale School of Medicine campus absorbed the news that a suspect in the killing of Annie Le GRD ’13 had been arrested early Thursday morning, researchers and students expressed cautious relief amid their continued shock and sadness.

Tensions remained high as researchers at 10 Amistad St., huddled in small groups outside the building’s laboratories and offices, discussed the times they had seen and interacted with Raymond Clark III, the animal lab technician charged with Le’s murder. Meanwhile, on Yale’s central campus, students said the fact that the killing was probably not a random act has allayed some of their fears, though many said they were disturbed by the possibility that a member of the Yale community had committed the crime.

One researcher who works at the 10 Amistad St. building who declined to give her name explained that between meetings with University officials, with grief counselors and within departments, she and her colleagues no longer have the energy or the will to discuss the case.

“I think we’ve all just talked about it so much,” she said, standing in the doorway of her laboratory.

Of the two dozen individuals contacted on the medical school campus Thursday, more than half declined to comment. In some cases, entire labs have decided collectively not to speak to the media about the situation, while in others it is a personal decision.

Ergin Beyret MED ’10 said he had seen Clark a couple of times in the basement of 10 Amistad St. and that Clark had seemed like a “nice person, a shy person.” Beyret added that it has been difficult getting back to work, given that the basement of the building — where Le’s body was found — is still not open for business as usual.

On Thursday, signs with red lettering posted in the Amistad elevators read: “Absolutely no access to basement/lower level until further notice,” and police guarded the building’s lobby.

Members of the media were still stationed around campus, though their presence had diminished. As one man left the Amistad facility and was rapidly approached by a camera man, he shouted expletives that could be heard across the street.

“You better write that down,” he instructed the camera man, referring to the obscenities. “’Cause that’s all you’re going to get.”

At Marigolds, the medical campus’s dining hall, students gathered for lunch expressed their feelings of loss and hopes for justice.

Bryan Yeh SPH ’11 said while he was glad a suspect had been arrested, Le’s murder has not affected his sense of safety at Yale. His friend Jeremy Blanchard SPH ’11 added that he was “just sad” about the whole situation.

But Camille Keeler, an associate research scientist at the medical school, said she has seen changes in the way colleagues in her lab were feeling since the morning’s arrest.

“There was still lingering concern that someone could still be out there,” she said, adding that Clark must be convicted before the situation can be resolved. Clark, who is being held on $3 million bond, is next set to appear in court Oct. 6.

On central campus, most students interviewed focused on the possible involvement of a Yale employee as they discussed the murder Thursday.

“It was troubling that someone that Yale hired would do this,” Stephanie Goldstein ’13 said a few hours after news broke of the arrest.

Questions about the case lingered on students’ minds. Alissa Wassung ’10 said that while she believes arresting a suspect will help the campus grapple with Le’s death, concerns will not be alleviated completely until a motive for the murder is established.

Nevertheless, those interviewed on Yale’s medical and central campuses agreed that Clark’s arrest has been a welcome step as authorities continue to investigate Le’s murder.

“I sincerely hope this arrest brings some closure to Annie’s family and the medical community,” said Michael Caplan, the C.N.H. Long professor of physiology, in his office one floor down from the lab where Le worked. “It was an outstandingly horrible event.”

Comments

  • pondering

    The title is misleading. No every student at the school of medicine campus is a medical student. Many are graduate students. Why people can’t get this distinction is beyond me. Why no pieces on the reaction of those in the BBS program? Or in particular the Pharmacological Sciences and Molecular Medicine track of the BBS?

  • anne hale

    What has happened to the girlfriend/fiancee that lived with Ray Clark? She has apparently not been seen for days but there seems to be no mention of her.

  • Ilya

    There is a strong possibility that they arrested someone innocent. To believe that he is guilty you’d have to believe that he swiped his Yale identification card to get into a secure lab. He would have to know that he was on record as being there- his usual workplace. And then- during the day- he’d commit a murder. By all accounts, Clark is not stupid. As for the rushed DNA results, all we know is that there was some contact between him and the victim. No other details. There is nothing to suggest a history of violence. Something is seriously wrong with this story.

  • Grad student

    The reporters who stalk the grieving outside of Amistad are disgusting

  • Amistad Researcher

    of course no one in the lab is going to say anything about the suspect. his family works in the animal facility and effectively has the researchers held hostage – one bad word about the creep and all the sudden their mice are “sick” or “need to be euthanized.”

  • James C.

    Ilya#3, How do you then explain the defensive wounds on Clark? How do you explain why Clark’s DNA was removed from underneath Annie L’s finger nails? How do you explain the card-key records that put them alone, together a Lab room at 10:am, with no other persons scanning in or out? Annie’s 10:AM scan was the last scan she made, she never scanned out of that room, ever.

    It’s obvious nobody would PLAN to kill somone in such a secured and monitored setting. Clark had no idea he was going to kill Annie L. when he went to work that day. Bottomline: Clark confronted Annie, they had a verbal altercation; Annie was not a mouse that could be caged and Clark could not deal with that fact, so he snapped and strangled her to death in the heat of passion. That scenario is the only explanation for why a person of normal intelligence would kill another in a location that would ensure he was found out.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it should at the least be influenced by the facts or reality.

  • Not Ilya

    @Ilya (#3): Two points.

    (1) Not everybody knows that the swipe card system (a) can tell whose card is swiping, and (b) keeps a record of swipes. (Or I should say, not everybody knew these things before the massive media coverage of this case, which should have made these things obvious to many people who might not have known them before!) Whether or not Clark is “stupid” as you put it, he may well not have known there would be a trail of swipe-card records identifying him.

    (2) Clark does appear, according to media reports, to have some history of sexual assault (of a former girlfriend; this has been widely reported although there were no charges filed). Although no evidence of sexual assault has been reported in the Annie Le case, and although this evidence of past actions may not be admissible in court, it is incorrect to suggest that there is NO known evidence of prior behavior by Clark that would make one suspect he might commit violence against a woman.

    Anyway, we’ll see how the case plays out. Innocent until proven guilty. There may be something the media and the police have missed — we’ll see. It will be the defense attorney’s job to do his/her best to convince a jury that Clark is not guilty, and I’m sure there will be plenty of time for speculation by all the rest of us. But the particular doubts you raise seem unconvincing to me.

  • Benson

    #3 By Ilya 10:24a.m. on September 18, 2009

    “There is a strong possibility that they arrested someone innocent.”

    No. There is a *small* possibility they have arrested someone innocent. This was a crime of passion so to speak. Apparently a fairly normal guy snapped, lost it, went mental, etc…

    The fact that he was a strict, confrontational, control freak, matters little. One third of the US workforce could be described as such.

  • rocu

    i’ve always thought lab techs in general and people who enjoy working with rodents are creepy.

  • Gerald

    This is not unique to Yale but all biomedical research facilities as far as I know. Animal Resource departments and IACUC protocol procedures across many biomedical research facilities promote polarization and conflict. MDs PhDs and grad students don’t want to be policed by high school graduate lab technicians. Lab technicians with little reward in their jobs seek ways to make themselves important by policing the scientists.Mice that take years to generate, on which scientists careers depend can be killed at the mercy of the animal caretakers who can order them to be killed. Conflicts and tension are frequent occurrences. This does not excuse in any way murder but the system is conducive to conflict and something should be done about this. As a scientist I can say it is quite stressful to have every single procedure second guessed by a person who has no ability to understand what is being done and the purpose and rationale of the work.

  • mairzy

    Questioning the fact that Clark is smart…he easily could have swiped Annie Le’s card (instead of his) after her death.

  • Spiny Norman

    @9 (rocu): I’ve always thought that people who anonymously post negative opinions about entire groups of people whom they’ve never met should at least try to think through what they’ve typed before they hit the “submit” button.

  • Ashley

    Gerald and Rocu- I’m sorry that your experience with lab techs has been so negative. My PI hired someone with an undergraduate degree in biochem. Not all lab techs are power-hungry janitorial minions with a chip on their shoulder against grad students. Some choose their job because they are smart, want to stay involved in basic science research, but have other aspirations, like studying for law school, changing career directions from arts to science, etc.

  • Lee

    Innocent until proven guilty. BUT if I knew that I were innocent I would be kicking and screaming not standing there stone faced.

  • Luna

    @Ashley: Gerald’s comment is a general description of a known situation existing in many labs at many institutions. Right, “not all lab techs are … {etc},” but that doesn’t change the accuracy of Gerald’s general observation and its relevance to Clark’s behavior as a lab tech, already previously documented in his record. A spontaneous explosion of anger by Clark would be in keeping with behavior and personality traits already previously observed by many people over the years. He texted Le earlier that morning that he wanted to discuss the cleanliness of her mice cages. Three major points that have direct bearing on this case.

  • jggmac

    It’s possible that the killer didn’t use Le’s card (to #11 Mairzy) because all along he wanted police to think that Le was cold feet about her wedding. Also, it’s likely that the first thing that the police would check would be to see if Le’s card was used after her last entry into the lab that day.

    Also, the (false) fire alarm could be set off either by Le (trying to escape), by the killer (trying to let people think that Le left the building that day), or by someone else or something (in microwave). Where was the place (room, hallway) that set off the fire alarm?

    What happened to that stack of papers that Le was seen carrying into the lab at 10:30 am on 9/8? Why didn’t she take her cell with her for that meeting at the lab?

    Or could it be that the killer put the cell back to Le’s office located a few buildings away that early afternoon, again trying to let people think that Le’s disappearance took place at her office? All these possibilities would allow the killer enough time to remove the body from the lab and clean up the area where the crime took place. Or could it be that Le didn’t take her cell with her because she thought it was supposed to be a short meeting or that there was poor reception in her lab?

    Could it be that Le was seriously wound (and hence her blood found in the ceiling) but not yet dead. She was actually buried half-alive there behind that wall by the killer. The choking was from her head and neck being stuffed up into that narrow void? If there was Le’s blood found in her lab and the place where she was buried, then she must have been wounded before she was choked to dead. So where in her body was the wound located? Was the wound nothing more than a couple of small cuts during her struggling with the killer?

    Most media failed to recognize that Le was actually an MD/PhD student, not just a PhD student. For someone so smart at least on paper, so short/tiny, and Asian, it’s not difficult to think that many people might not want to serve her or assist with her lab work. Meanwhile, Le might not be as efficient or effective as she could in managing/cleaning her mice. After all, she might have been preoccupied by her wedding that was supposed to take place in a few days. . . .

  • He’s Guilty

    Enjoy Deathrow Raymond.

  • jj

    I don’t understand how nobody heard or saw anything especially seeing it was a workday? were there no people in the lab on a tuesday morning?

  • george

    With what seems to be overwhelming evidence including DNA, scratch marks and bruise, and Clark’s behavior, some people think that he should be assumed innocent until proven guilty.

    Yes he should be, just like OJ Simpson was assumed innocent until proven guilty.

    I think that people who want to see justice served should not talk about this case too much. Otherwise there will be complaint about not being able to get a fair trial because of all this publicity, etc, etc.

    I won’t bet that he will be convicted until he is convicted.

  • Asianboy

    Race can be a factor. I agree with No#6 James C’s analysis and I don’t think Clark would have killed a white girl.

  • george

    About the tension between the technical personnel on one hand, and the researchers on the other, a possible solution is for the researchers to do the cleanup themselves. The advantages are that (1) they can be confident about the integrity of their works, and (2) they can save a lot of overhead.

    Needless to say, these technical people will lose their jobs, which is not very nice. Alternately, since this kind of work does not demand special skill, the school can require that these people be personable enough to deal with the researchers smoothly. After all, as one poster said, the lab exists for the researchers to do their work.

  • former yale stud/employee

    Hello, Ive never liked it that there are areas of the camps bldgs with no cell phone access, which is why Annie did not have her cell phone with her. For all the boasting of endowments we know of at Yale, why on earth doesnt Pres.Levin consider security guard patrols in such areas. As one reader said, 1/3 the workforce has anger issues; so, to say this is workplace violence issue pales. Why not HONOR ANNIE, in what she earlier wrote about the vulnerability of Ivy students being greater (in more danger) at Yale. This would be a great memorial to her; Hire security patrol for these isolated areas please. Thank you for your consideration, Respectfully, DC

  • Med08

    The utter contempt that the Med Grad community shows for persons they believe are beneath them in these comments is amazing. And you’re the people whining about tech’s attitudes towards you? Perhaps you should place a rope barrier around your person, and have Yale security inquire of people wishing to speak in your presence whtehr they have an advanced degree from an institution of learning worthy of your consideration. I’ve never had a problem with any of the staff, matter of fact I speak with everyone from maintenance and security to the tech’s. Now I fully understand the comments I’ve heard about the “Med students”. It seems the egotitical and elitist Yale mentality that’s bandied about by all is damn well true. THe poor girl was killed by a lunatic who snapped. To trash all the tech’s as lowly, uneducated, frustrated PhD monsters is reprehensible and unfair to say the least. Carry it a step farther if you wish to sidestep the stench of the underclass. Clean your own bathrooms, serve your own food, fix your own lab equipment, clean those cages and walk yourselves to your car. I pity your servants at home.

  • To 11/16

    The reason he did not use Annie’s ID card to roam the basement is most likely her ID card does not have access to many of the rooms he visited. Only YARC employees have complete access to most if not all of the rooms, students usually have access to only one or two rooms.

  • Luna

    @Med08, I know exactly the kind of elitism and insularity you are talking about, from my own experiences (none of them at Yale) as undergrad, grad student, TA, staff member, faculty member. It’s an ugly streak in academe as a whole, although there are great people everywhere who remain refreshingly untainted by it. While some comments may deserve your anger, note that Gerald’s comment, which I again defend because it is reasonable and insightful, is not elitist; he writes, “The system is conducive to conflict.” Exactly. The responsibility to be respectful is the same for everybody regardless of their degrees or lack of them. Demonizing sustains the tensions already present in a “system conducive to conflict.” Maybe steps will be taken to examine and rectify the system in the wake of this insane act — by a “lunatic who snapped” — I agree with you on that.
    The system in which Clark and Le played different roles was surely a contributing factor to what happened.

  • PS

    @Ilya…totally agree with you. I think he is innocent. The story just doesnt make any sense to me. So according to the police Annie swipes her card followed by Clark who also swipes his card. They have an altercation, Clark loses it and strangles Annie to death. In the middle of the morning. Then he disposes of the body inside a wall so well that it takes the police days to find it. And then he swipe HIS card. Are you telling me that a person who hid the body so well that it took close to a week for the police to find it would then just leave by swiping his card.
    Regarding DNA – he worked there. There is no indication that it was DNA from under Annies fingernails. If it is – case closed. If it isn’t, which I believe is the case since the police are not telling, then I think it is coincidental.
    Regarding bruises – maybe he was into S&M or some deviant sexual practices. I dont know – you cant convict somebody because of SCRATCH marks is the bottomline.
    Still a lot of questions, as more data comes out, things will become clearer. Till that point, who knows.

  • John

    Given the recent events on the medical campus, the editors at the Yale Daily News need to learn the distinctions between medical students, graduate students, residents (aka doctors), faculty, and other staff. The proper title for this article would be “Medical campus [or community] reacts to news of arrest.”

    Likewise, the headline for the article about the psychiatry resident arrested for gun possession should identify him as a resident, not a medical student.

  • scientist

    dude, no offense but the yale animal room people are weird.

  • kmherb

    Just wanted to make people who have been moved by this case aware that her family is asking people who wish to, to make donations in Annie’s honor to the I Have a Dream Foundation.
    http://www.news10.net/news/story.aspx?storyid=67274&catid=2
    http://www.ihaveadreamfoundation.org/html/make_a_donation.htm

  • Her fellow Asian

    Disagree with #26. Clark had plenty of time to dispose of the body. Annie’s missing wasn’t reported till about 9pm that day. And only a person very familiar with the setting–such as a regular, long term employee like Clark–would be able to hide the body in a place that could take the police 5 days to find.

    I am quite sure that the police are well aware that both Le and Clark worked there in the lab so it’s not likely they would pin so much on casual DNAs around the lab. It’s most likely they see a pattern of intermingled DNA’s that can prove their case, such as Clark’s DNA under Annie’s finger nails etc.

    Chances are S&M scratches and bruises are quite different from defense woulds: different patterns, different locations etc. Experienced investigators probably can be quite sure of what they see.

    I don’t know how long it took for the killer to press on poor Annie’s neck before she expired. If it took a long time, say, 2 or 3 minutes, I would argue for first degree murder because he could’ve stopped but didn’t. In other words, he must have intended to kill her by holding on that long. If I were the prosecutor, I would seek the death penalty. My heart aches when I think of her agony and desperation in her final moments… RIP, Annie!

  • Jin

    As an Asian woman, Yale grad student, and former lab tech, I’d like to say that there isn’t necessarily so much of a class divide between technicians and students. Lots of technicians, especially the younger ones, go on to med school or grad school; many of the older techs are married to researchers. When I was a tech and my friends were techs, between the ages of 23 and 26, we roomed with and partied with students all the time.

  • Researcher elsewhere

    Race could be a strong factor here.As a minority female researcher I have encounter very unfriendly racists university workers. People with information about race issues and this fellow should come forward.Until this issue is solved, minority students ought to be aware of this possibility.

  • GTB

    It’s common for males in subserviant roles to be intimidated,and therefore, threatened by a young educated female with the capacity and potential to do waaaay much more…let alone someone who has the outgoing, friendly, lovable personality. This for sure would destroy any inadequate person’s ego. To resolve his inner battles and feelings of inadequacy he chose someone he felt he can bully… who happens to be Anne Le. I’m pretty sure he would not have chosen a 6’2, 280 lb male otherwise he would get his face pounded “SMACK DAB” inside the mouse cages…and he would be the one with the mangled body inside the computer sized Chase…which does not sound bad for what he did.
    If the judicial system does not put this guy on the electric chair, or life in prison…. its proof that our judicial system has accepted the 11th commandment…Thou shall Kill.

  • GTB

    I totally agree with you #32. As well, it is common for males in subserviant positions to be intimidated and threatened by someone of higher class. Especially an educated female who is highly regarded and acknowledged for her present success and future potential. She is not classified as a minority because the idiot who made up the word is racist and made this word acceptable to exclude all person “Not of White Origin” from this society. My plea: Race is the prime motive for the killing…no doubt about that. Well, it could also be that Anne is better than the Chipmunk he’s with.
    RIP ANNE LE