No motive in Le’s murder

The body of Annie Le GRD ’13 was flown back to California this weekend as the authorities continued to search for a motive in her murder.

Le’s family left New Haven on Friday, and her relatives have made plans for a funeral that will take place this coming Saturday at the Holy Trinity Church in El Dorado Hills, Calif. The remains of Le, a 24-year-old graduate student who was strangled to death on Sept. 8, are now at the Green Valley Mortuary in Rescue, Calif., according to the funeral director there.

“Of course, Annie, her body, is home,” Dennis Smith, a New Haven pastor who became a family friend over the past two weeks, said Sunday night. “And of course now the family is away from where the crime happened, and I think that’s probably good. But there are still major events ahead of them with the funeral and all that it entails.”

The funeral will be open to family members and close friends, Smith said, adding that the family hopes its privacy will be respected during “this time of loss and grief.”

Chris Le, Annie’s brother, told an ABC affiliate in Sacramento over the weekend that his sister “lived a good life.”

“We want to respect that and have others respect that as well,” he said.

Smith, the pastor, said the arrest of Raymond Clark III, a Yale animal lab technician, brought a semblance of closure for those who loved Le. Clark was charged with Le’s murder Thursday but entered no plea. The prosecutor at Clark’s arraignment said the state has a strong case against the former University employee, who is set to appear in court on Oct. 6.

Remarked Smith: “The question had been, ‘Who would do this?’ Now of course the big question is, ‘Why?’ ”

Over the weekend, authorities said they still have no answer to that question.

New Haven Police Department spokesman Joe Avery said Sunday that police do not know what motive Clark, the only person arrested in the killing, might have had to strangle Le. Avery said police may never know why Le was killed.

Clark is currently incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn, a high- and maximum-security prison that is the largest correctional facility in New England.

Avery said authorities have no other suspects at this point, and no plans for any further arrests in the investigation. But he revealed that Clark was not the only person the NHPD followed beginning last weekend. “A few other people” were subjected to around-the-clock surveillance, Avery said.

Clark’s sister, brother-in-law and fiancé all work for Yale, and their entries in the University’s online directory were redacted during the past week. University President Richard Levin said he knew of no disciplinary action that had been taken against them and said it was possible that the directory information was restricted to protect their privacy.

Anton Bennett, the pharmacology professor who served as Le’s adviser, issued a statement this weekend in which he called his student “a bright light of enormous potential prematurely extinguished.”

“The tragic loss of Annie Le, who had become an integral member of our laboratory, now seeds another source of inspiration,” he said. “Annie Le’s work will continue. We will draw upon the energy of Annie Le’s life to help us fulfill our efforts of striving to make a difference in this world.”

Levin said he believes authorities have completed their work at 10 Amistad St., the building where Le’s body was found, and that access to the building will be restored this week, though additional security measures will be implemented.

Graduate School Dean Jon Butler and other Yale officials are planning to attend Saturday’s funeral. Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said condolence notes can be sent to the Le family care of the University Chaplain’s Office, P.O. Box 209078, New Haven, CT 06520.


  • Stephen

    Accused murderer Ray Clark was so desperate to hide his heinous handiwork that he allegedly broke the bones and mangled the body of a strangled Yale grad student to fit it through a wall opening the size of a computer screen, The Post has learned.

    “He just crushed her in there. She was like mush — she was so smashed up you couldn’t recognize her,” said a source, who gave The Post disturbing new details of Clark’s moves after Annie Le’s gruesome slaying.

    Le’s body, the source said, was found in a utility space in a bathroom wall near the basement lab where she had been working the day she vanished.

    Hoping he gets the DP!

  • sinazen

    it was not a fight to death over how to care for mice; clark only used that as pretext to get her to meet him; I can guess his real reason; however, both sides would want to downplay that angle at the moment

    I expect his lawyer to plead self defence, that they quarrelled over mice and she attacked him first, leaving scratches, and he unintentionally killed her in a rage; I also guess the DA and the girl’s family would go along with the story, instead of digging up details in order to prove a darker motive

    I guess the lawyers know the police has a strong case, and want to go for a mistrial on the ground the jurors are prejudiced by the leaked information

  • Stephen

    5 years of cleaning up after smart students the guy snapped
    and took it out on her. maybe all the other techs should be checked out!

  • Stephen

    In 2013 when Annie was supposed to graduate I hope Yale has her parents thier to get the degree
    she would have gotten!

  • An inside job

    Can someone with a legal background comment on the bearing that the body’s condition might have on the case? One of the NY newspapers reported that Annie wasn’t simply “dumped” into the chace, but was so badly damaged that she was unrecognizable.

    Could the prosecution argue for a stiffer sentence because of what he did after the victim died? I’ve heard some people suggest that he might get a lesser setence if he cops a guilty plea and his legal team argues that it was a crime of passion. However, if Clark continued to do horrible things to the body, I wonder if they could even consider using that type of a plea.

  • SmartestOne

    An inside job:

    While I don’t have a legal background, your asked two separate questions: The first about sentencing, the second about charges (“crime of passion”/manslaughter versus murder). What he did to the body AFTER the murder was only part of the coverup, NOT the murder itself. Clearly this was not a premeditated murder; everthing indicates that.

  • Victims’ Advocate

    Sinazen (#2) wrote:
    “I expect his lawyer to plead self defence, that they quarrelled over mice and she attacked him first, leaving scratches, and he unintentionally killed her in a rage”

    If you’re going to make up a story, it better be believable. A 190-lb man is letting a woman half his size to attack him long enough to leave several scratches in his chest AND back before fighting back in self-defense. And what a gentleman he is to smash her body beyond recognition after she’s (presumably) already dead! Yep, the jury will buy it.

  • LM

    Sinazen, you don’t know any of that. And Stephen, IMHO awarding a degree to a deceased student who did not complete the program is a questionable practice at best, perhaps suitable for high school but not higher education. I’m sure Yale will do something appropriate for Annie’s memory.

    YDN has consistently posted verifiable information in its news stories. Ssensationalism and speculations are rampant in other media outlets, and while they may make for interesting conversation, they are hardly facts.

  • Devil’s Advocate

    #7 does not get it. It’s not really “self-defense.” Of course Ms. Le posed no real threat to Mr. Clark. But by claiming there was an altercation before the murder (incited by the victim, no less), Mr. Clark’s attorneys can establish a lack of premeditation, pushing the verdict towards Manslaughter and away from Murder.

  • thom803

    Self-defense? You’ve got to be joking. No jury will believe he felt threatened by her. Self-defense requires reasonable perception of a threat.

    More likely, is a “heat of passion” type of argument. That won’t get him off, but might reduce his sentence.

  • fairGod

    Clark did this for an reason we may never find out. But he deserves to be treated exactly the same way he treated Le.

  • janie

    “No motive”??? There is no way that her getting married had no influence on whoever the murderer was. I can’t see this girl giving such a frat boy the time of day, but I’ve seen stranger things. She had to have rejected him, that’s what all the criminal profilers think happened.

    I also think Pres Levin is out of line having his first comment to the press be one where he exonerates himself. He shouldn’t have even gone there. That happened on his watch, you can say whatever you want. He should have said I have feelings and I feel terrible that this happened at my university and not oh it could have happened anywhere. Insert robotic speech where I remind everyone of the omnipotence of Yale.
    Nothing in his record indicated that he was capable of this crime, eh. What did you expect, a past murder? The man puts tortured animals to sleep for a living. Raymond Clark’s boss is an idiot. Who has zero problems with an employee in 5 years??

  • diane

    So much about this case doesn’t make sense.

    Why are those warrants sealed? And why keep the judge’s name (on those warrants) secret as well? And why, oh why, did the Yale New Haven police continue to allow Clark back in the building when they already had him as suspect? This is what they kept saying: everyone at Yale was safe, that the murder was not random. But how could police be so assured of Clark’s “post-alleged-incident” behavior, assuming this guy may have snapped, with the story being advanced as one of “workplace violence?” Wouldn’t it be best if this “person of interest” had limited building access after a heinous workplace incident Isn’t it reasonable to assume a person like that could possibly be unstable, could “snap” again? Or maybe…. everyone was safe because he really isn’t the one. So much doesn’t make sense in this case.

    And, what does it say about a law enforcement agency who keeps leaking information to the press…. the leaks always attributed to “someone” in the police department? Are they in the business of a set up? Are they being professional in all this? How can we even know… warrants are sealed, and information before trial is being manipulated through the press. Something just ain’t right here.

  • Westchester

    As always, President Levin’s chief concern is that future applicants stop thinking about New Haven as a dangerous city. It was only random “WORKPLACE VIOLENCE” don’t you know, and had nothing to do with Yale!!!

  • ’98

    The fairly shrewd education editor for the New York Times seems to have recognized immediately President Levin’s priorities in dealing with this “problem” – and I think it offended him a bit.


  • kmherb

    Yale should consider giving the $10,000 reward money to the “I have a dream foundation” in her honor. It was the charity she and her fiance wanted donations to be made to for their wedding and her family is asking that people send donations there in her honor.
    Perhaps a local chapter could be started here in New Haven. God knows there are plenty of underprivileged children here that would benefit from a guaranteed college education.

  • Student

    LM, awarding a degree to a deceased student who did not complete the program is not unheard of–the family members of students who were killed at the Virginia Tech shooting a few years back were awarded them during the appropriate graduation ceremonies. In my mind, it’d be hard to deny such an honor to a family whose child has been killed while attending class/working towards a degree at their university.

  • False Reporting

    To An Inside Job:

    That was found to be false reporting by the NY Post. Whoever is leaking information about the case (in this instance it was false) is giving Raymond Clark’s legal team what they need and at the same time doing Annie Le a dis-service.

    “In an article in today’s edition of The New York Post, reporter Rebecca Rosenberg falsely reported that the suspect in the investigation of the homicide of Annie Le ‘broke the bones and mangled the body of a strangled Yale grad student to fit it through a wall,’ “ New Haven police said in a written statement.

  • WorkplaceViolence

    Good luck getting your Fortune 500 and Media companies in this country to evaluate their “workplace violence” tolerance. I worked for one of them. I was forced to quit that job six months ago where my manager had been on a roll to get me out ever since I complained about a girl who threw crap around the office after she got mad at me and stormed out. When I insisted on an apology (which another coworker had done in a similar situation and got one) I was told I didn’t deserve it. Uh, YEAH good luck with that one.

  • george

    It is laughable that anyone would suggest that Le attacked Clark and the latter fought back in self-defense. Given the known gentle personality of Le, her physical size, and her educational background, not to mention her gender, who in their right mind would think that she attacked first? On the other hand, Clark is known to have a dark side, from his relation with a girl back in high school.

  • badger lady

    What about Mr. Clark’s flight risk? THis seemed ignored by the police and legal system.

  • ga girl

    They cant give the money to charity because there was a tip called into the tip line that led them to Annie’s body.

  • Med ’08

    “5 years of cleaning up after smart students”

    Ahhhh, you just have to love this attitude. Now shall we say Mr. Clark and the other techs have faced years of being treated like human garbage by the post docs? A culture of over inflated egos and elitist mentalities caused Mr. Clark to “snap” as Stephen suggested. The post doc students apparently think everyone beneath them is dirt from comments in articles in relation to this tragedy. I’m sure that attitude is apparent to the animal techs and other lowly staff. If I was a defense attorney, I would certainly use that culture of disdain as a catalyst for Clark “snapping”. Does any of this excuse Clark’s actions? No, I sincerely hope he becomes the first to warm up Old Sparky. But I think it’s a good time for the Yale ommunity to take a long look at themselves and thier ingrained elitist mentality. The student body loves to profess and champion thier support for the underdog when it’s politically fashionable. Maybe we should start a little closer to home with our respect for others.

  • GTGrad

    I am very saddened by the story of Anne Le. There is a true motive for Anne Le’s death and we may never find out because this guy is too chicken to talk. The police, the Yale University president is trying to make light of the whole incident. Workplace violence is becoming more common however it does not happen anywhere. You wouldn’t suspect it to be in an Ivy League School and especially to a young grad student such as Le. This Clark guy has a darker motive behind his actions. He is too afraid to enter a plea because his real motive for it would cause an outrage!!! This guy needs to receive the maximum penalty and no less for what he did to Anne. There is no way Clark would have felt threatened by Anne, especially for the proper and friendly person she was. Note to the Defense…if there was such a problem about the mice cage, then why didn’t he address this to his supervisor? There is a “chain of command” that needs to be followed. The angry text messages he sent to Anne Le was only a cover up for his true motive. I dont’ believe the media and their BS stories. May you rest in peace my Angel Anne Le, for you have had a great life and have inspired many. My prayers go out to you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    I would be interested to know what the management structure is in the animal research center. Is there a lab manager who coordinates activities of multiple lab technicians? It may be helpful to have such a person as an intermediary between the researchers (prof, postdoc, grad students) and the lab techs, particularly when the latter groups are close in age, but far apart in academic or social status.

    If a grad student or postdoc has a problem with something, they should report it to the lab manager who then decides how and when to deal with it. Similarly, if the tech has a problem with a grad student making a mess or not following procedure, they can report to the same manager.

    The lab manager would presumably be someone certified in animal related care, but who also has a BS degree and who has more authority, a more defined career path and less likely to get into confrontations because of their background.

    I don’t know if YARC has that, but perhaps something like that would help.

    I can’t imagine a small person like Annie Le attacking Clark unless he started it. Furthermore, the description of her actions on that tuesday implied that she was in a hurry. she leaves her office, rushes over to the lab while carrying a ton of stuff, so much so that someone has to open the door for her. Could it be that she was going to deliver something to clark hopefully to appease him for being angry in the text?

    With her wedding on her mind, I can’t believe that she would rush over there for the purpose of getting in an argument or trying to set clark right. she didn’t seem like that kind of person. Also, the comments about her being “involved” with Clark (from comments made on earlier articles) don’t make sense either. I don’t think she would rush over to the lab in the middle of the day to get involved in any kind of hanky-panky.