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.

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