On Thursday Middletown resident Raymond Clark, a 24-year-old lab tech at Yale University, was arrested at a motel in Cromwell in connection with the murder of Annie Le, a pharmacology graduate student at Yale. Le’s remains were found hidden in the basement wall of a Yale University medical research building on Sunday, Sept. 13 on what would have been her wedding day.
After Le was reported missing on Sept. 8, details and information about her whereabouts surfaced slowly. Four days after her disappearance, bloody clothes were discovered in the ceiling tiles of the building in which she was last seen. Since recovering her body, Officials have established that Le was strangled to death.
Prior to his formal arrest, Clark was taken into custody on Sept. 15 to obtain a DNA sample, but was released hours later. New Haven police have declined to identify a DNA match or discuss any information related to the arrest warrant. According to The Yale Daily News, however, a person familiar with the investigation said that Clark’s DNA matched a piece of evidence taken from the building where Le was found.
To some degree, the incident has brought back to the surface memories of the fatal shooting of Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10 last May, and called into question the sense of security students feel on college campuses. In the earliest days of the investigation, as at Wesleyan last Spring, students simply waited, watching the news for more information, able only to speculate about Le’s whereabouts.
“More than anything, people just want to know what happened to her,” Sei Young Pyo, a junior at Yale College, said when the investigation was beginning. “It’s sort of weird because it’s an incident that’s reached the national media, which makes us feel like we should be more worried than we actually are.”
Pyo expressed these sentiments early Sunday evening, when little information about Le’s whereabouts had been uncovered. But once a body was found just a few hours later, her outlook had changed completely.
“I don’t think my initial reaction, about not feeling too scared or unsafe in any way, was off the mark at the time I was talking to you… but [after the body was discovered] I’m pretty rattled now,” Pyo said. “I think it’s not that we now suddenly feel unsafe… but rather that we didn’t expect this outcome and more than anything, we’re just very disturbed that this kind of thing could have happened at all.”
Other students have expressed increased fears about their safety after the homicide.
“This is consuming the campus completely – it’s all anybody is talking about,” said one Yale senior who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s terrifying just because it’s so close to home. The thought is: it could’ve happened to me.”
The occurrence of campus violence – even the types of isolated incidents that occurred at Wesleyan and Yale – is a terrifying issue for students to confront.
“When these things happen in places like New Haven and Middletown, we’re suddenly faced with the fact that there are colleges and communities that exist where students don’t feel safe walking from one place to another,” said Anthony Smith ’11. “There’s a very real danger here now. And the fact that it’s such an isolated incident, such a bizarre case, is even scarier.”
News of Clark’s arrest helped to allay some of the anxiety Yale students have experienced throughout the investigation.
“I definitely think that there’s been a shift since the day they found the body and [the day Clark was arrested],” Pyo said. “People feel a little bit more at rest, although I don’t think there’s a sense that justice has been served—at least not yet.”
But Pyo confessed that student life at Yale remains shrouded in a profound sadness. On Monday, several hundred students attended a candlelight vigil to honor Le.
“As scholars, as learners, as seekers – and as human souls with empathy and compassion, we find it incomprehensible that life can be so unjust,” remarked Yale President Richard C. Levin at the vigil. “But Socrates taught us long ago that wisdom and understanding are advanced through dialogue, through conversation. And so, at a time like this, as we ponder a reality that is unsettling and frightening, we must come together, to talk with one another, to try to understand.”