Lab technician named 'person of interest' in investigation of death of Yale student

The FBI Evidence Response Team arrives on site at CRRA, September 13, 2009, as State Police and FBI investigate in the missing persons case of Yale student Annie Le.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Authorities executed two search warrants Tuesday night on a Yale University lab technician who was a “person of interest” in the death of a graduate student who went missing days before her Long Island wedding.

More than a dozen police and FBI agents at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday stormed a Middletown, Conn., apartment building that’s home to Raymond Clark, 24, an animal research technician whom New Haven authorities said Tuesday night was a focus of their investigation into the death of Annie Le. Investigators led Clark out of his apartment into a car. Clark declined to respond to reporters’ questions.

New Haven police chief James Lewis said Clark would not be charged and because of his cooperation, he was released Wednesday afternoon.

Clark had access to the highly secure basement laboratory where Annie Le’s body was found in a space behind a lab wall on Sunday, the scheduled day of her wedding to a Huntington man. Le, 24, had been missing since last Tuesday.

Two search warrants were issued, Lewis said, one for Clark’s home and another for samples of his blood, hair and skin.

“We’re also making sure there are not other possible suspects out there,” Lewis said.
Lewis said police had narrowed the list of suspects down based on who had access to the building, what time they entered, and where security cameras placed those people inside the building at various times.

The New Haven Register reported that the technician had failed a polygraph test, invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during a police interview and had scratches on his chest, possibly indicating a struggle. Lewis declined to confirm those details.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut chief medical examiner’s office pulled back Tuesday from announcing what killed Le, saying police and prosecutors specifically asked that the information be withheld to aid the probe. The Hartford Courant reported last night that Le died of asphyxiation, but Lewis declined to reveal the cause publicly.

Le was scheduled on Sunday to marry Jonathan Widawsky, a Columbia University student from Huntington, but she disappeared a week ago. A pharmacology student, Le worked in the lab where her body was found and she was seen entering the facility Sept. 8 but apparently never left.

Police have said Widawsky is not a suspect and is cooperating.

Yale president Richard Levin told students and teachers Tuesday that police have narrowed the number of potential suspects to a very small pool because building security systems recorded who entered the building and what times they entered, according to the Yale Daily News. He said the appropriate people are being monitored, the newspaper said.

Speaking for the Le and Widawsky families, Dennis Smith appeared before reporters Tuesday and read a statement thanking police, Yale students and community “for the thoughts and prayers expressed by so many.”

“Our loss would have been immeasurably more difficult without their support.”
Widawsky’s temple, Temple Beth El in Huntington, released a statement Tuesday saying its community was “heartbroken.”


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