The Murder of Annie Le

September 17, 2009

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I have an interest in true crime, and the result is that I can fairly easily absorb news stories that would make a lot of people queasy.  Every once in a while, however, there is a crime that just grabs my attention and won’t let go.

Currently, this is the story of Yale graduate student Annie Le.  For those of you who have been living under a rock lately, Le disappeared last Tuesday and her body was found on Sunday – ironically, the date of her wedding.  The moment I heard of her disappearance, I feared for the worst.  Initial news reports were holding out hope that she simply had a case of cold feet.  This seemed a bit unlikely, though, because of the fact that she had left belongings – including her purse – behind.  When police were able to identify surveillance video of Le entering a medical research building, but were unable to find video of her leaving the building, it became apparent that Le’s body was somewhere in the building.

There are a few unusual aspects to this case.  I’ll speculate on what I think they might mean.  (Note: I have read online reports, but have not seen much of the television coverage – Hopefully I’m not parroting what some talking heads are saying.)

  • Le’s body was found inside a wall in the basement – in a recess where utilities and cables are found.  Leaving the body in the building made it very likely that it would eventually be found, due to the eventual impact of decomposition.  Had the killer originally planned to move Le’s body to another location?  Or was this a spontaneous crime, and the location of her body simply the best available hiding spot at the time?
  • Bloody clothes were found in the drop ceiling at another location in the building.  The Yale Daily News has stated that officials told them that the clothes were not what Le was wearing when she entered the building.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t Le’s clothes – perhaps she had spare clothes in the building?  Perhaps they belonged to the killer.  Most troubling of all is the possibility that they belong to another victim.
  • The medical examiner has said that the cause of Le’s death was strangulation.  Again, this creates confusion with regard to the bloody clothing.  Strangulation is not usually a bloody type of death.  If the blood is indeed Le’s, how did it get on her clothes?  Was there an intense struggle before she was strangled?  Was there torture before her death?

The police have a substantial amount of evidence, as they have 250 pieces of evidence and 700 hours of surveillance video.  I’m assuming the surveillance video is from several locations within the building, as the length of her disappearance was around 100 hours.

Police have issued a body warrant (authorizing taking of DNA sample) and two search warrants for Raymond Clark.  Clark has not been arrested.  Although Clark and others are under surveillance, it is unlikely that an arrest will be made until DNA tests are complete.

I hope that the police are able to quickly bring Annie’s killer to justice, so that she can rest in peace.  My thoughts are with Annie’s family and friends.  By all accounts, it seems that Le was an incredible young woman.  Her death is a great loss to our society.

UPDATE: News reports ( and others) are circulating this morning saying that there has been a DNA match for Raymond Clark and that an arrest is imminent.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 10:07:38

    This is one of the better articles I have read about this story. It’s yesterday’s news (before Clark’s arrest) but talks about the possibility of an argument about lab mice being at the heart of the issue.


  2. Patti
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 12:55:16

    Other reports picture Clark as very controlling over his live-in girlfriend. If it was, indeed, the protocols used over the tending of the mice that got him insanely upset, it seems he’s the type of person who can’t bend rules other than the ones he makes.

    One article reports him as a ‘menial laboratory worker’. Perhaps he was jealous of Le and her future. Whatever the reason for her senseless murder, he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison where he’ll be the model prisoner and occasional ‘mouse’ in that big laboratory.


  3. kosmo
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 21:06:52

    I’m a bit disturbed by the fact that the article I linked to lists the name of Clark’s girlfriend (and a photo). If she has nothing to do with this, then keep her name out of it.

    If the killing was the result of a fit of anger, rather than pre-meditation, then it is quite likely that Clark will NOT spend the rest of his life in prison. I believe pre-meditation is a requirement for first degree murder in nearly all jurisdiction. Clark could be looking at a lesser charge, and could possibly go free before he turns 50.

    I’m curious about what the issue with the mice was. Outright abuse? Failure to fill out some paperwork? I can’t fathom why he wouldn’t have simply escalated complete to Le’s supervisor if she failed to take corrective action.


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