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Raymond John CLARK III





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Sexual assault - Clark offered no explanation for the attack and no motive was ever given
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 8, 2009
Date of arrest: September 17, 2009
Date of birth: January 28, 1985
Victim profile: Annie Marie Le, a 24-year-old American doctoral student
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty on March 17, 2011. Sentenced to 44 years imprisonment on June 3, 2011

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The murder of Annie Le occurred September 8, 2009, on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States.

Annie Marie Le (July 3, 1985 – September 8, 2009), a 24-year-old American doctoral student at the Yale School of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology, was last seen in a research building on the New Haven campus on September 8. On September 13, the day she was to be married, she was found dead inside the building.

While the details of the condition of Le's body were initially suppressed by law enforcement, it was eventually revealed that she was found inside a wall cavity in the basement of the Yale laboratory; she was placed into the wall upside down and her bra was pushed upwards towards her head, and her panties were pulled down around her ankles. It was also determined that among other injuries, her jaw and one collar bone had been broken before her death.

On September 17, police arrested a suspect, Raymond J. Clark, III, a Yale lab technician who worked in the building. Clark pleaded guilty to the murder on March 17, 2011. Clark was sentenced to 44 years imprisonment on June 3. The case generated frenetic media coverage, with a news producer trampled in a rush to a briefing.

Disappearance and death

On the morning of September 8, Le left her apartment and took Yale Transit to the Sterling Hall of Medicine on the Yale campus. At about 10:00 a.m., she walked from Sterling Hall to another campus building at 10 Amistad Street, where her research laboratory was located. Le had left her purse, cell phone, credit cards, and cash in her office at Sterling Hall.

She entered the Amistad Street building just after 10:00 a.m., as documented on footage from the building's security cameras. Le was never seen leaving the building. At approximately 9:00 p.m. on the evening of September 8, when Le had still not returned to her home, one of her five housemates called police to report her missing.

Because they were puzzled that security camera footage did not show Le exiting the building at Amistad Street, police closed the whole building for investigation. Police also searched through refuse at the Hartford dump, where Yale's garbage is incinerated, looking for clues as to Le's whereabouts. The FBI, the New Haven Police Department and the Connecticut State Police were all involved in the search.

On Sunday, September 13, her planned wedding date, authorities discovered Le's body inside the wall of a basement laboratory in the Amistad Street building. Bloody clothes had previously been found above a ceiling tile in the same building. The building and the area are monitored by about 75 security cameras and the entrance to the building and the rooms inside the building require Yale ID cards in order to be opened and accessed. The basement where Le's body was found houses animals (mostly mice) that are used for experiments and research.

Due to the high security measures in the building, authorities and Yale officials maintain that it would be extremely difficult for someone without a Yale identification card to enter the basement laboratory where Le's body was discovered, leading them to focus their investigation on Yale employees and students.

The Connecticut medical examiner's autopsy found that Le's death was due to "traumatic asphyxia due to neck compression". On September 17 police arrested Raymond Clark, a 26-year-old lab technician who had been working in the building when Le disappeared. The previous day he had been taken into custody after police had obtained a warrant to collect DNA samples from him; he had been released after providing a sample.

News of the tragedy went worldwide, and expressions of sympathy were common, culminating in memorials held in New York and California, and the live broadcast of Annie Le's funeral on the internet. The Yale community also publicly mourned Le's death. The Yale Daily News reported that professor and Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis called September 14 the "saddest day to open class" since the day after September 11, 2001.

Personal life

Le was born in San Jose, California, to a Vietnamese American family. She spent her childhood with her aunt and uncle. Le was valedictorian of her graduating class at Union Mine High School, and voted one of two students to be "the next Einstein." After earning approximately $160,000 in scholarship money, she attended and graduated from University of Rochester. Her major was cell developmental biology, with a minor in medical anthropology. Le was then accepted into a graduate program at Yale that would have led to her earning a doctorate in pharmacology. Her research had applications in the treatment of diabetes and certain forms of cancers. She was due to be married on September 13, 2009, in Syosset, New York, to Jonathan Widawsky, a graduate student in applied physics and mathematics at Columbia University.

Le had previously written an article for Yale Medical School's B Magazine titled "Crime and Safety in New Haven," published in February 2009.

Media coverage

In the wake of Le's disappearance and the discovery of her body, and the sympathy and outrage over the crime going worldwide, there was a backlash in some circles to the extensive media coverage, and while most acknowledged the crime was especially heart breaking, some questioned whether the level of interest was warranted.

Some commentators have suggested that the attention given by the media was inappropriately disproportionate to that given to other murder victims. Slate contributor Jack Shafer opined that "Journalists almost everywhere observe this rough rule of thumb: Three murders at a Midwestern college equal one murder at Harvard or Yale."

The non-profit organization criticized the media for providing so much coverage of the Le murder while nearly ignoring a murder of a college student in Dallas. Connecticut Post columnist MariAn Gail Brown argued that there is a "pecking order" in the investigation of crimes, and that Le's murder attracted media attention because she was "an Ivy Leaguer. Translation: Someone who might earn beaucoup bucks. Someone who possesses sky's-the-limit potential. Vivacious and attractive, too."


After his arrest, Clark was held at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, a maximum security prison, on $3 million bail. He appeared in Connecticut State Superior Court on October 6, 2009, but did not then enter a plea to the charges. His hearing was delayed until January 26, 2010, since not all of the materials in the case have been made available to lawyers.

Clark initially pleaded not guilty on January 26. His pretrial hearing was scheduled for March 3, 2010, in New Haven. and pretrial evidence processing was scheduled for July 26. In October 2010, Clark's case was continued, and another hearing was scheduled for February 9, 2011.

In March 2011, Clark entered a guilty plea in Le's murder, in exchange for a 44-year prison term. On an additional charge of an attempted sexual assault of Le, he entered an Alford plea, a guilty plea that does not admit the facts but concedes the sufficiency of the evidence against him.

Clark officially entered the pleas on March 17, and he was formally sentenced to 44 years' imprisonment on June 3. While Clark expressed great remorse at his sentencing, he offered no explanation for the attack and no motive was ever given.

Clark is currently serving his sentence at the Cheshire Correctional Institution as inmate #371189, and is scheduled for release on September 16, 2053.


Raymond Clark III sentenced to 44 years

By Gavan Gideon -

June 3, 2011

This afternoon, Raymond Clark III, the man convicted of the murder and sexual assault of Annie Le GRD '13, was sentenced to 44 years in prison.

Clark’s sentence comes almost 21 months after he killed Le on September 8, 2009 in 10 Amistad St., the research building where they both worked. At the sentencing in New Haven Superior Court, Clark spoke publicly about his crimes for the first time. Family members of Le and of the defendant were present in the courtroom and many members of both families were visibly distraught and crying. Clark's father and five family members of Le delivered statements expressing deep sadness at the crimes committed. Near the end of the delivery of his own statement at the end of the proceeding, Clark expressed remorse and turned toward about 15 members of Le’s family to directly apologize.

“I stand here today taking full responsibility for my actions,” Clark said, struggling through the statement as he teared up. “I am truly, truly sorry for taking Annie’s life.”

Members of Le's family delivered statements at the beginning of the proceeding. Le’s family expressed deep anguish concerning the crimes Clark committed, recalling memories of the events surrounding her murder in September 2009 and how the loss has affected them since. Le family members said they had difficulty dealing with the hardship caused by the murder and that they have struggled to bring closure to the incident. Indeed, although the sentencing brought the criminal proceedings against Clark to an end, court battles over Le's death could continue, with the family considering a civil suit, potentially against Yale.

Le’s mother, Vivian Le, composed herself following opening remarks made by Prosecutor John Waddock in order to deliver the family’s first statement. At one point during the delivery, she addressed Clark directly.

“You took away my only daughter,” Vivian said. “Her future is gone, her life is gone. Society has lost a beautiful woman. My family has lost a beautiful soul.”

A doctoral student at the Department of Pharmacology, Le was first reported missing on September 8, 2009. Her body was found by police behind a wall in the basement of 10 Amistad St. five days later –– the day she was to be married. DNA, keycard and video evidence eventually led federal, state and local police investigators to Clark, a lab technician who worked in the building. Though he initially pled not guilty to charges of murder and felony murder, Clark changed his plea to guilty this past March as part of a plea bargain.

In his opening remarks, Waddock said that though at first the sentence was not entirely satisfactory to the prosecution or defense, both sides eventually came to accept it. He reminded those present in the courtroom of the significance of the 44 year sentence, explaining that Clark would remain in prison for the majority of his life. Individuals serving time for murder in Connecticut are not eligible for parole.

Still, some members of Le’s family expressed disappointment with the sentence at the proceeding, saying they thought Clark deserved more jail time. Le’s uncle, Tuyet Bui, said he thought Clark's life deserved to be taken away, and that at the very least he wished the Court would sentence him to life in prison.

“I must speak up today and state emphatically that I feel as though Annie’s life has been and will be further denigrated and defiled if this Court renders a decision which calls for anything less than the very life of the man who raped, brutalized, and murdered her,” Bui said during the proceeding.

Le’s brother, Chris, said that though no punishment is capable of making him feel better about the situation, he does hope Clark can realize the “totality of his actions.”

Delivering the final words of the sentencing, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano said that no amount of time will ever compensate for the loss of Annie Le.

“Closure is not a likely scenario,” Fasano said, adding, “This defendant is going to pay for this crime every day of his existence.”

After the sentencing, Joseph Tacopina, the attorney for Le’s parents, addressed the press in front of the court house and recognized the possibility of a civil suit, acknowledging that Yale could potentially face a lawsuit if it were proven security was inadequate at the time of Le's death. He added that he and the family are determined to ensure all of those responsible for Le’s death “in any way, shape, or form” are held accountable. He declined to say with certainty whether the family would file a lawsuit or who they may pursue a suit against, but did say that if an investigation determines Le’s death could have been prevented, the family would consider taking further legal action.

Upon his release from prison, Clark will be 70.


Clark pleads guilty to Le murder

By Harrison Corn and Everett Rosenfeld -

March 21, 2011

Eighteen months after his arrest, Raymond Clark III has admitted that he murdered Annie Le GRD ’13.

Clark, who worked as a lab technician at 10 Amistad St., the same Yale building where Le worked, pleaded guilty in New Haven Superior Court on Thursday to both murder and attempt to commit sexual assault in exchange for a 44-year prison sentence. The sexual assault charge reveals for the first time a possible motive for the killing. Yale administrators previously described the murder as the result of “workplace violence” against Le, who went missing Sept. 8, 2009, just days before she was to marry. Police found her body inside a wall at 10 Amistad St. nearly one week later, and later concluded that she was strangled.

At the hearing, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano revealed that Clark is eligible for a sentence of 25 to 80 years in prison under Connecticut sentencing guidelines. The parties agreed to a 44-year prison sentence as part of the plea.

Individuals serving time for murder in Connecticut are not eligible for parole, said co-prosecutor David Strollo in a post-hearing interview Thursday. Clark, who is 26, will spend a full 44 years in prison and will not be eligible for parole before that. Upon his release from prison, Clark will be about 70.

Yale’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications released a statement following the hearing, expressing relief that Le’s family did not have endure a trial.

“We hope today’s guilty plea and the sentence that will follow will help bring closure to them and to all in the Yale community who suffered by her senseless killing,” the release said.

Clark was originally charged with both felony murder and murder, to which he pleaded not guilty. Clark would have faced the same maximum prison sentence of 60 years for the killing if he were convicted of either felony murder or murder. He would have faced an additional maximum sentence of 20 years for the sexual assault charge.

“Given the nature of the evidence that the state had, I think 44 years was his best option,” said Beth Merkin, one of Clark’s defense attorneys. “I think, had he gone to trial, we would have seen a much worse outcome.”

Clark pleaded guilty to the charge of attempt to commit sexual assault under the Alford Doctrine, which allows a defendant to acknowledge that the state has enough evidence for a conviction should the case go to trial and plead guilty without admitting guilt.

“Sexual assault was always part of the evidence, and we were aware that the state would have added that charge — maybe some other charges as well,” Merkin said.

Clark, who wore a blue button-down shirt and black pants, winked at his family as he entered the courtroom and did not speak except to plead guilty and answer “yes” and “no” to the judge’s questions.

As part of the guilty plea process, Strollo was required to list charge-substantiating details, including extensive DNA, keycard, finger print and video evidence, on the record. Although some of the information was previously listed in public police reports — including that a bloody sock bearing both Clark and Le’s DNA found in a ceiling at 10 Amistad St. — some were made public for the first time.

Strollo revealed that Le’s body was found upside down, partially decomposed inside a wall in a basement locker room, with a broken jaw and collarbone. Medical examiners found that she sustained those injuries while she was still alive. Le’s bra was pushed up and her panties were found around her ankles, Strollo said. Seminal fluid was also found on her panty liner, but the sample was not large enough to test for a DNA match with Clark. Other semen found on the scene matched Clark’s, he added.

Strollo also said that Clark tried to cover up the crime by attempting to pull evidence from the wall using fishing line. Clark scrubbed a drain clean and used air freshener in an attempt to conceal the odor of the decomposing body, Strollo said. He also claimed that police found notes to co-workers in Clark’s sock that indicate he was trying to fabricate an alibi, but Clark’s attorneys disputed that claim at the hearing.

Le’s family was not present at the hearing, but Strollo said they planned to attend Clark’s sentencing. Joe Tacopina, the attorney for Le’s parents, told the Associated Press that Le’s mother did not attend the hearing because listening to details of the crime would have been too painful.

“Our office has been in constant contact with a number of members of the Le family,” co-prosecutor John Waddock told the News after the hearing.

Strollo said that Le’s parents were satisfied with the recommended sentence, but other family members thought Clark deserved more time. The Le family will have an opportunity to address the public at Clark’s sentencing, Waddock said, adding that the purpose of this address is to “personalize what has occurred.” The Le family has not indicated if they plan to file a civil suit against Yale or any other parties as a result of the murder.

Clark’s father, mother and fiancée, Jennifer Hromadka, who still works for Yale, were present in the courtroom. After the hearing, Clark’s father, Raymond Clark II, read a statement to the press outside the courthouse.

“My family and I extend our deepest sympathy to the Le family,” he said. “I want you to know that Ray has expressed extreme remorse from the beginning. I can’t tell you how many times he sobbed uncontrollably, telling me how sorry he is.”

“Our hearts are broken,” he continued. “It doesn’t make any sense to us. This is not the Ray we know.”

Clark previously pleaded not guilty in January 2010. His final sentence will be announced at a court date tentatively scheduled for June 3, but Merkin said Clark will definitely receive the recommended sentence of 44 years.


Cops recall suspicious behavior

By Vivian Yee -

November 16, 2009

The arrest warrant for Raymond Clark III, released Friday morning, makes public for the first time the details of how authorities came to suspect Clark in the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13, and reconstructs Clark’s activities the day Le disappeared and the days after.

Clark was arrested Sept. 17, nine days after Le was first reported missing and five days after her body was found in a wall cavity in the basement of 10 Amistad St., the research building where both Le and Clark worked. As investigators searched the building, combed through electronic key card swipe records and watched video surveillance footage over the course of the investigation, they uncovered a trail of DNA evidence that pointed to the animal laboratory technician. And repeated encounters with Clark himself only fueled their suspicions. Clark has yet to enter a plea.

Though police began interviewing Le’s family, friends and colleagues soon after her roommate, Natalie Powers GRD ’13, reported her missing on the evening of Sept. 8, nothing appeared to involve Clark until Sept. 10. That day, pharmacology postdoctoral fellow Rachel Roth, who worked with Le, approached Yale Police Officer Sabrina Wood, showing her a box of Wipe-All hygienic wipes with what appeared to be splattered blood sitting on a steel pushcart in G13, one of the laboratory rooms where Le had worked, prompting Wood to call FBI agents to the scene.

As she waited for the FBI to arrive, Wood watched Clark come in and leave G13 “several” times, according to the affidavit. He walked over to the pushcart and shifted the box of wipes from one side of the cart to the other, turning it so the blood splatter faced away from Wood, then leaned on the cart as he made small talk with the officer. Later that day, Clark began scrubbing a drain in G13, even though Wood said the drain did not appear to need cleaning.

There were other encounters between investigators and Clark, too: Clark came up to Yale Police Officer Jennifer Garcia on Sept. 10, according to the affidavit, and volunteered information, saying he had known Le. Clark told Garcia he had seen Le working in G13 at about 10:30 a.m. the morning of Sept. 8 and later saw her leaving the building at 12:30 p.m. Video surveillance records did not show Le leaving 10 Amistad at any time after she entered it that day.

As part of a series of interviews with Le’s co-workers, investigators spoke to Clark on Sept. 10 and learned that he had been assigned to take care of the animals in three laboratory rooms, including G13, on the day of Le’s disappearance. Clark and Le had known each other for at least four months, Clark told FBI agents, but never socialized or saw each another outside of work. During the interview, agents also asked Clark about scratches on his face and upper left arm, which he said had come from a cat.

And while the FBI asked the public for information about Le’s disappearance, displaying Le’s photograph on billboards and setting up a tip line, other FBI team members were gathering objects from the building and Le’s home. They would eventually amass a collection of about 250 pieces of evidence, including the box of Wipe-Alls and an extra-large lab coat with red stains found in a recycling bin in 10 Amistad. DNA on the box and lab coat matched the DNA on toiletries taken from Le’s house, and lab testing also revealed DNA on the lab coat from an unknown male.

Even as police collected bloody evidence, they insisted that there was no evidence of foul play and that there were no suspects. But when state crime investigators found bloody clothing during a search of the basement of 10 Amistad on Sept. 12, police officers confirmed that they had declared the building a crime scene. The items found included a rubber glove, a white sock, a pair of Vikings-brand work boots labeled “Ray-C” on the back and one blue short-sleeved hospital scrub shirt, all stained with what appeared to be blood. Through chemical analysis, investigators found blood-like stains and spray patterns that had been cleaned off the walls of G22 and G13, later confirmed to be blood.

The next day, an odor “similar to that of a decomposing body” struck investigators inspecting the locker room in the basement of 10 Amistad, according to the warrant. Cadaver dogs were brought to the scene and immediately detected a decomposing body. Shortly after 5 p.m., investigators found Le’s body concealed in a wall behind the toilet in a mechanical chase, a compartment in the wall that runs from the basement to the roof. She was wearing surgical gloves with her left thumb exposed, with several items surrounding her body in the wall cavity, including a green-inked pen, a stained lab coat and a sock — one that matched the blood-stained sock found the day before.

On Sept. 15, police obtained a search and seizure warrant to collect mouth swabs, body hair, fingerprints and fingernail clippings from Clark. DNA tests showed that stains on the sock had a mixture of Le’s and Clark’s DNA and that the pen contained Le’s blood, while Clark’s DNA was inside the pen cap and on the barrel. Over the next few days, more hair fibers and blood stains turned up in various lab rooms.

FBI agents conducted a detailed examination of when and where Clark’s security keycard was used in the building before and on Sept. 8, finding a flurry of activity. While he used the keycard to access G22 three times and once to access G13 in the 12 days between Aug. 27 and Sept. 8, he used it 11 times to open G22 and five times for G13 on Sept. 8 alone. Clark apparently moved between rooms a total of 55 times between 10:40 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on the day Le disappeared. Investigators also found that Clark’s keycard was the only one used to access G22 — where the traces of blood were found on the walls ­— after Le swiped into 10 Amistad that morning.

The warrant, submitted with the affidavit, was signed by a judge, and Clark was arrested at a Cromwell, Conn., motel in the early morning of Sept. 17.


Bloody clothes, DNA led to Clark's arrest

Parts of search, arrest warrant released today

By Nora Caplan-Bricker and Taylor Lasley -

November 13, 2009

Several bloody articles of clothing and DNA matches provided the evidence to charge Raymond Clark III with the murder of Annie Le GRD '13, according to court documents released today.

In sometimes gruesome detail, the documents provide the fullest account yet of the police's case against Clark and the investigation leading to his Sept. 17 arrest. Since that date, the documents were sealed, but a judge ruled last Friday that continuing to withhold them from the public was not justified.

According to the documents, investigators found a bloody blue T-shirt, similar to the one Clark was wearing in video surveillance at 10 Amistad St., the Yale research facility where Le was last seen Sept. 8. They also found a box of hygienic wipes on a steel pushcart outside the room where Le disappeared; an extra-large lab coat with blood stains, with DNA that matched Le and an unknown male; a blood-stained rubber glove Le had worn; Le's white athletic sock, hidden in a ceiling, with blood and hair containing both her and Clark's DNA; a pair of work boots labeled “Ray-C,” one of which was missing its shoelaces; and a blue short-sleeved hospital scrub similar to one worn by Clark that day.

Beth Merkin, one of the public defenders representing Clark, said evidence is still being discovered. Clark has yet to enter a plea.

"What you’re seeing here is a tiny piece of the entire investigation," she said in a phone interview Friday. "There’s no game plan until we know what we’ve got."

Investigators used the physical evidence gathered in 10 Amistad St. to obtain a search and seizure warrant for Clark to collect mouth swabs, body hair, fingerprints and fingernail clippings. These revealed that the unknown DNA found in the basement matched his.

Chemical testing also revealed that bloodstains had been cleaned up in several rooms in the basement, including the last room into which Le swiped her ID card.

Electronic records of keycard access swipes in the Amistad building showed Clark and Le were in the same room at the same time on the day Le went missing. Investigators also reported that they saw a scratch on Clark’s face and left bicep when they interviewed Amistad employees on Sept. 10; Clark said at the time that cats had scratched him.

On Sept. 13, authorities discovered Le’s body after smelling odor from a wall behind a toilet in a basement locker room.

Underneath her body, investigators found a bloody green ink pen, which was later found to be a match to the pen he used to sign his timesheets earlier that morning. Investigators matched blood on the pen to Le and DNA on its cap to Clark.

The disclosure comes after four news organizations, led by the Hartford Courant, filed a motion last month to make the documents public. Earlier this month, both the defense and prosecution asked the court to keep the documents sealed to ensure a fair trial and protect the privacy of Le’s family.

But last Friday, New Haven Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano ruled that releasing the court records would not interfere with Clark’s right to a fair trial. Although the defense lawyers had argued that the information would taint the pool of potential jurors, Fasano said the high level of publicity already surrounding the case makes juror bias unlikely.

Merkin said she hopes the records will not affect jury selection.

"We tried to challenge the release of more than was kept sealed, but I understand that the judge had a balancing process, and I respect whatever decision he made," she said. "With the system the way it is, I don’t think that this is going to create a big problem."

The lawyer for the Hartford Courant, Paul Guggina, declined to comment Friday.

Clark is being held at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn., on a $3 million bond. His next court appearance is set for Dec. 21.



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