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Second Arrest Possible in Annie Le Murder

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This NEW HAVEN -- As hordes of FBI agents and Yale police combed the basement of a Yale University laboratory building for missing bride-to-be Annie Le, the man accused of killing her moved among them, in an apparent effort to cover his tracks, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said.


That behavior aroused investigators' suspicions about Raymond Clark III, but the final piece that led to his arrest Thursday morning was the discovery that evidence in the ceiling and in the crawl space where Le's body was found contained the DNA of both Le and Clark, according to the law enforcement official who spoke to The Courant on the condition of anonymity.

Clark, 24, was arrested at a Super 8 Motel in Cromwell around 8:30 a.m. Thursday. He was charged with murder.

One investigator, among a group of investigators who were in the lab interviewing employees and students shortly after Le disappeared, witnessed Clark trying to hide lab cleaning equipment that they discovered contained blood spatters. Clark was observed cleaning up areas that Le was in before she was reported missing, the law enforcement official said.

A Superior Court judge Thursday granted New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington's request to keep secret the arrest warrant affidavit detailing the crime scene that was the site of Le's final moments.

But sources familiar with the investigation said it was a combination of analyzing computer records of security cards that showed Clark was the last person to see Le alive, his failed polygraph and scratches on his body, his attempts to clean up the crime scene and ultimately the DNA match in two places that led to his arrest.

Police believe that Le fought for her life.

Investigators found a single bead from a necklace she was wearing in the lab area where she was last seen. They also found tiny blood droplets in that area.

Clark also had scratches and bruises on his arms and back. When he was interviewed by FBI agents, Clark said the scratches were cuts from a cat and from playing softball.

The sources said authorities are investigating whether Clark got some of them when he allegedly stuffed Le's body into the crawl space where she was found five days after she disappeared.

Police believe that Clark tried to clean up the crime scene after disposing of Le's body, sources said. The computer record of his movements between laboratories using his swipe card show he left the building several times and also moved between several rooms, including some that he had no reason to be in, a source said.

Authorities arrested Clark during a police sweep Thursday morning at the Super 8 hotel in Cromwell where he had been staying since Wednesday.

Late Tuesday night, police searched Clark's Middletown apartment and collected hair, fingernail and saliva samples from him. Clark cooperated and was released to his attorney.

Sources said Clark did not give a statement to police. Clark maintained that same silence when a bail commissioner tried to interview him before his arraignment Thursday in Superior Court in New Haven.

Judicial marshals led a leg-shackled Clark, who was wearing a striped polo shirt and tan pants, into the courtroom filled with journalists. Neither Le's family nor members of Clark's family appeared to be in the gallery.

The muscular Clark, a former high school athlete, looked pale and said, "Yes sir," softly when Judge Jon C. Blue asked if he had been read his rights.

The bail commissioner told the judge that Clark does not have any prior criminal history, and based on that, she recommended that Clark's bail be reduced to $1 million. Beth Merkin, Clark's public defender, asked the judge to adopt the bail commissioner's recommendation.

She said Clark refused to answer the bail commissioner's questions under the advice of his attorney.

But Blue kept Clark's bail at $3 million, citing the serious nature of the case.

Blue then transferred the case to New Haven's Church Street courthouse where more serious cases are heard. The case was continued to Oct. 6. After his court appearance, Clark was transported to the New Haven Community Correctional Center on Whalley Avenue. He was eventually moved to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield.

Investigators are still trying to nail down a motive for the attack, sources said.

Those same sources said police are looking into whether a work dispute may have sparked the attack on Le, whose body was found Sunday -- the day she was supposed to be married -- stuffed into a crawl space behind a wall in a Yale laboratory building at 10 Amistad St.

The state medical examiner said Le died of traumatic asphyxiation due to neck compression. ABC News, citing sources, reported Thursday that Clark, an animal laboratory technician, had sent a text message to Le on Sept. 8 -- hours before she was reported missing -- requesting a meeting to discuss the cleanliness of cages of research animals.

And The Associated Press, also citing sources, reported Thursday that Clark was described as a "control freak" who often clashed with researchers and viewed the laboratory and its mice as his territory.

New Haven Police Chief James Lewis didn't offer a possible motive for the killing but said in a press conference what the crime wasn't.

"This is not about urban crime. It's not about university crime. It's not about domestic crime, but an issue of workplace violence," Lewis said.

Lewis said he could not discuss details of the arrest warrant. He did say that police interviewed about 150 people and examined nearly 300 pieces of evidence.

In his request to seal the arrest warrant affidavit, Dearington wrote that the investigation is continuing and that release of the documents "could be adversely affected by disclosure of the affidavit at this time."

Yale University Police Chief James Perrotti, FBI Special Agent Kim Mertz and Public Safety Commissioner John A. Danaher stood by Lewis as he spoke.

"This was about as smooth an operation among four agencies as I've seen in my 39 years," Lewis said.

He said reports that Le and Clark had a romantic relationship are false. He also declined to answer a reporter's question about whether Clark had complained about Le's treatment of animals.

He and other law enforcement officials declined to define the role that DNA and a polygraph test may have played in the investigation.

Yale President Richard C. Levin sent a statement to the Yale community shortly after Clark's arrest and repeated most of his comments later in a press conference.

"We are relieved and encouraged by this progress in the investigation, but, of course, we must resist the temptation to rush to judgment until a full and fair prosecution of this case brings a just resolution," he wrote. "As with every development in this tragic story, we think first of Annie's family, her fiancé and his family, and her friends, and our hearts go out to them."

Clark has been a lab technician at Yale since December 2004, Levin said. He is suspended from his job and barred from campus, according to Levin's written statement; his ID card no longer allows him access to any Yale building.

"His supervisor reports that nothing in the history of his employment at the university gave an indication that his involvement in such a crime might be possible," Levin said. "It is very disturbing to think that any Yale University employee could have committed this crime."

Levin said that this type of crime is not unique to Yale.

"I want to emphasize that our campus and our city are safe places. Both are thriving communities, made more so by the strong partnership between the city of New Haven and the university. What happened here could have happened anywhere," he said.

The president of the university's union for clerical and technical workers -- of which Clark is a member -- also spoke.

Laura Smith said the union is concerned that the person who killed Le picked a woman as the victim. A majority of the union's members are women, she said.

"We are especially concerned by this tragedy because it is not just a question of security at Yale or safety in New Haven. It also is a question of the violence against women that is pervasive in this world," she said. "This crime reminds us that women are not safe."

"Let us all seek to combat such violence, to make our university, our city and our world a safe place for women to live and work."

The family of Le's fiance, Jonathan Widawsky, issued a statement Thursday, thanking people who were involved in preparations for "a wedding that was not to be."

"We share in the grief of the family of Annie Le and are, collectively, doing our best to deal with our tragic loss," said the family's statement. "Annie will live in our hearts forever."

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