Lab technician arrested in slaying of Yale student

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A Yale University lab technician was arrested Thursday and charged with the suffocation death of a graduate student whose body was found stuffed in a research building wall on what would have been her wedding day.

New Haven police said they arrested 24-year-old Raymond Clark III at the Super 8 hotel in Cromwell, about 25 miles north of the Ivy League campus. Clark had been staying at the hotel since he was released early Wednesday by police, who had served search warrants looking for evidence linking him to Annie Le's death.

New Haven Police Chief James Lewis said there are no other suspects. Authorities would not comment on a possible motive, other than to call it workplace violence. The arrest warrant was sealed by a judge.

"It is important to note that this is not about urban crime, university crime, domestic crime but an issue of workplace violence, which is becoming a growing concern around the country," Lewis said.

He would not rule out the possiblity of additional charges. Clark is expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

Le, 24, was found dead on Sunday, her body stuffed in the basement wall of a campus research building where she worked, just days before she was to marry her college sweetheart, Columbia University graduate student Jonathan Widawsky. The Connecticut state medical examiner said Wednesday that Le died of "traumatic asphyxiation."

Authorities released no details on how she died, but traumatic asphyxiation could be consistent with a choke hold or some other form of pressure-induced asphyxiation caused by a hand or an object, such as a pipe.

The investigation has centered on Clark, the only person publicly named by New Haven police in the case. Authorities served four search warrants this week to compare DNA taken from his hair, fingernails and saliva with more than 250 pieces of evidence collected at the crime scene on the Ivy League campus and from Clark's Middletown, Conn., apartment.

Clark was under constant survellance after he was released, and police spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning staking out the Super 8 hotel where Clark was staying.

Shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday, police moved closer, shutting down the highway outside the hotel and blocking road leading into the hotel as they made the arrest. Lewis said Clark was arrested without incident.

Clark's attorney, David Dworski, did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Thursday. He has previously said Clark is "committed to proceeding appropriately" with police.

Clark's job as an animal services technician at Yale put him in contact with Le, who worked for a Yale laboratory that conducted experiments on mice. She was part of a research team headed by her faculty adviser, Anton Bennett, that focused on enzyme research that could have implications in cancer, diabetes and muscular dystrophy. Members of the team have declined to comment on the case or their work.

As a technician at Yale, Clark helped clean the cages of research animals used by labs around the Ivy League campus and had other janitorial duties, police said. The technicians help tend to rodents, mostly mice, used in experiments and can help with paperwork. Clark, his fiancee, his sister and his brother-in-law all work for Yale as animal lab technicians.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)