NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale lab technician was arrested Thursday at a hotel and charged with murdering a graduate student whose body was found stuffed in the wall of a research building on what would have been her wedding day.
Police said it was a case of workplace violence, but didn't elaborate.
Police had been waiting outside the Super 8 hotel in Cromwell, about 25 miles north of the Ivy League campus, where Raymond Clark III got a room shortly after being released from police questioning in the death of 24-year-old Annie Le.
Clark was expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon or Friday morning on a murder charge, New Haven Police Chief James Lewis said. He would not rule out the possibility of additional charges.
"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.
Le was found dead on Sunday, her body hidden in the basement wall of a building where she worked as a medical researcher, on the day she was to marry her college sweetheart, Columbia University graduate student Jonathan Widawsky. The Connecticut medical examiner said Wednesday that Le died of "traumatic asphyxiation."
Clark was under constant surveillance 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 the road leading into the hotel as they made the arrest. Clark was wearing a white shirt and tan pants as police ushered him into the back of a dark sedan with tinted windows. The car then sped off toward the highway, and arrived at the New Haven police department about an hour later.
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.
The Rev. Dennis Smith, a spokesman for the Le family, said on NBC's "Today" show Thursday that an arrest would help give the family closure.
"It's such a terrible thing to have lost Annie as they have and not know who did it. That adds to the grief," he said.
FBI spokeswoman Kim Mertz acknowledged the assistance of the FBI's polygraph and behavioral analysis units, but declined to answer questions about what exactly the units did.
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 and from Clark's Middletown, Conn., apartment.
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 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.
Clark and Le were both 24 years old, but Clark has a muscular build that contrasts sharply to Le's 4-foot-11, 90-pound frame. Clark also reportedly had a troubling brush with the law in high school after being accused of harassing a girlfriend.
Until recently, Clark's family lived in nearby Branford, a small middle-class suburb of New Haven. In September 2003, when he was a senior at Branford High School, Clark reportedly upset a girlfriend so much that police warned him to stay away from her.
The New Haven Independent reported that when the girl tried to break up with Clark, he attempted to confront her and wrote on her locker.
The girlfriend and her mother told a detective that she had been in a sexual relationship with Clark and that he once forced her to have sex. The relationship continued after that incident, according to the Independent, a news Web site.
The young woman did not pursue the case, and no charges were filed. The Independent reported that Clark was warned in 2003 that police could pursue criminal charges against him if he contacted the girl.
Branford Police Lt. Geoffrey Morgan told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his department would not release the unsubstantiated 2003 report. Morgan would neither confirm nor deny the news report, citing cooperation with police investigating the killing.
Clark played baseball at Branford High School, where longtime athletic director Artie Roy remembered him as a quiet student who threw a mean knuckleball.
"He was a seriously good pitcher and a good infielder," Roy said. "He wasn't a typical off-the-wall knucklehead kind of kid who bounced all over the place," he said. Clark also participated in clubs that raised money for charity and the Asian Awareness group, according to the school's 2004 yearbook, the Milestone.
On her MySpace page, Clark's fiancee, Jennifer Hromadka, calls Clark was a "wonderful boyfriend." She added that she's not perfect, but cautioned people not to judge her.