Raymond Clark Sent to Max Security Prison for Annie Le Murder

Clark brought court in chains, his bail set at $3 million.

September 16, 2009, 9:25 AM

Sept. 17, 2009—— -- Accused Yale murderer Ray Clark was arrested early today, brought into court in chains where he was ordered held on $3 million bail, and then sent to a maximum security prison to await trial for allegedly killing graduate student Annie Le.

The rapid chain of events brought to a climax the investigation into Le's disappearance in a Yale lab where both she and Clark worked more than a week ago. Her strangled body was discovered crammed into a wall on Sunday, the day she was supposed to get married.

A couple hours after the arrest, Clark, who has tattoos on both forearms, was brought into court to be arraigned on a murder charge. He wore khaki pants without a belt and a striped loose polo. His hands were cuffed behind his back and there were chains around his ankles.

When asked if his rights had been read to him, Clark answered "Yes" in a clear voice, but he made no other statement. Bail was set at $3 million.

Sources told ABC News that Clark refused to be interviewed by authorities.

By the afternoon, Clark was moved to the MacDougal-Walker Correctional Institution, a massive prison in South Suffield, Conn., reserved for 2,100 inmates who are considered to be high or maximum security risks.

Investigators have gathered more than 250 pieces of evidence in the case, sources told ABC News, including text messages exchanged between Clark and Le arranging to meet on the day she disappeared.

Clark was taken into custody by police early today after investigators stood vigil all night outside a Super 8 motel in Cromwell, Conn., where the suspect had retreated to room 214 on Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, police had taken DNA samples from Clark, searched his apartment and then let him go.

A convoy of police and FBI cars pulled into the motel parking lot with lights flashing about 8:20 a.m., while others blocked off the intersection. FBI agents ran up stairs at the back of the motel. Clark was arrested minutes later without incident.

Police held a news conference almost simultaneously with the arrest, and New Haven Police Chief James Lewis said, "There were no issues with the arrest. It went smoothly."

Lewis refused to say whether there was a DNA match that linked Clark to Le, and he dismissed printed rumors of a romantic relationship between Clark and Le.

The chief hinted at the tragedy of Le's murder.

"Annie Le was a young woman of unlimited potential," he said.

Lewis said Le's murder was part of a growing wave of workplace crime.

"This is not about urban crime, university crime, or campus crime. It's about workplace violence, a growing concern across the country," he said.

Yale University President Richard C. Levin released a statement that said in part, "Mr. Clark has been a lab technician at Yale since December 2004. 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."

He added, "This incident could have happened in any city, in any university, or in any workplace. It says more about the dark side of the human soul than it does about the extent of security measures."

Suspect's, Victim's Lab Movements Tracked by I.D. Cards

Clark has wounds on his chest, arms and back, sources told ABC News, suggesting a violent struggle. A bead from Le's necklace was found on the floor of the basement lab where Le's body and blood spots were found on a laundry cart there.

Sources told the Hartford Courant that Clark's Yale swipe card indicated he was the last person to see Le alive. The electronic trail left by his card indicated he had entered the same lab where Le was last seen. Clark also reportedly swiped his identification card at least 10 times in the hours surrounding Le's disappearance, the paper reported.

The deep scratches on Clark's body came to light as the Connecticut medical examiner released Le's cause of death as strangulation, or as it was officially described, "traumatic asphyxia due to neck compression."

Police also found a pair of bloody surgical gloves.

ABC News has also learned that Clark sent a text message to Le at some point, requesting a meeting to discuss the cleanliness of the cages of the research mice.

Le, a 24-year-old Ph.D. candidate, used the mice for her research. Clark, also 24-years-old, is not a student at the university and had more of a custodial role in the lab.

Police could track Clark's movements by reviewing the data from his digital key card, which shows he entered the building no fewer than 10 times, including after hours, on the day Le went missing, according to law enforcement sources.

The medical examiner's report came just hours after police took DNA samples from Clark and searched his apartment looking for clues.

Clark was taken into custody by police about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday on a warrant that allowed detectives to take DNA samples. Clark cooperated and was released around 3 a.m. Wednesday, said New Haven Police Department spokesman Joe Avery.

Police confirmed Wednesday that an additional warrant to search Clark's Ford Mustang was also served.

Law enforcement sources said Clark failed a polygraph test when he was first brought in for questioning.

At a press conference Wednesday evening, Lewis said Clark has retained an attorney and therefore could not be questioned further.

Lewis said Wednesday that a DNA match would be key.

"One match of a person at that location, we'd be going for an arrest warrant," he said.

Attorney David Dworski has confirmed he was representing Clark, but he was replaced today by public defenders.

Investigators tailed Clark for several days, officials said.

Police said Clark had no criminal record but his name was mentioned in a police report from Branford, Conn., in 2003, reportedly connected to an alleged sexual assault.

Clark's sister, brother-in-law and fiancee, Jennifer Hromadka, also worked in the lab building but did not go to work this week.

In a blog entry last year, Hromadka denied rumors that Clark was having "a fling" with a woman at work.

"He is a bit naive, doesn't always use the best judgment, definitely is not the best judge of character, but he is a good guy," Hromadka, 23, blogged.

Clark's landlord told ABC News that she wants Clark out of the apartment complex and has served an eviction notice to his lawyer.

Video Surveillance Aids Search

Friends and family had insisted for days that Le was not the kind of person to run out on her fiance, and the news that police had found a body was devastating. Le was to be married Sunday.

Wedding gifts had been left outside the family home of Le's fiance, Jonathan Widawsky. Their impending nuptials had led some to believe that Le had gotten cold feet and fled.

Adding to the intrigue surrounding the case was an article Le wrote for a campus magazine earlier this year about how to stay safe on the Ivy League campus.

The article, titled "Crime and Safety in New Haven," was published in February in the magazine produced by Yale's medical school and compares higher instances of robbery in New Haven to other cities with Ivy League universities.

"In short, New Haven is a city and all cities have their perils," Le wrote. "But with a little street smarts, one can avoid becoming yet another statistic."

Le's Facebook page showed her posing in wedding dresses and smiling with Widawsky, a Columbia University graduate student in physics, whom she described as her best friend.

"He's an amazing kid, just a wonderful, wonderful boy, and he must be heartbroken," Widawsky's friend Linda Matychack said. "I just can't imagine."

ABC News' Dawn Ennis and Brian Cohen contributed to this report

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