Annie Le Suspect Knew Cops Were On His Tail

by Paul Bass | September 18, 2009 5:56 PM | | Comments (44)

(Updated) A day after playing softball in New Haven and attending the Hebron Fair, the suspect in the murder of a Yale graduate student noticed the seven cops following him around. They wanted him to.

That word comes from Lt. John Velleca, head of New Haven police’s narcotics unit.

raymond%20clark.jpgChief James Lewis assigned Velleca’s crew to follow around Raymond Clark III (pictured) starting Saturday night — and never let him out of their sight.

That was when it became clear that the case of Annie Le, the 24 year-old pharmacology student strangled to death last week inside a Yale medical building, was becoming a criminal case, not a missing person case.

It was also clear by that time that Raymond Clark III was the prime suspect, Chief James Lewis said in an interview in his office Thursday morning following a press conference announcing Clark’s arrest. Now prison guards are watching Clark as he sits in a maximum security prison.

Lewis’s department was preparing to take over the investigation from the FBI. That happened the following day, when Le’s remains were found inside a basement wall.

So Lewis assigned the narcotics unit to follow Clark’s every move while investigators plowed through tapes from 70 security cameras and what would become 300 pieces of physical evidence.

Why the narc unit?

“That’s what they do” — follow suspects around, Lewis said. “They do that every night, working narcotics cases. They have the right kind of vehicles for it.” The department recently revamped the unit under Velleca’s command. (Read about that here.)

At First, Covert

newvellecathomas.jpgVelleca (pictured) had one supervisor and six detectives on Clark’s tail at all times. They worked in 12-hour rotations, Velleca said in an interview Thursday.

On Saturday night Clark, a 24 year-old Yale lab technician, was staying at his family’s home in Cromwell, according to Velleca.

At first the detectives laid low. They didn’t want Clark to see them. Typically the unit will do that in the earlier stages of an investigation.

So that first Sunday Clark was busy — “life as usual,” as one of the detectives put it.

Clark traveled to New Haven to play softball in East Shore Park, Velleca said. “We had detectives in the crowd. He’s actually pretty good.”

Next Clark traveled to Higganum to visit relatives, according to Velleca. That night, he hung out at the Hebron Fair. Then he returned to Cromwell.

By Monday, “he became a stronger suspect. We switched to overt surveillance,” Velleca said.

Now detectives made a point of parking right in front of Clark’s window. They would get out of the car and walk around. They had their badges visible.

Their main mission was to make sure Clark didn’t flee. They also had a second goal at this point, Velleca said: To see if Clark wanted to come talk to them.

They couldn’t approach Clark. In an FBI interview, he had clammed up and cited his right to avoid self-incrimination. He got a lawyer. So detectives couldn’t legally interview him.

But if he chose to go up to a cop and start talking, that’s legally OK, Velleca said.

That never happened.

“Whenever they would go in” the apartment and see the cops, “they would draw the shades and turn the lights off,” Velleca said. Clark said not a word to them. He made no gestures or any attempts to flee.

Clark’s busy life shut down. He drove to his apartment in Middletown, returned to the Cromwell home, then he didn’t leave.

Until the cops came to get him around 10 p.m. Tuesday. They had a search warrant to collect his DNA. He was taken to a state lab to give fingernail and hair samples.

Around 3 a.m. Wednesday he returned to Cromwell — not to the family home, but to a Super 8 motel. Clark and his parents would stay there to wait out the inevitable journey through a media gauntlet to court, and on to a possible murder trial.

That journey began Thursday morning, when cops arrested Clark and brought him to New Haven to be arraigned.

Past Independent coverage of the Annie Le murder:

Thursday, Sept. 17
Cops Arrest Lab Tech In Annie Le Murder
Suspect Arraigned (live blog)
Wednesday, Sept. 16:
Ex-Girlfriend “Shocked” About Annie Le Target
Cops Stake Out Annie Le Target’s Motel
Annie Le Case: It’s Coming Down To The DNA
Annie Le Was Strangled
Tuesday, Sept. 15:
City, Yale Learned From Jovin In Annie Le Case
Suspect In Annie Le Case Has Fiancee
NBC Producer Trampled At Annie Le “Briefing”
Cops Take DNA From Annie Le Target
Was That Annie Le’s Killer?
Monday, Sept. 14:
Body Identified As Annie Le
“Serious” Suspect In Annie Le Case
You Can Get In The Wall With A “Butter Knife”
Sunday, Sept. 13:
Remains Of Annie Le Believed Found; “A Time For Compassion,” Levin Says
Annie Le Hunt Extends To Hartford
Saturday, Sept. 12
Focus In Annie Le Probe Less On “State Lines”
Friday, Sept. 11
City Cops Join Search For Annie Le; $10,000 Reward Posted

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Posted by: janice | September 17, 2009 12:59 PM

The crime is horrific and inexcusable, Still, I feel sorrow (not sorry) for this guy. So young, like his victim. It's coming out now that there was an issue with a girlfriend years ago, though the reports seem to vary. I know he's messed up. I know he took a young life. If found guilty his life is effectively over. Why? I don't excuse him and if guilty (sure looks that way) he needs to be in prison, but I find it sad that a life turns out this way. Its not the level of grief I feel for Ms. Le's death and her loved one's loss, but it is a kind of sadness all the same.

Posted by: Fairhaven Dave [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 17, 2009 2:00 PM


6:1 odds - this kid is going to claim this was an accidental death resulting from an altercation with Ms. Le who he will claim was torturing animals. Every animal rights group on the continent is going to descend on New Haven and Yale creating a media mountain out of a criminal molehill ala Jacques Vergès.

Posted by: Thomas Cain | September 17, 2009 2:06 PM

Great Article Paul...I keep track of all the NHI updates on this case via twitter!!

Posted by: Jen | September 17, 2009 2:30 PM

Great police work and great coverage. Thank you.

Posted by: ojn | September 17, 2009 2:51 PM

Excellent article. Thank you.

I am quite disturbed by this whole ordeal. I literally couldn't stop searching for updates on this case. I truly feel terrible for the families (the fiance's, the Le's, and even the Clark's).

There is really no excuse for the murdering her, especially so close to her wedding. Based on what we have learned, she was a tiny girl but extremely brilliant. The society could have greatly benefited her contribution.

Once again, I hope the authorities do their diligence and bring the case to a closure. The murderer's life SHOULD NOT be more important than the victim's!!!

Posted by: Peter | September 17, 2009 4:31 PM

Truly sad. I've been following this closely as well and this paper's been on top of things and reporting responsibly.
One question: The article says he returned to the Cromwell home and didn't leave, but wasn't he at his Middletown apartment when he was taken in on Tuesday? Or did I miss something?

Posted by: Peggy | September 17, 2009 5:01 PM

I join others in commendation for your coverage. It's been first rate.

Posted by: DK | September 17, 2009 5:10 PM

Yet again,..another senseless act act that took a life. Those of us in law enforcement, including myself, know all to well what the outcome will be. Raymond Clark as one person already put will claim it was an acidental death, or plea/cry that he was insane at the time of the incident. In the end, Annie is gone and her family/friends have to deal with that everyday. Nothing will bring her back. So why should we let this scumbag use up "our" tax dollars only to be fed 3 square meals a day, in the summer, warm in the winter and free medical/dental. But the death penalty to use and for all you liberals who feel it is inhuman and cruel and unusual, close your eyes and think of one of YOUR loved one's who was brutally taken away form you for no reason..!!!

Posted by: smoke | September 17, 2009 5:29 PM

It belongs to the court to establish guilt and I'll keep that in the forefront. But, still, when I look at the picture of this young man with a seemingly ordinary but possibly satisfying life of friends, family and job, it is impossible to imagine such a dark impulse out of it. I want to drill down into the photos to look for something, but it only feels voyeuristic and unseemly. It is like the so-called craigslist killer; who was also getting married, a rewarding career ahead and apparent intellectual gifts, and then ...

None of this will ever be understood under any condition, under any circumstance, and for any reason.

Posted by: P | September 17, 2009 5:30 PM

Go, Velleca, go!

Torturing animals? Come now. That is not what she would have been doing. Peta wouldn't want to get involved, as if murdering someone for doing so would seem somehow okay. One of Clark's duties, I believe, was euthanasia. yes, killing mice. Good practice in numbing your emotions.

Posted by: a | September 17, 2009 5:38 PM

not that it is in any way even slight justice, but i imagine that being watched 24/7 like that, waiting for the other foot to drop, was awful. it is almost a good thing that he went through that before he went into the system... kind of like a slow, painful descent into hell while watching your life go on about you. i am so sorry annie le and family.

Posted by: Kitty | September 17, 2009 7:14 PM


Wow Valleca what a hottie!

Posted by: mike | September 17, 2009 7:32 PM

I hope its the right guy. All this media publicity could ruin an innocent mans life pretty quick.

Posted by: Jerry | September 17, 2009 8:48 PM

OJN, like you, I kept googling for news articles about this case and not a minute has gone by that I didn't think about this poor little girl. I feel the pain because I have 2 kids who are high achievers like Annie Le although they are not as smart as her. I have one boy and one girl, both are currently attending Ivy League colleges. Before you guys think that I am rich, I need to preface that I am of modest income and I am also a single father. My kids got scholarships on their own and they are also working multiple jobs in the summer to support their school tuition. They are good kids from the get go and they excelled both academically and in sports. I am not bragging here because nobody knows me and I know nobody here. The point I am trying to make is that I know how hard my kids work and I can visualize how Annie Le had worked equally as hard or much harder. Then to have her life taken on a spur of a moment by a jerk is completely senseless and wasteful. That's why I have been mourning about Annie like she is my own daughter. I read in the press and in blogs about how some people complained about too much media coverage because "this girl attended an Ivy League school and she is of middle class". The first part is correct but the second part is completely wrong because Annie Le came from a family of modest income and she lives with her uncle and aunt in a small town in California. She is no way rich. I read that she received 160K in scholarship because she spent a few hours every night writing to apply for scholarship. She wants to go to school for 12 years to get a PhD degree in pathology so that she can teach at university. She could have dreamed about working for some drug companies to get rich quick but she chose the academic path to help people. All of those dreams were taken away within 5 minutes by a murderer. ...

Posted by: Jerry | September 17, 2009 8:55 PM

Read about how the silly animals lovers liberated the rats from some research facility in MN to see them die in the cold.

Posted by: Lisa Backus | September 17, 2009 8:57 PM

Hey, Paul - I just wanted to note that you guys did an excellent job covering this story from all angles.

Posted by: joell | September 17, 2009 9:51 PM

Mr Clark is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Remember Richard Jewel? He said he felt like a hunted animal & he was innocent.

Posted by: joe | September 17, 2009 10:54 PM


Posted by: ojn | September 17, 2009 11:14 PM

Jerry, thank you for sharing your story.

There are many who attend Ivy League colleges because they work double/triple harder than others. With her (Annie's) background, I could almost say with certainty that she worked extra hard - think about it for a moment, her parents have a very modest living situation (probably working 7 days a week at the salon). She was able to attend Yale due mostly because she was an academic achiever (top of her high school, etc.) and she got enough scholarships.

We (society) could have been much better with having her around. She could have made this world a little richer and brighter. *sigh*

Anyway, I wish your two kids much success with their schooling, and most of all, I wish you and the kids health and safety.

Posted by: blue dog dem | September 18, 2009 12:14 AM


Don't know if anyone mentioned this, but the NY Daily News referenced the NHI in its front page story today. It was well-deserved. Good work.


Posted by: HQL | September 18, 2009 8:50 AM

OJN, I found one of your comments extremely racist
"think about it for a moment, her parents have a very modest living situation (probably working 7 days a week at the salon)" I know you mean well but what the hell. She's Asian so her parents must work at a salon? That is complete bull... that you'd even say such a thing.

But this case is really sad and I feel for the victim's family and friends. ...This whole story just gets my blood boiling and sorry if I offend any1 that says "innocent until proven guilty" but the evidence is ALL there. I say it's time for "An eye for an eye"

Posted by: Anon1 | September 18, 2009 9:46 AM

In fact, her mother does own a nail salon. This has been reported in various news stories. And yes,Placerville, CA is a VERY small town, and not at all wealthy.

Posted by: Ellen | September 18, 2009 10:11 AM

Lately with these high profile cases I am struck by the opportunites people had to turn it around but didn't. The supervisors or human resource folks at the Yale Lab didn't notice this guy's attitude. No one thought it odd that he, his girlfriend, brother and sister in law all worked at the same lab creating a possible clicque.

I felt the same with the Philip Garrido cases the neighbors didn't recognize his rantings as that of a paranoid schizoprenic. They didn't notice kids living in a tent outdoors.

I would hate to see our society go back to not helping others, not having the courage to speak up and defend an another innocent human being.

I remember the Kitty Geneovese killing where people just watched her be murdered and did nothing.

Posted by: n | September 18, 2009 10:25 AM

HQL, You might just need to apologize again. It has been reported Annie Le's family owns several salons. There was nothin racist in the previous comment.

I think one reason the coverage of this murder has been watched by people all over the world is because Annie Le's work could have had positive results for our health, our children's and grandchildren's health.

Posted by: Resident | September 18, 2009 10:28 AM

I can't help wondering what the work environment is like at the medical school. That said, I'm certainly not condoning the actions of the defendant. However, it looks like a under-achieving peon surrounded by PhD/MD's with huge egos and huge research grants. I'm not referring to Ms. Le here. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Was he bullied? Did he finally snap? Was his supervisor on the lookout for building anger and/or resentment? Has Yale become so huge and bureaucratic that nobody saw this coming? The only good that can come from this whole sad affair should be an examination of the work environment at the medical school and changes to prevent this from ever happening again.

Posted by: ojn | September 18, 2009 12:07 PM

HQL, there was nothing racist about my last comment. Rather it was an expression of understanding of her upbringing. Did you even know that my background is quite similar to hers and some of my siblings do work at the salon. It's not exactly a walk in the park to be successful. Ever heard of "boat people"? I am one of those!

I assume you're mourning for her loss, so I do not want to slam you here. But please do not call me a racist when I have been quite polite and respectful to everyone (regardless of race or circumstances).

Posted by: lance | September 18, 2009 12:46 PM

obama gives these yale research labs a bunch of money under the guise of "stimulus" and suddenly this woman turns up dead. weird.

who killed donald young?

Posted by: Nic | September 18, 2009 2:16 PM

seriously folks, would any of you want to be working next to this guy in the office??

Posted by: Holley | September 18, 2009 4:01 PM

I work at Yale and I haven't seen educated employees berating uneducated employees but I have seen many insecure employees blaming others for their own circumstances. Lets face it there are mentally unstable people at all levels of education. I feel it is really important to stop any kind of workplace intimidation. If he was a control freak he should have been called on his behavior.Maybe this guy wasn't reprimanded BECAUSE he was a townie. Employees at Yale who are considered "townies" seem to get away with things that the students don't. And I am considered a "townie" worker, I see it all the time. Yale tries to be so sensitive to the needs of local employees that they sometimes don't take action and let things slide. We should all be held accountable for our actions. I don't want anyone saying behibd my back "you don't know any better" when it comes to my job and behavior. That's elitism at its worst. I also believe if the Annie Le was a male student who weighed 200 pounds this crime wouldn't have happened. I am so sad for her family and loved ones.

Posted by: Kat | September 18, 2009 5:46 PM

Lance, you are so off the mark it's scary. Obama "GAVE" Yale nothing. The stimulus grants - all 200 of them - were for every scientist eligible to compete for them (I say eligible, because only they were for certain types of research only) in the entire nation. Just 200. I'm not sure anyone at Yale got one.

And this Clark ... was a cage/floor washer. What does he have to do with grants???

Posted by: kim | September 18, 2009 6:48 PM

1 agree with so many of you, ojn, jerry, ellen, hql, holly, others.
However, Yale should be held accountable big time. The people who run the labs, did not supervise this guy properly. There were reports that he had a bad attitude yet it is reported that there is nothing in his file regarding bad behavior. Just like the high school story where he was kicked out but nothing recorded.. Yale runs a million dollar lab, they should run it more responsibly. And I do not mean just having "procedures". I mean to follow the procedures. I have seen men like this before. They know who to treat like trash, and who to sweet talk. Being conciliatory with them gives them more power.
If he had been reprimanded or counseled he would have thought of the consequences. Why didn't anyone monitor him, and make sure he was doing his job, Instead of allowing him to feel he was responsible for making the grad students clean to his standards. It is the people who monitor his work and working relationships that are responsible.
These grad students are our National Treasures.
They are working to advance our society, Annie Le and all like her should have been treated better.
God Bless Her and Her Family.

Posted by: Jus' Sayin' | September 18, 2009 7:13 PM

Who is more scary looking? The suspect or the cop?

Posted by: JohnSmith | September 18, 2009 8:00 PM

I read that Ms. Le's parents were "Vietnamese immigrants." Are they ILLEGAL ALIENS, which would make her an anchor baby?

Also let's not forget AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. If Ms. Le had the same IQ but were white, would she have gotten those scholarships? Probably NOT.

Posted by: Connie | September 18, 2009 8:29 PM

Absolutely chilling that this guy could go to work after she went missing (apparently so he could cover up the murder-- see today's NY Daily News Article by Mike Daly). Then goes to play softball is beyond the pale. Something tells me that this guy had deep seeded hate for asians--- possibly rebuffed in High School. Why else would he join the Asian Awareness Club in High School? Possibly because he had crush on Asian girl? Does anyone know the race of his high school girlfriend that complained he raped her after she broke up with him.

Posted by: Blarney | September 18, 2009 10:42 PM

Lance is just messing with you. You guys all take yourselves so terribly seriously. Commenting is one thing, giving your opinion is another, but the weird self righteous judgment know better than the people involved. Come on. It is actually pretty funny.

Posted by: Lifer | September 19, 2009 12:10 AM

This story is being quoted practically verbatim on CNN - Dr. Phil covering for Larry King tonight (Friday).

Posted by: Jack | September 19, 2009 3:17 PM

I predicate this with the fact that nothing excuses the violence done here - nothing, and that parties are considered innocent until proven guilty.

I haven’t noticed anyone mention how extreme/intense world class university research has become. Animal Techs are under great pressure/stress to maintain their animals both humanely and carefully so as not to compromise experiments. Big deal about “booties” – pathogens introduced into an animal lab can completely ruin an experiment or even all the animals in the facility. There are methods to reduce/contain diseases, but evidence of an infection may not come until it is too late. Some experiments require weeks/months/years of work to complete and death or pathogenic confounding of animal biosystems in an experiment can be very costly in time, money, and even whether a scientist is the first to publish on a certain find.

Graduate students are also under extreme pressure to produce results that contribute to continuing grants, and allow procurement of additional grants which are very competitive to obtain. Considering Ms Le was not only performing her research, teaching, attending classes, studying, and perhaps additional work for income…plus all the planning, etc with her wedding – it is just amazing the load she was experiencing. Some experiments are very demanding in concentration, timing, and execution to guard against biases, etc. Aseptic conditions required for some experiments are unbelievable difficult and have an expected failure percentage that should be build into the numbers required for an experimental population.

On balance, I agree that the supervisor here should have been aware of tension – it’s cause and parties involved before things got out of hand. Perhaps one weakness is the interrelationships of the four people apparently responsible for the day to day caretaking of the lab animals, and cages. An open door policy and regular interaction with workers should help a supervisor gauge potential/brewing trouble. That said, nothing can prepare one for a rare case where someone just loses it. I have seen meltdowns in technical help, graduate students, and professors in this type of intense research environment – but thankfully, none at this level of violence.

Posted by: Mr. Ben | September 19, 2009 6:43 PM

Lance: Get help. Unless you've just taken over Hal Turner's old job. I can only _hope_ you're getting a nice FBI informant's paycheck for this repulsive and insane ranting. Good luck with that.

Posted by: russ W | September 20, 2009 9:45 AM

The accused in this case needs thorough physical and mental examinations before his defense counsel can make decisions about his defense. He sounds like a complete lunatic, but does he have a brain tumor or some sort of lesion causing or contributing to his bizarre behavior? Remember the gunman mowing down people from the Tower at the University of Texas. My uneducated guess is that there will be a an eventual guilty plea in this case with psychiatric and medical testimony in mitigation.

Posted by: working (too hard)mom | September 20, 2009 9:28 PM

As a union employee, Clark basically had job security for life. Therefore, he had no incentive whatsoever to treat co-workers and colleagues with respect,or at the very least cordiality. It is virtually impossible to reprimand and discipline a union employee at Yale just because they have a bad attitude. Supervisors feel powerless. No wonder Clark felt he had run of the place. Perhaps if Clark felt he had something to lose (a job), or his supervisor was able to fire his a** this tragic event would never had taken place.

Posted by: Yale Union employee | September 21, 2009 9:20 AM

It's not impossible to fire a union employee. But it's a long process that sometimes supervisors don't want to do.

Posted by: tinan [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 21, 2009 12:16 PM

Posted by: HewNaven?? | September 16, 2009 6:52 PM
(I have to come to Anon's defense here. The suspect's alleged behavior is typical of the male-dominant culture in America that celebrates aggression, selfish pride, and strength over efficiency. This crime is an example of what unchecked anti-social behavior can escalate to.)
This Statement may be Reminder some Due, the good old day (stupited) was over,
Dictator Lazy No Education Jealous Temper + No Friend + Unhappy life
Those Type of Behave end up as it. (Time it come Murder some one) , Also
Yale school Fail Policy work place at Lab Tech which :
Unclear + No Supervisor (where those guys ,supervisor hidden it)
Between Employee and Student (PhD) ,
Policy had to be Separated and Clear to Employee ,what the duties daily works
And Yale school had to Education Employee Know & Understand Those Student is Our National Treasure.
For the god sake, what in the world Yale school thinks and Doing ?
The Leader Management Always had to take full RESPONSIBILITY
Your Design & Set up School which it is happen today.
That why we are (USA) the Leader of the World today and
That why we had all benefits which from all the human best brain & all money those rich people of the world came here, we the people(USA) earn alls that Benefits
Do not have education. But Want to be a boss and do not qualified for it !!??
(Mafia in history, that time was over long time ago)
Yale school management knows it ? ,his supervisor know it ?
But they all ignored it !!! or they may be had something hidden here ???
Some information about formula stem cell breaks thru..? they care about Money??
Many question on Yale school ,May had answers it.
The Yale school full responsible what happen to Ms. Annie Le.
She is Our National Treasures
I love all student, which they work so hard to make it , American dream
Thomas in California

Posted by: HewNaven?? | September 21, 2009 1:06 PM


Your tinfoil hat is on backwards.

For everyone else who is taking this seriously,

I have to agree with Kim. The supervisors in YARC are spread too thin to deal with the volume of work there. Clark's behavior should have been acknowledged and dealt with much sooner, but it seems like he had no one to answer to.

In response to working (too hard)mom:

The fact that he was a Union employee did not impede his possible termination. Supervisors have the power to fire an employee as long as their transgressions are well documented. On the other hand, it could have served Clark well if he had realized that the Union is his body for complaint and reform in the workplace.

Unfortunately, most employees at Yale simply accept their Union membership as an obligation and do not realize the strength and potential of such an organizing body. If there's any Local 34 people listening, you need to organize at YARC!

Posted by: lulu | September 23, 2009 9:46 PM

Hey "JohnSmith" Asians do not get affirmative action, in fact ironically liberals try to hold back our numbers in college for unqualifed blacks and Hispanics, you got it all wrong.Asians are the smallest minority and we have to work for everything we have...

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