September 14, 2009 10:00 AM
Search for Yale Student Annie Le: Body Found Stuffed in Laboratory Wall
Photo: Annie Le.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBS/AP) Sunday was supposed to be missing Yale student Annie Le's wedding day. Instead, it was likely the day that her family was forced to deal with a grim reality. A body found stuffed behind a wall in the basement of a high-security laboratory building is probably their daughter's.
Photos: Missing Yale Student Annie Le
Police found the body, which apparently met a violent death, around 5 p.m. Sunday. At this point, they have not officially confirmed that the body is Annie Le.
New Haven police spokesman Joe Avery said the body "was found behind the wall in something called a chase, which is a space that carries utilities from one floor to another."
Now as police hunt for a killer, questions about the gruesome find may offer clues. Who knew about the utility area where the body was found and who had access to it? A student, a professor, a janitor? At this point there is little more than speculation.
Le, 24, who worked in a laboratory in the five-story building's basement, was reported missing Sept. 8. Her ID, money, credit cards and purse were found in her third-floor office.
More than 100 local, state and federal police had been searching the building for days, using blueprints to uncover any place where evidence or Le's body could be hidden.
Investigators on Saturday said they recovered evidence from the building, but would not confirm media reports that the items included bloody clothing.
On Sunday morning, a state police van drove down a ramp into the building's basement area. Authorities also sifted through garbage at a Hartford incinerator Sunday, looking through trash that was taken from the building in the days since Le went missing.
A friend said Monday the doctoral student never showed signs of worry about her own personal safety at work, although she did express concerns about crime in New Haven in an article she wrote last year.
"If she was concerned about (it) she would have said something to someone and they would have known," Jennifer Simpson told CBS' "The Early Show." "And Jon (her fiance) would have known, her family would have known, friends would have known."
Police are analyzing what they're calling "a large amount" of physical evidence.
They will not discuss suspects, other than to say Le's fiance is not a suspect and has assisted in the investigation. It was unknown Monday morning when an autopsy would be performed.
The building where the body was found is part of the university medical school complex about a mile from Yale's main campus and is accessible to Yale personnel with identification cards. A network of some 75 video surveillance cameras are trained on every door.
Campus officials have said that the security network recorded Le entering the building by swiping her ID card about 10 a.m. on Sept. 8, and have been baffled before Sunday's gruesome discovery that she was never seen leaving.
Yale President Richard Levin offered support to Le's family and her fiance, Columbia University graduate student Jonathan Widawsky. The couple was to marry Sunday in Syosset, N.Y., on Long Island's north shore.
Photo: Annie Le and fiance, Jonathan Widawsky.
"The family and fiance and friends now must suffer the additional ordeal of waiting for the body to be positively identified," Levin said.
Le wrote an article that was published in February in the medical school's magazine. The piece, titled "Crime and Safety in New Haven," compared higher instances of robbery in New Haven with cities that house other Ivy League schools. It also included an interview with Yale Police Chief James Perrotti, who offered advice such as "pay attention to where you are" and "avoid portraying yourself as a potential victim."
"In short, New Haven is a city and all cities have their perils," Le concludes. "But with a little street smarts, one can avoid becoming yet another statistic."
Photos: Missing Yale Student Annie Le and Fiance Jonathan Widawsky
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