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Andrew Cohen: Relax, It's Early in Annie Le Investigation

The murder of Yale University student Annie Le is a terrible story; one that easily and globally resonates to our romantic cores. Here's a bright, beautiful bride whose body is discovered on her wedding day; here's a dashing and innocent groom devastated by the loss. It's no wonder the murder investigation has drawn the attention of the world.

Photos: Who is Raymond Clark III?
Photos: Raymond Clark & Fiancée in Love
Photos: Yale Holds Vigil for Slain Student
Photos: Student Found Dead on Wedding Day

It's also no wonder, I guess, why so many people would already be demanding so many definitive answers of the New Haven law enforcement community, the generally well-meaning and well-serving members of which often have to deal with crime. Why no arrest yet? Why no charges yet? Why no "perp walk" yet? Why is he being called a "person of interest" and not a "suspect"? Why no made-for-television solution to the crime?

The answer is easy. Sometimes, it takes more than a few days to solve a murder mystery; sometimes, the police like to keep quiet and wait and then do what they need to do. Sometimes it takes a week. Sometimes it takes a month. Besides, it's not like the past 72 hours have been void of progress for the police. We know a lot more about the matter than we did on Sunday, when the young woman's body was found in that crawl space on campus.

We know that access to the murder site was restricted. We know that clothes were seized. We know there has been or will be DNA testing, either voluntarily or not. We know there is already "a person of interest"—in custody-- who may or may not have "defensive" wounds and who may or may not have failed (or passed) a polygraph test. The police, importantly, have reassured the community that the crime was not random.

Photo: Yale lab technician Raymond Clark in a frame grab from WFSB. Clark may be person of interest in Annie Le murder case.

These are all signs that the arrest and charges everyone is waiting for surely is on its way. It means the police are comfortable with the pace and progress of their work and that they have good reason (another suspect? A different suspect? A confession?) for not rushing into court to get to the pre-trial stage of a case. How about we all just wait a few more days to see how it unfolds?

The impatient public reaction to the investigation of the Le death reminds me of the mass murders last month in a small Georgia town. Eight members of a family were slaughtered on August 29th and for several days afterward reporters and citizens of Brunswick, Ga. got downright rowdy with local law enforcement officials who kept quiet about the crime. There were angry questions to the police about how the community was not adequately protected; about whether there was a killer on the loose. It was genuinely ugly.

And then what happened? Soon thereafter, the police arrested the young man who had dialed 911 to report the murders; a man who appeared first to be a victim. Turns out the cops knew all along that the crime was not a random one and that a killer was not on the loose. They bided their time and now they feel like they got their man. The lesson? There is no prize for rushing to judgment—or for rushing into court.

Andrew Cohen is CBS News' Chief Legal Analyst and Legal Editor. He covers legal issues for CBS News, CBS News Radio, and hundreds of television and radio affiliates around the country. He is a Murrow-Award-winning "recovering attorney" who has provided commentary and analysis for the network since 1997.

Photos: Who is Raymond Clark III?
Photos: Raymond Clark & Fiancée in Love
Photos: Yale Holds Vigil for Slain Student
Photos: Student Found Dead on Wedding Day


September 16, 2009 - Raymond Clark III Released After Complying With Police in Yale Student Murder Case
September 16, 2009 - Did Raymond Clark III Kill Yale Student Annie Le? For Now Police Aren't Saying
September 16, 2009 - Murdered Yale Student Annie Le Remembered By Those Who Loved Her
September 15, 2009 - Lab Technician Raymond Clark is "Person of Interest" in Murdered Student Annie Le Case, Says Source
September 15, 2009 - Annie Le Autopsy Delayed, but "Person of Interest" May be Named in Yale Student Murder Case
September 15, 2009 - Murdered Yale Student Annie Le: Police Descend on Lab Technician's Apartment Building
September 15, 2009 - Murdered Yale Student Annie Le Autopsy: Why Are Prosecutors Holding Results?
September 15, 2009 - Will Suspect be Charged Today in Yale Student Annie Le Murder Case? Not Likely, Say Police
September 15, 2009 - Do Police Suspect Lab Technician Killed Yale Student Annie Le?
September 15, 2009 - Yale Says Goodbye to Annie Le at Candlelight Vigil
September 15, 2009 - Yale Student Annie Le: Police Close in on Killer
September 14, 2009 - Yale Student Annie Le: Body Found Stuffed in Laboratory Wall
September 14, 2009 - Vigil Planned for Yale Student Annie Le
September 14, 2009 - Missing Yale Student Annie Le's Body Likely Found on Wedding Day
September 11, 2009 - Missing Yale Student Annie Le Wrote about Campus Safety
September 10, 2009 - Annie Le: Search Dogs Called In for Missing Yale Student
September 10, 2009 - Yale Grad Student Annie Le Vanishes Five Days Before Wedding