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


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