Video: Did argument spark killing?

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    >>> but we begin with the arrest of ray clark for the murder of graduate student annie le. nbc 's jeff rossen is at the campus this morning. jeff , good morning to you.

    >> reporter: meredith, good morning to you. it is the big question. if ray clark did it, what was his motive? this morning sources close to the case tell nbc it may all come down to a fight over mice. just one day after the dramatic arrest of ray clark at a connecticut motel, we're learning more about the man charged with murder. he worked in the basement of the yale research lab assisting with animal experiments alongside the victim, yale grad student annie le. in an e-mail to nbc news, a lab coworker with ties to the case wrote, "ray has always been very controlling over what goes on in the mouse room, often bothering people to the point of damn near harassment." clark 's job as an animal technician was to clean the mouse cages. and the lab worker says he was territorial. "last thing i knew was annie got a message from him saying her cages were dirty."

    >> investigators are going through several motives, but this is one of them that they are certainly looking into.

    >> reporter: that he was so upset with the way she was treating the animals that he would kill her?

    >> right. of course, it sounds outlandish, but that's one of the things they're looking into. we've confirmed that.

    >> reporter: still the lab coworker described ray clark as a nice guy , normal. "he has always been incredibly kind and way helpful to me. it's kind of creepy to me that i thought of him as a good guy," the coworker wrote to us. "he knew her so superficially, i would bet he didn't even know she was engaged."

    >> there was reports about a romantic relationship. none of those are true.

    >> reporter: police arrested clark after comparing his dna to dna at the crime scene . there are reports police tracked his movements the day of the murder using his electronic yale i.d. card , putting him in the same room as annie when she went missing.

    >> this is not about urban crime. it's not about university crime. it's not about domestic crime. but an issue of workplace violence .

    >> what happened here could have happened anywhere. it says more about the dark side of the human soul than it does about anything else.

    >> you understood those rights?

    >> yes, sir.

    >> reporter: wearing khakis and a polo shirt thursday, ray clark 's bond was set at $3 million. "the new york daily news" has interesting reporting today talking about the dna matches. apparently police found blood from annie le on ray clark 's boots. they also have a report about a green pan, a special green pen, that everyone here knew that ray clark used. apparently he dropped that green pen at the crime scene . police recovered it. and they say ray clark came here to the research lab the very next day after the crime was committed to try to get it back. but police have recovered it. and they're using that as physical evidence. meanwhile, meredith, we hear annie le's family who was here in new haven at yale 's campus has gone into mourning somewhere else . they have left town.

    >> jeff rossen, thanks so much for your reporting this morning.

    >>> maurice perry and bobby heslin

updated 9/18/2009 8:30:59 PM ET 2009-09-19T00:30:59

Police may never know the motive for the killing of a Yale University graduate student whose body was found hidden behind a wall on what should have been her wedding day, the police chief said Friday.

Raymond Clark III, a technician in the lab where Annie Le conducted research, was arrested Thursday, a day after authorities took DNA samples from him to compare with evidence from the crime scene. His bond was set at $3 million, and he did not enter a plea.

"The only person who knows the motive is the suspect," Chief James Lewis told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It's true in many cases. You never know absolutely unless the person confesses, and in this case it's too early to tell."

A telephone message seeking comment from the public defenders' office, which is representing Clark, was not immediately returned Friday.

Lewis said Friday that no further arrests were expected, but investigators were sifting through hundreds of pieces of evidence. He said police had trailed other people before they zeroed in on Clark as a suspect.

A law enforcement official who talked to the AP on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing and many details remained sealed said Thursday that co-workers called Clark a "control freak" who was territorial about the mice whose cages he cleaned. Authorities are investigating whether that attitude might have set off a clash between Clark and Le.

Clark tried to hide evidence even as investigators worked in the basement lab around him, authorities said, then coolly played a softball game on the day Le's body was found stuffed inside a nearby wall.

An investigator observed Clark trying to hide cleaning equipment that contained blood splatters as teams probed the disappearance of Le, who was 24, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation who spoke to The Hartford Courant.

Investigators have records of Clark, also 24, cleaning areas that Le was in before she was reported missing Sept. 8, the official told the Courant, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But despite Clark's efforts, investigators found the DNA of both suspect and victim in the ceiling and in the wall recess where Le's body was hidden, the official told the paper. New Haven police wouldn't confirm that information to the AP.

Under surveillance
The body of Le, a pharmacology student from Placerville, Calif., was recovered Sunday, the day she was to get married on New York's Long Island.

Also that day, Clark played shortstop in a softball playoff game for his team, the New Haven Wild Hogs, an opposing player said. And he played under the gaze of undercover police officers who had been trailing him 24 hours a day for several days before his arrest.

One of the opposing players, Vinnie Mauro, of New Haven, said he knew Clark as a plain, calm New York Mets fan who usually wore a David Wright jersey.

"You couldn't tell anything," Mauro told the AP. "There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. He was just nondescript, kept to himself."

Prosecutors may face difficult questions in Clark's trial about why they didn't restrict access to the lab after Le was reported missing, legal experts said. Le disappeared on a Tuesday, and authorities didn't close it until the weekend.

"If a jury is looking for something to grab onto, then this could be something for them to grab onto," said Hugh Keefe, a top state defense attorney.

Memorial service planned
Le's work involved experiments on mice that were part of research into enzymes that could have implications for treatment of cancer, diabetes and muscular dystrophy, while Clark's technician job involved cleaning floors and mouse cages.

Ann Turner, executive director of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, acknowledges "there is a gulf" between technicians and the researchers they interact with.

"There's a gulf in any workplace where you have a person with a higher level of education and no education," she said, noting that gap shouldn't necessarily lead to tension.

However, "if there is a culture of trust and a culture of respect, the researchers will respect the animal care technicians, and vice versa," Turner said.

A memorial service for Le is planned at the Huntington, New York, temple her fiance's family attends between the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah, beginning sundown Friday, and Yom Kippur on Sept. 28, cantor Sandra Sherry said.

The family of fiance Jonathan Widawsky, a graduate student at Columbia University, had already announced it would not attend services "for the foreseeable future" to ease things for the synagogue, Sherry said.

Clark is jailed in Suffield, north of Hartford. His next scheduled court date is Oct. 6.

More on: Yale

This report includes information from The Associated Press and NBC News.


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