The Yale University graduate student who was found murdered a month ago on what was to be her wedding day was remembered Monday as a "model student" at a memorial service for the university community.
About 150 classmates, professors and others gathered at Yale's historic Battell Chapel for a private memorial service for Annie Le, the 24-year-old found strangled behind a wall in a school laboratory.
Yale President Richard Levin called Le "a model student for the Yale of the 21st century — a child of immigrants, raised in America, bright, accomplished, ambitious and disciplined, yet caring, loving and spontaneous."
Le was a doctoral pharmacology student from Placerville, Calif., who worked on a team that experimented on mice as part of research into enzymes that could have implications for treatment of cancer, diabetes and muscular dystrophy.
Classmate Tara Bancroft recalled a brilliant, beautiful, funny and loyal friend, who could do surgery on a mouse in 5-inch heels, and put smiley faces on her presentations without losing anyone's respect.
Le's adviser, professor Anton Bennett, said the 4-foot-11, 90-pound Le was a passionate dreamer with a plan who would not let her diminutive size get in her way.
"She gave the impression that she was much larger than her physical size," Bennett said. "Annie was large in life, and always seemed to make herself heard. Annie loved to talk and no one who was to come into the lab was big enough to stop her."
Lab tech awaits trial
Le vanished Sept. 8 after heading to work in a basement lab of a Yale medical school building. Her body was found five days later, on what was to be her wedding day, in a wall chase — a hidden access that allows utility pipes and wires to run vertically between floors.
Raymond Clark III, a 24-year-old former Yale University lab technician, has been charged with murder.
Clark, who has not yet entered a plea, is do back in court next week for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Police have not talked about a motive in the slaying, largely because Clark has not talked to authorities. Investigators and Yale officials have called Le's death a case of workplace violence, but have not elaborated.
Le was memorialized last month during a service at her fiance's synagogue on Long Island and again during a funeral mass at a Catholic Church near in El Dorado Hills, in California.
Le had excelled at nearby Union Mine High School near Placerville and took a special interest in science and medicine. She graduated as valedictorian in 2003, and classmates voted her "most likely to be the next Einstein."
She received nearly $160,000 in college scholarships and attended the University of Rochester in New York, majoring in bioscience. It was there she met her finance, Jonathan Widawsky, now a graduate student in physics at Columbia University.
Widawsky and members of Le's family attended Monday's service, sitting in the front pew, several feet from a large portrait of a smiling Le, and two vases filled with pink and white roses.
Yale officials have established a scholarship in Le's memory.