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09.15.09

Yale Student's Fight for Her Life

As Annie Le’s fellow students mourn her with vigils, police are sizing up a suspect with defensive wounds, suggesting the petite 24-year-old—whom a friend describes as tougher than people thought—put up a brutal fight to save herself.

At a candlelight vigil Monday night for Annie Le, hundreds of friends, students, faculty, and school personnel gathered in memory of the 24-year-old Yale Ph.D. student, whose body was found Sunday afternoon behind a wall in the basement of 10 Amistad St., the building in downtown New Haven where she was last seen a week ago.

Natalie Powers, Le’s roommate during her two years at Yale, had difficulty getting out the words to describe her friend. Choking back tears, Powers said Le was a kind, generous, honest woman—who at 4-feet-10 and 90 pounds was tougher than people thought.

Choking back tears, Powers said Le was a kind, generous, honest woman—who at 4-feet-10 and 90 pounds was tougher than people thought.

But that toughness may help police put Le’s murderer behind bars for life. A lab technician who worked in the building where Le—whose body was discovered on the day she was to have been married—did her graduate projects is reportedly a prime suspect. The technician, who has not been identified by police, has what are called defensive wounds on his chest and body. Connecticut state police are performing DNA and other tests now that the autopsy of her body has been completed.

Wendy Murphy: What the Police Know Police are also examining bloodstained clothes found in the building where Le was last seen, a day before her body was recovered. On Sunday, police officials said the clothes were not what Le was last seen wearing.

The lab technician has reportedly failed a lie detector test administered by the authorities. Joe Keenan, a retired New York Police Department detective who told The Daily Beast last week that he believed Le’s body would be found at the building in downtown New Haven, said the killer must have been quite familiar with the building.

“The person who did this knew the building very well,” he said. “That person also had to be somewhat handy. He knew how to remove and replace ceiling tiles so as to hide the bloody clothes. That person also had to know that there were spaces behind the walls in the basement for electrical and Internet cables, as well air ducts that would allow him to stuff Annie’s body. He knew it well enough so that that despite over 100 law enforcement people searching for her, it took them six days to locate her body.”

As of late Monday evening police were still searching the building, and the area around the facility and the adjacent multistory parking garage had been cordoned off.

John Connolly is a former New York City detective turned journalist. He is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine, and is currently finishing a book called The Sin Eater on disgraced and imprisoned Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano.