Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Annie Le: The Yale Lab Murder

Lost And Found

Surveillance video of Annie Le entering 10 Amistad Street
Surveillance video of Annie Le entering
10 Amistad Street
As usual, Le was at her Sterling Hall office early the morning of Tuesday, September 8, 2009. She left her purse, wallet, and cell phone in her office, and walked a block or so to 10 Amistad Street to check on the mice she was using in her enzyme research. Electronic key records show that at 10:00 am, she entered the Amistad Street Lab; surveillance footage shows her wearing a brown skirt and green t-shirt as she entered the building. Neither key records nor the security cameras recorded her leaving the building.

Her five roommates expected her home that evening, and Le wasn't one to be late or to blow off a plan. She didn't answer her cell phone. By 9:00 p.m., they were worried enough that they called the police.

Investigators initially hoped that Le was just having cold feet about her upcoming wedding, that maybe she was fleeing her engagement or just hiding out while she thought things through and wrestled her pre-wedding jitters. Her friends and familyand even the staff who'd met her at the North Ritz Club in Syosset, Long Island, where she was to be married in a lakeside gazebowere convinced that she was solidly in love and looking forward to the ceremony, to her honeymoon in Greece, and to her life with Widawsky.

Police couldn't figure out how she could have got out of the building without being caught on film or in the key records, so they searched the Hartford dump where Yale's trash ends upbut they found nothing. They brought blood-sniffing dogs to the lab in case she was still insidebut the dogs seem to have been confused by the scents of the research animals.

Investigators questioned a professor who happened, on the day she disappeared, to cancel a class in which Le was enrolled. They considered her fiancÚ, but quickly ruled him out. It seemed unlikely that a random attacker could have wandered into the basement lab where Le did her animal researchentry required a keycard at two points, and there were security guards posted outsideso police focused their investigation on the Yale community.

Saturday, police found bloody clothes hidden behind a ceiling tile. They weren't the green t-shirt and brown skirt Le had been wearing on camera footage showing her entering the building. Armed with blueprints of the building, investigators kept searching for clues, and for her.

On Sunday, September 13, the day the wedding was to have been held, a German shepherd named Max picked up Le's scent. Max and his handler found Le's body in a utility conduit within the lab's basement walls. A Connecticut medical examiner ruled her death due to asphyxiation caused by neck compression. She'd been strangled.

Cops already had their eyes on a person of interest.

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