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Annie Le's family may sue Yale over murder case

A student at Yale University walks on campus.

A student at Yale University walks on campus. (Sept. 14, 2009) Credit: AP

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A year ago Wednesday, Yale student Annie Le went missing just days before her Syosset wedding to her Huntington fiance.

At the time, the college student's frightened family was put up in campus housing, courtesy of the university. Yale officials briefed Le's relatives on daily developments in the case. And when her body was found strangled and stuffed inside a wall of the Yale lab building where she did research, it was a university chaplain who helped them through their grief.

Twelve months later, despite Yale's overtures after Le's death, her mother has hired a law firm that's investigating whether the university did enough to protect the 24-year-old Placerville, Calif., pharmacology doctoral student in the first place.

Earlier this summer, Annie Le's mother, Vivian Le, asked the Manhattan law firm to look into the actions of Yale officials leading up to the discovery of her daughter's body.

Standing outside a New Haven courthouse Wednesday where Le's accused killer, Raymond J. Clark III, had a scheduled pretrial conference, the attorney, Brian King, said the law firm he works for has begun its own inquiry and has a private investigator digging for answers.

Depending on what their investigation shows, King said, the family would consider filing a lawsuit against Yale.

"What was going on the day of her death?" King said. "Were they looking around for her? Why wasn't anyone helping her when this was happening? Where was everybody?"

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy did not return a call for comment but in an e-mail wrote that the university "has not been notified of any legal action or planned legal action. The Yale community continues to offer support to Annie's family and friends."

Clark, now 25, worked with Annie Le as a lab technician at the time of her disappearance. In a televised interview last year, Clark's ex-girlfriend said he acted violently toward her while they were in high school.

King questioned whether the university thoroughly checked out his background before it hired him.

Wednesday, King also said that Le's family also found "somewhat insulting" the $10,000 reward Yale offered for clues in the case, money he called "a very minimal reward."

Clark has pleaded not guilty to murder and is jailed on $3 million bond. He was brought to court Wednesday for the routine pretrial conference, but he and his attorney decided he wouldn't appear.

Authorities have not revealed a motive for the killing.

On Wednesday, Le's relatives were spending the anniversary together, King said.

"They're relying on each other as a family and trying to deal with this as a family."

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