The grisly killing of Yale student Annie Le, whose body was discovered stuffed inside the wall of a campus lab yesterday, is just the latest in a string of high-profile crimes long enough to support a Law & Order spinoff.
Le had been missing since last Tuesday; in addition to a body believed to be hers, authorities found bloody clothes believed to belong to the killer hidden above a ceiling tile in a Yale lab. According to the New York Times, local police have begin searching a nearby waste-processing facility for more evidence. Le was to have been married yesterday.
The discovery has set the Yale campus on edge. "I'm freaked," one doctoral student told a Times reporter as he fumbled nervously for a cigarette. He should be: Yale students have demonstrated a disconcerting tendency for turning up dead over the years, often in circumstances that implicate race, class, and sex in a potent Bonfire-of-the-Vanities concoction and usually after some sort of bungling by an incompetent police department and university administration.
Jovin, a 21-year-old senior from Germany, was found stabbed to death on an off-campus street corner in 1998—she'd been stabbed 17 times and her throat was slit. Within days, Yale identified her thesis adviser James Van de Velde, who had also served as dean of Saybrook, one of Yale's residential colleges, as "one of a pool of suspects" and canceled his classes. The New Haven Police Department confirmed that Van de Velde was a suspect and his career was destroyed, but he was never charged. The murder remains unsolved.
In 1977, Garland, a 20-year-old daughter of a wealthy lawyer, was bludgeoned to death with a claw hammer by her boyfriend and fellow student Richard Herrin at her parents' Scarsdale, N.Y. home. Garland had recently told Herrin she wanted to begin seeing other people. Herrin, a Mexican-American who grew up in the L.A. barrio, fled to a local church to confess. Yale's Catholic community rallied around him and raised funds for his legal defense, arguing for leniency and appealing to Herrin's impoverished background. With the help of a high-priced lawyer, Herrin was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 8 to 25 years; he was paroled in 1995.
Prince was what his name sounds like: A white 19-year-old fourth-generation Yalie from a privileged family. He was allegedly killed by James Fleming, a 17-year-old African-American child of poverty in 1991 under circumstances that couldn't have been plotted better by Tom Wolfe. Fleming and a friend, looking for money to attend a rap concert, robbed Prince at gunpoint at 1 a.m. in front of St. Mary's Church. After Prince handed over his wallet, Fleming allegedly said, "I ought to shoot this cracker," and did. Prince's body was found laying on the church stairs, his arms outstretched. After two trials suffused with racial recrimination and publicity, Fleming was convicted of armed robbery but acquitted on the murder charges.
It's not a murder, but Lasaga, a Yale geology professor whose colleagues described him as "Nobel Prize material" was arrested in 1998 on charges of possessing more than 150,000 images of child pornography and molesting a local 6-year-old boy he'd met through a mentoring program. In addition to being a professor, Lasaga was the master of Saybrook. Lasaga pleaded guilty in 2002, and his victim sued Yale last year, alleging that another Yale professor witnessed the abuse and failed to report it.