From the Editor

Yale's month of trauma

“There's a student missing,” said a colleague. It was the afternoon of September 9, and he was reading the Yale Daily News online. We studied the surveillance camera photo of Annie Le ’13PhD, walking into 10 Amistad in green top and brown skirt, at ease on an ordinary workday. From the steep angle of the camera, and in our frame of mind, she looked small and vulnerable.

From that moment, September proceeded in a kind of slow-motion trauma, as the increasingly gruesome details of Annie Le's murder seeped out day by day. I won't rehearse them here; Carole Bass’s article covers the case in full. Nothing so horrific has happened at Yale since Suzanne Jovin ’99 was killed more than ten years ago.

The murder at 10 Amistad was by far the worst of three disturbing episodes that month. The day after the news went out that Le was missing, everyone at Yale received one of the e-mails that Yale's chief of police sends out when a crime takes place on or near campus. This one was different from the standard purse snatching. “The Yale Police arrested a former employee in a non-Yale parking lot at 191 Whitney Avenue this morning, when he was discovered to be in possession of a firearm,” Chief James Perrotti wrote. According to the newspaper reports, John Petrini, who had complained about his retirement benefits in the past, was looking for the Human Resources office and was equipped with a shotgun, ammunition, and a large knife. If another Yale employee hadn't seen him carrying what looked like a rifle case, September might have been still worse.

After two such events, how could there be another? But there was. In more-normal times it would likely have made national headlines for a Yale psychiatry resident to be charged with possession of illegal assault weapons (see “Psych Resident Arrested with ‘Arsenal’”), especially as the police used words like “arsenal” and said the resident, Robert Remington, had made drunken threats in a bar and declared himself the “Savior of Death.” But September 16, the day the New Haven Independent reported Remington’s arrest, was the day after police had named Yale lab technician Raymond Clark III as their “person of interest” in Annie Le's murder. No one paid much attention to anything else.

I was glad, superstitiously, to see September go. We would all like to forget that three incidents so macabre could happen in a university community of just 28,000 people in the space of just eight days.

But we won’t forget what happened to Le. Those of us who didn’t know her were only bystanders to the tragedy that engulfed her family, her fiancé, and her friends. But we all saw the joyful smile in the photo that Yale released early on—when everyone hoped she might be just a “missing person”—and we lived through that period of anxiety and then shock. It will be a long time before Yale stops grieving for Annie Le.  

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