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Yale Student Was Strangled to Death; Police News Conference in Yale Murder

Aired September 16, 2009 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, grisly new details emerging in the murder of a Yale graduate student. Officials now revealing how she was killed as they collect DNA evidence from a technician in the lab where her body was found. We're standing by this hour for a live police news conference -- new information emerging.

Also, for critics of government-run health care, it's the poster child of everything wrong. But the truth about the Canadian system may surprise you. We're going to put it toe to toe with the U.S. system. We have a senator from each country here to debate.

And former President Jimmy Carter deeply disturbed by what he sees as racist undertones in the criticism of President Obama. His words, plus Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele -- he's here to respond live.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But first, two major new developments in the murder of Yale graduate student Annie Le, with the possibility of more this hour. We're standing by for that live news conference by police in New Haven, Connecticut, who took a Yale employee into custody last night. And hours later, the medical examiner revealed that Annie Le was strangled to death.

CNN's Mary Snow has been on this story from the very beginning.

She's joining us now with more.

What are you hearing in New Haven -- Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just disbelief, Wolf. This is the latest, as you mentioned. We'll be getting an update from the New Haven Police Department. But 24-year-old Raymond Clark was in police custody for about five hours last night into early this morning. His attorney is saying that he's committed to proceeding appropriately with authorities with whom he's in regular contact. Clark is a lab technician and he works at the building where Annie Le's body was found on Sunday. We talked to some people who work with him who say that they're just shocked by this news coming out. Police say they're continuing this investigation. As you mentioned, the medical examiner came out saying she had been strangled. But would not give us any more details about the circumstances of Annie Le's death.

We're going to take a closer look in just a little bit at the person who was taken into police custody, Raymond Clark. And we'll have that a little bit later in the show, as well as the very latest from the police here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Is it supposed to begin very soon?

There's a whole list of people who are going to be beginning who will be speaking there?

SNOW: We'll most likely be hearing from the New Haven police chief who briefed everyone last night. He did say though, Wolf, that he believes by the end of this week it should be determined whether or not Raymond Clark would be arrested or would be exonerated. He was taken into custody to obtain DNA samples. Investigators are trying to see if any of those match with the evidence that they have. They've about 150 pieces of evidence. And also, his home was searched overnight, as well with a police search warrant.

BLITZER: All right. Mary is going to be coming back later this hour. She's going to have more on this individual, Raymond Clark. Also, we'll go live to the news conference once it begins, the police chief in New Haven. We'll share with you what's going on as we learn what's going on.

But let's talk a little bit more about these new developments with CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom.

She's joining us -- Lisa, when other news organizations describe this Raymond Clark, this lab technician as a "person of interest. Legally speaking, what does that mean?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, legally that's not a term at all. That's just a term that gets thrown around. But it's not the same thing as a defendant, someone who has been formally accused of a crime. It's not even the same thing as a suspect, someone who the police are looking at very intensely and who may have probable cause to arrest. And I think, you know, you put your finger on a very important issue. This man has not yet been arrested. He's not yet been formally accused of a crime and he's voluntarily submitted to giving body evidence which I assume means DNA evidence so the police can see if they can match him to the crime. He's, of course, presumed innocent. And as I say has not yet been arrested.

BLITZER: But he was handcuffed when he was taken into custody yesterday. We saw his arms behind his back.

What does that mean?

BLOOM: Well, that's not a good sign. It may mean he was resisting going into custody perhaps, perhaps the police were being overcautious, but you know, I think, this is the kind of crime that should be relatively easily solved. We have many, many surveillance cameras -- several dozen surveillance cameras in that building. It's a high security building. Separate swipes had to be done to get into the building, to get into the basement lab area. And this is a building where there is a lot of evidence. Seven hundred videos are being combed over by the police. There should be a fair amount of DNA evidence on the victim, at the crime scene and there should be the victim's DNA on the killer.

Once the police are able to put this all together, whether it's this man or somebody else, this should be a crime that's relatively easily solved.

BLITZER: Well, because today the medical examiner said the cause of death was asphyxiation -- choking -- choking Annie -- Annie Le.

So when you say, what, when you say DNA, there would be evidence of fingerprints on her throat, is that what you're saying?

BLOOM: Yes. And I'm also talking about blood evidence, Wolf. It generally takes two to five minutes to strangle a human being. That human being will almost always fight back with everything that she has. Annie Le was a very small person, but there would typically be scratches, bite marks on both the killer and perhaps defensive wounds on the victim, as well. So there would ordinarily be D -- be DNA evidence in terms of blood, saliva, that type of thing, on both of the individuals.

And strangulation is a very personal, brutal kind of crime. You have to imagine that the killer has to hold the victim for two to five minutes and slowly make that victim die. I mean, that's an excruciating kind of death. That's the kind of death that ordinarily involves a lot of struggle, a lot of fighting and, therefore, a lot of DNA evidence.

BLITZER: I want you to stand by, Lisa, because we're going to await the news conference from the police chief and others in New Haven and then we'll discuss what we've learned. Lisa Bloom is our CNN legal analyst. We'll have much more on this story coming up.

Let's go back to Jack right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The long awaited health care proposal from the Senate Finance Committee is out.

And in it the Democrats insist the $856 billion to pay for this won't add to the federal deficit. There's a claim that we've been hearing a lot these days -- President Obama promising that he won't -- not sign a bill that adds one dime to the deficit.

But a lot of people have a hard time believing that, including me, especially since there haven't been many specifics on how the country is going to pay for this nearly $900 billion plan, not just for the next 10 years, but beyond that.

One potential source of revenue the president mentions is getting rid of hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud in the Medicare program. Really?

Details, please.

If there's really so much money to be saved from Medicare, then why wait?

Why aren't we saving it now?

Here's how a recent editorial in "The Washington Post" described this thing: "When politicians start talking about paying for programs by cutting waste and abuse, you should get nervous. And when they don't provide specifics and when the amounts under discussion are in the hundreds of billions of dollars, you should get even more nervous." That's a quote.

The president needs to give specifics about taxes and spending cuts and where the money is going to come from to pay for this thing.

Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats are admitting they're having a tough time meeting the "restrictions" that the president has laid out -- including his limiting the price tag to $900 billion over 10 years.

So here's the question: When it comes to paying for health care reform, do you think it's possible to eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud from Medicare?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

I just want to remind our viewers, we now have another way for everyone to get in touch with us and to let us know what they think and also to hear from me. I'm now on Twitter. You can find my Tweets at Twitter.com/wolfblitzercnn -- wolfblitzercnn all one word. We're Tweeting here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Former President Jimmy Carter blasting what he calls a racist tone in some criticism against President Obama. The Republican Party chairman, Michael Steele, is standing by live here. He is going to respond to Jimmy Carter.

And a blind woman's sight restored when doctors implant a tooth in her eye -- yes -- how this bizarre sounding procedure really works.

And we've just received new pictures of singer Chris Brown doing his community service. Details of his dirty work. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Remember, we're standing by live to go to New Haven, Connecticut. The police chief there is getting ready to have a news conference, make an announcement, some sort of statement on the murder of Annie Le, the Yale graduate student. We'll go there live. We'll hear what he has to say. That's coming up shortly.

But right now, let's get back to another major story we're following.

Former President Jimmy Carter says he's very disturbed by the tone of some of the most heated criticism aimed at President Obama. He says much of it is born in what he calls racism.

Listen to what he told anchor Brian Williams on the "NBC Nightly News."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS," COURTESY NBC)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. I live in the South and I've seen the South come a long way. And I've seen the rest of the country, that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups, at that time, particularly African-Americans.

That racism in connection still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Very strong words from former President Jimmy Carter.

Let's get some reaction from the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Michael Steele, is joining us now.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for coming in.

MICHAEL STEELE, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: Hey, Wolf.

Good to be with you, buddy.

BLITZER: What do you want to say to the former president?

STEELE: Well, I'll make it as short and sweet and simple as possible -- you're just dead wrong. I think the president's interpretation of what racism is is not a reflection of what this is about. And the reality of it is, this is about policy -- differences in how we approach solving some of these issues that we're confronting on health care and the economy.

And the fact that there are citizens around the country -- I don't care what color they are -- that are outraged or -- or confused or concerned or whatever, however they come to this debate, you know, that has nothing to do with the color of the president's skin.

I am, like a lot of Americans, concerned and disagree with the president's policies and approaches, from the stimulus spending to this health care strategy.

BLITZER: But -- but...

STEELE: Am I racist because I disagree with that?

BLITZER: But there is...

STEELE: I don't think so.

BLITZER: There is an element -- a tiny element, I should say, a small fringe element out there -- and you're sensitive to this, I think -- that -- that does have racist views of the president.

STEELE: Well, look, hey, they have the racist views about me. I mean they're -- they're racist, if that's the case. But that has not been the nature of this policy debate. And that's where I have the problem with the president's comments, because he's elevated it to the point that is it now, you know, a reaction to everything. Everybody who has this negative approach or view on this subject is a racist. And that's not where we are. That's not where the country is. And I just thought that the president was out of line. And I think that he takes this to a point and to a level that is not reflective of what's been transpiring in this debate.

BLITZER: The...

STEELE: My second concern, Wolf, is that when you go down that road, when you just look behind every corner and see race and racism -- now, that's not to say it doesn't exist. Lord knows it still does. And I've had a problem with this post-racial attitude that some in the Obama campaign, now in the administration, have tried to -- to hoist out there. But when you go down this road and you start just willy- nilly, as I believe President Carter has, throwing race out there, you diminish real instances of race...

BLITZER: All right...

STEELE: ...racism that needs to be addressed.

BLITZER: Let -- let me point out what Maureen Dowd, "The New York Times" columnist, she wrote a very powerful column last Sunday. She had another one out today. And today she suggests that -- and she has an interview with James Clyburn, the congressman from South Carolina, the highest ranking African-American in the U.S. Congress, Democrat. He's the whip.

And she writes this: "Over the years, Clyburn tried to look past things that bothered him" -- referring to Joe Wilson, the congressman who screamed "You lie" to the president. "Wilson's membership in some groups that call into question his feelings about this whole notion of white supremacy and his defense of the Confederate flag flying above the Columbia, South Carolina statehouse."

It's not just Jimmy Carter, it's Maureen Dowd and others who are suggesting this racial...

STEELE: Yes, it is...

BLITZER: ...overtone is out there.

STEELE: It is (INAUDIBLE). Oh, yes, it is this wonderful ivory tower liberal elite who think they know racism better than I do, who think they understand what it's like better than I do...

BLITZER: But...

STEELE: ...that they know...

BLITZER: But James Clyburn...

STEELE: ...it better than I see it.

BLITZER: ...understands what racism...

STEELE: And the reality of it is...

BLITZER: James Clyburn understands racism, right?

STEELE: Well, yes. But James Clyburn's -- James Clyburn's experience is different from mine. I don't hear someone call an individual a liar and immediately jump to racism. And so that's the problem.

This generation of Americans don't do that. Dr. King laid a foundation that we have progressed from, where we are better at distinguishing vestiges of racism that exist in this country. And so when you step back and you try to wrap around the way Clyburn, Carter and Maureen are trying to do, I think it is disingenuous and it -- it negates...

BLITZER: You know...

STEELE: ...real effective approaches to solving racism where it is.

BLITZER: This was the statement that Congressman -- Democratic Congressman Henry Johnson of South Carolina made. And it -- it's causing a lot of consternation out there, as well.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HENRY "HANK" JOHNSON (D), GEORGIA: It instigated more racist sentiment, feeling that it's OK, you don't have to -- you don't have to bury it now, you can bring it out and talk about it fully. And so I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside intimidating people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Wow! That's a -- that's a pretty powerful statement he's making.

STEELE: I think...

BLITZER: What do...

STEELE: ...it's an ignorant statement. I think it's an ignorant statement, I'm sorry. That is just so -- it is just beyond my comprehension that you jump from a -- a member of Congress who blurted out in an emotional response to something the president said to all of a sudden people are going to be running through the neighborhoods wearing white sheets and hoods. I'm sorry. It just, to me, it's beyond anyone's comprehension that you can make that leap. But that again makes my point.

And so, you know, I'm where the president is on this. Now, the president of the United States said, on many occasions, that matters of race, whether we are having a discussion or we're trying to solve a problem, is a teachable moment. I think that teachable moment -- that classroom right now should have Carter and Clyburn and others in it, so they understand what the president and I understand. And that is there's a very fine distinction between what we heard...

BLITZER: All right...

STEELE: ...in that hall last week and what we're hearing right now.

BLITZER: Congressman...

STEELE: And this, to me...

BLITZER: Congressman...

STEELE: ...is the problem.

BLITZER: Congressman Johnson, I should correct, is from Georgia, not from South Carolina. But you have to admit, if you take a look at some of those rallies, there were some really racist pictures out there. And we'll put a few of them up there on the screen -- a video showing -- or pictures of -- of the president of the United States as an African witch doctor, if you will. There -- there it is right there. There were -- there were these kinds of racist images that were projected at some of those rallies.

STEELE: You know, look, that's inappropriate and misplaced. That's what that -- how that person may have interpreted it. But that, for every one of those, Wolf, there were 70, 80, 100, 1,000 other signs that weren't that. And so this is -- this is the distinction I think we need to understand. Don't hold up one person as an example of behavior by everyone, because that's not what we're talking about here.

And I think we need to be very careful and -- and sensitive. If we want to stay serious about solving some of the issues on race, then we just can't go around every corner claiming it exists there and it exists there when -- when it doesn't. And that's -- that's where I have a real problem with a lot of these folks who are coming out here now, trying to play this card from beneath the deck in such a way to stifle debate, to have us focus on something other...

BLITZER: You...

STEELE: ...than the president's policies. Instead, now we're having this discussion about race.

And, finally, on this point, I'd like to have the president give his own view on this.

Does he believe...

BLITZER: Well, the White House...

STEELE: ...in what Clyburn...

BLITZER: The White House today...

STEELE: ...and Maureen Dowd have said?

BLITZER: The White House press secretary today, Robert Gibbs, agreed with you. He doesn't believe that racism is part of this angry debate that is out there. So he seems, at least on this narrow point, to agree with Michael Steele.

You have your hands cut out for you. You're the chairman of the Republican Party. And you've -- you have a largely white party. I want to put a picture up on the screen, Mr. Chairman, of the floor of the joint session of Congress, the Democrats and the Republicans.

STEELE: Uh-huh.

BLITZER: Now, the Democrats are on the right side; the Republicans are on the left side over there. And if you take a look, the left side is mostly white men. There -- there are no African- American Republicans in the House or the Senate. You look at the Democratic side, there's a lot of people of color. There's African- Americans, Latinos, men and women.

What are you going to do to try to diversify the Republican Party?

STEELE: I'll accept the indictment. I'll accept it, you know. And I -- and I know we've got to change. And our party has, for over a generation, employed a strategy that right now we wish -- many of us wish we never had.

We have a strong and, I think, an -- a special relationship with the minority community, especially African-Americans in this country. And part of my responsibility and opportunity is to engage in -- in a new way those voters out there on ideas that matter to them, on policies that matter to them, whether we are talking about health care, we're taking about employment.

You know, I'm looking at cities around the country where black folk live. Now, you showed me the Congress with all these wonderful black Democrats and white Democrats. But I go to black neighborhoods that are run by those same Democrats. And you tell me where racism really exists.

Is it in the words of a Congressman who says, "You lie," or is it in how we strip education funding through opportunity scholarships?

Or is it how we cut money for our HBCUs around the country?

Or is it the fact that so many African-Americans still live in neighborhoods that are burnt out and run down and those same Democrats that are in that hall and that are running those cities aren't investing capital, time, interest in that community, instead of just giving the typical 40-year lip service out of the Great Society that, "trust us, we're better and if you don't, the Republicans are going to -- Republicans are going to come in a white hood."

I'm sick of that. Right now, let's talk about...

BLITZER: All right...

STEELE: ...how we move people beyond poverty and into opportunity. That's a debate. And when we get into that one instead of talking about this stuff, when we get into that one, you'll start to see some hurt -- heads turned in this country. And the Republican Party will stand there and have something to say in every community, not just black...

BLITZER: Good...

STEELE: ...white or otherwise.

BLITZER: Good luck, Mr. Chairman.

You've got your hands full out there.

STEELE: It's worth it. I've got to do it, man.

BLITZER: All right. We'll talk.

STEELE: All righty.

BLITZER: We'll continue this conversation.

Michael Steele is the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

STEELE: Take care.

BLITZER: Thank you.

It's the United States versus Canada. We're going to put each country's health care system up against the other with a senator from each side of the border here to debate who really has better health care.

Plus, new pictures of singer Chris Brown serving his sentence for assaulting his girlfriend, Rihanna -- community service and a very dirty job. Also, we're standing by momentarily. We're going live to New Haven, Connecticut. You're looking at the live pictures. Momentarily, the police chief there will walk up to those microphones and give us the latest on the murder of a graduate student at Yale, Annie Le.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. The press conference in New Haven, Connecticut is about to begin. The police chief getting ready to update on -- update all of us on the investigation into the strangling death of a Yale graduate student, Annie Le.

Let -- let's bring in Mary Snow, as we await the start of this news conference -- Mary, there's what -- what other news organizations have described as a -- a person of interest in this investigation. And you're learning some details about him.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are. His name is Raymond Clark. He's a Yale employee. We know state police right now in Connecticut are analyzing DNA evidence. Police took Raymond Clark into custody to get evidence from both him and his home. And people here in New Haven are simply shocked by the fact that he was taken into custody for evidence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: (voice-over): Twenty-four-year-old Raymond Clark was taken into police custody for roughly five hours before being released. At the same time, police searched the home of the lab technician, who lives with his girlfriend. She is also listed in Yale's directory with the same job.

Some who grew up with Clark in the town of Bradford, Connecticut are in disbelief. Clark was listed as an honor student in his final year at Branford High School, where he graduated in 2004. There's only one clear photograph of him in his yearbooks as a freshman. As a senior, he's photographed as a member of the Asian Awareness Club.

Lisa Helsin is a high school friend.

LISA HELSIN, HIGH SCHOOL CLASSMATE OF RAYMOND CLARK: It's shocking. I would never have put his name to something like this. It's -- it's definitely shocking.

SNOW: Clark worked as a lab technician in the Animal Resources Center. A faculty member describes the job as maintaining colonies for animals used in research. The lab is located in the basement of the building where Annie Le's body was found crammed behind a wall. Her body went undiscovered for five days while work continued in that basement.

A city building official showed us the blueprint of that floor and the animal centers it contains. Researcher Rufeng Zhang says he goes to that lab once a day and has worked with Clark and thinks police have the wrong man. (on camera): What can you tell us about him?

RUFENG ZHANG, YALE RESEARCHER WHO KNEW CLARK: He's a nice man, always.

SNOW: (voice-over): Clark's attorney would only say that Clark is "committed to proceeding appropriately with the authorities, with whom we are in regular contact."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: We should add, Wolf, that many people here around the Yale campus simply don't want to talk about this publicly and are clearly shaken. The other piece of information that came out today, the medical examiner's office released the cause of death, releasing that Annie Le was strangled to death. But they refused to give any more details about that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary, stand by.

We're going to be getting back to you for more.

I want to go back to Lisa Bloom, our CNN legal analyst -- Lisa, as we await the start of this news conference, there's no doubt that there's a lot of anticipation building that perhaps the police chief is actually going to announce an arrest.

BLOOM: Absolutely, Wolf. And what they really need are the results of the DNA and the forensic testing. This would typically be very, very quick to get those kind of results. They usually take a couple of days -- sometimes a couple of weeks. But because this is a high profile case, it may have all been expedited and we may be getting answers to those questions about the forensics very, very soon.

BLITZER: Because it -- it -- would the police chief be going out and announcing -- and originally, they were going to do it at 300 p.m. Eastern, now 5:30 p.m. Eastern -- would the police chief be doing this if he didn't have something substantive to tell us?

BLOOM: I doubt it, Wolf. I am expecting something big at this press conference. I mean, they have a person of interest. He's not been arrested yet, he's not a defendant, but I would expect there is a large amount of forensic evidence at the crime scene.

I would expect if he is the killer he would have defensive wounds on him. He spent a long time talking with the police, giving them a statement, so they have a lot to work with at this point.

On the other hand, it's possible that he has been exonerated. We may hear that as well. We just don't know.

BLITZER: And if he's exonerated, that would be a significant development in and of itself, given all the publicity, the fact that he was picked up yesterday, handcuffed, took into the car, taken over to police headquarters for a DNA sample, information like that. Obviously very significant.

This is -- this is something a lot of people are interested in because it's such a tragedy, this young woman. She was basically found on the day she was going to be married.

BLOOM: Well, that's right, Wolf, and also there doesn't seem to be any evidence whatsoever so far of motive. These are two young people who worked together at a lab at Yale University.

There's no history that the police have indicated earlier of any harassment or stalking of Annie Le by this person of interest, Mr. Carver, so we don't know what the motive might be, if indeed he is accused of the crime.

Did he simply fly into a rage? Was there jealousy? There is that intriguing detail that he was a member of the Asian Awareness Club in high school five years ago. He's not a man who appears to be of Asian descent himself.

The victim, of course, was Vietnamese-American so there are some tantalizing details here but so far no evidence of motive.

BLITZER: And you heard Mary Snow's report on this particular individual. It sounds so bizarre, the whole nine yards, the whole part, especially, you know, the gruesome way, the choking, strangling of this young woman to death whoever may have done that, and this individual is obviously innocent until proven guilty.

He hasn't even been charged with anything even though he was asked to come in and offer some DNA samples, and then the body was left in a wall at that lab, at that building at Yale University. It has all the elements of just a gruesome, gruesome tragic story.

BLOOM: And what it indicates to me, Wolf, is that this was personal. Strangulation is a very personal, brutal way to kill someone. His hands, if he is the killer or whoever the killer was, were around her neck for the two to five minutes that it typically takes to strangle someone to death.

That's a very intimate close kind of killing. When you add to the fact that her wedding was to take place later on that same day, perhaps there was some kind of jealousy at the fact that she was going to get married to somebody other than him. If I can't have her, no one can have her.

I mean this is all speculation at this point, but what we know is this was very personal. This was very brutal, and I would expect, as I said, there would be a lot of evidence at that crime scene, a lot of evidence on the killer, so the police should have answers relatively quickly.

BLITZER: Let's go to New Haven and the news conference.

CHIEF JAMES LEWIS, NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT POLICE: There's not been an arrest made yet in this case, but as I promised I would update you on where we're at. We met this afternoon, the FBI, the Connecticut State Police, Yale police.

Last night I told you we were serving two search warrants. This morning at 5:00 we wrote an additional two search warrants and served two more, one on property belonging to Mr. Clark and then the second one was on a vehicle belonging to Mr. Clark.

That vehicle is now being processed by the Connecticut State Police. They are in the process of finishing up the processing of the building on Amistad. They are finishing up with the water drains, those kinds of things, and so they will be releasing that building probably in the morning so that's completed.

The issue still for us is two things and that is to give justice to Annie Le's family and to bring the person who is responsible for this to justice and hold him accountable.

We have approximately 250 seized items now. A large number of those will eventually all have to go through the lab. We're prioritizing those issues, and they are up at the lab now, and they are doing DNA as we speak.

I could get the results in 30 minutes or it could be hours. It's all up to the lab now. So they have been working on it. They are working on the lab staying 24 hours a day, and they are working on that DNA, a so that DNA could lead us some place immediately, but it will depend on what that DNA tells us.

We're still interviewing a few additional people and doing some re-interviews, but the basis of the investigation now is really on the physical evidence. Any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What would you need in order to make an arrest?

LEWIS: Well, if we have one match on a person that we know was at that location, we will be going for an arrest warrant.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is Mr. Clark still under surveillance? Is he still under surveillance?

LEWIS: We know where Mr. Clark is at all time.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There are -- there are other people you were looking at as persons of interest. Have any of them been put under this much scrutiny?

LEWIS: We have other people who we know where they're at all time.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you convinced that there's only one killer here?

LEWIS: That's all belief.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what a motive might have been?

LEWIS: No, I won't talk about motive at all.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why did you handcuff this guy last night?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was there a relationship between the two people?

LEWIS: The question is, why did we handcuff the subject last night. For one thing, we're seizing individual such as fingernail scrapings so we don't want some tampering at all. So we secured him the best we can before we do that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you (INAUDIBLE) some said that may have been an unconstitutional search (INAUDIBLE)?

LEWIS: If you get three attorneys you get five different opinions.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, Chief, Tom (INAUDIBLE), 61. If she was -- according to the medical examiner, the cause of death was asphyxiation. If they found that she was sexually assaulted would that also have been released in the medical examiner's report?

LEWIS: Not necessarily.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, can you describe Mr. Clark's demeanor while he's been in custody and under questioning?

LEWIS: He was cooperative last night. He provided what we needed and he was released about 3:00 this morning. And, remember, he was brought in on a search warrant. He wasn't brought in...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE). Has she been helpful in this investigation, his fiancee?

LEWIS: I'm not going to talk about who's helped and who hasn't helped. We're still re-interviewing some people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know where her fiancee is? Do you know where her fiancee is?

LEWIS: No, not -- I don't know right at this moment, no.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you tell us anything about the relationship between Mr. Clark and Miss Le?

LEWIS: I'm not going to talk about any of the potential evidence we may use through interview purposes as long as it's still going on and I'm not talking about e-mails either.

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sir, you did say that there are multiple people that are under constant surveillance. Why is that and what can you tell us about that?

LEWIS: We're still in the process, as I told you last night, we don't want in the future to be accused of tunnel vision and saying that we focused on one person and only one person. So we're still focusing on who was in that building, who had access to the locations in that building that are of concern to us. And until they are completely eliminated we'll try to keep track of them and I think doing that pretty successfully.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is it about Mr. Clark that's so interesting to you? What makes him such a person of interest here?

LEWIS: Again, that's the details of this investigation. I'm not going to release at this time.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, what's the process for searching buildings when you don't have a warrant? Who do you consult to do that?

LEWIS: Are you talking about like the Yale building?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Like last night. About Mr. Clark.

LEWIS: Well, last night we had a search warrant. A judge gave us permission. That's very possible. Last night I thought we were only doing two and we did four.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: For other property belonging to anyone...

LEWIS: It's wherever it leads us. I can't answer that question because we may...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you questioning Mr. Clark anymore? Do you anticipate that?

LEWIS: Well, he has invoked his rights. I mean, at some point he may be willing to answer questions, but at this point he's invoked his rights. He has an attorney. We couldn't question him, for one.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was this the Mustang you seized...

LEWIS: Yes, we seized one last night.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So you're saying there's no questioning last night?

LEWIS: No. There was no questioning. It was purely a search warrant to recover physical evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about the search warrant this morning?

LEWIS: The search warrant this morning was for some property belonging to him that we did not identify in the first search warrant and the second search warrant that was signed at 5:00 this morning was for the vehicle.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: No, it was at the same location but we hadn't named it in that search warrant.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, can you tell us if you think that there's been any threat of violence against Mr. Clark? Is he under any kind of protection right now?

LEWIS: No, not to my knowledge.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, there's a report in a local newspaper, are you in contact with Brantford Police about a 2003 incident involving possible sexual assault?

LEWIS: You know, I'm not going to talk about the history of any of the potential suspects in this because that could all play into the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you talk to Brantford Police?

LEWIS: We talked to a lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have any evidence that Miss Le was sexually assaulted?

LEWIS: I'm not going to talk about that issue.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, can you tell us? Were you involved in this case right from the beginning, or how long did Yale Police have it before they brought you in?

LEWIS: We were right in the next morning after they got the report.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's what day?

LEWIS: That would have been Wednesday morning we were notified of it. I think they were notified Tuesday.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

LEWIS: I'm sorry, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you describe Clark's role at the lab?

LEWIS: Well, he's a technician. He cleaned the cages, the mice, the mouse cages, did custodial-type work, a variety of that type of work.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, do you know if it was custodial or scientific?

LEWIS: No, I think -- my understanding it was more of a custodial-type position. Not a scientific...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you going to file a complaint against anybody?

LEWIS: I'm not going to speak about any of those kind of issues. It may be used...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) agitated or -- in a anyway?

LEWIS: Not to my knowledge, no.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So he was forthcoming any time any question was asked before he decided to invoke?

LEWIS: You know, I can't really answer that. I wasn't in the interviews myself so at one point he invoked. Up to that he answered questions, but I can't tell you if he was forthcoming or not.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) Are you at all worried that he would hurt himself with all the scrutiny and the pressure of his name being out?

LEWIS: I can never predict what a person might or might not do but we have no authority to detaining him at anyway at this time.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: One question. Is he the only person of interest in the death of Annie Le?

LEWIS: He is the only person that we have gotten any type of search warrant on at this time. That doesn't mean we're not still looking at additional people, but he's the only one we have went to the judges to get any type of search warrant.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Would you say if there are any other people that you're looking at as persons of interest?

LEWIS: Not at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, do you believe Miss Le died on Tuesday, September 8th?

LEWIS: I'm not going to comment on that.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: I don't know. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The surveillance photograph she's carrying an object in the building. Have you identified what that object was? Was that an animal in her hand?

LEWIS: No. Not to my knowledge. I believe those were notebooks. She was coming from one office to another.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, talk about (INAUDIBLE) this investigation (INAUDIBLE) kill her?

LEWIS: I believe it's going to end in the arrest of Miss Le. That's what I believe.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did she at any time before her death have any indication that her life was at risk?

LEWIS: I have no indication of that at all.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you know anything about the relationship between these two, I mean, friendship, was an acquaintanceship...

LEWIS: You know they work in the same building. They passed in the hallways. Anything beyond that I'm not going to talk about.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have video footage of the suspect inside the building?

LEWIS: I'm not going to talk about what video we have and not -- don't have.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, what can you say about him?

LEWIS: Well, he's got, I believe, three relatives that do similar jobs within the same lab but...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe that they may have been involved?

(INAUDIBLE)

LEWIS: You know, we're still doing interviews. I have nothing to indicate that at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, based on what he did work in there or what she did, can you kind of describe what she did and how they might have interacted?

LEWIS: Well, she's a PhD candidate so she is doing actual research in the lab as there are numerous graduate students at Yale that do that. Then they have staff members that are, in essence, support people. They clean the cages. They clean the rooms themselves. They do some types of maintenance, not -- not electrical type maintenance.

So, I mean they're completely separate. She was a graduate student. She was working on a PhD. He's a staff member.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Were there any kind of relationships between them?

LEWIS: I'm not going to discuss any relationships they had.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, once you get the (INAUDIBLE) of evidence, how quickly would you move? Would you negotiate a surrender?

LEWIS: You know, if DNA comes back on anyone that matches anyone, because, again, you know, we're keeping this open on who it might be. We believe the process of getting an arrest warrant would be a matter of just a couple of hours, and we would expect, particularly if it's someone we have under surveillance, with the arrest would take place very quickly. So that's really all I have because I'm not going to answer questions about evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, chief.

BLITZER: All right. So there he is, James Lewis. He's the police chief in New Haven, Connecticut, briefing reporters, answering questions on this so-called person of interest, Raymond Clark, a lab technician, a lab technician working at that lab where Annie Le, the graduate student at Yale University, was killed.

He suggested basically that the only person who has been subpoenaed so far and asked to submit DNA evidence, among other things.

Let's go back to Lisa Bloom, our CNN legal analyst. Lisa, the bottom line headline from this news conference, no -- no arrest yet.

BLOOM: That's right, but he did say that we expect DNA results could come within a matter of minutes or a matter of hours. That indicates to me we're talking very, very soon when those DNA results come in.

Chief Lewis also said that if there is one DNA match, he expects an arrest warrant to issue, so reading between the lines I think we have a very confident police department here. They are waiting for the forensic results.

This police chief said that this case is all about the forensics. The investigation is focusing entirely on the physical evidence. That's exactly what we would expect, just what you and I were talking about, Wolf, before the conference.

This has got to be a case with a large amount of physical evidence because when there's a strangulation that means there's a fight. He indicated that this person of interest had his hands cuffed to preserve fingernail scrapings. That would also indicate evidence of a fight so I would expect at the crime scene the police have found a significant amount of physical evidence, and they are trying to match it to this person of interest.

If it doesn't match he will be exonerated. He also indicated that other people are still being considered in this case so the investigation is still open.

BLITZER: Yes. He said they're watching Raymond Clark, wherever he is. They know exactly where he is. He has declared his Miranda rights. He doesn't want to cooperate, at least not now. That means he has an attorney, and he's not answering questions. Is that right?

BLOOM: Yes, absolutely, Wolf, and people have asked me how is it possible that he is free. Why hasn't he been arrested? I can assure everyone the police are keeping a very close eye on him. They probably don't have sufficient evidence yet to arrest him and that's the simple reason why he hasn't been, but often evidence can be obtained in a situation like this when a person of interest is free.

Perhaps he has conversations with other people that get recorded. There may be a GPS on his vehicle. Police are probably looking to every move that he makes, every conversation that he has to see if they can gain further evidence against this person of interest.

BLITZER: All right. We'll watch the story with you, Lisa. Thanks very much. We'll check back with Mary Snow at Yale University as well.

Imagine having one of your own teeth implanted in your eye. Guess what? It worked curing one woman's blindness. We have details of this bizarre but successful treatment.

Plus, new details of the people behind the undercover video sting operation that's bringing one of the country's largest community organizations to its knees.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A college campus badly shaken by the gang rape of a freshman. Inside a dormitory bathroom, an assault that one police officer describes as horrific.

Let's go to CNN's Deborah Feyerick. She's joining us now.

Deb, what do we know about this?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, police say they're almost certain that this crime was premeditated. The suspects allegedly using rope to tie up the victim.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK (voice-over): The 18-year-old college freshman allegedly gang raped in a dorm bathroom had no idea she was apparently walking into a trap. Police say she had been dancing at a fraternity fundraiser with one of the suspects. He allegedly grabbed her cell phone, drawing her away from the club and into a nearby dorm.

STEVEN SKYRNECKI, NASSAU CO., NEW YORK POLICE: They entered the dormitory together. They went up the elevator and when they came out of the elevator, there was a second male. The two males pushed the freshman student into a men's room and ultimately pushed her into a stall and bound her inside the stall with some cord.

FEYERICK: Moments later, three more men entered the bathroom and as the teenager pleaded for help, they raped her, too, say police.

SKYRNECKI: This is horrific. You know, this is a parent's worst nightmare, a student's worst nightmare.

FEYERICK: One suspect, Rondall Bedward, is a Hofstra student who works part time on campus in the public safety office. Police say he signed his friends who are not Hofstra students into the dorm.

The brutal attack sent shockwaves across Long Island's largest private college.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I feel a little scared right now.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It's absolutely frightening. I don't even know what to say.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I don't feel that safe anymore after what happened.

FEYERICK: Jessica Gonzalez who lived upstairs from Bedward in a Bronx apartment says she was shocked to see him on the news.

JESSICA GONZALES, NEIGHBOR OF RONDALL BEDWARD: He was a very quiet. Very gentleman. Very gentleman, I mean, not the hanging out type. Very much to himself.

FEYERICK: Bedward and three others are charged with raping the freshman. All have pleaded not guilty. Police are searching for the fifth suspect. All face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Many students first heard of the attack by word of mouth, parent phone calls and local news reports, and say the campus should have alerted them sooner to quell rumors spreading across campus. Even though the suspects were already in custody.

MELISSA CONNOLLY, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY: We didn't activate it in this case because we determined that there was no imminent threat.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: Now the university is reevaluating its policy on when to alert students. And as for safety of Hofstra, well, in the last two decades, there have been three similar attacks -- Wolf?

BLITZER: That's shocking stuff, indeed horrible. All right, thanks, Deborah Feyerick.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File." Jack.

CAFFERTY: When it comes to paying for health care reform, do you think it's possible to eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud from Medicare?

Dennis writes from Pennsylvania, "Every political hack has decried waste and abuse in Medicare for decades. Of course, they've never pointed out where it is or how to fix it. Ask any senator or congressman what they have done to solve that problem."

Steve says, "Absolutely. I've had this explained to me by insiders in the industry, people who work with Medicare every day. Subsidies to insurance companies alone will go a very long way toward this. Medicare advantage should be eliminated. Electronic forms, believe it or not, would save huge money. It's not clear if the bill would cover the ability to use its size to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies but this would save enormously as well. And none of what I just said even touches what better fraud protection were produced."

Dave in Pennsylvania, "If you've already identified that there's waste and fraud, why isn't it being eliminated now? And why aren't those responsible being fired? Or prosecuted?"

Dave writes, "Absolutely. I used to own an ambulance company. Saw a lot of fraud and abuse from my competitors. Medicare estimates 1 in 10 ambulance rides in this nation is fraudulent. I reported fraud to the office of inspector general in March of 2006, complete with affidavits and direct evidence of illegal contract prices. They are so backlogged nothing has been done yet."

Ed says, "Not possible. Waste and fraud only hurts the taxpayers. We know how efforts to stop that end."

And Barbara says, "As a health care professional, I can tell you the amount of waste and fraud in our health care system is astronomical. Documentation is all that's needed to bill for just about anything and I can assure you the fraud is in the documentation. Private companies with their own lab and pharmacy have what is basically a blank check as they can and do change results to accommodate billing practices. Some of you out there know what I mean. And it's shameful."

If you don't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at c CNN.com/caffertyfile, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

A long awaited plan for health care reform is now finally revealed. What's in it? Who will support. Plus an exclusive interview with a United States Marine Corps commandant calling for an urgent change in the war in Afghanistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: This is an amazing story, doctors in Miami have given a woman back her sight by using of all things, get this, her tooth. It's the first time this incredible and highly complex procedure has been performed in the United States.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is standing by to explain how it was done. Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you've heard of an eye for an eye. Well, how about a tooth for an eye? You'll never believe how doctors did this surgery.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAY THORNTON: I thought about suicide. I thought, OK.

COHEN (voice-over): Kay Thornton lost her sight nine years ago when a bad reaction to a drug scarred her cornea, the clear covering of the eye. It was so bad even a cornea transplant wouldn't help. Doctors gave her no hope. But Kay believes in miracles.

(On camera): Did you ever think a miracle would involve a tooth?

THORNTON: No.

COHEN (voice-over): It's amazing that a tooth, a tooth could help someone see again. When Dr. Victor Perez at the (INAUDIBLE) Palmer Eye Institute in Miami first heard of this odd sounding procedure, he couldn't believe it either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought oh, my god, how can that -- how can people do that and that seems to be a very, you know, farfetched idea.

COHEN: First, Dr. Perez removed the scar tissue from Thornton's left cornea, because it was blocking her vision. Then, get this, he took her canine tooth and part of her jawbone and whittled it down. This is the actual surgery. He then used a piece of her tooth and bone to hold in place a new lens that acts as her cornea.

Just hours after the surgery, Dr. Perez removed Thornton's bandages and for the first time in nearly a decade, she could see her best friend, Rick Christer.

THORNTON: He was the prettiest thing, I believe, I believe I've ever seen.

COHEN: This procedure won't work for most blind people and Thornton can't see perfectly.

THORNTON: I can't tell exactly what color you have on, a either blue or black.

COHEN (on camera): I have black. I'm wearing black.

THORNTON: C, A, Z.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mm-hmm. That's really good.

COHEN (voice-over): Her vision will get better. And meanwhile she's thrilled by what she can see right now.

THORNTON: That is amazing. Rick, just look at those clouds.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: Soon Kay will be going home to Mississippi and she'll see seven grandchildren.

BLITZER: Sorry for that technical problem. But thank God she's going to be seeing. What an amazing story.

To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, the plan. Health care for all. There's finally a Senate proposal. Can it win support from both parties? Right now Republicans don't support it. You need to know what's in this new plan. Stand by.

Will universal health care be a dream as some say or a nightmare? Canada provides health care to all its citizens, what's right with it, what's wrong? We have a debate between a Canadian senator and a U.S. senator.

And it's the first time President Obama will award the nation's highest military decoration. We'll introduce you to the soldier getting it and the father so very proud.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at CNN's command center, for breaking news, politics and extraordinary reports from around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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