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A true motive or societal denial?

Updated on November 11, 2015

September 8, 2009, Raymond Clark III murdered Annie Le, a Yale student whose body was found just days before she was to be married. This case, as is the norm in today’s media age, was in the news on a daily basis ever since this unfortunate young lady was reported missing.


Since that moment speculations were being thrown at the public about her whereabouts and safety. The media wondered if Ms. Le had gotten cold feet before her wedding, whether she has run off or whether she had met with foul play.


When her body was found even more speculations were made. Who? When? And of course, why? Once a person of interest was identified there were speculations about a possible romantic relationship. Could this have been a “crime of passion”? Was it a domestic violence situation with Mr. Clark being the gilded former romantic interest?


No doubt these questions and assumptions made Ms. Le’s family uncomfortable because of what they might have suggested. I can certainly understand the victim’s love ones crying foul. I often find myself crying the same at the media even when I personally have nothing to do with the news item. During that time there were several interviews in which the media was urged not to continue “fabricating” these possible scenarios as they are disrespectful and could be damaging. It is unfortunate that our need for “the juice” can and instant gratification can override respect for those who have lost a loved one.

Following the investigation it was determined that this perpetrators motive was due to his disgruntled attitude at work. After 30 years of working with and witnessing human behavior as a social worker I have a difficult time believing this to be a plausible motive.

It was reported that Mr. Clark killed Ms. Le by chocking her to death. In my professional opinion this motive does not make sense. A person does not commit such an intimately executed fatal attack on another because of an attitude problem. Hate? Yes. Revenge? Yes. A psychotic episode? Yes. Passion (jealousy, betrayal, etc.)? Yes. Even self-defense one can buy. But a work attitude? WHAT?


You know, we can’t really blame the media because I have heard some real winners be insinuated or delivered as truth that some people buy “hook, line and sinker”. Things like the President’s funny name means he’s a Nazi not born in the US. Or that universal health care will lead to death counsels. Or that sitting too close to the TV will cause you to need glasses… (Oh wait that was my mom). Seriously you can’t blame them for trying but….


A person does not strangle another because of an attitude. And work violence such that we witness when there is a disgruntled employee or a burned-out worker that “snaps” usually take the form of destruction of property, arson or a shooting spree. Do you know how close you have to be in order to successfully put your hands around someone’s neck and cause asphyxiation? My dear readers an argument about whether you should be in a certain lab, the cleanliness of the same or whether the Petri dishes where stored improperly would not occur in such a manner that the person would strangle the victim.


So why does it matter? In truth the end result is unfortunately the same. We lost another loved one. We lost someone that could have contributed so much to our society. And I myself would not take issue with the speculations if not for one thing.


I have dedicated my life’s career to dealing with “brokenness”. Working with women and children that hurt due to violence and abuse. Families that fall victim to the rage that has fermented in those that commit these heinous crimes. And experience has taught me that because we continue to dismiss these violent incidences as “isolated” or having a “reasonable” explanation that should make the rest of us rest better at night, we continue to allow the brokenness of our American brothers and sisters to fester until they explode and then scratch our heads and collectively say, “Gee, we didn’t see that coming”. And we would be right. We didn’t see it coming because we refuse to take a good look around and stop living in denial. The fabric of our society is beyond frayed and won’t ever be repaired until we stop looking the other way. It’s not Mr. Clark’s work attitude that should cause us fear but our willingness to turn the other way once the news story in no longer on the front page.

By Evelyn Rivera (c) Copyright September 2009

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