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Police Mum on Autopsy, Suspects in Yale Student's Murder

The cause of death for a Yale Ph.D. student murdered days before her wedding won't be released Tuesday as initially promised and there will be no arrests made in the near future, police said — even as more media outlets reported that a person of interest had been identified.

The medical examiner said Tuesday afternoon that it would not publicize the autopsy report for 24-year-old Annie Le, in spite of an earlier announcement that it would, because it didn't want to compromise the investigation.

Police and the New Haven State's Attorney's Office asked that "in order to facilitate their investigation, the cause of death is not to be released at this time," the medical examiner said in a prepared statement.

Also Tuesday, a New Haven officer insisted that there were no arrests imminent in the Le case despite media reports that authorities had zeroed in on a suspect or a person of interest.

Authorities are keeping watch on some of Le's co-workers and have descended in large numbers on the home of a Yale animal research technician.

LIVESHOTS: Medical Examiner's Statement, Cops Backtrack on Suspects

New Haven police Officer Joe Avery insisted that authorities are "talking to a lot of people" in the murder of Le, whose body was found inside the basement wall of a university research building. He said police weren't expecting to make an arrest Tuesday.

"You guys made up the fact that we had somebody in custody, the media in general," Avery told reporters outside the police department. "We're talking to a lot of people."

Several news organizations reported that police were interviewing a possible suspect who failed a polygraph test and has defensive wounds on his body.

ABC News, WNBC-TV, The New Haven Register and the New Haven Independent cited anonymous sources in their reports. The Register and WNBC-TV identify the possible suspect as a lab technician.

Citing an unnamed Connecticut official, The Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon that New Haven police identified a "person of interest" in Le's murder. The AP said the official has firsthand knowledge of the investigation, but spoke anonymously because the probe is ongoing.

On Monday, the medical examiner ruled Le's death a homicide but declined to say how she died.

An official parked outside the Warfside Commons apartment complex in Middletown, about 20 miles away near Hartford, wouldn't confirm whether police were there to investigate the Le killing, but public records show the technician lives in a first-floor apartment.

A man answering the door Tuesday said the technician wasn't at home and closed the door.

Neighbors said authorities in unmarked cars arrived Monday afternoon and frequently follow and pull over drivers in the complex. New Haven police would not comment on the efforts there and continued to deny published reports that a suspect was in custody.

Police are analyzing what they call "a large amount" of physical evidence but have not gone into detail.

In a statement Tuesday night, Le's family thanked the law enforcement agencies investigating their daughter's death, and were taken back by all the support their family, as well as her fiance's received.

"Our families want to thank everyone in the local community and around the country for the thoughts and prayers expressed by so many as we have experienced grief and personal loss in this past week," a family spokesman said.

At a meeting of medical school students and teachers Monday, Yale president Richard Levin said police have narrowed the number of potential suspects to a very small pool because building security systems recorded who entered the building and what times they entered, the Yale Daily News reported Tuesday. The appropriate people are being monitored, he said.

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy and Robert Alpern, dean of the medical school, did not return calls Tuesday.

The killing took place in a heavily secured building accessible only to students and university employees. It was the first killing at Yale in a decade.

Hundreds of students attended a Monday night prayer vigil where Le's roommate, Natalie Powers, recalled her friend as tenacious, caring and "tougher than you'd think by just looking at her."

"That this horrible tragedy happened at all is incomprehensible," she said. "That it happened to her, I think is infinitely more so. It seems completely senseless."

Police found Le's body about 5 p.m. Sunday, the day she was to marry Columbia University graduate student Jonathan Widawsky, lovingly referred to on her Facebook page as "my best friend." The couple met as undergraduates at the University of Rochester and were eagerly awaiting their planned wedding on Long Island.

Police have said Widawsky is not a suspect and has helped detectives in their investigation.

She was remembered in her hometown of Placerville, Calif., for her brilliance and drive, a class valedictorian who was voted "Most Likely to be the Next Einstein."

While in high school, Le worked alongside doctors at the Marshall Medical Center in Placerville to further her interest in pathology, the study of disease.

Dr. Gary Martin, director of operations for the hospital's pathology department, called Le the best student he ever had in the volunteer program. She was particularly interested in cell structure and cell biology, he said.

Le was part of a research team headed by her faculty adviser, Anton Bennett. According to its Web site, the Bennett Laboratory was involved in enzyme research that could have implications in cancer, diabetes and muscular dystrophy. Bennett declined to comment Monday on the lab or Le's involvement with it.

The Yale building where Le's body was found is part of the university medical school complex about a mile from Yale's main campus. It is accessible to Yale personnel with identification cards. Some 75 video surveillance cameras monitor all doorways.

Her body was found in the basement in the wall chase — a deep recess where utilities and cables run between floors. The basement houses rodents, mostly mice, used for scientific testing by multiple Yale researchers, Alpern said.

The death is the first killing at Yale since the unsolved December 1998 death of student Suzanne Jovin. The popular 21-year-old senior was stabbed 17 times in New Haven's East Rock neighborhood, about 2 miles from campus.

Click here for more on this story from the New Haven Register.

Click here for more on this story from the New Haven Independent.

Click here for more on this story from FOX61.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.