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Police find 'person of interest' in Yale slaying

 New Haven Police, Connecticut State Police and FBI search for evidence inside a trash container as they investigate the crime scene on Monday Sept. 1...
 Freshman Diana Stoianov, 17, and other students hold a candlelight vigil for graduate student Annie Le on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Co...
 This undated photo provided by Union Mine High School principal Tony DeVille shows Annie Le, left, as one of two 2003 graduates selected as the "Most...
 Yale University President Richard C. Levin, center, speaks to the crowd at the candlelight vigil on Yale's Cross Campus in New Haven, Conn., Monday, ...
 Yale University students and faculty participate in a candlelight vigil for Annie Le in  New Haven, Conn. Monday Sept. 14, 2009. Clues increasingly p...

Yale Killing

New Haven Police, Connecticut State Police and FBI search for evidence inside a trash container as they investigate the crime scene on Monday Sept. 1...

APTOPIX Yale Killing

Freshman Diana Stoianov, 17, and other students hold a candlelight vigil for graduate student Annie Le on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Co...

Yale Killing

This undated photo provided by Union Mine High School principal Tony DeVille shows Annie Le, left, as one of two 2003 graduates selected as the "Most...

Yale Killing

Yale University President Richard C. Levin, center, speaks to the crowd at the candlelight vigil on Yale's Cross Campus in New Haven, Conn., Monday, ...

APTOPIX Yale Killing

Yale University students and faculty participate in a candlelight vigil for Annie Le in New Haven, Conn. Monday Sept. 14, 2009. Clues increasingly p...

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut _ Police investigating the slaying of a Yale graduate student zeroed in on a "person of interest" Tuesday after keeping tabs on an ever-tightening circle of people connected to the medical lab where her body was found stuffed behind a wall.
Authorities on the case have been tightlipped almost since the minute 24-year-old Annie Le was reported missing Sept. 8, just a few days before her wedding day. Police say they have ruled out her fiancee, a Columbia University graduate student, but they have provided little additional information _ other than to deny reports that a suspect was in custody.
On Tuesday, investigators descended in large numbers on the home of a Yale animal research technician who lives in an apartment in Middletown, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the New Haven campus. Le worked for a Yale laboratory that conducted experiments on mice, and investigators found her body stuffed in the basement wall of a facility that housed research animals.
It was unclear whether the technician was the "person of interest," and whether police were giving the same attention to any others who had access to the lab where Le worked. Detectives have questioned more than 150 people, many of them believed to be connected to the busy medical research building where Le was a rising star.
Officials had promised Tuesday to release an autopsy report that would shed light on exactly how Le died. But then prosecutors blocked release of the results out of concern that it could hinder the investigation.
Investigators usually have reasons for keeping information secret during a criminal probe, said David Zlotnick, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Secrecy helps police confront possible suspects with little-known evidence about a crime and makes it harder them to fabricate a cover story.
"Having that information secret or private helps the investigators know, first of all, what buttons to push on the person, and it makes sure they haven't tainted the investigation," Zlotnick said.
Le's body was found Sunday, the day she would have been married on New York's Long Island. Her remains had been crammed into a wall recess where utilities and cables run between floors.
The Le family issued a statement Tuesday through a family friend, the Rev. Dennis Smith, that thanked friends and the Yale community for their support during their grieving. The family also asked for privacy.
Police now have a "person of interest," according to a state official with firsthand knowledge of the investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Authorities do not believe Le was killed by a fellow student, and they have sought to assure frightened students that Le was targeted by her killer _ meaning that others were not in danger.
Even as investigators and reporters swarmed outside the Middletown apartment complex, police denied they were doing so. A man answering the door Tuesday said the technician was not at home and closed the door.
Yale President Richard Levin told Yale medical students Monday that police have narrowed the number of potential suspects to a small pool because building security systems recorded who entered the building and what times they entered.
Several news organizations have reported that police were interviewing a possible suspect who failed a polygraph test and had defensive wounds on his body. At least one reported Tuesday that it was the lab technician in Middletown.
The building where Le's body is accessible to Yale personnel with identification cards. Some 75 video surveillance cameras monitor all doorways.
Her body was found in the basement, which houses rodents, mostly mice, used for scientific testing by multiple Yale researchers, Alpern said.
"That this horrible tragedy happened at all is incomprehensible," said Le's roommate, Natalie Powers. "That it happened to her, I think is infinitely more so. It seems completely senseless."
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Haigh reported from Hartford, Connecticut. Associated Press writers Pat Eaton-Robb in New Haven, Connecticut, and AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York also contributed to this report.