September 17th, 2009
08:13 AM ET

Dear President Obama #241: Dispatch from New Haven – The Yale murder

Reporter's Note: President Obama travels a pretty good bit, but newsfolk travel on a moment’s notice, which is precisely how I was sent to Connecticut this week, where I am writing this letter to the White House.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/09/15/connecticut.yale.student.profile/art.annie.le.yale.jpg]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

As I write this, I am sitting inside a satellite truck alongside the road in front of the New Haven Police Department. It has rained off and on, my shoes are vaguely damp, and it is cold now with the wind blowing. I’ve been here for three days chasing this story about the murder of that young Yale researcher, Annie Le. It is terrible and a bit mysterious too.

I feel awful for the families in these cases. From a distance such stories are abstract, but up close I am always struck by how much a given person’s life meant to the people who knew him or her. Certainly this young woman filled a lot of other lives with joy, and hope, and expectations about her future. And now they are all mourning, just as thousands of students here are too; startled and at least a little scared to find such a violent crime so close to their homes.

Concern about crime, I think, comes in and out of vogue. Sometimes politicians spend endless hours talking about it and debating what can be done. Then the issue slowly lapses into invisibility, and no one really wants to discuss it anymore. Then something like this comes along (or more often several big, shocking cases in a row) and suddenly concern about crime becomes all the rage once more.

I suppose such cycles are natural, because we can’t focus relentlessly on any one issue year after year. And frankly, violent crime is something that I am convinced we will always have with us, even if we can find ways to reduce it or mitigate its effects. Still, I often hope when big crimes like this one grab the headlines, that people will take a moment to think of the victim; and then think about all the other nameless victims of crime who suffer in our country every day, swept up in a terrible moment that will forever change their lives and the lives of their families and friends.

Call if you get a moment. I could use the conversation. Feeling a little melancholy.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. alicenyc

    Ok it is a terrible tragedy, but then again, their are lots of horrible crimes that go on in this country. The media focus on one of many.
    I do feel terrible for this young womans family.

    September 17, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  2. Agree

    I have mixed feelings. I agree victims often impact a community. The part I don't like is when people associate isolated incidents to their own communities. I remember when I was a kid, you could walk the streets and everyone watched out for everyone else. There was general concern for the welfare and safety of others. By bring these stories into our back yard over and over, people are now watching out for others, wondering which one is the devil in the community. There's a lack of trust and people are isolating themselves more and more to the point they won't get involved. They quickly distance themselves from situations, or turn their back. The sense of community seems to be deteriorating.

    September 17, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  3. Lori

    Thank you. This is a sad story. My experienced advice follows. I hope you can expand on this for your fans. If anyone tries to attack at your throat they ARE really trying to hurt you. Biting and using punches or elbows is helpful. You need to fight for your life. My grandfather was a professional boxer in the 1940s. He taught me how to protect myself and throw punches at my grandmother's dismay. I can still see him laughing at her protests but it helped me and I am alive due to his advice.

    September 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  4. Mary

    The Annie Le story is tragic, but why isn't CNN covering the murder of the pregnant 15 yr. old Tiffany Wright at her school bus stop in NC? Another tragic loss, skipped over, why??? We're told Ms. Wright planned on becoming a lawyer, but now we'll never know. This case is wrong on so many levels. She and the people in her life were swept up in a terrible moment, and swept under the rug, perhaps because she was not enrolled in an elite high school.

    September 17, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  5. Karen Hashley

    As a Yale Student – I have to say well said.
    Thanks for this.

    September 17, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  6. Norma Labno


    Tom: THANK YOU for your perceptive observations & salient comments
    about violent crime!!!

    When one is a victim of several viscious crimes in one lifetime I can
    personally assure you, you NEVER forget! (If you do live thru the
    shootings etc. – or whatever the specific crime – as hard as you might
    try, sadly – almost everyone in your life at the time and later are
    often negatively impacted!)

    I want to say – I absolutely love our Vice President, Joe Biden, for putting more police on our streets!!!

    I could write volumes but I don't intend to subject ANYONE out there to
    gory details – if, by chance, they read this response!

    I also want to say, the pain Annie Lee's friends and family are going thru
    is beyond anything most of us have experienced and defies description & comprehension!

    May God Bless Them and Give Them the Help & Strength They Need To Get Thru This Time – NOW and ALWAYS...

    norma from nv

    September 17, 2009 at 10:17 am |