- Yukai Yang, 22, has been charged with attempting to poison his former Lehigh University roommate, Juwan Royal, with a chemical called thallium, authorities say.
- Yang was also accused of leaving racist graffiti in their shared room earlier this year.
- The chemistry student has been charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment.
- Investigators do not know why Yang was attempting to poison his roommate with thallium.
A former Lehigh University student has been charged with attempting to poison his roommate with chemicals over the course of several months in the spring.
Yukai Yang, a 22-year-old chemistry student, has been accused of surreptitiously poisoning his roommate, Juwan Royal, with a chemical called thallium.
According to a press conference held by the District Attorney, Yang made Royal sick over a period of several months by poisoning him with the chemical.
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said that Yang admitted to mixing the chemical, which is tasteless and odourless, into food and drinks into their shared fridge without Royal’s knowledge. Thallium, Morganelli said, can be fatal if consumed.
Royal became sick several times in the spring because of the alleged poisoning. His symptoms, which became worse over time, included nausea, dizziness, shaking, and vomiting, per Morganelli.
Police said that Royal, who graduated from Lehigh in the spring, is still suffering from residual thallium poisoning, although he was not given a lethal dose.
At that point, Royal began to suspect that Yang was behind his mysterious sickness and the vandalism, the DA said. When authorities questioned Yang in May, he was arrested and charged with ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism, and criminal mischief related to the vandalism.
As for the thallium, Yang first told police that he intended to use chemical on himself if he did poorly on an exam.
But on Thursday, Yang, an international student from China, turned himself in. He has since been charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment, per Morganelli.
“The Lehigh University Police Department has worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office on the investigation and will continue to do so,” a spokesperson for Leigh University told INSIDER. “From the outset, our concern has been the health and safety of the victim of these alleged behaviours and, as such, Lehigh staff and faculty have been providing support, services and assistance. “
Morganelli said its unclear what Yang’s motives were, calling his behaviour “weird and bizarre.”
“Mr. Royal was as somewhat dumbfounded by this as anyone else,” Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis said during the press conference. “He believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates.”
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