College chemistry student, 22, charged with attempted murder for slowly poisoning his black roommate and scrawling racist graffiti on his bed
- Yukai Yang, 22, was charged Thursday with attempted homicide
- He is accused of poisoning his roommate Juwan Royal with thallium over time in the spring while they both attended Lehigh University
- Investigators believe Yang poisoned his roommate’s drinks, food and mouthwash
- Royal experienced symptoms that included dizziness, shaking and vomiting
- Yang, who is a Chinese international student, was also charged with racial intimidation for scrawling racist graffiti on Royal’s bed
- Police said the pair had been roommate for several years and Royal was ‘dumbfounded’ because he believed they were friendly
Yukai Yang, 22, was charged Thursday with attempted homicide for allegedly poisoning his roommate
A former Lehigh University student is accused of slowly poisoning his roommate and vandalizing the victim’s belongings with racist graffiti.
Yukai Yang, 22, was charged Thursday with attempted homicide and related offenses in addition to his previous charge of racial intimidation.
Authorities say Yang, a chemistry major and Chinese national, sickened his roommate over time by adding thallium to his roommate’s mouthwash, food and drinks this past spring.
His roommate of several years, Juwan Royal, experienced symptoms that included dizziness, shaking and vomiting.
A blood test later found him positive for thallium, an ingredient formerly used in rat poison and now banned in the US.
‘This was over a period of time with thallium being added to foods and drinks in the refrigerator,’ Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced Thursday morning. ‘He was getting worse all the time.’
Royal called police for the time in February when he drank from a water bottle in his room and his tongue began to burn.
He said he woke up Yang to tell him what happened and washed his mouth out, but his tongue remained sore for a few days.
Juwan Royal tested positive for thallium believed to placed in his drinks and mouthwash over time in the spring while the and Yang attended Lehigh University
Then on March 18 Royal got sick again and police were called.
Morganelli said Yang told officers that the milk in the refrigerator and Royal’s mouthwash had changed color. He told officers he believed someone was tampering with the belongings in their room.
Royal became sick again on the morning of March 29 when he began throwing up and shaking. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.
About a week later, graffiti that said ‘n**** get out of here’ was scrawled on Royal’s bed and police were called.
Yang provided a written statement that said he left the room and locked the door. But Morganelli said police compared the graffiti with Yang’s letters and saw similarities in the letters.
Yang was charged with ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism and criminal mischief in that case.
Yang is no longer enrolled at Lehigh (pictured) and his student visa has been revoked
It wasn’t until the graffiti investigation that Royal took a blood test which tested positive for thallium, with 3.6micrograms per liter above the safe toxicity level for people, Morganelli said.
After Yang’s computer was seized, he admitted to buying chemicals online but said it was intended to harm himself if his grades started to decline.
He did admit to mixing the chemicals with food and drinks and in the dorm refrigerator.
‘Initially, Mr. Royal was dumbfounded by this as everyone else, because he believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates,’ Assistant District Attorney Abe Kassis said.
Royal, who graduated in the spring, was immediately treated for poisoning, but prosecuters say he still suffers physical effects from the poisoning.
Yang was sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $200,000 bail.
He is no longer enrolled at Lehigh, and his student visa has been revoked.