A former Lehigh University student is accused of attempting to murder his roommate by slowly poisoning him and vandalizing the victim’s belongings with racist graffiti, which included the N-word, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced Thursday morning.
Yukai Yang, a 22-year-old Chinese national, was charged Thursday with attempted homicide and related offenses in addition to his previous charge of racial intimidation.
Authorities say Yang, a chemistry major, sickened his roommate over time by adding thallium to his roommate’s mouthwash, food and drinks this past spring. The chemical was used as a rat and ant poison in the United States before being banned.
Yang first appeared on investigators’ radar after his roommate, who is African American, reported earlier this year that his belongings had been vandalized and scrawled with the N-word, Morganelli said.
As police continued to investigate, they noticed the victim, a senior at the time, appeared to be sick. The victim told police that he had been ill for some time and contacted law enforcement officials in March after uncontrollably vomiting. During that time, police officers were called to his room on multiple occasions and found a racially-charged note on the victim’s desk.
Blood tests found increased levels of thallium in the victim’s blood.
Yang later admitted to authorities that he had purchased thallium online but said it was intended to harm himself if his grades started to decline.
“This was over a period of time with thallium being added to foods and drinks in the refrigerator,” Morganelli said. “He was getting worse all the time.”
The victim, Juwan Royal, has since graduated but continues to suffer “ill effects of the thallium poisoning,” WNBC said.
Yang’s student visa has been revoked while he awaits trial.