Race & Identity
Former Lehigh University Student Allegedly Poisoned His Black Roommate Repeatedly, Vandalized Their Dorm With Racist Graffiti
The roommate's blood tested positive for dangerously high amounts of thallium, a chemical commonly used to kill insects and rodents.
A former Lehigh University student is facing several charges after he allegedly poisoned his roommate and wrote racist graffiti on the victim’s belongings.
Yukai Yang is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, according to Lehigh Valley Live. Yang, a chemistry major, ordered chemicals from the internet to gradually poison his Black roommate, Juwan Royal.
In February, Royal complained about burning in his mouth after he drank a water bottle from a shared refrigerator. Royal ran to a sleeping Yang who said, “so the substance that they are putting in your drink is colorless, odorless and dissolves in water,” as Royal rinsed his mouth.
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On March 18, Royal fell ill again and called the police. Yang told responding officers he witnessed Royal’s mouthwash and milk change colors. Eleven days later, Royal was hospitalized after he began to vomit and shake uncontrollably. After undergoing testing, Royal’s blood tested positive for dangerously high amounts of thallium, a chemical commonly used to kill insects and rodents.
A week after Royal’s hospitalization, he found “n****r get out of here” written on items in his dorm room. Yang also damaged his roommate’s television and was previously charged with ethnic intimidation and suspended from Lehigh in April, according to The Morning Call.
Yang admitted to purchasing the chemicals in May but claimed he bought them to punish himself if he got bad grades. Royal is still experiencing health issues related to the poisoning, according to District Attorney John Morganelli.
The victim said he was “dumbfounded” by Yang actions since they didn’t experience conflict during the years the lived together, reports NBC10. He eventually graduated despite his health issues.
“The victim in this case when learning of the facts was very shocked by it all,” Morganelli said.
Yang, a Chinese citizen, was in the United States on a student visa. Upon facing charges, his visa has been revoked and he is no longer a student at Lehigh. He was freed after 10 percent of his $10,000 bond was paid. Lehigh University is cooperating with the investigation, and Yang will attend a pre-trial conference on January 18.
“The Lehigh University Police Department has worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office on the investigation and will continue to do so,” said spokeswoman Lori Friedman in a statement. “From the outset, our concern has been the health and safety of the victim of these alleged behaviors and, as such, Lehigh staff and faculty have been providing support, services and assistance.”
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