Former Lehigh University student charged with attempted murder for poisoning Black roommate

An international student from China who attended Lehigh University, has been charged with attempted murder for trying to kill his Black roommate.

Yukai Yang
Northampton County Department of Corrections

An international student from China who attended Lehigh University, has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment for poisoning his Black roommate, NBC News reports.

Yukai Yang, 22, conjured up a toxic concoction laced with thallium that cause his roommate Juwan Royal to get sick after consuming it. Thallium is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

On Thursday, Yang turned himself in and has been charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said.

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Yang, a chemistry major and now a former student, infused the toxic metal Thallium in Royal’s food, mouthwash, and drinks, Morganelli said.

“Initially, Mr. Royal was as dumbfounded by this as everyone else, because he believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates,” Assistant District Attorney Abe Kassis said.

The toxin has the potential to be fatal and in February, Royal reported to police that after he drank from a water bottle in his dorm room, his mouth started to burn.

Royal continued to get sick several times. In March he reported symptoms that included dizziness, shaking and vomiting. He continued to get worse over time, Morganelli said.

Ultimately Royal’s blood test came up positive for thallium poisoning.

Yang was questioned about his roommate’s sickness during an interview in May. However, he used the excuse that he intended to harm himself with the chemicals if he failed exams and the food and drinks were in a refrigerator he shared with Royal, authorities said.

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Authorities report that Yang has a history of racist behavior. In a separate case, he was charged with ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism and criminal mischief for allegedly writing racist slurs in a dorm room desk, authorities said.

“The Lehigh University Police Department has worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office on the investigation and will continue to do so,” a spokeswoman for the school told NBC News. “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.”