Chemistry major poisons black roommate for months, pens racist threat on his desk: Prosecutor

An ex-Pennsylvania college student, accused earlier this year of leaving racist graffiti for his black roommate in their dorm room, was arrested for allegedly poisoning him with a toxic metal.

Yukai Yang, 22, a chemistry major at Lehigh University, turned himself in Thursday and was charged with attempted murder. Authorities believe Yang slipped thallium—an odorless, colorless, and lethal chemical typically used in rat poison—into Juwan Royal’s food and drink in the months leading up to the graffiti incident, according to The Morning Call.

Authorities said the pair, who were seniors at the time, appeared to live together without issues for several years. In April, Yang, an international student from China, was arrested for ethnic intimidation for allegedly writing “N****R GET OUT OF HERE” on Royal’s desk inside their dorm.

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Prosecutors said Yang is no longer a student at the university and his student visa was revoked. They also said Royal, who has since graduated, continues to suffer from symptoms related to the months-long poisoning, according to Lehigh Valley Live.

Citing authorities, The Morning Call reported Royal recalled drinking from a water bottle in February and feeling a burning sensation on his tongue which lasted for up to four days. In March, Royal was reportedly rushed to the hospital after experiencing vomiting for 45 minutes.

NBC News reported that Royal’s blood tested positive for thallium. Investigators reportedly asked Yang about Royal’s ongoing illnesses in May, to which he claimed he purchased several chemicals to harm himself if he underperformed on his exams. Prosecutors alleged Yang said he mixed the chemicals into food that he placed in the refrigerator.

A motive for the alleged poisoning remains unclear.

“Mr. Royal was as dumbfounded by this as anyone else,” Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis said. “He believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates.”

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[Featured Image: Yukai Yang/Northampton County Department of Corrections]