Former Lehigh University student charged with trying to poison his roommate

Elias Hubbard
December 21, 2018

"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, according to reports.

Authorities say Yang, a chemistry major and Chinese worldwide student, sickened his roommate over time by adding thallium to his roommate's mouthwash, food and drinks this past spring.

Royal became sick again on the morning of March 29 when he began throwing up and shaking. When Royal told Yang about it, the roommate allegedly said, "So the substance they are putting in your drink is odorless, colorless and dissolves in water". Thallium, which is tasteless and odorless, was once used as rat poison in the USA until it was banned due to fears of human ingestion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The two had reportedly shared lodging for several years during their studies and Mr Royal thought they were friends until presented with the lab results.

Efforts to reach Royal on Thursday were unsuccessful.

After Royal's blood tested positive for thallium at risky levels, Yang told police that he bought thallium online with the intent to harm himself if he failed his exams and that he placed the substance in communal items in the men's fridge.

About a week later, graffiti that said "n***** get out of here" was scrawled on Royal's bed and police were called. He claimed that he meant to poison himself if he performed poorly in his studies, reports added. The Morning Call reported Yang is waiting for arraignment.

In April, The Brown and White reported that Yang was remanded to Northampton County Prison on bail set for $10,000 after accusations of vandalizing his room in Warren Square with racist language. His lawyer did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.

But for his arrest, Yang would have graduated in May, Jackson said.

Yang provided a written statement that said he left the room and locked the door. Whether the vandalism or the changing colors of his mouthwash and milk, Royal told police, it was his roommate who kept turning up.

In a prepared statement, Lehigh University spokeswoman Lori Friedman said campus police will continue to work closely with prosecutors in the investigation.

"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", Friedman said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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