College chemistry student faces attempted murder charges for slowly poisoning his black roommate

Monica Otayza
Dec 25, 2018
02:27 A.M.

A former Lehigh University student is now being charged with murder after secretly slipping toxic chemicals into his roommate's food and beverages.


Yukai Yang, a 22-year-old chemistry major, has been accused of poisoning his longtime African-American roommate, Juwan Royal, with amounts of colorless and odorless rat poison ingredient "thallium", and possibly even other chemicals.

Northampton County prosecutors said that they discovered what happened to be such a crazy twist after a month-long investigation into Yang, who has already been accused of scrawling racist graffiti on his roommate's belongings.

Before he found out about the incident, he believed that he and Yang actually had an amicable relationship for years. However, it turns out that wasn't the case.


According to Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis who spoke to The Morning Call about the incident,

"Mr. Royal was as dumbfounded by this as anyone else. He believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates."

The China native was arrested on charges of ethnic intimidation and vandalism for writing "GET OUT OF HERE" and a racial slur in black marker on his roommate's desk, and also trashing his TV and bed.


In the past few months leading to this moment, Yang was believed to have been slipping heavy metal thallium into his roommate's food and drink, which he would place in the refrigerator they both shared. Back in February, Royal recalled drinking from a water bottle and feeling a slight burning sensation on his tongue that left it sore for a couple of days.

The next month on two separate occasions, he was vomiting so much that he had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment, and it revealed that his blood contained dangerously high levels of thallium. His symptoms matched that of thallium poisoning, including severe burning and numbness, and pain in lower extremities.


“The victim is still experiencing physical symptoms from the poisoning that occurred, so this is something that has had some lasting impact.”

Now a graduate of Lehigh University, he is still undergoing intensive treatment. Yang on the other hand, revealed that he indeed bought chemicals and mixed them into food and drinks, but he intended to use them on himself if "he did poorly on his exams". This eventually contradicted what he said during the time of Royal's sickness, saying he suspected that "someone" had been tampering with items in his dorm room.


Last Thursday, however, Yang finally turned himself in to authorities and is facing charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment. He is being held on a $200,000 bond.

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