When college student Juwan Royal discovered someone had trashed his dorm room, he had no idea it was Yukai Yang. Because the two had been friends and roommates for years, Royal never thought that Yang would call him the n-word. Even after Yang discovered racist graffiti in the room he and Royal shared, he didn’t think Yang would try to hurt him.
But most of all, Royal had no idea Yang was slowly poisoning him.
According to the Morning Call, months after Pennsylvania prosecutors charged Yang with defacing Royal’s property with racial slurs, officials charged the 22-year-old with the attempted murder of his roommate at Lehigh University by allegedly using one of the most toxic poisons known to man.
In April, Royal, who is a senior at Lehigh, discovered that someone had broken into his room while he was out and written “NIGGER GET OUT OF HERE” on his desk. Police noted the culprit had also defaced Royal’s television after Yang, who was rooming with Royal in a house that had been converted into student housing, reported the vandalism.
When police took a statement from Yang, they noticed his handwriting was curiously similar to the racial epithets, Lehigh Valley Live reports. After investigating a little further, authorities eventually charged Yang with ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism and criminal mischief, all misdemeanors. Yang, who was also a senior chemistry major at Lehigh, was suspended from the Bethlehem, Pa., school and banned from campus.
Royal was glad it was over and tried to resume his studies, fighting through a recent illness. He hadn’t been feeling well and had noticed a burning sensation in his mouth sometimes when he tried to eat and drink. Royal’s homeboy, Yang, told him someone might be trying to poison him, noting that his mouthwash and milk had changed colors.
But who would do such a thing? Royal had lived with Yang for years. Even when Royal passed out after feeling dizzy or vomiting for 45 minutes, he didn’t suspect his roomie, Yang. Thankfully, Royal got a lot better after he graduated and began receiving medical treatment.
When Royal received his blood tests after one of his bouts with the sudden illness, doctors informed him that someone had been trying to kill him with thallium, described by the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information as “one of the most complex and serious toxicities known to man.”
Known as an “assassins’ weapon of choice,” researchers note that thallium is colorless, tasteless, odorless and very dangerous. Even touching it can cause brain damage, heart problems, skin lesions, gastrointestinal disturbances, delirium and eventually death. Royal’s blood tested positive for toxic levels of thallium at 3.6 per liter, according to WFMZ.
Yang told investigators he bought the radioactive chemical on the internet and said he was going to originally use the drug on himself just in case he did poorly on his final exams. Some suspect Yang might have heard the internet rumor that colleges award students with a 4.0-grade point average for the semester if their roommate dies. Yang reportedly admitted to lacing Royal’s food and drinks with the toxic chemical.
Yang is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, authorities said. His student visa has been revoked and his bail was set at $200,000.
Prosecutors say Royal, who is still suffering from the effects of the alleged poisoning, was “dumbfounded” when he learned Yang was the main suspect.