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Pastimes : Murder Mystery: Who Killed Yale Student Suzanne Jovin?

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (561)3/8/2000 12:24:00 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell  Read Replies (3) of 1389
Re: 3/1/00 - Transcript of 20/20 Broadcast

Prime Suspect


Wednesday, March 1, 2000
(This is an unedited, uncorrected transcript.)
Prepared by Burrelle?s Information Services, which takes sole responsibility for accuracy of transcription.

DIANE SAWYER, ABCNEWS Good evening. And welcome to 20/20. Charlie and I are glad you could join us tonight. We devote our entire hour this evening to an extraordinary murder mystery, an unsolved crime that stunned and horrified one of the country?s most elite Ivy League campuses. The gruesome stabbing of 21-year-old Suzanne Jovin, a senior at Yale University, made headlines across the country in December 1998, and if the brutality of the crime was shocking, so was the identity of the man who emerged as the chief suspect.

CHARLES GIBSON, ABCNEWS His name is Jim Van de Velde and, at the time of the murder, he was a respected and popular teacher at Yale. For more than a year he has steadfastly maintained his innocence and he has never been charged with the crime. Yet, he is still the prime suspect. Why? Well, tonight, for the first time on network television, Jim Van de Velde tells his story. John Miller reports on a haunting tale of an unsolved murder that has taken one life and ruined another.

1ST OFFSCREEN VOICE There is blood on someone?s hands at this hour.

2ND OFFSCREEN VOICE Detectives say they have no idea how she got there.

JOHN MILLER, ABCNEWS (VO) It was unseasonably warm in New Haven, Connecticut, on the night of December 4th, 1998, a Friday.

3RD OFFSCREEN VOICE Her body found stabbed several times in the back.

JOHN MILLER (VO) It was 9:55 PM, right here on this corner, East Rock Road and Edgehill Avenue, in one of the wealthiest and safest neighborhoods in New Haven. This is where Suzanne Jovin was found dying. She was crumpled on the moonlit sidewalk, the victim of a savage attack. The 21-year-old Yale senior had been stabbed in the head, neck and back a total of 17 times. The first and still the only suspect to be named publicly in this case came from just about the last place most people would have imagined. He was one of Suzanne?s teachers at Yale.
Did you kill Suzanne Jovin?


JOHN MILLER Did you stab her 17 times?

JIM VAN DE VELDE No. I have never committed an act of violence in my entire life. I have never so much as kicked a cat in my life. There can never be, there are no reports ever of me committing any violence or threatening anyone.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Jim Van de Velde has not been charged in the stabbing death of his student. But he has been living under a cloud of suspicion for more than a year now. The unsolved mystery of who killed Suzanne Jovin has also cast a shadow over Yale, one of the country?s most elite Ivy League universities. Already stunned by the murder last winter of one of its best and brightest, the Yale community was shocked when the popular political science lecturer was named a suspect in her murder.
When you learned that Jim Van de Velde, one of her teachers, was a suspect, what did you think?

DR TOM JOVIN If such a thing were to be true, it would be the greatest perversion of a student/teacher relationship that one could conceive of.

JOHN MILLER (VO) At first, Suzanne?s father, Dr. Tom Jovin, and her sister, Ellen (ph), were surprised to hear Van de Velde?s name connected to her murder. And while police have yet to make an arrest, the Jovins have made it their mission to bring Suzanne?s killer to justice.
Tom, have you come to terms with your daughter?s death?

TOM JOVIN I feel like I?ve died with my daughter. Amputation of the soul or something like that. I don?t know how to express myself well.

JOHN MILLER (VO) By all accounts, Suzanne Jovin was brainy and beautiful, certain to succeed. She played the cello and piano. And she loved dancing and singing. Suzanne was born and raised in Gottingen, Germany. And by the time she arrived at Yale in the fall of 1995, she had traveled to 31 countries, spoke four languages and she was serious about her studies.

DAVID BACH I?I still can?t believe it happened.

JOHN MILLER (VO) David Bach, a Yale graduate, was Suzanne Jovin?s best friend. He admired her activism, her idealism and her values. He says Suzanne inspired him.

DAVID BACH Everybody who knew her knows that she could have made so much more of a difference if she?d been allowed to live longer.

JOHN MILLER (VO) At 21, Suzanne was already making a difference in New Haven. She ran the Yale chapter of Best Buddies, which pairs students with mentally disabled adults. In fact, she spent the last evening of her life in this New Haven church throwing a pizza party for them. Just before that, only hours before she was killed, Suzanne had stopped by Van de Velde?s office to drop off a final draft of her senior thesis.

JIM VAN DE VELDE She ducked in and I said, ?Oh hi.? She said, ?Hello,? handed me the draft with the cover letter. And she said, ?Got to go.? Something like, ?Off to work.? And she was out the door in seconds.

JOHN MILLER Last time you saw her?

JIM VAN DE VELDE The last time I saw her.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Jim Van de Velde was a star in the classroom. And, at first, Suzanne Jovin, like many Yale students, was starstruck. She even decided to do her senior thesis about the terrorist Osama bin Laden with Van de Velde as her adviser.
Tell me about Suzanne Jovin.

JIM VAN DE VELDE Suzanne was a lovely, intelligent, enthusiastic student. Excellent student. Had an outstanding average in my class. I liked her very much.

JOHN MILLER (VO) But according to her family and friends, Suzanne had complained bitterly about Van de Velde in the last week of her life. With the deadline for her thesis just days away, he had given her almost no feedback on her work. Suzanne was desperate. David Bach will never forget his last phone call with her. He says he had never heard Suzanne so upset.

DAVID BACH She was almost in a rage, you know. Saying, ?I cannot believe this guy. I shouldn?t have worked with him. You know, can you believe that he wouldn?t even bother reading my essay until Wednesday??

TOM JOVIN She was crying. And Suzanne didn?t cry easily.

JOHN MILLER So, in that last phone call between you and your daughter, she was in tears over how Jim Van de Velde was treating her?

TOM JOVIN Absolutely.

JIM VAN DE VELDE Tears over what?

JOHN MILLER In tears over your handling of it. That she said to people she didn?t feel she was getting enough feedback.

JIM VAN DE VELDE That would surprise me. If she was reduced to tears, it tells me that she was overwrought with anxiety and wanting to do a great job. And my name maybe got caught up in the anxiety. But I don?t even understand how it translates into a motive for me to murder her.

JOHN MILLER (VO) According to New Haven police, Suzanne was last seen alive leaving the Yale campus.
At 9:15, on the last night of Suzanne Jovin?s life, she ran into a classmate here in this courtyard. According to that friend, Suzanne was on her way to drop off the keys to a university car she?d used to drive the Best Buddies volunteers home. She said she was very tired and looking forward to getting some sleep.
(VO) At 9:25, another friend saw Suzanne as she passed through Phelps Gate walking north on College Street. If she was going home, it appeared she was taking a roundabout way to get there.
So, how did Suzanne Jovin get from Phelps Gate on the Yale campus to East Rock Road in less than 25 minutes? Police think it would have taken her longer than that to walk the 1.8 miles. Could she have been pulled into a car by a stranger? Police think someone would have seen that on the crowded campus. No, police believe Suzanne was driven to East Rock by someone she knew.

TOM JOVIN And with whom she was having, perhaps, an argument. But not someone she was afraid of. She just wasn?t anticipating being attacked.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Police have all but ruled out robbery as a motive. When Suzanne was found, she was still wearing her watch and earrings, a single dollar bill crumpled in her pocket. Her wallet was found back in her apartment later that night.
Do you remember what she was wearing?

LAJEUNE OXLEY She had boots, like hiking boots on. And pants. And a jacket. And that?s all I saw.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Lajeune Oxley cannot look out her living room window without remembering Suzanne Jovin. She lives at the corner of East Rock Road and Edgehill Avenue, where Suzanne lay dying.

LAJEUNE OXLEY The position of her body led me to believe that she had tried to take a step forward. And that?s the way it appeared to me. That she was trying to get somewhere when she, I guess, lost strength.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Suzanne Jovin was declared dead on arrival at Yale New Haven Hospital at 10:26 PM. The medical examiner would later identify only one of the 17 stab wounds as fatal. He would also determine that the murder weapon was a four to five inch nonserrated, carbon steel knife, when he discovered the tip of the blade lodged in the left side of her skull.
Do you carry a knife?


JOHN MILLER Carry a knife in your car?


JOHN MILLER In your briefcase?

JIM VAN DE VELDE No, I don?t. I never have. No one who knows me could possibly state that I am a violent person prone to outbursts, creepy, weirdo, does unusual things, carries around weapons, threatens people. No one could possibly state that.

JOHN MILLER According to sources familiar with the investigation, police found no eyewitnesses to the murder. But this is what they were able to piece together about the last moments of Suzanne Jovin?s life. At 9:45 a neighbor heard a man and woman arguing. At 9:50 another neighbor heard a woman scream five times. Just minutes before Suzanne?s body was found, a passerby heard what police believe were Suzanne Jovin?s last words. They were, ?I can?t believe you?re doing this.?

JIM VAN DE VELDE I have never heard this. I have no knowledge of this.

JOHN MILLER The police theory is that she had an argument with you, that she threatened to report you.

JIM VAN DE VELDE What can I say? I find those comments to?to mean anything. ?How can you do this to me, you random stranger?? Or ?How can you do this to me, you pizza delivery man?? I don?t?I don?t?it?s ridiculous.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Jim Van de Velde has spent the past year trying to figure out just why the police consider him their chief suspect. According to Van de Velde, he worked late in his office, the night Suzanne was murdered, reading over a final draft of her thesis.

JIM VAN DE VELDE Left at about 8:15, went home. Channel surfed like I usually do in my UConn gym shorts and long-sleeve T-shirt. Ate some leftovers, watched the news.

JOHN MILLER What was on TV? Anything interesting?

JIM VAN DE VELDE Well, I watched ?Friends? on tape. Usually the Discovery Channel. And then I watched the 11:00 News.

JOHN MILLER And that?s when the story of the murder came on.


JOHN MILLER (VO) News of the murder had caught Van de Velde?s attention, he says, because he lived just blocks from the crime scene in the most elegant neighborhood in New Haven. Van de Velde says he still had no idea the next morning that the victim was his student, when he decided to go see the crime scene for himself.

JIM VAN DE VELDE I jumped on my bike to see where, in fact, this crime occurred. Maybe it was a morbid curiosity. But it is about a half mile past my apartment. And just took note. Saw a cop. A little yellow tape.

JOHN MILLER You rode your bike to the crime scene? Why would you do that?

JIM VAN DE VELDE Well, maybe I was just concerned that this happened near where I lived and just wanted to see exactly where.

ELLEN We were taken to the spot where she was killed. And it was absolutely unbelievable. Because it was a calm, beautiful, quiet neighborhood. And I couldn?t understand why she was there.

JOHN MILLER (VO) And neither could the New Haven police. They searched the neighborhood, looking for a knife, fingerprints, or any shred of physical evidence that could lead them to the killer. Later that morning, Van de Velde went to his office, he says, to take one last look at Suzanne?s thesis.

JIM VAN DE VELDE I went to work at about 12:00. Logged on to my e-mail and that was the first time I learned that the person killed last night, the previous night, was my student, Suzanne Jovin. So, that was one of the sad, bitter ironies of coming into the office and learning that she had been murdered. I was there to read her essay again.

JOHN MILLER (VO) On Monday, students say Jim Van de Velde showed up in class with red-rimmed eyes.

JIM VAN DE VELDE I bought three small bouquets of carnations and brought them to class and left them in front of where Suzanne sat. Half the students were in tears or visibly, deeply shaken, sat there in silence for maybe three to four minutes.

JOHN MILLER (VO) In the days following Suzanne?s death, Van de Velde seemed stricken by it. He even suggested students march to the murder scene in Suzanne?s memory.
Jim, have you cried for her?

JIM VAN DE VELDE I?I was very shaken by her death. It was a horrendous shock. Yeah, it was rough. I had a tough time.

JOHN MILLER (VO) When the news broke that Suzanne Jovin had been stabbed to death, students at Yale were devastated. Many were also uneasy, even afraid. Yale?s campus, surrounded by some of the city?s toughest neighborhoods, appeared to be vulnerable to New Haven?s violent crime. The university had spent millions of dollars tightening security. Now, in the wake of the Jovin murder, Yale students felt anything but safe.

BLAIR GOLSON (ph) Directly after the murder, the rates of police escorts to walk people around campus almost quadrupled. People were very frightened.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Blair Golson, who covered the Jovin murder for the Yale Daily News, reported how relieved students were when the New Haven police said they believed Suzanne was murdered by someone she knew. As long as Suzanne Jovin wasn?t the victim of a random killing, there was little reason to be afraid.

JIM VAN DE VELDE It was, perhaps, a little bit too easy to believe that Suzanne must have known her killer. And maybe it is conceivable that even a Yale professor could have done this crime.

JOHN MILLER So, you?re suggesting it?s the climate where you would really start to look for a convenient scapegoat?


JOHN MILLER And that scapegoat is?

JIM VAN DE VELDE At the moment, it has been me.

CHARLES GIBSON Police never did find the weapon that the killer used. But in the days following Suzanne Jovin?s murder, they would hear troubling accusations. Now, detectives felt they had a reason to call Jim Van de Velde in for questioning.

ANNOUNCER An Ivy League campus, on edge after a student?s murder. A trusted teacher becomes the focus of the investigation.

JOHN MILLER The detectives theorize that you were together with Suzanne in the car, that you made a move on her.


ANNOUNCER But there were other women with disturbing stories to tell about the prime suspect, when 20/20 continues.

(Commercial Break)

CHARLES GIBSON Back to our story now, about the unsolved murder of Suzanne Jovin, a Yale University senior, and a man under suspicion, Jim Van de Velde, her instructor. New Haven police heard that, in the days before she died, Suzanne Jovin was angry with Van de Velde to the point of tears, for his handling of her senior thesis. Police wondered was there more to their relationship than academics? As John Miller continues our story, police began to ask intimate questions.

JOHN MILLER (VO) On Tuesday evening, December 8th, 1998, four days after Suzanne Jovin was killed, the New Haven police called Van de Velde to the station for what he assumed would be routine questioning. He realized the session was anything but routine, when detectives shoved four photographs at him. Grisly pictures of Suzanne Jovin?s body lying on a slab at the morgue.

JIM VAN DE VELDE They instructed me to look at them, and I did briefly. Maybe out of curiosity of what the hell happened.

JOHN MILLER What had happened to her? From the pictures.

JIM VAN DE VELDE Well, the pictures suggested that she was the victim of a terrible attack, and there was damage to her head and neck and throat. And I could barely recognize her. Horrible.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Detectives grilled Van de Velde for four solid hours. He thinks they were trying to break him.

JIM VAN DE VELDE The questions moved from simple questions ?What was she like?? To ?Did you ever have a relationship with her? Did you ever have sex with her? Did you ever want to have sex with her??

JOHN MILLER Did you desire any kind of relationship...


JOHN MILLER that with her?

JIM VAN DE VELDE Of course not. I?ve never had a relationship with a student. I?ve never even tried to have a relationship with a student. My reputation on campus was the straight arrow guy, the last guy on campus who would ever do such a thing.

JOHN MILLER (VO) But off campus, there were women who felt Van de Velde was anything but straight arrow. By the time he was called in for questioning, they had already shared their complaints with detectives working the case.
That night police accused Van de Velde of being a stalker of women. Of harassing three local television reporters, of phoning them, following them, watching them. Police sources say the women had all told them the same thing, that Van de Velde was ?creepy.?
Why did you have this reputation of being a stalker of women?

JIM VAN DE VELDE I have no idea. I have no idea. But let me be very clear. There was no misunderstanding or matter of perspective or minor incident blown out of proportion. This incident, these incidents never happened. I?ve no idea what they?re talking about.

JOHN MILLER So why do you think police were so willing to believe and accept these women who are essentially telling them, ?this guy?s a creep??

JIM VAN DE VELDE Well, I know of only probably one person. And my suspicion is because she worked with them. And she wanted to protect herself, perhaps, from the fact that the relationship didn?t work. And I moved on.

JOHN MILLER (VO) That woman, a New Haven television reporter, wants to remain anonymous. But she told 20/20 that in the summer of 1998, she had complained to police that Van de Velde was harassing her, that he had followed her and peered into her bedroom window after the two had briefly dated the year before, accusations that Van de Velde denies.
Do you think that that was what sparked all of the police focus on you?

JIM VAN DE VELDE Absolutely.

JOHN MILLER (VO) The problems women reported having with Van de Velde heightened the suspicions of the New Haven police. Did Van de Velde see Suzanne Jovin again on the night she was killed? Had he offered to return the paper she so desperately wanted back? And did he misread his relationship with her the way other women say he had misread his relationships with them?

JIM VAN DE VELDE They had this notion that this was a crime of passion, and we must have had a relationship. And did she attack me? Did she attack my manhood? Did we argue about the relationship? It?s ridiculous.

JOHN MILLER The detectives theorize you were together with Suzanne in the car, that you made a move on her. That she rejected it. And that you snapped. That it was a crime of rage.

JIM VAN DE VELDE Ludicrous. What can I say? Pure, ridiculous speculation. I had no relationship with this woman. We never argued. I never saw her outside of class. I didn?t even know where she lived. And here they are accusing me of murdering her.

JOHN MILLER At some point, didn?t you have the urge to say, ?Hey, I have had enough of this. And if I?m not under arrest, which I?m not?I?m walking out of here??

JIM VAN DE VELDE I thought by cooperating I would impress upon them that ?Gee, you know, this guy?s 100 percent cooperative.? I know there can?t be any evidence against me.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Van de Velde?s friends say he is the last person they could imagine breaking the law, let along killing someone. The alter boy at Holy Infant Church, the high school student council president who starred on the soccer team. The honors student who learned to follow all the rules in life says his conscience is clear. He says that is why he sat through a four-hour interrogation, and never asked for a lawyer. But Van de Velde now believed the detectives grilling him thought he was too cooperative and took that as a sign of guilt.
So police have you as this tightly wound guy, who snapped in this moment, committed a crime of passion, un-premedidated (sic).


JOHN MILLER And clean up the trail enough so that there was no trace of it to be found?

JIM VAN DE VELDE Right. And offered to take a polygraph and search my car and my apartment and give a blood sample.

JOHN MILLER When it was clear to you that you were a suspect in this murder?


JOHN MILLER You volunteered to take a lie detector test with a police operator?

JIM VAN DE VELDE I had nothing to hide, nothing to fear. I haven?t done a single thing in my life I am ashamed of. I thought I had nothing to worry about.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Remarkably, the New Haven police did not take Van de Velde up on his offers that night except for searching his car. He left the station after midnight, shaken but believing that he was no longer a suspect. Van de Velde was wrong. The next morning when the local newspapers splashed the story of his interrogation across the front page he was stunned.

JIM VAN DE VELDE It wasn?t until that moment when I picked up the paper and my heart stopped for a moment did it occur to me that these cops seriously believed that I could have committed this murder. It?s astonishing.

JOHN MILLER (VO) On his way to the dentist that morning Van de Velde was ambushed by a local television crew.

JIM VAN DE VELDE And as I got to the corner, a local television reporter from Channel 8 jumps out of a car, runs across the street as he sees me approach the office. And asks me, ?Professor Van de Velde, are you Professor Van de Velde? Did you see the New Haven Register this morning?? ?I glanced at it.? ?Well, they were?they were talking about you, weren?t they??

REPORTER And there?s no way that you would ever harm her?

And I realized in a heartbeat that this was a horrific situation. What do you do? Deny it? Run from him? I realized my life would never be the same after that.

JOHN MILLER At that moment?

JIM VAN DE VELDE At that moment. That not only my life was going to be turned upside down, but people would actually believe it, believe the insinuation. And that a murder investigation could be totally derived.

DIANE SAWYER But Jim Van de Velde could not imagine just how dramatically his life would change. Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER A respected academic life in shambles, crumbling under the weight of rumor, suspicion, but no charge of murder.

JIM VAN DE VELDE It just won?t happen. Nothing has been revealed to link me to this crime and nothing will.

ANNOUNCER Can a noted criminologist find evidence others may have missed? When 20/20 continues.

(Commercial Break)

ANNOUNCER Expert eyes, fixed on a scene of murder, searching for clues to unmask a brutal killer.

DR HENRY LEE We only have one chance, one shot.

ANNOUNCER But is it a shot in the dark? Has the killer?s trail gone cold? When 20/20 continues after this from our ABC stations.

(Commercial Break)

ANNOUNCER 20/20 WEDNESDAY continues. Once again, Diane Sawyer.

DIANE SAWYER In the weeks that followed Suzanne Jovin?s murder, no hard evidence surfaced against her instructor, Jim Van de Velde, even though his name kept cropping up in TV and newspaper reports. Now, with pressure building to find the killer, Van de Velde would find himself branded a suspect by a most unlikely source. Once again, John Miller.

JOHN MILLER (VO) On January 11th last year, one month after the murder of Suzanne Jovin, it was announced to the press that Jim Van de Velde was in a ?pool of suspects.? Remarkably, that announcement did not come from the New Haven police. It came from Yale University.

JIM VAN DE VELDE This is a case of institutions colluding and making a mess of a crime.

JOHN MILLER Do you think Yale?s decision to name you as one of the pool of suspects forced police to do the same?

JIM VAN DE VELDE Yes. I think the dynamic was Yale and the New Haven police talked and cooperated and worked in concert from the very beginning.

JOHN MILLER (VO) When students showed up for Van de Velde?s classes, they learned the university had canceled them. Yale noted that while it presumed Van de Velde innocent, it would be a distraction to students to have a murder suspect in the classroom.

BLAIR GOLSON It was very strange to hear the canceling of the classes at the same time that he was placed in a pool of suspects. And you know, it sparked off a pretty large firestorm of controversy at the school.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Yale Daily News reporter Blair Golson says students were divided over Van de Velde?s guilt. There were those who believed Yale had done the right thing by suspending Van de Velde from teaching. Others, especially his former students, supported him, students like Bailey Hand (ph).

JIM VAN DE VELDE (To Student) Thank you for all your support and beautiful words and your phone call.
I had a number of students call or e-mail or write saying very, very supportive things.
I was kind of planning on teaching this.
My students have shown more courage than any Yale faculty member has.

JOHN MILLER When we asked Yale University to talk to 20/20 about the Jovin case and Jim Van de Velde, a university spokesman told us that bringing more attention to the murder can only hurt Yale. The spokesman said they want to put the Jovin murder behind them, that it is time to move on.

DAVID GRUDBERG (ph) The fact of the matter is, Yale University cares about one thing, and that?s Yale.

JOHN MILLER (VO) When Jim Van de Velde finally called a lawyer, he turned to his long-time friend, New Haven attorney David Grudberg.

DAVID GRUDBERG It doesn?t matter whether I?d known Jim 25 years or 25 minutes. What has been done to him is wrong.

JIM VAN DE VELDE I?ve had faculty members pass me in supermarkets. I have had former friends and colleagues never write me. Martin Luther King once said, ?We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.? And I remember a lot of silence.

JOHN MILLER (VO) As Jim Van de Velde will tell you, nothing in his background prepared him for life as a murder suspect. Not his years in Washington working for President Bush on arms control, nor his tenure as Dean of Saybrook, one of Yale?s 12 residential colleges. And certainly not the naval reserves, where he had long served as an intelligence officer with top-secret clearance.
To get that you have to be investigated. They have to ask people what you?re like and whether you?re trustworthy and if you?re a good person.

JIM VAN DE VELDE Very much. And periodically reinvestigate it.

JOHN MILLER You had no trouble getting a clearance?

JIM VAN DE VELDE No. No, of course not.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Yet once Jim Van de Velde became a suspect, so much about him seemed suspicious. There were whispers about his social life, questions about his career. A smear campaign, he calls it, with leaks from the New Haven police turning the rumor mill.

JIM VAN DE VELDE Ridiculous things like, ?Oh, we have nothing on him, but we?re sure he did it. Oh, the guy?s a lunatic. Oh, he?s in denial. Oh, he almost confessed to us.?

JOHN MILLER And when you hear that laundry list of things about yourself; a stalker of women, a Jekyll/Hyde character, probably a murderer, what do you think?

JIM VAN DE VELDE Astonishing. It?s not just an example of cops who haven?t been able to figure out the crime, but cops who destroyed their own investigation with wild speculation dumped in the press.

DAVID GRUDBERG And he is the only one whose name has been splashed across the paper invariably next to the photograph of a murdered girl. He has been singled out and that?s not fair.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Jim Van de Velde, who had been so active in the Yale community, pulled into a protective shell. He did not speak to the police again.

TOM JOVIN It was a big mistake not to cooperate with the police. Everybody should cooperate with the police in a case like this, since presumably there?s only one individual who would not be in such a position, namely the one who carried out the crime.

JOHN MILLER You know, we interviewed Tom Jovin. And he hasn?t accused you of being the murderer but in his comments, he?s all but said he thinks you?re the killer. How does that make you feel?

JIM VAN DE VELDE Oh, it makes me feel awful. And it makes me outraged. Because this means he?s a victim twice over.


JIM VAN DE VELDE I really can think of no more despicable act than to suggest to the parents of a murdered 21-year-old daughter that, ?Oh, they know the killer. It?s her professor.? And then they don?t find any evidence to back it up.

JOHN MILLER Police have said repeatedly that Jim Van de Velde is one in a ?pool of suspects? in the Jovin murder case. But sources familiar with the investigation have told us that detectives have looked at 20 other potential suspects, and so far, all of their alibis have checked out. One of Jim Van de Velde?s problems is he doesn?t have an alibi that can be checked out. Because at the time of the murder, by his own account, he was home alone.
Do you think that there?s gonna be a knock at the door some day and the detectives are gonna say ?Professor Van de Velde, we have a warrant for your arrest. Come with us??

JIM VAN DE VELDE No. There can?t be. It just won?t happen. Nothing has been revealed to link me to this crime and nothing will.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Or maybe something already has. Remember this news clip of Jim Van de Velde, being confronted by a local reporter?

REPORTER And there?s no way you would ever harm her?


JOHN MILLER (VO) When this ran on the evening news five days after Suzanne Jovin had been murdered, Van de Velde wasn?t the only one taken by surprise.
Later that night, police received a frantic call. It was from Suzanne?s friend, the one who had already told them she had seen Suzanne here at Phelps Gate half an hour before the murder. Now, she had seen Jim Van de Velde on television. She told police Van de Velde looked just like a well-dressed blond man she had seen walking ten feet behind Suzanne that night.

JIM VAN DE VELDE Not me. I know exactly what I did that evening. And at that time, I was probably rewinding ?Friends? on my VCR.




JIM VAN DE VELDE Absolutely.

JOHN MILLER (VO) New Haven police still have their doubts. They are convinced Suzanne Jovin knew her killer, and in the last week of her life, Suzanne was furious with Jim Van de Velde. But without a murder weapon or an eyewitness, police can?t prove Van de Velde did it, and without an alibi, Van de Velde can?t prove that he didn?t.

JIM VAN DE VELDE At this point I?m not sure if I even care who believes me and who doesn?t. The case is a fiasco. A murderer is free. The parents are obviously in great pain. My family is in terrific pain. And this case is dead.

JOHN MILLER (VO) In fact, several months into their investigation, the police admitted they were stumped. Incredibly, they had turned down an offer from well-known forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee to examine the crime scene the night of the murder. While police did give Dr. Lee some evidence to analyze, he wasn?t fully brought into the case until after Van de Velde pleaded publicly for his participation.

HENRY LEE If we can recognize potential evidence, we can link an individual. Equally important, exclude an individual. The beauty of scientific evidence is don?t take side.

JOHN MILLER (VO) Dr. Lee is conducting a reconstruction of the crime. Right now he is convinced of one thing, Suzanne Jovin?s murder was a frenzy killing, an act of rage committed by someone she knew. But even Dr. Lee fears it may be too late
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