|Re: 7/16/08 - Hartford Courant: 'Someone' Sought In Decade-Old Yale Slaying|
'Someone' Sought In Decade-Old Yale Slaying
By DAVE ALTIMARI
July 16, 2008
Original Hartford Courant article: 'Someone' Sought In Decade-Old Yale Slaying
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It was one of the last e-mails Suzanne Jovin ever wrote, promising a friend she would return some study materials to her the next morning after she got them back from an unnamed 'somebody.'
In the e-mail written in German at 9:02 p.m., Dec. 4, 1998, Jovin told her friend she'd leave the books and CD-Rom in the foyer of her apartment. She even gave her Yale classmate the security code to her apartment in case she was not home.
Less than an hour later, Jovin was dying from 17 stab wounds to the back and head.
Now a team of retired state police investigators is reaching out to the Yale University community trying to determine who the 'someone' was that Jovin had lent the study materials to.
'No one has apparently tried to figure out who that person was,' said team leader John Mannion.
'We don't know if she planned on seeing that person the night she was murdered, but it is a person we'd like to identify and try to talk to,' he said.
Investigators have asked the Yale Alumni Association to run stories in their publications and also released the e-mail to the Yale Daily News, the school newspaper, in hopes that the 'somebody' will come forward or that a former classmate will know who the person is.
It is the second time in a month that the retired detectives have asked the public's assistance for help in the almost decade-old homicide investigation.
Last month investigators released a composite of a man that a Hamden woman saw as she was driving slowly north on Whitney Avenue in New Haven's East Rock neighborhood shortly before 10 p.m. on the night Jovin was killed. The man ran in front of the Hamden woman's car, glanced quickly at her and fled.
Jovin was discovered face down near Edgehill and East Rock roads, less than a half-mile from where the man was spotted. Investigators believe Jovin was killed shortly before 10 p.m.
Investigators have not called the man in the composite a 'suspect,' but rather someone they would like to identify and interview. Although they have received numerous calls since the composite was released, investigators have yet to identify the man.
Mannion said it doesn't appear anyone in previous investigations of the Jovin homicide have tried to identify the person she was referring to in the e-mail.
Investigators have talked to the friend who got the e-mail - a friend of Jovin's from Germany - but she has been unable to tell them who Jovin was supposedly getting the materials from.
Jovin had returned to her apartment after holding a pizza party for the Best Buddies of New Haven. She went on her computer for a few minutes before leaving to return the keys to a van she had rented from the university.
Jovin stopped to talk to a classmate on her way to drop off the keys about 9:15 p.m., telling him she was tired and planned to go back to her apartment. Another Yale student saw her outside of Phelps Gate walking on College Street toward Elm Street about 9:25 p.m.
Investigators believe that was the last person other than her killer to see Jovin that night.
Mannion and his team of three other retired state police detectives have been reviewing the case for more than a year. They were hired by Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane and were supposed to retrace the previous investigations, but they have been pursuing leads of their own.
It is the second time that outside investigators have reviewed the homicide investigation which technically is still under the jurisdiction of the New Haven Police Department.
In 2000, New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington gave two former New York City police-turned-private-investigators, Patrick J. Harnett and Andrew Rosenzweig, access to the case files. The men were hired by Yale.
Harnett and Rosenzweig worked on the case for more than a year before running into a dispute with New Haven prosecutor James Clark, who is overseeing the investigation. The dispute centered on tests the men tried to get the state forensic lab to perform on evidence without seeking Clark's approval.
New Haven police focused intently on Jovin's senior thesis adviser, Professor James Van de Velde, interviewing him for more than four hours at police headquarters a few days after Jovin died.
After police identified Van de Velde as being in a 'pool of suspects,' Yale canceled Van de Velde's class, claiming the murder investigation would be a distraction for students. He left the university a few months later.
Van de Velde has vehemently denied any involvement in Jovin's slaying. He has criticized New Haven police, claiming they focused exclusively on him and ignored leads that could have led to the killer. He later sued both Yale and New Haven police in federal court, but the lawsuit was dismissed. He is appealing that dismissal.
Contact Dave Altimari at firstname.lastname@example.org
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