|Re: 12/4/2014 - New Haven Register: Investigators appeal for public’s help to solve Suzanne Jovin slaying|
Investigators appeal for public’s help to solve Suzanne Jovin slaying
By Randall Beach, New Haven Register
POSTED: 12/04/14, 9:23 PM EST
NEW HAVEN >> On the 16th anniversary of the night Suzanne Jovin was murdered, cold case investigators Thursday appealed to the public for help in putting together “a jigsaw puzzle” with a “mystery gap” of 20-30 minutes.
The unusual forum drew about 50 residents, many of them from the East Rock neighborhood where Jovin was found mortally wounded. They walked into the Wilbur Cross High School auditorium and stared up at a giant photo of a young woman with a radiant smile.
“Suzanne was a 21-year-old senior at Yale University,” the text read beneath her face. “She was an outstanding student, co-founder of the German Club, sang in the chorus and participated in a mentoring program.”
The session, which lasted one hour, provided virtually no new information on the case. Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane, who did most of the talking, urged the residents to fill out a detailed questionnaire concerning what they might have observed on the night of Dec. 4, 1998, rather than calling out the details of anything they might know.
In a further effort to keep things low-key and private, no cameras were allowed inside the auditorium.
Kane, whose office oversees the state’s cold case investigations, said, “This is one that’s grabbed us and I know it’s grabbing you.”
Speaking beneth a a photo of yellow police tape stretched around the corner of East Rock and Edgehill roads, where Jovin was found, Kane said, “It’s like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing. Putting the pieces together might solve this.”
A map was projected showing the known whereabouts of Jovin that evening. “We know Suzanne was last seen at about 9:25 p.m. Dec. 4,” Kane said. “She walked out of (Yale’s) Phelps Gate, toward College Street and made a left.”
Kane noted she was not headed toward her Park Street apartment because she was going in the wrong direction.
“At 9:55 p.m., she was found, still alive, but having been stabbed, near East Rock and Edgehill’s intersection,” Kane noted. (Jovin was stabbed 17 times).
Kane said investigators don’t know what happened during that half-hour between the time she was seen at Phelps Gate and was found on the ground near that neighborhood corner. The distance between the two sites is about two miles.
“How did she get to that corner?” Kane asked. He said it’s unlikely she ran there in that time, so she almost certainly was driven to that spot.
Then Kane revealed the only recently-released information about the case, as was reported in Wednesday’s New Haven Register: a couple was heard arguing outside the front of the apartment building at 750 Whitney Ave., at the corner of East Rock Road, at about the time of Jovin’s slaying.
Kane said investigators are “very interested” in hearing if anybody saw that couple arguing, in addition to the one witness who has already reported seeing it. Kane noted a “white couple” came out of the building and walked past the arguing couple. Investigators want that “white couple” to come forward and recall what they observed.
Kane said a witness also reported hearing a man and woman arguing in back of that same apartment building. “Maybe it was the same couple who were arguing in front.”
But Kane said investigators don’t know if those arguments are linked to what happened to Jovin nearby.
“This was a warm night,” Kane noted. “I’m told it was 73 degrees, one of those days that comes as a miracle in December. People would have been driving around with their windows open.”
He added, “In the middle of that, there was a scream.”
“A couple was walking from that corner of East Rock Road to Whitney Avenue, looking at the holiday lights,” he said. “When they got close to Whitney, they heard a scream. They didn’t think much about it until they got back up the hill and saw Suzanne: still alive, still breathing.”
Kane said the man called 911 while the woman, who was a doctor, “tried to save Suzanne’s life.”
He said a car then came around the corner and the female driver asked: “Do you need help?” The doctor, noticing three young kids in the car, said, “No, thank you,” and the woman drove off. Investigators want to talk to her too, to find out what she observed.
Kane also talked about “the running man,” that mysterious figure seen by a motorist sprinting down Whitney Avenue from Huntington Street toward Hamden at about the time of the murder. Where he was seen is about two blocks from the crime scene.
“Where did he come from?” Kane asked. “Where did he go? Why was he running? Did anybody else see him?”
Kane said you can’t describe the man as a jogger because “he was actually running faster than the car.”
The witness said she saw him jump over a fence and disappear.
Kane apologized for not having any “big announcement” about the case; he said it was up to the people in the auditorium and others who might have observed something to help solve it.
“We are looking at some leads in different directions,” he added.
New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman, who noted he was not in New Haven at the time of the Jovin murder, also briefly addressed the audience. “You’re going to see more of this (type of forum) in New Haven. There are other unsolved murders and New Haven police are going to (re)visit them.”
Among the half-dozen questions that came from the audience was a recommendation from New Haven resident Trowbridge Ford that investigators look into the al-Qaida angle.
“Al-Qaida was in a rabid state at that time and Suzanne was writing a thesis about them,” Ford noted. “It seems to me that’s the first suspect you should look at. Al-Qaida was trying to fool Americans about where it was going to attack. Here’s this Yale student and the next thing she’s killed like she’s some sort of jihadist heretic.”
“With al-Qaida, you do have a motive,” Ford concluded.
Kane said the focus should remain on the time gap and the neighborhood where the killing occurred.
After the meeting, Ford said he was the former associate editor of Eye Spy magazine.
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345. Do you have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect with New Haven Register editors at AskTheRegister.com.