|Re: 12/4/2015 - New Haven Register: "Investigators seek specific witnesses 17 years after slaying of Yale student Suzanne Jovin"|
Investigators seek specific witnesses 17 years after slaying of Yale student Suzanne Jovin
By Randall Beach, New Haven Register
POSTED: 12/03/15, 5:33 PM EST | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
Whitney Avenue, East Rock and Edgehill roads and Huntington Street in New Haven
Source: Office of the Chief State’s Attorney
NEW HAVEN >> Seventeen years after Yale senior Suzanne Jovin was stabbed 17 times and left to die at a street corner of an East Rock neighborhood, investigators still believe there are specific witnesses who could come forward and help police arrest her murderer.
In a two-page statement given to the New Haven Register and in interviews with a Register reporter, John T. Edwards, chief inspector for the office of Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane, noted the investigation of Jovin’s slaying on Dec. 4, 1998, “has continued at a steady pace.”
“Review of the files, re-interviewing of witnesses and study of materials at the Connecticut Forensic Lab continue,” Edwards added. He said the lab is re-testing some of the evidence that was collected because of scientific advancements in examining materials.
The knife used in the homicide has never been found but investigators do have its tip, which was found lodged in Jovin’s head.
A Yale-New Haven Hospital medical resident and her friend told police they were walking up East Rock Road near its intersection with Edgehill Road at about 9:50 p.m. when they heard screams. Then they found Jovin, 21, lying on the ground, still alive but unable to respond to them.
The medical resident attended to Jovin while her friend called 911.
At that time, Edwards noted in the statement, “a dark-colored car, being driven by a woman and coming from Edgehill Road, turning east onto East Rock Road, stopped and asked the medical resident treating Suzanne if she needed help. The driver of the dark car had two children as passengers.”
The woman treating Jovin said she did not need assistance (perhaps because she noticed there were children in the car) and the female motorist drove away.
“Identifying the woman driving this car is crucial to the investigation,” the statement read. Investigators think the motorist might have seen something important.
The investigation team, part of the state’s Cold Case Unit based in Rocky Hill, thinks this probably was not a random attack, that Jovin knew her assailant. They note witnesses have reported hearing a man and a woman arguing shortly before the murder, first at the entrance to an apartment building at 750 Whitney Ave. That’s at the corner of East Rock Road.
Edwards noted a witness has told investigators about seeing a white man and white woman leaving that front entrance during the argument between the couple at about 9:30 p.m. Investigators want to find the man and woman who had walked past the arguing couple.
Edwards said another witness living on the rear side of that apartment building also heard an argument between a woman and another person. Shortly after, she heard screams on East Rock Road.
Edwards added, “This argument appears to be a continuation of the argument heard on the front side of 750 Whitney Ave. minutes before.”
“The perception of these witnesses is that these two people knew each other,” Edwards said. “It was like a domestic argument.”
Edwards said investigators believe the argument that started on Whitney Avenue ended up at that corner of East Rock Road and Edgehill Road. A nearby resident or residents reported hearing a woman shouting, “Why are you doing this to me? How can you do this?”
Investigators are also trying to find a woman who was a passenger in a taxi that night. “She may have important information to corroborate existing information provided by the taxi driver,” Edwards said in the statement.
Edwards said she has been described as a black woman in her late 30s or early 40s. She was wearing a white outfit such as one worn by a health care worker and was carrying a paper bag with handles. She was picked up by the cab driver at either 333 or 373 Blatchley Ave. at about 9:15 p.m. Before she got into the taxi, she spoke with a person who was standing on the second-floor porch of that building.
The cab driver dropped her off in Newhallville.
Edwards’ statement also cites the account of a witness who was driving on Whitney Avenue, then turned onto East Rock Road, where he heard an argument as he approached the Edgehill Road intersection.
“The argument was loud, between a man and a woman, and the words are consistent with other witness reports,” the statement noted.
Edwards said this witness also reported observing a light-colored, mid-sized vehicle parked at the East Rock Road-Edgehill Road intersection.
“We are seeking residents of East Rock Road and/or Edgehill Road who may have seen or overheard any portion of this event,” Edwards said.
He said another witness reported driving east on East Rock Road shortly before Jovin was discovered by the medical resident and seeing a light-colored, mid-sized four-door sedan parked at the curb on East Rock Road near Edgehill Road.
“This witness reported that the driver’s side front door was open and the headlights and interior lights were on,” Edwards noted. “The witness observed a man and a woman standing on the sidewalk near the light-colored vehicle.”
Edwards added, “We are seeking additional witnesses who may corroborate any portion of what has been described by these other witnesses.”
Anyone with information should call the Cold Case Unit’s tip line at 1-866-623-8058; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to P.O. Box 962, Rocky Hill, CT 06067. The state has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Yale University committed an additional $100,000 to that reward fund.
When reached for comment, Kane said he remains “hopeful” the homicide finally will be solved. “We’re making progress bit by bit. But we’d very much like to find those additional witnesses.”
“There are still unanswered questions for a long time,” he added. “But we’re hoping witnesses will come forward.”
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.