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

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1378)10/5/2017 1:06:45 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell  Read Replies (1) of 1385
 
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any commentary here. So a few updates…

1. When was Suzanne Jovin last seen alive?

From day one, we were told, or at least led to believe, Jovin was last seen “walking north on College St”. That implied she was taking a roundabout way home. Per Mannion, in 2008, “It is unclear... whether Jovin was walking somewhere, waiting for someone or pausing to admire the holiday lights along the New Haven Green.” (source: yaledailynews.com )

Phelp’s Gate, which Jovin had just passed through from Yale’s Old Campus to College St, is perhaps the most active spot to meet people for rides at all of Yale. Whereas these days people just say “text me when you are on your way”, back then most people typically chose times rounded to 15 minutes, e.g. 9:15, 9:30, 9:45, and so on. Given Jovin returned the keys to the Yale car she had borrowed at the police substation within Phelp’s Gate slightly before 9:30pm, it is reasonable to assume that if she indeed were meeting someone, it would have been around 9:30pm.

If Jovin did indeed meet someone around 9:30pm, it likely means she never made it to Krauszers to buy a Fresca. This implies someone gave it to her. It also means we now don’t need to factor in the time it would have taken her to walk to Krauszers, enter, buy and pay for a soda, then exit, nor the time it would take a vehicle to maneuver from this particular location to where she was found dead.

Specifically, it means a vehicle would likely have either gone directly from College St (which is later called Prospect St) to the intersection of East Rock, and then a block down the hill to the corner of Edgehill, or cut over to Whitney Ave and the intersection of East Rock, and then a block up the hill to East Rock. Both ways are about 2 miles, which is about eight minutes of driving. If we factor in four minutes for pickup and parking, we have a 9:42pm arrival. This gives us 11 minutes to spare before she is likely murdered.



2. What do we now know about the vehicle?

Recall that all the original reports talked about a tan/brown van being the vehicle of interest. We then found out, conveniently, the NHPD had actually secretly impounded a tan van that had been recently painted white. Many years later, in 2014, we learned that witnesses had seen a “light-colored, mid-sized four-door sedan parked at the curb on East Rock Road near Edgehill Road… the driver’s side front door was open and the headlights and interior lights were on… a man and a woman standing on the sidewalk near the light-colored vehicle.” (Source: nhregister.com ).

I know for a fact the NHPD truly did think this tan van in custody might have been owned by the killer or a relative. It had recently been painted white, and the owner’s brother was attending Yale. The NHPD even DNA tested the latter. Apparently, this was wishful thinking or else it’s hard to rationalize how a “van” could be confused with a “four-door sedan”. In any event, we are now talking about a sedan, not a van.

3. How about the man and woman arguing?

In 2014, the State’s Attorney’s office revealed that “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)… 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… Another witness living on the rear side of that apartment building also heard an argument between a woman and another person… This argument appears to be a continuation of the argument heard on the front side of 750 Whitney Ave. minutes before. Shortly after, she heard screams on East Rock Road… The perception of these witnesses is that these two people knew each other. It was like a domestic argument.” Then, on the next corner, the intersection of East Rock and Edgehill (about a 4-5 minute walk up the hill): “A nearby resident or residents reported hearing a woman shouting, ‘Why are you doing this to me? How can you do this?’” Source: Message 30346489



Putting it all together

If we assume all of these accounts are related, and the arguing couple were Jovin and her killer, it implies that the killer parked his vehicle somewhere in the vicinity of 750 Whitney Ave. They go to the doorstep of the building, get into an argument, and rather than go inside, end up walking up East Rock Rd, still arguing. They get as far as the intersection of Edgehill whereupon the argument turns fatal for Jovin.

But, wait, if true, how do we jive this with the four door sedan parked at this corner with the front door open and interior lights on? Did this couple begin their journey here, walk all the way down the hill, to the front door of 750 Whitney, then all the way back up? Not likely. Then which scenario is more likely?

Let’s now factor in the running man. If this person was indeed the killer running from the scene, and Jovin was dead, then obviously if the vehicle were at the corner of East Rock and Edgehill were his, it would have still been there when Jovin was found. It was not. Of course, we can’t rule out an accomplice, or at least a third person sitting in the vehicle, who then might have driven it away. Regardless, whether the killer or an accomplice drove the vehicle away, the couple that found Jovin – who heard a scream when half-way up East Rock -- never reported seeing anyone run or drive past them. And, recall, while a man and woman were seen near this vehicle, this report did not have them as arguing with one another. All of this makes it very hard to conclude this tan vehicle was that of the killer.

So, does this now imply the couple at 750 Whitney had to be Jovin and her killer? Well… recall this arguing was said to have started at 9:30pm. That’s around the time Jovin was last seen alive—two miles away. Of course, if we change this to, say, 9:42, then that’s a different story. But can we? 9:40? 9:38?

At this point, I’m not sure we have a choice but to discount the tan vehicle. The problem is, I’ve never ever heard anybody come up with any reason for Jovin to have been driven all the way to 750 Whitney. Was this related to the GRE materials Jovin has planned to have retrieved by the next day? If so, then one theory is that Jovin had arranged for a driver to take her there to get them. Given Jovin had said she was tired, it’s unlikely she had arranged to be driven to a party, not to mention she nobody ever reported seeing her at a party, not to mention most Yale undergrads do not live this far off campus. But as no GRE materials were found anywhere near the murder scene, implying that if said retrieval were truly the intent, the mission was apparently aborted. Hmm…

Or maybe her driver was there to give Jovin the GRE materials, and perhaps offered her a ride back to her apartment. She gets in, he starts to drive away, says there’s something he wants to talk to her about, and perhaps she agrees to “go for a short ride and talk” rather than do the talking back at her place. Perhaps they continue “north on College St” which would take them to East Rock Rd. They turn right, down East Rock Rd, and Jovin gets a bit agitated and asks the driver to stop. He does, at the intersection of Edgehill. He convinces her to get back in the car, she does, and they continue down the hill to Whitney where she gets agitated again, so they stop again. This time she walks to the front door of 750 Whitney to get away from him, they argue some more, and she then decides to start walking home, back up East Rock Rd. He follows her, they argue some more, and he eventually kills her when they reach Edgehill again.

But wait, where is the soda bottle in all this? If Jovin were given the soda, as this scenario dictates, it implies she was given it by the driver in the car. Are we to assume Jovin is casually sipping on a soda in the car, then out of the car-- through all this arguing? If she were given the soda by the driver, which likely would have been when she got into the car at about 9:32, that’s about 20 minutes of possessing the soda such that it is found in the hedges near her body. Seems rather unlikely.

Or maybe this arguing couple lived at 750 Whitney Ave, left their apartment at 9:30pm, well before Jovin and her killer had arrived, got into their car, and left—not having anything to do with the murder. Jovin and her killer parked “somewhere near” East Rock and Edgehill, went for a walk on this rare warm night in December, and then things took a turn for the worse. Simple as that. Maybe. :)

- Jeff
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