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   PastimesMurder Mystery: Who Killed Yale Student Suzanne Jovin?


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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1247)7/4/2008 1:04:57 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1385
 
Re: 7/2/08 - NH Register: Cops seek 'running man' in 1998 Jovin slaying

Cops seek 'running man' in 1998 Jovin slaying
By William Kaempffer, Register Staff 07/02/2008

NEW HAVEN — Hoping to jog decade-old memories, members of a four-person team trying to revive the investigation of the 1998 slaying of a Yale co-ed went door-to-door in the East Rock neighborhood over the weekend, handing out fliers and asking: Do you recognize this man?

Shown was an artist’s rendering of a man in his 20s or 30s with an athletic build, well-groomed hair, dark pants, a loose-fitting greenish jacket, running like his life depended on it in the opposite direction from where Suzanne Jovin was killed.

Whoever this person is, New Haven State’s Attorney Michael Dearington said Tuesday, there’s no suggestion that he was involved in the death.

“People should not infer that he’s responsible for the death of Suzanne Jovin,” he said.

But the team of investigators would still like to identify him.

“Who is this individual? As a witness, maybe he can help us out with this investigation,” said John Mannion, the retired head of the state police Central Major Crimes Unit, who is heading the team of retired state investigators.

To be certain, the door-to-door effort is a long shot.

Jovin, a Yale senior, was killed Dec. 4, 1998, and the East Rock area has a large transient Yale contingent. Many of the people who lived there when Jovin was killed have graduated, moved out of New Haven and have gotten on with their lives.

“A lot of us got a visit,” said Celeste Suggs, an eight-year resident of Everit Street. That area was a focal point for the investigators this weekend, since a witness saw the man hurdle a shrub and disappear into a church property that led to Everit Street.

They asked Suggs to look at the drawing and the witness’ description.

“I just wish it all would have been asked 10 years ago,” she said.

The witness account is nothing new.

A female motorist told police at the time that she was driving in the area of Whitney Avenue and Huntington Street at about 10 p.m. when she saw a white male sprint past her and disappear into the church property. Jovin, who was stabbed about 17 times in the back and neck, was found at 9:55 p.m., two blocks away at Edgehill and East Rock roads.

Mannion said his team re-interviewed the driver, and reduced the description to a composite drawing with her help.

“We just had a belief that she witnessed something that night,” Mannion said. The team isn’t putting great stock in the composite, he said. It was based on a decade-old memory and a split-second encounter in the dark of night.

They feel more confident with her description: The flier describes the man as a physically fit, athletic-looking white male with defined features, in his 20s or 30s, with well-groomed blond or dark blond hair.

Yale lecturer James Van de Velde, the only suspect ever named in the case, has never been charged and has professed his innocence from the beginning, claiming New Haven police bungled the investigation from the start.

“I’m encouraged by any possible new lead that would help solve the crime,” said attorney David Grudberg, who represents Van de Velde. “I’m a little puzzled why it would take nearly 10 years to take this step, if information supposedly was available in 1998. I think it’s an indication of the tunnel vision that plagued the investigation from day one.”

When asked what Van de Velde’s status was, Mannion repeated New Haven prosecutor Jim Clark’s assertion last year about suspects: “No one is a suspect. Everyone is a suspect.”

So far, the team has not contacted Van de Velde, who was 38 at the time of the killing.

“He’s still someone that’s part of the file, of course, and we might some day reach out to him, but right now we’re not,” Mannion said.

The four retired state police investigators took on the case about a year ago. They are being paid $1 a year.

On Everit Street, longtime residents who received a visit from the investigators vividly recalled the killing, but could offer no assistance. Fliers remained in windows of popular businesses on Orange Street such as Romeo and Cesare’s.

“They just wanted to know if this was ringing a bell for anyone,” said Paulette Cohen, a 26-year resident of Everit Street. “It would be nice to get some closure.”

©New Haven Register 2008

zwire.com

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1248)7/4/2008 1:05:22 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1385
 
RE: 7/2/08 - AP: Police circulate fliers in Yale student murder

Police circulate fliers in Yale student murder
Associated Press
July 2, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Retired state police investigators are taking a new look at an old lead in the 1998 stabbing death of a Yale student in the East Rock neighborhood.

They've been circulating a flier with the sketch of a man seen running from the area where Suzanne Jovin was killed on Dec. 4, 1998.

The flier is an artist's rendering of a man in his 20s or 30s with an athletic build, well-groomed hair, dark pants and a loose-fitting greenish jacket.

Members of a four-person team trying to revive the decade-old investigation went door-to-door in the East Rock neighborhood over the weekend, handing out fliers and asking people if they recognized the man.

There's no suggestion that the person was involved in the death, New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington said. But the team of investigators would still like to identify him.

"Who is this individual? As a witness, maybe he can help us out with this investigation," said John Mannion, retired head of the state police Central Major Crimes Unit, who is heading the team of retired state investigators.

The retired state police investigators took on the case about a year ago. They are being paid $1 a year.

A motorist told police at the time that she was driving in the area of Whitney Avenue and Huntington Street at about 10 p.m. when she saw a white man sprint past her and disappear into property of a nearby church.

Jovin, who was stabbed about 17 times in the back and neck, was found at 9:55 p.m., two blocks away.

Mannion said his team re-interviewed the driver and reduced the description to a composite drawing with her help.

"We just had a belief that she witnessed something that night," Mannion said.

The team isn't putting great stock in the composite, he said. It was based on a decade-old memory and a split-second encounter in the dark of night.

courant.com

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1249)7/4/2008 1:06:11 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1385
 
Re: 7/2/08 - Hartford Courant: Sketch Of Man Circulated In Death Of Yale Student

Sketch Of Man Circulated In Death Of Yale Student
By DAVE ALTIMARI | Courant Staff Writer
July 2, 2008

The team reinvestigating the 1998 killing of Yale University senior Suzanne Jovin is circulating a sketch of a man spotted running near the scene, a potential breakthrough that was quickly dismissed a decade ago by investigators who focused instead on Jovin's thesis adviser.

Sources familiar with the case said a Hamden woman was driving slowly north on Whitney Avenue in New Haven's East Rock neighborhood shortly before 10 p.m. on Dec. 4, 1998, when the man ran in front of her car, glanced quickly at her and fled.

That sighting has drawn interest from a team of retired state police detectives investigating the killing. Jovin was discovered face down with 17 stab wounds in her back and head near the corner of 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.

John Mannion, the head of the team probing the slaying, said investigators aren't calling the man in the picture a "suspect" or "person of interest."

"He is somebody that we'd like to find and interview to see why he was running at that time on that street," Mannion said.

Mannion said investigators decided to release the picture despite some misgivings about the composite.

"The witness saw this person for just a few seconds in the dark before he ran off," Mannion said.

The woman has told investigators the man had "blondish hair, chiseled features and was wearing dark clothes and a loose-fitting green-colored jacket."

Investigators recently had a forensic artist meet with the woman. She came forward 10 years ago and spoke to New Haven detectives. Sources said the police at the time showed her a photo of Yale Professor James Van de Velde — Jovin's thesis adviser, whom police had publicly identified as a suspect — to determine if he was the man she saw. They also took her in an unmarked van to Van de Velde's office so she could look at him in person.

She told them Van de Velde was not the man she saw running, and investigators didn't contact her again, sources said.

Recently, investigators have been going door to door along Everit, Cold Spring and Huntington streets, in the area where the man was spotted running, showing residents the composite. The area is full of homes and apartments rented by Yale graduate students. The composite also has been placed in stores in the area.

New Haven police focused intently on Van de Velde following a four-hour interrogation 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.

For more than a year, the new team of retired state police detectives has been reviewing the case. 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.

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 later became Hartford's police chief.

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.

The private investigators obtained a DNA sample from Van de Velde, which prosecutors compared to DNA found under one of Jovin's fingernails. The samples did not match him or anyone else who had been tested.

Contact Dave Altimari at daltimar@courant.com.

courant.com

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1250)7/7/2008 8:02:05 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1385
 
Re: 7/2/08 - WTNH: Jovin murder task force releases composite picture - Jodi Latina reports

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- Jeff

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1251)7/8/2008 10:21:05 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1385
 
Re: 7/8/08 - Hartford Courant: Slim Lead In Cold Case

Slim Lead In Cold Case
July 8, 2008

In the TV crime drama "Cold Case," long unsolved murders are re-examined and wrapped up neatly by the end of the hour. Witnesses overlooked in the initial investigation are often the key to the outcome. At the close of the show, dramatic music and special effects give the viewer the impression that because of the always successful efforts of detectives, the long-dead victim and loved ones can rest at last.

So far, there is no such closure for Suzanne Jovin and her family. But there is a glimmer of hope.

The Yale University student was found dead — stabbed 17 times — on a street in New Haven on Dec. 4, 1998. Her brutal murder at age 21 has still not been solved. Lead after lead has grown cold or proved a dead end.

So it is promising that a team of retired state police officers is laying fresh eyes on what was a badly botched investigation. They have re-interviewed a witness in the area at the time of the murder who saw a man running from the direction where Ms. Jovin's body was found. They have released fliers with a composite sketch of the man based on the witness's description.

The man is not a suspect, they say, but someone they'd like to question. It is a long shot. After more than 10 years, memories grow fuzzy and descriptions less reliable. Door-to-door calls in the neighborhood where the man was last seen could turn up someone who remembers him.

It's infuriating, though, that this lead was not pursued to its fullest initially. A source told The Courant's Dave Altimari that police showed the woman a picture of James Van de Velde, Ms. Jovin's thesis adviser and a suspect in the case, to determine if he was the man she saw. He wasn't. Investigators didn't contact her again.

New Haven police had their sights set on Mr. Van de Velde, whose reputation they destroyed without any evidence to indicate he was involved, and plenty to show that he wasn't the killer. DNA under Ms. Jovin's fingernails didn't match his. He had no history of violence. His car did not match one described by witnesses as being in the area.

Instead of seeking Ms. Jovin's killer with open minds, police created a second victim in falsely focusing attention on Mr. Van de Velde. The university abetted the mistake by dismissing him from his teaching duties.

We don't expect that the latest lead in this puzzling case will by itself yield the killer, as happens on TV. But it's good that four experienced investigators are on the case and following through on information their predecessors failed to take seriously.

© 2008, The Hartford Courant

courant.com

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1252)7/16/2008 11:28:36 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1385
 
Re: 7/16/08 - Yale Daily News: Investigators seek the 'someone' Jovin referenced in hour before stabbing

Investigators seek the 'someone' Jovin referenced in hour before stabbing
Bharat Ayyar
Staff Reporter
Published Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In its second revelation to the public in two weeks, a team of investigators probing the 1998 slaying of Yale College senior Suzanne Jovin has announced that it is seeking the identity of an individual to whom Jovin had lent GRE study materials — a potentially critical line of inquiry that lead investigator John Mannion said previous investigators on the case neglected to explore.

A mysterious, nondescript "someone," whom Jovin mentioned in an e-mail she sent less than an hour before she was found stabbed in New Haven's East Rock neighborhood, is the target of the Jovin Investigation Team's latest lead. But Mannion said there is nothing at this point to indicate that this “someone” is connected with the murder.

Although Jovin's e-mail, written in German to a classmate, has been part of the murder case file for several years, Mannion said there is "no record" of previous investigators’ attempting to establish the identity of the "someone."

"Don't get me started on whether the initial investigation was wonderful," Assistant State's Attorney James Clark ’72 said, with a hint of sarcasm. "There's no way to rewrite history, so you move forward with the different focus."

Now, in an effort to piece together a timeline of the night of the murder, the Jovin Investigation Team is looking primarily to Yale alumni — perhaps a classmate who knew Jovin, who talked to her, who took the GRE with her in October of 1998 — who may have knowledge of the "someone" to whom Jovin lent her books.

A question never asked

Jovin had just returned to her Park Street apartment on Dec. 4, 1998, after leaving a pizza-making party around 8:30 p.m. She had organized the event, which was held at Trinity Lutheran Church, for the New Haven chapter of Best Buddies, an organization that partners volunteers with individuals who are intellectually disabled.

At 9:02 that night, Jovin sent an e-mail to a female Yale classmate of hers. In the e-mail, Jovin apologized for not returning her classmate's phone call. Jovin wrote she had her classmate's GRE study materials, including a book and a CD-ROM, but had lent them out to "someone" else.

It was the phrasing — "someone" as opposed to "a friend" or "Bob," Mannion said — that initially piqued his interest in the detail. In the last decade, this "someone" has not come forward with his or her identity. Clark said that may be because the question of the person’s identity was never asked "in a public way."

Jovin wrote that she would retrieve the books and leave them in the foyer of her apartment for the classmate to pick up, giving her classmate the code to her apartment in case Jovin was not in the building.

At about 9:25 p.m., Peter Stein '99 ran into Jovin on her way to Phelps Gate. She was returning the keys to a University-owned car she had used to get to the Best Buddies event. Stein told the News in 1999 that Jovin told him she planned on returning to her apartment and getting some rest.

A few minutes later, Jovin was spotted near Phelps Gate on College Street by another student, who did not talk to her. It is unclear from that student's testimony, Mannion said, whether Jovin was walking somewhere, waiting for someone or pausing to admire the holiday lights along the New Haven Green.

That eyewitness — the last person known to have seen Jovin alive — did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. The Jovin Investigation Team has not interviewed this eyewitness directly, but multiple interviews have been documented.

Just over half an hour later, police found Jovin on the corner of Edgehill Avenue and East Rock Road. She had been stabbed 17 times in the head, neck and back. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Yale-New Haven Hospital at 10:26 p.m.

‘There's always a possibility of anything’

Neither Clark nor Mannion offered any judgment on the fact that the "someone" was only now being pursued.

For a nearly decade-old case that has made little progress in recent years, the Jovin team's recent inquiries offer a glimmer of insight into the workings of investigators and the history of the investigation itself.

Just over two weeks ago, the Jovin Investigation Team distributed posters and made house calls in East Rock. The investigators are still looking to identify "a physically fit and athletic looking white male with defined features, 20 to 30 years of age, with well groomed blond or dark blond hair" seen running two-tenths of a mile from where Jovin was stabbed on the night of Dec. 4, 1998.

Citing sources "familiar with the case", the Hartford Courant reported on July 2 that it was a Hamden woman who gave the description of the man after he ran in front of her car shortly before 10 p.m. and glanced at her. When she originally came forward with her testimony, police took her to the office of James Van de Velde ’82 — then a Yale lecturer and the only publicly named suspect at the time — to see whether she could identify Van de Velde as the runner, according to the Courant.

She did not, and was reportedly never contacted by investigators again.

Van de Velde and his attorney, David Grudberg '82, have long insisted that the investigation's preoccupation with Van de Velde damaged not only Van de Velde's personal life but the homicide case as well. Grudberg told the News earlier this month that the Team's delayed inquiries, though welcome, are representative of the early investigation's "tunnel-vision."

The illustration issued earlier this month — featuring a composite of the man seen running near the scene of Jovin’s body — could match the profile of a local university student. So could the "someone" in Jovin's e-mail.

"There's always a possibility of anything,” Clark said. “We aren't drawing those lines.”

yaledailynews.com

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1253)7/18/2008 2:46:56 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1385
 
Re: 7/16/08 - Hartford Courant: 'Someone' Sought In Decade-Old Yale Slaying

'Someone' Sought In Decade-Old Yale Slaying
By DAVE ALTIMARI

Hartford Courant

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 daltimari@courant.com

Copyright © 2008 Hartford Courant, All Rights Reserved.

topix.net

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From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell7/20/2008 1:11:06 AM
   of 1385
 
Suzanne Jovin case

Suzanne Nahuela Jovin (b. January 26, 1977, Göttingen, Germany - d. December 4, 1998, New Haven, Connecticut) was a senior at Yale University in New Haven, CT when she was brutally stabbed to death off campus. The city of New Haven and Yale University have offered a combined $150,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Jovin’s killer [ ct.gov ]. The crime remains unsolved.

Jovin was born and raised in Göettingen, Germany, the third of four daughters, to scientists Donna and Thomas Jovin. Fluent in German, English, French, and Spanish, and a visitor of four continents, Jovin chose to expand on her passion for international diplomacy and public service in college, majoring in political science and international studies. It was this love of public service – of doing good for others – that motivated Jovin to join the New Haven chapter of Best Buddies. Jovin also volunteered as a tutor through the Yale Tutoring in Elementary Schools program, sang in both the Freshman Chorus and the Bach Society Orchestra, co-founded the German Club, and worked for three years in the Davenport dining hall. [ web.archive.org ]

The murder

After dropping off the penultimate draft of her senior essay on the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, at approximately 4:15pm on December 4, 1998, Suzanne Jovin began preparations for a pizza-making party she had organized at the Trinity Lutheran Church on 292 Orange St. for the local chapter of Best Buddies, an international organization that brings together students and mentally disabled adults. By 8:30pm, after staying late to help clean up, she was driving another volunteer home in a borrowed university station wagon. At about 8:45 she returned the car to the Yale owned lot on the corner of Edgewood Ave and Howe St and proceeded to walk two blocks to her second floor apartment at 258 Park Street, upstairs from a Yale police substation.

Sometime prior to 8:50, a few friends passed by Jovin's window and asked her if she wanted to join them at the movies. Jovin said no-- that she was planning to do school work that night. At 9:02, she logged onto her Yale e-mail account and told a friend to she was going to leave a GRE study book and CD-ROM for her in her (Jovin’s) lobby. At 9:10 she logged off. It is uncertain if she made or received any calls; calls within Yale's telephone system were not traceable. She wore the same soft, low-cut hiking boots, jeans, and maroon fleece pullover she had worn at the pizza party. [ web.archive.org ]

Very shortly thereafter, Jovin headed out on foot to the Yale police communications center under the arch at Phelps Gate on Yale’s Old Campus to return the keys to the car she had borrowed. Shortly before reaching her destination, at about 9:22, Jovin encountered classmate Peter Stein who was out for a walk. Stein is quoted by the Yale Daily News as saying "She did not mention plans to go anywhere or do anything else afterward. She just said that she was very, very tired and that she was looking forward to getting a lot of sleep." [ Message 12186579 ] Stein also said Jovin was not wearing a backpack, was holding one or more sheets of white 8 ½ x 11 inch paper in her right hand, that she was walking at a "normal" pace and did not look nervous or excited, and that their encounter lasted only two to three minutes [ Message 12314024 ].

Based on the timeline, it is presumed Jovin returned the keys to the borrowed car at about 9:25. She was reportedly last seen alive at between 9:25-9:30pm walking northeast on College Street, but not yet past Elm Street, by another Yale student who was returning from a Yale hockey game. The two never spoke. [ web.archive.org ]

At 9:55, a passerby dialed 911 to report a woman bleeding at the corner of Edgehill Rd and East Rock Rd, a posh neighborhood 1.9 miles from the Yale campus where Jovin was last seen alive. When police arrived at 9:58, they found Jovin fatally stabbed 17 times in the back of her head and neck and her throat slit. She was lying on her stomach, feet in the road, body on the grassy area between the road and the sidewalk. She was fully clothed and still wearing her watch and earrings, with a crumpled up dollar bill in her pocket; her wallet later found to be still in her room. Suzanne Jovin was officially pronounced dead at 10:26 at Yale New Haven Hospital [ Message 13108310 ].

The Evidence

Many items and observations have been reported by the police and media as possible evidence over the nine plus years of the investigation, much of which has either been discredited, deemed hearsay, unreliable, or been explained. The most reliable physical evidence appears to be: 1) DNA found in scrapings taken from under the fingernails of Jovin’s left hand [ wtnh.com ], 2) Jovin’s fingerprints and an unknown person’s partial palmprint found on a Fresca bottle in the bushes in front of where her body was found [ Message 15594543 ], and 3) the tip of an estimated 4-5 inch non-serrated carbon steel blade lodged in her skull [ Message 13108310 ]. The most reliable observation appears to be the sighting by more than one individual of a tan or brown van at the precise location where Jovin’s body was found.

The existence of the tan/brown van was not made public by the New Haven Police (NHPD) until March 27, 2001, when they wrote: “witnesses have said that as they approached the corner of East Rock and Edgehill Roads, they saw a tan or brown van stopped in the roadway facing east, immediately adjacent to where Suzanne was found.”[ cityofnewhaven.com ] Although members of the Yale faculty had reported the police were asking privately about the van at the inception of the investigation, no explanation has ever been given why it took more than two years to release the information to the public. Although the New Haven Register reported on November 8, 2001, that the NHPD had impounded a brown van as part of the Jovin investigation, no link has ever been confirmed [ Message 16626772 ]. There have been no reports of anyone witnessing Jovin enter or exit any vehicle nor has the observed van apparently been found.

The existence of the Fresca bottle came to light on April 1, 2001, by Hartford Courant reporter Les Gura [ Message 15594543 ] The only store in the vicinity of campus that sold Fresca open at the hour Jovin was last seen alive was Krauszers market on York St near Elm St – precisely one block south of Jovin’s apartment. Although Krauszers maintained a video recording of its customers for security purposes, the police never asked to view their tape and have never reported seeking assistance from store employees or customers about whether they had seen anything unusual that night. The foreign palmprint has yet to be identified.

The first mention of the existence of the DNA was on October 26, 2001, following a solicitation by the New Haven police for colleagues, friends and acquaintances of Jovin to come forward and give DNA samples voluntarily[ Message 16567899 ]. No explanation has ever been given why it took nearly three years for the fingernail scrapings to be tested for DNA. No match has yet been found.

The investigation

A mere four days after the murder, the name of Jovin’s thesis advisor, James Van de Velde, was leaked to the New Haven Register as the prime suspect in the case. Fifteen months later, criminologist John Pleckaitis, then a sergeant at the New Haven Police Department, admitted to Hartford Courant reporter Les Gura: "From a physical evidence point of view, we had nothing to tie him to the case ... I had nothing to link him to the crime." [ Message 15594543 ] Famed criminologist Henry Lee’s offer to reconstruct the crime scene was accepted by the police but for reasons unknown never acted upon [ Message 13020588 ].

Based on subsequent questioning of the Yale community, and based on Van de Velde’s name being released prior to the completion of his police interrogation, it became apparent the NHPD had for reasons unknown convinced itself that Van de Velde and Jovin must have been having an illicit or unrequited affair-- a notion that friends of Jovin, especially her boyfriend, found offensive, false and wholly unlikely [ Message 12231664 ]. Nevertheless, with no physical evidence nor a motive, the NHPD continued to maintain that their naming of Van de Velde was not presumptuous. An apparently unquestioning Yale, under the guidance of Dean Richard Brodhead, then chose to cancel Van de Velde’s spring 1999 classes citing his presence as a “major distraction” for students, thus destroying his reputation and academic career [ Message 12231664 ]. Brodhead would later become the President of Duke University where he became best known for his rush to judgment in disbanding their lacrosse team based on equally dubious accusations that were later proven to be false and malicious. [ article.nationalreview.com ]

In 2000, Van de Velde and colleagues strongly and eventually publicly encouraged Yale to hire their own private investigators to study the case. In December, 2000, under additional pressure from the Jovin family, Yale relented and hired the team of Andrew Rosenzweig, former chief investigator with the New York district attorney's office, and Bill Harnett, a former homicide detective from the Bronx, NY [ Message 18869513 ]. It was at their insistence that the NHPD finally allowed the state forensics lab to analyze Jovin’s fingernail scrapings for DNA. Neither the resulting DNA nor Fresca bottle fingerprint was a match to Van de Velde, prompting Harnett to label Van de Velde “Richard Jewell with a Ph.D” [ yaledailynews.com ] [ Jewell was a hero security guard falsely accused by the FBI of the Centennial Park bombing during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA ]. No explanation has ever been given why Yale has chosen to keep the results of their investigation a secret.

The NHPD responded by contacting the US Navy, Van de Velde’s primary employer at the time, urging them to reconsider their contract work with him-- going so far as to travel to Washington DC to offer their “assistance.” A thorough review was conducted that resulted in Van de Velde being allowed to keep his job and his security clearance [ Message 19563441 ]. Sensing the investigation had dead-ended on him, Van de Velde undertook a letter writing campaign urging the Connecticut State cold case unit to take over the case[ Message 19797309 ]. When the Chief State’s Attorney refused, Van de Velde began pressing the police to undertake additional state-of-the-art forensic tests on the evidence [ Message 19757665 ].

On September 1, 2006, nearly eight years after the murder, the Jovin investigation was officially classified a cold case and moved to the Connecticut’s Cold Case Unit [ Message 24102344 ]. However, the case was never added to the Cold Case Unit web site nor was there any mention of the reward being offered—prompting Van de Velde once again to write letters of complaint. On November 29, 2007, Assistant State’s Attorney James Clark admitted that the case had been secretly reassigned back to New Haven in June of that year, this time under the auspices of a handpicked team of four retired detectives. According to Clark: “no person is a suspect in the crime, and everyone is a suspect in the crime.” [ ct.gov ]

Litigation

On January 12, 2001, Van de Velde sued Quinnipiac University for wrongfully dismissing him from a graduate program he was enrolled in there [ Message 15253819 ]. Van de Velde agreed to drop the lawsuit on January 26, 2004, in exchange for $80,000. [ Message 19737648 ]

In December 7, 2001, Van de Velde sued the NHPD claiming they violated his civil rights by naming only him publicly as a suspect while claiming that other suspects existed as well [ Message 16764579 ]. Van de Velde added Yale as a defendant on April 15, 2003. [ yaledailynews.com ] Both suits were dismissed on March 29, 2004 [ Message 19965859 ]. Van de Velde appealed, but in April 2006 Connecticut District Court Chief Judge Robert Chatigny ruled against him. Van de Velde asked Chatigny to reconsider in May of 2006, resulting in the judge reinstating just the state claims on December 11, 2007. [ Message 24130059 ]

Theories

Google satellite maps of Jovin’s most probable route on the night of her murder may be viewed at: Message 24166152

Jovin’s route across Yale’s gated Old Campus, which is off-limits to cars, makes it quite unlikely she was trailed by someone in a vehicle. The timeline, distance to where she was found dead (1.9 miles), her clothing, what she said to friends, etc. strongly indicate a vehicle was used to transport her off campus, making it also quite unlikely Jovin was followed on foot. Combined, this significantly lowers the chances Jovin was stalked.

The witness who saw her on the Old Campus said she wasn’t holding a Fresca, which means she most likely bought one (note: Jovin was known to like Fresca, making it less likely someone had offered her one randomly) at Krauszers market on the corner of York St and Elm St. on her way back home. The only place for a car to be introduced here would be in front of the store or, more likely, on the secluded stretch of Elm between York and Park next to, or in front of, the boarded up Daily Café.

To establish a “she knew her killer” scenario would require, after just telling people how very tired she was and looking forward to being home to rest, in the one-block area between Krauszers and her apartment: a) she ran into someone she knew well enough to get into their car, b) she had a compelling reason to get into their car, c) whatever conversation that took place got heated enough in a matter of minutes to lead to a vicious murder, *and* d) this unscheduled encounter involved someone who just happened to have a knife on them. Possible, yes, but not probable.

The Fresca bottle containing both Jovin’s fingerprints and an unknown person’s palmprint was found in the bushes in front of where her body was found. People who flee from a car driven by an attacker likely do not take their soda bottles with them. People who are run down outside and stabbed 17 times would likely scream loudly and consistently for help, put up a fight, and leave a trail of a massive amount of blood. There is no evidence any of the above happened, let alone all of it. The most likely scenario is Jovin was attacked in the tan/brown van observed by several witnesses and then dumped, along with the Fresca bottle, which would account for her proximity to the road. That Jovin a) did not drop her Fresca prior to entering the vehicle, b) was not able to flee the vehicle, and c) had no defensive wounds, likely implies overwhelming force, suggesting perhaps more than one person was involved in her abduction.

While multiple stab wounds often indicates a crime of passion, it can indicate rage or drug use as well. As foreign DNA does not ordinarily transfer to underneath one’s fingernails with merely “routine” contact, it is reasonable to conclude that Jovin scratching her attacker might have precipitated his rage. However, given a) the reported 4-5 inch size of the knife used to stab Jovin, b) that the tip of the knife broke off in her skull, c) that the killer saw fit to slit her throat, likely after stabbing her 17 times, and d) that she was found barely alive, one has to consider the possibility that perhaps the flimsy nature of the murder weapon necessitated inflicting the high number of wounds.

As Jovin was fully clothed with no reported tears in her outfit and no defensive wounds, while an attempted sexual assault can not be ruled out, there is no basis to assume this was the motive. As Jovin was found in a residential area that was void of ATMs, was still wearing her jewelry, and still had a dollar bill in her pocket, it is hard to assume that her abduction was a robbery gone bad… unless the killer became enraged that she had left her wallet in her apartment or unless the killers were looking for quick cash en route down East Rock Rd to East Rock Park to buy drugs, a known druggie hangout. Some have speculated Jovin’s thesis on Osama bin Laden may have made her a terrorist target, but given she used no live sources, given this was nearly three years prior to 9-11, and given Al-Qaeda has no history of such attacks, this notion seems quite improbable.

External links

* [ Message 15594543 Are You Wrong About James Van de Velde? ] [ [ Hartford Courant ] ] April 1, 2001

* [ cityofnewhaven.com New Haven Police Department Summary of the Case ] March 27, 2001

* [ web.archive.org Murder Most Yale ] [ [ Vanity Fair ] ] August, 1999

* [ Subject 32074 Public message board on Silicon Investor discussing the case ]

* [ Message 24199622 Avenues to Investigate in the Jovin Cold Case Homicide ]

- Jeff

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1255)7/24/2008 12:18:47 AM
From: John Sladek
   of 1385
 
Jeff,

Thanks for the update. I'm glad that someone is following up on these leads.

December 7, 2001, Van de Velde sued the NHPD claiming they violated his civil rights by naming only him publicly as a suspect while claiming that other suspects existed as well ... Van de Velde appealed, but in April 2006 Connecticut District Court Chief Judge Robert Chatigny ruled against him. Van de Velde asked Chatigny to reconsider in May of 2006, resulting in the judge reinstating just the state claims on December 11, 2007.

FWIW, maybe Van de Velde should consider adding "invasion of privacy" to his lawsuit.

cnn.com

A former Army scientist who was named a "person of interest" in the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks has reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the Justice Department.

Steven Hatfill sued former Attorney General John Ashcroft and the department in 2003, claiming that his privacy was violated when his name was leaked to the media in connection with an investigation into the biological attacks in the eastern United States.


Regards,
John Sladek

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To: John Sladek who wrote (1256)8/1/2008 3:21:37 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1385
 
Re: 8/1/08 - LA Times: Apparent suicide in anthrax case; Bruce E. Ivins, a scientist who helped the FBI investigate the 2001 mail attacks, was about to face charges.

From the Los Angeles Times
Apparent suicide in anthrax case
Bruce E. Ivins, a scientist who helped the FBI investigate the 2001 mail attacks, was about to face charges.
By David Willman
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 1, 2008

A top government scientist who helped the FBI analyze samples from the 2001 anthrax attacks has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who for the last 18 years worked at the government's elite biodefense research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Md., had been informed of his impending prosecution, said people familiar with Ivins, his suspicious death and the FBI investigation.

Ivins, whose name had not been disclosed publicly as a suspect in the case, played a central role in research to improve anthrax vaccines by preparing anthrax formulations used in experiments on animals.

Regarded as a skilled microbiologist, Ivins also helped the FBI analyze the powdery material recovered from one of the anthrax-tainted envelopes sent to a U.S. senator's office in Washington.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital after ingesting a massive dose of prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine, said a friend and colleague, who declined to be identified out of concern that he would be harassed by the FBI.

The death -- without any mention of suicide -- was announced to Ivins' colleagues at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, through a staffwide e-mail.

"People here are pretty shook up about it," said Caree Vander Linden, a spokeswoman for USAMRIID, who said she was not at liberty to discuss details surrounding the death.

The anthrax mailings killed five people, crippled national mail service, shut down a Senate office building and spread fear of further terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The extraordinary turn of events followed the government's payment in June of a settlement valued at $5.82 million to a former government scientist, Steven J. Hatfill, who was long targeted as the FBI's chief suspect despite a lack of any evidence that he had ever possessed anthrax.

The payout to Hatfill, a highly unusual development that all but exonerated him in the mailings, was an essential step to clear the way for prosecuting Ivins, according to lawyers familiar with the matter.

Federal investigators moved away from Hatfill -- for years the only publicly identified "person of interest" -- and ultimately concluded that Ivins was the culprit after FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III changed leadership of the investigation in late 2006.

The FBI's new top investigators -- Vincent B. Lisi and Edward W. Montooth -- instructed agents to reexamine leads or potential suspects that may have received insufficient attention. Moreover, significant progress was made in analyzing genetic properties of the anthrax powder recovered from letters addressed to two senators.

The renewed efforts led the FBI back to USAMRIID, where agents first questioned scientists in December 2001, a few weeks after the fatal mailings.

By spring of this year, FBI agents were still contacting Ivins' present and former colleagues. At USAMRIID and elsewhere, scientists acquainted with Ivins were asked to sign confidentiality agreements in order to prevent leaks of new investigative details.

Ivins, employed as a civilian at Ft. Detrick, earlier had attracted the attention of Army officials because of anthrax contaminations that Ivins failed to report for five months. In sworn oral and written statements to an Army investigator, Ivins said that he had erred by keeping the episodes secret -- from December 2001 to late April 2002. He said he had swabbed and bleached more than 20 areas that he suspected were contaminated by a sloppy lab technician.

"In retrospect, although my concern for biosafety was honest and my desire to refrain from crying 'Wolf!' . . . was sincere, I should have notified my supervisor ahead of time of my worries about a possible breach in biocontainment," Ivins told the Army. "I thought that quietly and diligently cleaning the dirty desk area would both eliminate any possible [anthrax] contamination as well as prevent unintended anxiety at the institute."

The Army chose not to discipline Ivins regarding his failure to report the contamination. Officials said that penalizing Ivins might discourage other employees from voluntarily reporting accidental spills of "hot" agents.

But Ivins' recollections should have raised serious questions about his veracity and his intentions, according to some of those familiar with the investigation. For instance, although Ivins said that he swabbed areas near and within his personal office, and bleached surfaces to kill any spores, and that some of the swabs tested positive, he was vague about what should have been an essential next step:

Reswabbing to check whether any spores remained.

"I honestly do not recall if follow-up swabs were taken of the area," Ivins said. "I may have done so, but I do not now remember reswabbing."

"That's bull----," said one former senior USAMRIID official. "If there's contamination, you always reswab. And you would remember doing it."

The former official told The Times that Ivins might have hedged regarding reswabbing out of fear that investigators would find more of the spores inside or near his office.

Ivins' statements were contained within a May 2002 Army report on the contamination at USAMRIID and was obtained by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

Soon after the government's settlement with Hatfill was announced June 27, Ivins began showing signs of serious strain.

One of his longtime colleagues told The Times that Ivins, who was being treated for depression, indicated to a therapist that he was considering suicide.

Soon thereafter, family members and local police officers escorted Ivins from USAMRIID, where his access to sensitive areas was curtailed, the colleague said.

Ivins was committed to a facility in Frederick for treatment of his depression. On July 24, he was released from the facility, operated by Sheppard Pratt Health System. A telephone call that same day by The Times verified that Ivins' government voice mail was still functioning at the bacteriology division of USAMRIID.

The scientist faced forced retirement, planned for September, said his longtime colleague, who described Ivins as emotionally fractured by the federal scrutiny.

"He didn't have any more money to spend on legal fees. He was much more emotionally labile, in terms of sensitivity to things, than most scientists. . . . He was very thin-skinned."

FBI spokeswoman Debra J. Weierman said Thursday that the bureau would not comment on the death of Ivins.

Last week, FBI Director Mueller told CNN that "in some sense, there have been breakthroughs" in the case.

"I'll tell you we made great progress in the investigation," Mueller added.

"And it's in no way dormant."

Ivins, the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist, was born and raised in Lebanon, Ohio, and received undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a doctorate in microbiology, from the University of Cincinnati.

The eldest of his two brothers, Thomas Ivins, said he was not surprised by the events that have unfolded.

"He buckled under the pressure from the federal government," Thomas Ivins said, adding that FBI agents came to Ohio last year to question him about his brother.

"I was questioned by the feds, and I sung like a canary" about Bruce Ivins' personality and tendencies, Thomas Ivins said.

"He had in his mind that he was omnipotent."

Ivins' widow declined to be interviewed when reached Thursday at her home in Frederick. The couple raised twins, now 24.

The family's home is 198 miles -- about a 3 1/2 -hour drive -- from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., where anthrax spores were found by investigators.

All of the recovered anthrax letters were postmarked in that vicinity.

david.willman@latimes.com

Willman reported from Los Angeles and Washington. Times researcher Janet Lundblad contributed to this report.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

latimes.com

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