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   PastimesMurder Mystery: Who Killed Yale Student Suzanne Jovin?


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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1241)1/10/2008 5:49:52 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
 
Re: 8/2007 - Avenues to Investigate in the Jovin Cold Case Homicide

In his August 2007 letter to Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane, Van de Velde attached the following list of suggestions for investigators to consider:

AVENUES TO INVESTIGATE IN THE
SUZANNE JOVIN COLD CASE HOMICIDE

Crime Date: December 4, 1998, approximately 9:45 pm
Jovin found at the corner of East Rock and Edgehill Roads,
New Haven, Connecticut bleeding from multiple stab wounds

1) The Fresca soda bottle found at the crime scene had on it two fingerprints: Jovin’s and that of a not-yet-identified person. If the bottle is still available (i.e., if the New Haven police did not destroy the evidence or allow the fingerprint to degrade), the DNA of the second print should be discerned and compared to the DNA found under the victim’s fingernails. If there is a match, the likelihood that this is the killer’s DNA is enormous. The only chance of innocent contact would be if the convenience store clerk who stocked the Fresca also happened to be at the cashier’s station when Jovin visited and somehow had his palm scratched by Jovin when retrieving change. Other than that extremely unlikely scenario, if the DNA under the fingernails and on the soda bottle match, the DNA belongs to the perpetrator.

2) Since several witnesses report seeing a suspicious van parked at the crime scene at the time of the crime, investigators should compare the circumstances of Jovin’s death to deadly or potentially deadly abductions known to have been carried out in by Connecticut men driving vans. Notice should be taken of John F. Regan and William Devlin Howell, both of whom used vans in their abductions. If the Jovin crime scene DNA (bottle and/or fingernail) has not been compared to the DNA of each of these criminals, it should be. Regan, of course, is the Waterbury family man who was much in the news in 2005-6 because of the latest of his sexual assaults: using his van in a failed attempt in Saratoga Springs, NY to abduct a 17-year-old high school female athlete. Regan subsequently pled guilty and was sentenced in July 2006 to 12 years in New York prisons for the attempted kidnapping. Earlier, at Governor Rell’s November 21, 2005, press conference trumpeting the value of Connecticut’s DNA Data Base, Henry Lee described how DNA evidence had broken open an 11-year-old case about a woman kidnapped and raped by John Regan in 1993. Howell is the Connecticut man now at the top of the Cold Case Unit’s website listing of solved cases. On January 30, 2006, he pled guilty to the July 2003 abduction and murder of Nilsa Arizmendi of Wethersfield. It was the victim’s blood found in his van—by North Carolina police on a Connecticut warrant—that led to his arrest. Additional blood was discovered in his van and was never identified, as the Connecticut Cold Case Unit’s very own website makes clear. The State, in fact, appealed to the public for help to discover whose blood was in Howell’s van.

3) The crime-scene DNA and the DNA for Regan and Howell should be compared to all possible CODIS names in Connecticut and elsewhere.

4) The tip of the knife used in the Jovin attack was broken off and lodged inside Jovin’s head. The metallurgy of the knife tip should be discerned and traced to a manufacturer. If a manufacturer can be identified, perhaps the type of knife can be too.

5) A microscopic forensic analysis should be conducted on Jovin's sweatshirt--reported covered with blood—to determine molecular trace elements deposited on Jovin's clothing. Such an analysis could identify dirt and tire molecules, among other unique substances, which can be traced to a specific region or vehicle. A microscopic forensic test might show whether Jovin's clothing was in contact with the floor of a Dodge B250 van, the type the New Haven police said was seen at the crime scene, or of some other van.

6) The DNA found under Jovin’s fingernail and the DNA discerned from the fingerprint on the soda bottle found at the crime scene should be entered into the Connecticut and Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and periodically compared with the samples entered not only in CT but in the other states.

7) The DNA in the blood under Jovin’s fingernails had a rare or unusual marker. That might allow the DNA to be compared more easily than would otherwise be the case, by limiting the comparison to samples that have that marker. Furthermore, that unusual marker should be made public, in the hopes that the public could help identify suspects.

8) Determine the age of the individual through testing the hormones left within the fingerprints found on the Fresca soda bottle found at the crime scene. (The State’s forensics lab could perform this test.)

9) Conduct a sweat print analysis on the clothing. Dale Perry of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California can do one as small as 10 micrometers across - smaller than a single fingerprint ridge. He uses a synchrotron, a particle accelerator to produce intense light that, when shone at the sample, is absorbed and reveals a chemical makeup that may be unique. If not unique to a person, it can at least segregate age and sex. This technique requires very little sample.

10) Determine the ethnicity of the individual through analysis of the DNA found under the fingernails of Jovin. Any result could be potentially helpful. Consider the possibility that the individual is Indo-European, Asian or African. Then match the ethnicity with the age of the individual, and one has a new lead.

11) Perform a microscopic forensic analysis to determine molecular trace elements deposited on Jovin's clothing, which could identify dirt and tire molecules, among other unique substances, which can be traced to a specific region or vehicle. A microscopic forensic test might show whether Jovin's clothing was in contact with the floor of a Dodge B250 van, the type police said was seen at the crime scene, or of some other van. Skip Palenik in Chicago, for instance, could perform such analysis (see: www.microtracescientific.com/).

12) The NHPD failed to investigate or even interview some of the more likely individuals associated with the last event Jovin attended: the party at the Best Buddies (Special Adult) program in New Haven the very evening of her death. The director of that Program, Ms. Dawn DeFeo, claims only a few individuals from her organization were interviewed regarding the crime and none, as far as she knows, was asked to provide a DNA sample. Yet one of the individuals of the program was no longer included in the program in part because of a complaint filed by Jovin concerning his treatment of a Program member. That individual had an ‘anger management’ problem and perhaps had access to Marrakech Program vans which were used to transport program members. Some relevant facts, according to DeFeo:
• Jovin was upset with the Program (named Marrakech; she had complained about the staff assistant in particular).
• There was a fire in her buddy’s apartment that she believed was caused by the assistant's negligence. The assistant allowed her Buddy to operate the stove in the apartment, which he wasn't supposed to do, and the result was a fire.
• The staff assistant did other things she thought inappropriate.
• He was subsequently moved to a position that could be regarded as a demotion.
• He had an "anger management issue" problem.
• The individual has not been asked for a fingerprint or DNA sample.

In addition, regardless of how many of these suggestions are explored, the unsolved Jovin slaying should be posted--as soon as possible--as a current cold case (with the exceptional $150,000 reward noted) on the Chief State's Attorney's website.

Respectfully,
James Van de Velde, August 7, 2007

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1242)1/20/2008 5:35:33 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
 
Re: 1/17/08 - Yale Daily News: Van de Velde’s innocence ignored by Yale’s higher-ups

Van de Velde’s innocence ignored by Yale’s higher-ups

Donald Connery
Guest Columnist

Published Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rachel Boyd’s article “Nine years later, murder of Yale senior still unsolved” (12/12/07) is yet another reminder of the moral issues that loom large in the endless tragedy of Suzanne Jovin’s death on Dec. 4, 1998.

What really caught my eye were the comments by “one Yale staff member.” This person, I assume, is not a low-level functionary but someone high enough in the administration to be considered an informed source by the reporter.

He or she, once guaranteed anonymity, feels quite free to attack James Van de Velde with unconscionable insinuations. This person is not at all impressed by the reality that no evidence or motive or history of wrongdoing has ever connected Suzanne’s thesis adviser to the Jovin killing.

The fact that Van de Velde’s DNA does not match the DNA found under Suzanne’s fingernails is no big deal, the protected source insists. He still could have been involved: “I don’t know if he did it or not, but I’m sure he was capable.”

Unbelievable!

We are offered a glimpse of a mindset that may reach all the way to the top of the Yale hierarchy. It reveals an attitude, still in place after nine years, which says, “We don’t have to admit we were wrong about Van de Velde because he has yet to prove his innocence. If the crime is never solved, the problem goes away.”

Because I am quoted in Rachel’s article and am known as a critic of the law enforcement for the travesties of the Jovin murder investigation, let me put things personally.

Connecticut’s nationally publicized 1973-77 Peter Reilly murder case compelled me to make a career shift from reporting foreign affairs to privately investigating the rampant wrongful convictions of our highly imperfect criminal justice system.

The Reilly saga, as told in my book “Guilty Until Proven Innocent,” is now well established as a classic “wrong man” false confession case. It remains this state’s most controversial (and still unsolved) murder case ever.

Truly remarkable was the way people in the northwest corner of Litchfield County reacted after Peter, 18, was convicted for the savage slaying of his mother. He had “admitted” his guilt during a highly coercive round-the-clock State Police interrogation.

Common sense told just about everyone in Falls Village and the surrounding small towns that Peter was innocent, that the cops and prosecutors had got it wrong. There was no evidence, no motive, no bad-boy history, just the dubious confession and the police failure to look at far more likely suspects.

So money was raised to keep him out of prison while his conviction was appealed. Peter returned to the regional high school for a successful senior year with the blessing of the faculty, staff, students and parents. Two years later, following a judge’s ruling that he had suffered “a grave injustice,” Peter was exonerated when it was found that the authorities had falsified the evidence against him.

Now compare this with James Van de Velde’s experience at Yale as a popular lecturer and “straight arrow” Navy reserve officer. Once the New Haven police leaked the story about a Yale academic being in their sights, and once the University publicly identified him, unnecessarily, Van de Velde’s reputation and career were destroyed.

The administration removed him from classroom teaching on the excuse that his presence would be a distraction to the students. In contrast, Reilly, wearing the brand of a convicted killer, was never considered a distraction to the tender teenagers in the boondocks. It is noteworthy that a key decision-maker, Dean of Yale College Richard Brodhead, went on to the presidency of Duke University, there to preside over the mishandling of false rape accusations hurled at several lacrosse team members.

When Van de Velde was let go by Yale in 1999, it was already obvious that the police and prosecutors had botched the homicide investigation big time. Yet as the years rolled by, common decency as well as common sense never clicked in.

To this day, even with the New Haven state’s attorney’s recent announcement that “no person is a suspect in the crime,” the powers that be at Yale have never put things right with an acknowledgment that they have done great damage to one of their own.

Donald S. Connery is the author of “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.”

yaledailynews.com

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1243)3/11/2008 12:08:02 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
 
Re: 3/10/08 - Hartford Courant: More DNA 'Hits'; Tillman Case Break Shows The Value Of Taking Samples From Felony Suspects

More DNA 'Hits'
Tillman Case Break Shows The Value Of Taking Samples From Felony Suspects
DAVID R. CAMERON

March 10, 2008

The recent dramatic development in the crime for which James Tillman was wrongfully convicted illustrates why Connecticut should extend DNA sampling to include those arrested for felonies. Currently, samples are taken only from those convicted of felonies or crimes requiring registration as a sex offender.

Tillman was arrested after a woman identified him in a police photo lineup as the man who jumped her one evening in January 1988 as she got into her car in a Hartford parking lot, drove her a short distance and raped her. Convicted of sexual assault and kidnapping and sentenced to 45 years, he was exonerated in 2006 when DNA testing proved he wasn't the source of semen found on the woman's clothing.

Last month The Courant reported that Hartford police, working with investigators in the chief state's attorney's cold case unit, had linked the DNA found on the clothing to Duane Foster and had located him in a jail in Emporia, Va. Foster lived in Hartford at the time of the attack, has an arrest record for multiple felonies going back three decades and, as the side-by-side photos in The Courant demonstrated, bears a striking resemblance to Tillman.

Foster walked away from a halfway house in Middletown a year ago. He was arrested in August in Emporia on burglary and larceny charges in three counties. Because Virginia requires DNA samples from those arrested for a felony, his DNA was entered into that state's DNA database. By accessing that database, Connecticut investigators obtained a match between his DNA and the DNA on the woman's clothing and located him in the Emporia jail. He'll be returned to Connecticut at some point to face charges of kidnapping.

Virginia was the first state to pass legislation requiring a DNA sample from those arrested for felonies. It did so in 2002. Since then, 10 other states have followed its lead. California will begin obtaining samples from those arrested for felonies next Jan. 1. More than 20 other states are now considering similar legislation.

Last year, the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee approved legislation requiring a DNA sample from those arrested for class A or class B felonies. However, the Public Safety and Security Committee rejected the legislation amid concerns over the cost of training police in collection procedures, possible contamination of samples, intrusion into the privacy of individuals who are presumed to be innocent, and the disposal of samples from individuals who are subsequently found not to have committed the crime for which they were arrested.

As serious as those concerns are, there are strong reasons why the General Assembly should enact legislation requiring a DNA sample from those arrested for felonies. Connecticut began obtaining samples from those convicted of felonies only in 2003. As a result, the state's DNA database is relatively small compared with those in many other states.

According to data in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, as of October the state's database contained samples from about 29,000 convicted offenders. In a state with 3.5 million residents, that's less than 1 percent of the population. Controlling for the difference in population, Virginia's database is more than four times larger.

The larger a state's database, the greater the likelihood of a "cold hit" — a match between an unidentified sample from a crime scene and one in the database. According to the FBI data, Connecticut's database has aided some 400 investigations. By contrast, Virginia's has aided more than 4,000 investigations.

Last year's proposed legislation is back before the legislature again this year. Also under consideration is a proposal put forward by Gov. M. Jodi Rell that addresses some of the procedural concerns voiced last year by delaying the collection of samples from those arrested for class A or class B felonies until after their arraignment.

The governor has also proposed that samples be obtained from those convicted of certain class A misdemeanors such as criminally negligent homicide, third-degree assault and stalking. While that extension makes good sense, it highlights the failure of both last year's legislation and the governor's proposal to require samples from those arrested for class C or class D felonies.

As they consider these proposals, the members of the General Assembly should keep in mind the lesson of the Tillman case — and approve legislation that extends DNA sampling to all those arrested for felonies.

David Cameron is a professor of political science at Yale.

Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant

courant.com

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1244)3/11/2008 6:44:34 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
 
Re: 3/6/08 - NH Register: Faulty eyewitness IDs prime cause of wrongful convictions

Posted on Thu, Mar 6, 2008
Faulty eyewitness IDs prime cause of wrongful convictions
By David R. Cameron

HARTFORD police recently announced a major breakthrough in the crime for which James Tillman spent 17 years in prison before being exonerated in 2006. The breakthrough calls attention to the role of mistaken eyewitness identifications in wrongful convictions.

Tillman was arrested in 1988 after a woman identified him in a police photo lineup as the man who jumped her as she got into her car after an evening of drinks with co-workers, drove her a couple of blocks and then raped her. Convicted of sexual assault and kidnapping in 1989 and sentenced to 45 years in prison, he was exonerated when DNA testing proved he wasn’t the source of semen left on the woman’s clothing.

Working with investigators in the chief state’s attorney’s cold case unit, the Hartford police linked the DNA found on the woman’s clothing to another man, Duane Foster. Foster lived in Hartford at the time of the attack and has an arrest record for multiple felonies going back three decades. He walked away from a Middletown halfway house a year ago and was arrested last August in Emporia, Va., on burglary and larceny charges in three counties.

Virginia takes a DNA sample not only from anyone convicted of a felony but from anyone arrested on felony charges. As a result, Foster’s DNA was entered into the state’s DNA database after he was arrested. By accessing that database, the Connecticut investigators obtained a match between his DNA and the DNA on the victim’s clothing and also located him. He’ll eventually be brought back to Connecticut and tried for kidnapping.

The identification of Foster as the source of the DNA on the victim’s clothing provides a vivid illustration of why wrongful convictions occur. Side-by-side photographs of Foster and Tillman reveal a startling resemblance between the two. They have similar hairlines, eyebrows, eyes, noses, mouths and facial structures. They also resemble each other in height and weight.

It’s easy to see how the victim could have mistaken Tillman for Foster. That doesn’t excuse the jury for convicting him. A verdict of guilty in a criminal trial requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. An eyewitness identification, however credible, does not constitute proof.

The Innocence Project, which is dedicated to the exoneration by DNA of those who have been wrongfully convicted, reports the single most important cause, by far, of wrongful convictions is eyewitness misidentification. Incorrect eyewitness identifications figured in more than 70 percent of the 200-plus wrongful convictions that were later thrown out because of DNA.

The cautionary lesson of the Tillman case about eyewitness identifications is underscored by recent developments in a New Haven case. Eugenio DeLeon Vega was murdered in his store on Grand Avenue in the early morning of July 4, 1993. George Gould and Ronald Taylor were convicted of murder, burglary and conspiracy. They are now serving sentences of 80 years.

There was no physical evidence linking the men to the murder. A prostitute working the area told police she was nearby at the time of the murder and heard what sounded like two men shouting orders to open a safe, then screaming in Spanish and a gunshot, then saw two men run from the store. When shown photographs of Taylor and Gould, she identified them as the men she had seen.

The prosecutor told the jury “this case rises and falls” with her account: “If you believe her, you’ll convict. If you think she’s lying, you’ll acquit.”

The jury believed her. It turns out she lied.

According to an article in the New Haven Advocate, the woman told Gerald O’Donnell, a private investigator and former inspector in the state’s attorney’s office, in late 2006 — almost 12 years after Gould and Taylor were convicted — that she wasn’t there, didn’t hear the voices and didn’t see the men leave. She fabricated the story, she said, because she was “drug sick” and wanted to end hours of questioning by police.

Last year, forensic scientists found DNA on the cord used to tie up Vega that did not come from him, Gould or Taylor.

State’s Attorney Michael Dearington has reopened the case — something that very rarely happens.

Are all eyewitness identifications mistaken or fabricated? Of course not, but the recent developments in these cases underscore the need for juries to treat such identifications with skepticism, especially when not supported by DNA and other forensic and physical evidence.

David R. Cameron is a professor of political science at Yale. Readers may write to him in care of the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511.

nhregister.com

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From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell6/9/2008 9:52:39 PM
   of 1389
 
Re: 6/9/08 - NH Register: Team keeping mum on Jovin murder probe; 10th anniversary of crime coming up in December

Posted on Mon, Jun 9, 2008

Team keeping mum on Jovin murder probe
10th anniversary of crime coming up in December
By Randall Beach, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — Nearly a full year after it began work, the four-man team investigating the murder of Suzanne Jovin is keeping a low profile and reportedly has not contacted the one-time lead suspect or his attorney.

With the 10th anniversary of the crime looming next December, there is no indication of a breakthrough in the case, which has frustrated everybody who has looked into it.

Over the past decade, the slaying of Jovin, a 21-year-old Yale student who was found lying near the corner of Edgehill and East Rock roads the night of Dec. 4, 1998, has been investigated by New Haven Police, the state’s Cold Case Unit, two private detectives hired by Yale and, since last July, the four-man team.

Because the four investigators are part-time volunteers and their leader did not return phone calls from the Register, it is difficult to determine exactly how much time they are devoting to the case.

The team is led by John Mannion, a former head of the state police’s Central Major Crimes Unit. Although the team began working last summer, its existence was kept secret until Nov. 30, when Assistant State’s Attorney James Clark introduced the foursome during a news conference outside the New Haven County Courthouse.

Promising a fresh start at that time, Clark said, "No person is a suspect in the crime, and everyone is a suspect in the crime."

When Clark was then asked if that meant James Van de Velde, the only person ever named as a suspect in the slaying remained a suspect, Clark merely repeated his "no person is" and "everyone is" statement.

Van de Velde, who was a Yale lecturer and Jovin’s academic advisor in 1998, has maintained his innocence. But he said being named a suspect ruined his academic career. Now a security affairs consultant living near Washington, D.C., Van de Velde said in a recent e-mail message that he has not been contacted by any members of the four-man team.

"I have no idea what, if anything, they have done," Van de Velde added. "Did they even consider my suggested avenues of investigation?"

In a New Haven Register Op-ed article last December, Van de Velde reiterated specific suggestions to investigators, such as examining the DNA of the fingerprints found on a soda bottle at the crime scene; and checking out two specific individuals who had carried out abductions while driving vans in Connecticut. Witnesses saw a van parked near the Jovin crime scene the night of the crime.

Mannion did not return several phone call messages seeking comment on this and other aspects of the case.

Van de Velde’s attorney, David Grudberg, chose to take a positive message from the fact Mannion has not contacted him nor his client. "I assume it means they have examined the evidence and drawn the conclusion that we thought was obvious all along: James Van de Velde is not, and should never have been, a suspect."

Grudberg and Van de Velde had hoped that in October 2001, when forensic tests showed DNA found under Jovin’s fingernails did not match that of Van de Velde, authorities would publicly clear him. But they made no such announcement.

The four men on the Jovin investigation team are retired from state police work but now have other occupations. An article in New Haven Magazine earlier this year quoted Mannion saying the investigators meet once a week at most.

However, State’s Attorney Michael Dearington, who with Clark made the decision to assemble the four-man team, said in a recent interview, "Meeting once a week doesn’t begin to describe how much work they put into this. They are in daily communication with each other. This is a seven-day-a-week commitment to them. They are always thinking about this."

While acknowledging that they have full-time jobs, Dearington added, "In terms of their dedication to this, I consider it full-time. They also consider it full-time, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their regular jobs."

Without revealing what the team might have discovered, Dearington said, "We’re very pleased with the work they so far have accomplished."

Asked about the team’s timetable for concluding its investigation and submitting a report to Dearington, he said their work is "open-ended" and has no timetable.

The four have agreed to work on the case as volunteers, being paid $1 per year.

In addition to Mannion, the team consists of Patrick Gaffney, a former detective and sergeant in the Central Major Crimes Unit; Richard Wardell, a former detective on the Eastern Major Crime Squad; and Joseph Sudol, a former detective in the Central Major Crime Squad.

The public has been encouraged since Nov. 30 to provide leads to the team. The phone number is (203) 676-1575 and the email address is jovincase@gmail.com. The mailing address is: Jovin Investigation Team, 234 Church St., Room 402, New Haven, 06510.

Mannion was not available to say whether the public has come forward with any promising tips.

There is a $150,000 reward for anybody who provides information leading to the conviction of Jovin’s killer. Yale University has committed $100,000 of that total and the state has offered $50,000.

Andrew Rosenzweig, one of two private investigators hired by Yale in 2000 to look into the slaying, said recently he had had a conference call with the four investigators. "They asked all the right questions and I volunteered things they didn’t ask."

When asked about the fact the four men have other jobs, Rosenzweig said, "Full-time (investigating) would certainly be better, without question."

But he added, "I’m hopeful a set of fresh eyes and a new team of investigators will be able to uncover something that previous efforts haven’t been able to."

Randall Beach can be reached at rbeach@nhregister.com or 789-5766.

nhregister.com!-106238773?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_article&r21.pgpath=%2FNHR%2FHome&r21.content=%2FNHR%2FHome%2FTopStoryList_Story_2176284

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1246)7/2/2008 12:53:55 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
 
Re: 7/1/08 - Yale Daily News: Jovin murder investigation takes new twist; Investigation team seeks identity of 20-to-30-year-old male running near scene of crime

Jovin murder investigation takes new twist
Investigation team seeks identity of 20-to-30-year-old male running near scene of crime

Bharat Ayyar
Staff Reporter

Published Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Updated Tuesday 6:45 p.m.




An unassuming black-and-white 8.5" x 11" poster, now taped to the wall behind the cash register at Nica's Market on Orange Street, may help solve a murder that has eluded local investigators for nearly a decade.

John Mannion, the head of a state-appointed task force currently investigating the 1998 slaying of Yale College senior Suzanne Jovin, confirmed this week that his team is now seeking the identity of a man seen running near Huntington Street and Whitney Avenue at the time of the murder.

According to the description, the man in question (pictured at right) is 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. He was wearing dark pants and a loose fitted greenish jacket." Although the individual seems young enough to be a student at a local university, investigators declined to speculate beyond his physical description.

Police found Jovin on the ground at 9:58 p.m. on Dec. 4, 1998 near the intersection of East Rock Road and Edgehill Avenue — two-tenths of a mile from where the man in question was allegedly spotted by an eyewitness — with 17 stab wounds in her head, neck and back.

The development marks the investigation team's first public acknowledgment of any twist — or possible modicum of progress — in the investigation since its formation in mid-2007; so far, members have interacted with residents and media only to request information. And although the Office of the State's Attorney would not classify the man on the flier as a suspect, pending evidence that directly ties him to the murder, the posters also mark the first public development in Jovin's often-hyped but mostly stagnant homicide case in years.

Mannion, a retired state police veteran who volunteers his time to the investigation, said his team, in conjunction with the Office of the State's Attorney, has posted the notices across New Haven's East Rock neighborhood.

Click here for an in-depth account of the original — and ultimately unsuccessful — investigation of the homicide, which resulted in the leaking of the name of Jovin's senior-thesis advisor, James Van de Velde '82, as a possible suspect even though no hard evidence has ever tied him to the crime.

David Grudberg' 82, Van de Velde's attorney, welcomed the development Tuesday afternoon, but he qualified his remarks with a sharp rebuke of the investigation's ten-year course.

"Any positive step towards solving the crime is always a very welcome development," he said. "On the other hand, the fact that it took nearly ten years to turn a witness' description into a request for relevant information is a little puzzling and, I think, illustrates the tunnel-vision that afflicted this case for far too long and perhaps did irreparable damage."

A 'Broader Look' Than Ever Before

Assistant State's Attorney James Clark '72, who is overseeing the team's investigation, emphasized that the man pictured has not been tied to the murder and therefore cannot be labeled a suspect. He would not comment, however, on the team's general progress. (Although the Jovin Investigation Team was announced last December, it had already been reviewing the case for seven months.)

"What's being done is a broader look than what's ever been done at people who could have had some contact with Suzanne Jovin," he said. "In terms of any big, new discoveries, we wouldn't tell you if we had made them."

The composite image on the poster is based off an eyewitness account originally documented in 1998, Clark said. The investigation team, he added, has since met with the same eyewitness to confirm the account.

Asked why the account was made public only in June, Clark said that "now is [the] time that we believe public disclosure can be helpful for the investigation of this piece of information.

"Generally it is poor investigative practice to make public everything you know unless the cost-benefit analysis favors disclosure," he said.

Jovin was seen near Old Campus just a half an hour before being found stabbed nearly two miles away. The limited information the investigation team has compiled on the man in question is not significant enough to draw conclusions about why Jovin was killed or how she got to East Rock, Clark said. As such, he said the public should not be discouraged from sharing information about possible suspects just because they do not fit the man's appearance.

'Everyone' Is A Suspect

This Dec. 4 will mark the ten-year anniversary of Jovin's death. Since Jovin's slaying in 1998, the New Haven Police Department, private investigators, the state's Cold Case Unit and now, the Jovin Investigation Team have each attempted to solve her mysterious homicide.

Despite the vast resources that have been committed to the case, a hefty $150,000 reward offered by the city in conjunction with the University and persistent media and public pressure, just one man, Van de Velde, has been publicly named in connection with the homicide. Details about the evening of Dec. 4, 1998 are scarce. Few promising leads have publicly emerged in the last decade.

Last winter, Clark said the investigation team would both re-evaluate all existing evidence and seek out new information. In a manner of speaking, he also absolved Van de Velde of his suspect status. It was a fresh start; the case would be explored as if it had happened yesterday.

"No person is a suspect in the crime," he said, "and everyone is a suspect in the crime."

The Jovin Investigation Team can be directly contacted by phone at (203) 676-1575 or by e-mail at jovincase@gmail.com.

yaledailynews.com

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1247)7/4/2008 1:04:57 AM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
 
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
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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 1389
 
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
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Re: 7/2/08 - WTNH: Jovin murder task force releases composite picture - Jodi Latina reports

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- Jeff

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