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   PastimesMurder Mystery: Who Killed Yale Student Suzanne Jovin?

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From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell12/8/2008 2:44:32 PM
   of 1389
Re: 12/4/08 - Yale Daily News: A decade later, remembering Suzanne Jovin

Yale Daily News

Published: Thursday, December 4, 2008

A decade later, remembering Suzanne Jovin
By Harrison Korn
Contributing Reporter

At least a dozen people will gather around a granite memorial plaque in the Davenport College courtyard this morning.

The group — which includes dining hall workers, the University chaplain, Davenport administrators and University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith — will assemble to pay their respects to the late Suzanne Jovin ’99.

They have met in Davenport every year for the last nine years, except during the college’s 2004 renovation, when the group met at a street corner in New Haven’s East Rock neighborhood.

It was at that very corner on the evening of Dec. 4, 1998, that police found Jovin, then a Davenport senior majoring in political science and international studies, stabbed 17 times in the head, neck and back. She had been spotted on campus — almost two miles away — just 20 minutes prior.

Ten years later, her tragic death remains unsolved. Despite their renewed efforts in the last year, investigators say they have not uncovered any promising leads. But even as the trail seems to grow colder, warm memories of Jovin, at least among those who knew her, live on.


Jovin, a native of Göettingen, Germany, spent the early evening on Dec. 4, 1998, at a holiday pizza party for Best Buddies, an organization that pairs students with individuals with intellectual disabilities, at New Haven’s Trinity Lutheran Church.

After parking a car she borrowed, Jovin returned to her apartment on Park Street, where she was seen by friends at 8:50 p.m.

At approximately 9:25 p.m., Peter Stein ’99 saw Jovin walking toward Phelps Gate, he told newspapers at the time. Jovin told him she was going to return the keys to the car at Phelps Hall and then immediately return home to her apartment, he said.

Minutes later, a student returning from a Yale hockey game saw Jovin walking on College Street toward Elm Street.

At 9:58 p.m., Jovin was found stabbed on the corner of Edgehill Avenue and East Rock Road. She was pronounced dead-on-arrival at Yale-New Haven Hospital shortly after.

Within a week, James Van de Velde ’82, Jovin’s senior thesis adviser and instructor of her political science seminar, “Strategy and Policy in the Conduct of War,” became the only publicly named suspect in the case. Van de Velde lived just three-fifths of a mile from where Jovin’s body was found. The fact that a popular Yale lecturer was implicated shocked many on campus.

One month later, then-Dean of Yale College Richard Brodhead cancelled Van de Velde’s spring-term classes and told Van de Velde that he was not allowed to advise any senior essays or directed readings.

No evidence linking Van de Velde to the crime has ever been publicly presented, and he was never charged.

In September 2006, after years without progress, the case was handed over to Connecticut’s Cold Case Unit.

Approximately one year ago, Assistant State’s Attorney James Clark ’72 announced that a team of four detectives would take a fresh look at the murder. In an attempt to reinvigorate the case, the investigators wiped the slate clean and pledged to look at the case as if it had just happened.

Van de Velde has a lawsuit currently pending against 10 Yale and NHPD officials for what he claims is a violation of his Constitutional rights during the course of the investigation. He continues to push the authorities to take a more thorough look at the forensic evidence gathered at the scene.

“My lawyer will be filing a crucial motion tomorrow regarding my suit which we hope will allow me to hold the City and Yale accountable for their actions,” Van de Velde wrote in an e-mail message to the News on Wednesday.


Immediately after Jovin was murdered, there was some hope that the case would be solved. Police, for instance, were saying they had compiled a list of suspects. But as the days, weeks and months passed, that optimism slowly faded.

“The people that I know don’t have much hope that [the homicide] will be solved,” Davenport alumnus Ruth Kaplan ’99 told The New York Times a year after the homicide. “If somebody can get away with that kind of murder for this long, it doesn’t seem likely that they’re going to find some new evidence that will solve this case.”

Ten years later, prospects appear even more grim.

Over the past year, the recently convened investigation team has attempted to reach out to new sources — particularly Yale alumni who were familiar with Jovin — to get testimony from people who may have knowledge of the incident but did not report it immediately. The team has also followed up on items from the original case.

Clark said in an interview this week that the detectives have uncovered information that is “in some sense is new,” but declined to specify what the information was.

On Wednesday, John Mannion, a retired state police officer who is heading up the investigative team, reiterated that the team has “nothing great, sorry to say.” The investigators are, however, having some evidence re-examined at the state police lab, he added.

“The investigation continues on,” Mannion said. “We continue to do the small things.”

The investigators released two public requests for information this summer, but both requests were based on information that had been in the Jovin case file for years.

The team is trying to identify the “someone” Jovin referred to in an e-mail she sent at 9:02 p.m. on the night of her death. The investigators also hung posters in the East Rock neighborhood with a sketch of “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 near where Jovin was stabbed.

Clark declined to comment on whether the poster has produced any leads.

“Everyone is a suspect and no one is a suspect,” he said, echoing the motto the team has taken since its inception.


Although the murder stunned campus at the time, all five students interviewed yesterday at breakfast in Davenport were not familiar with Suzanne Jovin: none of them recognized her name.

But Jovin has not been forgotten by the dining hall workers who knew and worked alongside her: She was a student worker in the dish room of the dining hall, a common job at the time.

Davenport dining hall worker Pat McGloin said she remembered Jovin as a hardworking employee and “a beautiful human being.”

“She was an amazing worker. Her work ethic was unbelievable. Everything had to be perfect,” McGloin said Wednesday.

Jovin’s former classmates spoke fondly of her in interviews over the last week.

“She was just a really nice person who went out of her way to help others,” Risa David ’99 said, noting Jovin’s volunteer work with disabled children.

Jacob Bittner ’99 remembered Jovin as smiling, energetic and sweet.

“My last memory of her was leading a blood drive,” Bittner said. “I signed up to give blood — and I had to go to football practice — this beautiful girl in the dining hall asked me to. She always had a smile on.”

“For me, it’s hard to imagine that it happened,” he added. “She was such a nice girl. Who would ever want to do something like this to her?”

Bill Hinners, a cook in Davenport at the time, said the evening Jovin was killed, everyone in the Davenport community was in tears. It was, he said, “one of the saddest nights of my life.”

McGloin remembers feeling numb. Every year at the vigil in the courtyard, McGloin said, the feelings of that day come back to her.

“I wonder what she would have been, what she would have done,” she said. “We love all the students, but she just stood out.”

University President Richard Levin named the incident as one of the two most difficult of his tenure, on par with a 2003 automobile accident in which four Yale students were killed and five others were injured.

“It was horrendous,” Levin said Wednesday. “It was a terrible campus tragedy, and the murder remains haunting to all of us because the murderer has not been identified.”


Every morning, Jovin would enter the Davenport dining hall ready with a joke, desk attendant Joanne Ursini said. Even though “some of them were really lame,” she said with a chuckle, Ursini said she missed Jovin’s jokes, hugs and “twinkling eyes.”

The longtime worker still has everything Jovin gave her — including a scarf Ursini is still too upset to wear — and pictures of the “sweet girl” whose life was taken.

Ursini recalled the day she and Jovin sat together at a table in the dining hall, “poking [fun] at each girl’s shoes that walked by, saying which ones looked good, which ones were ugly.” There was one girl whose shoes Jovin really liked, Ursini recalled.

Jovin told the girl how much she liked her shoes, and the two soon realized they wore the same size. Before breakfast was over, the girl came back to the dining hall with the shoes in a bag, handing them to Jovin.

“And she took them!” Ursini exclaimed.

One picture, in particular, of a dance Jovin attended in Commons stands out in Ursini’s mind — she was wearing those shoes.

Investigators continue to search for new leads in the case and will meet at the state’s attorney’s office today to mull over the case yet again, Mannion said.

“There is a commitment on my behalf to pursue every lead that we can generate,” Mannion said Wednesday.

The peace of mind of the student’s family is a prime motivator for the investigation, University Deputy Secretary Highsmith said. (Jovin’s father declined to comment for this story.)

“Many people here on campus as well as friends and family elsewhere continue to grieve her loss,” said Highsmith, who communicated closely with Jovin’s parents after her death. “It’s just a sad, tragic situation.”

A conviction, she added, “would bring a measure of peace to her family.”

Highsmith expressed hope that even after 10 years, the case might still be solved.

Remarked McGloin: “Every time I read about the case, I hope.”

Greta Stetson, Kaitlin Paulson and Lacey Gonzales contributed reporting.

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1258)12/8/2008 2:45:13 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
Re: 12/4/08 - Yale Daily News: Letter: Be careful when labeling suspects

Yale Daily News

Published: Thursday, December 4, 2008

Letter: Be careful when labeling suspects

It is a good guess that the News will take note of the 10th anniversary of the still-unsolved Jovin slaying. What I would like to see today or in the near future is a powerful editorial stand by the paper asking why President Levin and the other figures at the top of the Yale hierarchy still refuse to acknowledge the great wrong done to James Van de Velde, and why they still will not act to put things right.

I had my say in the News as a guest columnist last Jan. 17 in a piece titled, “Van de Velde’s innocence ignored by Yale’s higher-ups” — so I feel this matter is now more in your hands than in mine. In any event, a commitment by the News to forcing the issue would be more effective than anything I might do.

I am writing to you in part because at least two of your recent stories on Dean Mary Miller identified Van de Velde ’82 as “a suspect in the murder of Suzanne Jovin ’99.”

Yet the New Haven state’s attorney, as I said in my column in January, announced a year ago that no one — and everyone — is a suspect in the crime.

Please be mindful that the national publicity about Van de Velde as a “person of interest” was enormous at the time he was thrown overboard by Yale. The reputations of other famous persons of interest — Richard Jewell (who did not bomb the Atlanta Olympics), Steven Hatfill (who was not the anthrax terrorist), John and Patsy Ramsey (who did not murder their little daughter) — have been salvaged, but not Van de Velde’s.

In my Hartford Courant magazine Dec. 4, 2005, article “Pride & Prejudice in New Haven,” I told of Kingman Brewster, the most famous Yale president of modern times, and the words surrounding his grave, so very close to the campus: “The presumption of innocence is not just a legal concept. In commonplace terms, it rests on that generosity of spirit which assumes the best, not the worst of a stranger.”

Van de Velde, of course, was no stranger to Yale when he was turned into a pariah by administrators responsible for the greatest moral lapse in the University’s history. You might ask yourselves, “What would Kingman Brewster do?”

Donald S. Connery

The writer is a journalist and the author of “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.”

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1259)12/8/2008 2:45:39 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
Re: 12/4/08 - Yale Daily News: Van de Velde: One test can solve the case

Yale Daily News

Published: Thursday, December 4, 2008

Van de Velde: One test can solve the case
By James Van de Velde


Ten years ago today, one of my Yale senior essay students, Suzanne Jovin, was stabbed and left for dead on a street corner four blocks from where I was living in New Haven. The investigation into her murder became a circus. Yale and the New Haven Police publicly labeled me a suspect in the crime, only to be forced to admit years later that I wasn’t really a suspect and that DNA, fingerprints, a suspicious van seen at the crime, a man seen running from the scene (confirmed as not me) and a complete lack of motive all excluded me.

In the last 12 months of the now 10-year-old investigation, the team of retired detectives handling the cold case has made two curious public pleas for assistance:

¶ Information regarding who Jovin had borrowed books from the day of her death;

¶ Identification of a man seen running into bushes near the crime scene on Whitney Avenue around the time of her murder (seemingly to avoid being seen).

The first very likely has nothing to do with her murder, though whoever it was perhaps should indeed be discerned and cleared. There is no connection necessarily between the books and the crime.

The second is vitally important, except for the fact that these investigators asked residents of the community to try to identify a man from a police sketch 10 years after the event. Even if someone thought it looked like someone he or she recognizes (10 years ago), no legal case could likely be made against the person.

It is disappointing that investigators would first ask people to look at a sketch of a person seen 10 years ago (in a neighborhood which has likely turned over at least once) to try to make identification, rather than perform all DNA testing possible on the evidence at hand. Further still, of course, if the police ever expect to make an arrest, they will require a forensic link, not an eyewitness claim 10 years after the fact. The only hope is strong DNA and forensic testing.

Since 2004, I have been advocating one simple, cutting-edge forensic test that could very well solve the case. It would be definitive and conclusive.

A soda bottle found at the crime scene had both Suzanne’s fingerprint on it and an unidentified palm print. That palm print is deeply suspicious. Whoever that person is, he or she is absolutely someone who needs to be investigated. The same applies to the DNA under Suzanne’s fingernails. But if the two pieces of evidence share the same DNA, it absolutely is the perpetrator.

A match cannot be innocent because, unless the facts are wrong, there is only one extremely unlikely explanation for how an innocent person’s DNA could be both under her fingernail and on the soda bottle. An innocent friend could not have given Suzanne the soda — someone, say, who she also scraped earlier that day — since Suzanne did not have the soda with her at 9:25 that evening. We know this because an eyewitness claims she had no such soda at 9:25.

Assuming Suzanne did in fact go to Krauzner’s convenience store on York Street (the only place where such soda was sold on campus and right on her route home after visiting Phelps Gate, where she was seen last), the only conceivable “innocent” contact who could have placed his or her DNA both on the soda bottle and underneath her fingernail is a Krauzner’s employee who stocked the soda bottle and somehow was also scraped by Suzanne’s fingernail that evening when she visited. Beyond that extremely unlikely scenario, if the two DNA samples match, the case is solved — absent a name.

There are additional forensic tests that could be performed but which have not been. The DNA found in the blood under her fingernails contained a rare marker. Although it may be hard to make a DNA match, if the marker is found in a database, it may lead to the killer as well. A search for the marker, I understand, would require a manual keyboard search. But this search has not been done to date. Such a search should be performed, not only in Connecticut databases, but also in national databases.

A new technology, “touch DNA” (, can discern DNA from skin cells left on clothing but cannot be seen by the naked eye. Suzanne’s clothing most likely came in contact with the killer. This new technology should be applied to her clothing.

And another DNA search should be conducted: “familiar searching,” to search for comparable DNA strands in existing justice databanks. Given that the rare marker found in the DNA under Jovin’s fingernails has not been matched, perhaps the individual who left his or her DNA has never been DNA tested. But often a relative has been. If a strand is found close to the one that is sought, the correct person has often been found.

The now-infamous Jovin case is not a mystery: Investigators had DNA, fingerprints, the tip of the murder weapon, several eyewitnesses of a suspicious van seen at the crime scene, an eyewitness of a suspicious man running into bushes nearby at the time of the crime, videotape inside Krauzner’s and electronic key pass information that tracked Jovin’s campus movements and provided a time line. For years, investigators obfuscated, covered up and misled the Yale and New Haven communities to protect themselves and a murderer.

Now, after 10 years, the only chance for this crime to be solved is, like in the infamous 24-year-old New Haven Penney Serra murder case, for a computer to make a match. And for that to happen, DNA testing and searching has to be performed. It is Suzanne’s only hope for justice.

James Van de Velde is a former lecturer of political science at Yale, a former dean of Saybrook College and a former lieutenant commander in the United States Naval Intelligence (Reserves).

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1260)12/8/2008 2:46:15 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
Re: 12/7/08 - New Haven Register: ‘What ifs’ haunt those near Jovin slaying site

‘What ifs’ haunt those near Jovin slaying site

Police fliers asking for information about the killing of Suzanne Jovin were once common in the East Rock area. (Register file photo)

Sunday, December 7, 2008 10:37 AM EST
By William Kaempffer, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — A year ago, a state prosecutor proclaimed that everyone and, at the same time, no one was a suspect as a group of retired state police investigators took a fresh look at the murder of Yale University student Suzanne Jovin.

That’s not the case anymore, although Assistant State’s Attorney James Clark wouldn’t say whether the team is any closer to making an arrest in the cold case that made international headlines.

"There are people we’ve looked at and eliminated but we’re not going to get in a game and tell you who they are," said Clark in a recent telephone interview. "It’s time to include and exclude people who might be the killer."

It was 10 years ago last Thursday that Jovin, 21, a Yale senior and daughter of American scientists working in Germany, was brutally stabbed 17 times in the back and neck and left for dead at a street corner in the upscale East Rock neighborhood.

No one ever was charged, although a former Yale lecturer, Jovin’s senior thesis adviser, was identified as being in a "pool of suspects." James R. Van de Velde, now 48, has been fighting for a decade to clear his name.

DOCUMENT: Van de Velde civil lawsuit

E-MAIL: Van de Velde to the Register

Last week, the student newspaper, the Yale Daily News, ran a front-page article about the anniversary. The university Friday issued a one-sentence statement.

"There’s still a great deal of sadness about her death and hope that the case might yet be solved," said spokeswoman Gila Reinstein.

But, as with everything else, time passes and memories fade. Most undergraduates at Yale now were in grade school when the killing occurred.

Students who spoke to a reporter were only vaguely aware, if at all, of the anniversary. Sophomores Gabrielle Gaule and Ryan Carter, both Chicago natives, were 9 when it happened and didn’t recall much discussion about the crime on campus, they said. Gaule said the name Suzanne Jovin "doesn’t ring a bell."

It was a statement repeated by other undergraduates.

For long-time residents who live near the murder scene, however, memories are still vivid. Some expressed a degree of guilt, driven by what-ifs — what if I had stayed outside a few minutes longer? Or been in the front room instead of at the rear of the house hiding from the drone of a steady stream of traffic?

"I feel very guilty," said Nancy Dennett, who has lived at 189 East Rock Road since 1983, "because we didn’t hear anything. If we were outside, maybe we could have stopped it or seen who was running."

The site where Jovin was slain — the corner of Edgehill and East Rock roads — is in clear view from her son’s bedroom window by his computer, but he wasn’t home that night. Dennett didn’t even realize anything had happened on the unseasonably warm December night until she woke up for her morning run and saw the crime scene tape. She didn’t know it was a murder until she got to work, and someone said, "You live on East Rock Road. Did that happen near your house?"

"I don’t feel proud of not knowing what was going on. I wish I did know. I still pass the spot where she was found," she said. "It’s difficult."

Priscilla Kellert, of 57 Edgehill Road, recalled that she was standing on her front porch, about 20 yards from the murder scene, no more than 15 minutes before the killing. She and her husband had left a Yale hockey game early. He wasn’t feeling well and she dropped him off at home. All was quiet when she returned to Ingalls Rink to pick up the remainder of her group. When she returned, the corner had already been transformed into a crime scene.

"It’s sad, but you always wonder, ‘What if I had only been here 15 more minutes?’" she said.

A decade later, the case remains intriguing. Suzanne O’Malley, an author who investigated the Andrea Yates infanticide case in Texas and, by her account, saved the woman who drowned her five children from death row, came to New Haven Thursday to pay her respects at the Jovin memorial at Davenport College. In a chance encounter at a Starbucks, she told a reporter that the case has piqued her interest, although she had not decided whether it would be her next project.

O’Malley also is a part-time lecturer at Yale.

For Van de Velde and his supporters, there is a cast of villains and victims in the saga.

His life and career was ruined by false accusations and police leaks to the media, he says, and he has for years, without success, pressed police and prosecutors to publicly remove his name as a suspect.

Before returning to his alma mater, the Yale graduate served as a White House appointee in the George H.W. Bush administration in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of a strategic arms control delegation and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Intelligence Reserves.

At the time of the killing, he was a lecturer in Yale’s political science department. In the media frenzy that followed, his spring semester classes were canceled and, ultimately, his one-year contract with Yale was not renewed.

In the aftermath, he claims, he was denied various assignments through the Naval Reserves and had others terminated as a direct result of being publicly "branded" a suspect in a notorious murder. Ultimately, his security clearance with the Department of Defense was withdrawn, effectively ending his career as a naval intelligence officer, he said.

Van de Velde sued Yale administrators and city police officers in 2001. The case was dismissed in 2004 but, after a motion to reconsider was granted this year, Van de Velde’s attorney and friend David Grudberg filed a new complaint.

The case is still pending and, on Friday, Grudberg was busy crafting responses to motions attacking the federal complaint.

Among the defendants are Yale President Richard Levin and Richard Brodhead, the former dean of Yale College who now is president of Duke University.

"What is especially disturbing … is that, by refusing to accept any responsibility for their actions, Presidents Levin and Brodhead are positioning themselves as the defenders of Jovin’s murderer, given that no one could likely be arrested and convicted of the crime without the university and city acknowledging branding me and only me a suspect was wrong," Van de Velde said in an e-mail to the New Haven Register.

He has consistently criticized the handling of the investigation, contending that while wrongly focusing on him they let the real killer get away and failed to pursue other leads.

Private investigators were hired by Yale. In 2006, the case was turned over to the state cold-case squad and last year the state announced that four retired state police investigators had taken over.

Clark, the prosecutor assigned to the Jovin case since 2000, said the team has received some useful information from people since it started about 18 months ago.

In that time, the team also has made several public pleas for information. This summer, they released a drawing of a man seen by a motorist running across Whitney Avenue, about two blocks from the killing, in the general time frame.

Then, the investigative team released for the first time details of an e-mail sent by Jovin less than an hour before she was killed. The subject was a classmate’s GRE study materials, which Jovin had borrowed and then lent to "someone," according to the e-mail. Jovin indicated she would retrieve the items and return them to the classmate.

So far, the identities of the classmate and the "someone" remain mysteries.

"We’re still hoping that members of the public will recognize something about what we call the ‘running man,’ the one that was connected to the sketch, and we’re hoping people will bring us whatever information they have."

As for the "someone" mentioned in Jovin’s e-mail, Clark said, "We don’t have any new information on who that is."

Likewise, the source of DNA found under Jovin’s fingernail remains unknown. It was compared to a sample from Van de Velde and was not a match.

Clark said as long as it remains unidentified, investigators don’t know what, if any, significance to attach to it, noting that it could be "completely random or innocent or casual contact."

The investigation, he stressed, is still very active.

"We meet once a week but that doesn’t mean something isn’t happening in between. I would say it is as active as it has been at any time in the last five years," said Clark. As is his custom, he wasn’t inclined to go into specific detail.

"We’ll let you know when there’s somebody we can arrest," he said.

William Kaempffer can be reached at or 789-5727.

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1261)12/8/2008 2:46:39 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
Re: 12/7/08 - New Haven Register: BEACH: The Jovins’ long, tormenting wait for justice

BEACH: The Jovins’ long, tormenting wait for justice

Police fliers asking for information about the killing of Suzanne Jovin were once common in the East Rock area. (Register file photo)

Sunday, December 7, 2008 6:43 AM EST
By Randall Beach, Register Columnist

TEN YEARS. It’s stunning to think it was 10 years ago — Dec. 4, 1998 — that those horrible events were set in motion and Suzanne Jovin, just 21, with a promising life ahead of her, was found dying at the corner of East Rock and Edgehill roads.

I live a few blocks away from there. While the murder was taking place, I was reading bedtime stories to my daughters, who were very young then.

I think I heard the sirens.

Within the next day or two, the details started to emerge. I recall doing my usual running route down Edgehill Road and seeing the New Haven Register headline in an honor box: "Yale Senior Found Slain."

Even to this day, I find it almost impossible to run past that intersection without thinking of her and wondering if her killer ever will be found. As time goes by, I despair of this happening.

Over the past decade, I have written dozens of stories about the murder investigation. For a few years I also developed an e-mail relationship with Suzanne Jovin’s parents, Thomas and Donna, who live in Germany.

As a parent myself, I can begin to imagine their pain and suffering — but only barely.

We are trained as reporters to provide "just the facts," to get the true information and report it objectively. But readers sometimes need to be reminded that reporters have feelings, too, that many reporters are parents and empathize with other parents undergoing traumatic loss.

The Jovins’ sorrow is magnified by the fact that nobody has ever been arrested, let alone convicted for this crime. Knowing that your daughter’s killer is still out there, living the free life, or went to his grave unpunished, must be unbearable.

Sometimes people ask me to speculate in private conversation about who committed this crime. I generally don’t have much to offer and I am not going to do that here. My focus today is on Suzanne’s parents and the rest of her family.

Although I have lost contact with Thomas and Donna Jovin over the past several years, I have held onto copies of their e-mail messages from 1999 and 2000. During that period, I learned to choose my words very carefully.

Shortly before Thanksgiving 2000, as the second anniversary of Suzanne’s death loomed, I wrote to the Jovins for comment about the state of the investigation. I made the mistake of beginning my message this way: "I hope you are doing well."

"No, we are not doing well," Thomas Jovin wrote back. "The fact and manner of our daughter’s death are as vivid and incomprehensible to us today as they were two years ago. We agonize over her loss and suffering and we miss her terribly."

And then he told me, "There have been new developments in the investigative effort that renew our hope that the case will indeed be solved. Apprehending the culprit is not only a matter of concern to our family. There are numerous individuals in New Haven (and elsewhere!) who feel that achieving justice is essential for the good of the institutions represented in the case, namely Yale University and the City of New Haven."

Jovin of course was too discreet to tell me what these "new developments" were, but clearly they didn’t lead to daylight. The Jovins always have been supportive of the Police Department’s efforts and have seemed to work well with police officers, detectives and prosecutors.

The Jovins have also consistently appealed to the public to come forward with any leads that might point the way to their daughter’s killer. In February 2000 they sent me an "open letter" to the community, asking anybody who might have information to "become involved and come forward. They owe it to Suzanne and to us; they owe it to everyone."

They remarked that their daughter’s murderer "must have been lucky" to commit the crime and not be caught. "However, he will not succeed in evading justice."

"The police and prosecutors are absolutely committed to this cause," the Jovins added. "And so are we, not out of a sense of revenge or hatred but rather from a feeling of responsibility to our daughter, to Yale and New Haven, and to society as a whole."

They concluded their letter by saying: "We are tormented every day by the senseless loss of our daughter, above all by the brutal denial of her most basic right, the right to life."

In May 2000, during a phone interview, Thomas Jovin was characteristically forthright in response to my question, "Do you feel OK with the investigation?"

"The only thing that would make us feel OK," he replied, "would be if an arrest is made, a trial held and somebody is convicted."

All these years later, the Jovins are still waiting.

Randall Beach can be reached at or 789-5766.

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1258)1/22/2009 7:28:44 PM
From: John Sladek
   of 1389
Jeff, It's hard to believe that this happened 10 years ago.

John Sladek

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From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell6/15/2009 12:22:24 PM
   of 1389
Re: 6/8/09 - Yale Daily News: Investigators appeal to Jovin's classmates at reunion

Investigators appeal to Jovin's classmates at reunion

Harrison Korn
Staff Reporter
Published Monday, June 8, 2009

Suzanne Jovin ’99, the Davenport College student who was killed during her senior year, was not on campus this weekend for her 10-year reunion, but her tragic death was not forgotten.

At the request of a team of investigators, the University distributed a letter to members of the Class of 1999, asking for their help with the ongoing investigation of Jovin’s slaying. Jovin, a political science and international studies double major, was found stabbed 17 times on the evening of Dec. 4, 1998. The case has not been solved.

The letter, written by University Secretary Linda Lorimer, is not only emblematic of investigators’ recent efforts to reach out to Yale alumni but also the first formal outreach that has been made by authorities in almost a year.

“Although he is most reluctant to mar this weekend of celebration, Assistant State’s Attorney James Clark has asked the University to seek your assistance in the continuing investigation of your classmate, Suzanne Jovin,” Lorimer wrote in the letter.

Initially, the detectives investigating the Jovin homicide wanted to have a stack of 8.5x11 pieces of paper folded into cards sitting on a table for alumni to pick up when they checked-in at the reunion this weekend. The cards, titled “In Memory of Suzanne Jovin,” had a picture of Jovin and began “We are investigating the murder of Suzanne and are seeking assistance from her classmates.”

After discussions with Yale, Assistant State’s Attorney James Clark ’72, who is supervising the investigation, said it was decided that a letter from Lorimer would be distributed instead. It was an agreement Clark said he was satisfied with.

"Yale is not getting in our way here,” he said.

Investigation leader John Mannion said last week that his team is hoping to speak to anyone, regardless of whether they had been interviewed by police during the initial investigation, who may have relevant information.

In the last year, Mannion’s team has, at least publically, turned its attention toward Jovin’s former classmates.

Last July, investigators announced that they were seeking the identity of an individual to whom Jovin had lent her GRE study materials.

At 9:02 p.m. on Dec. 4, 1998, less than an hour before she was found stabbed, 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 that she had her classmate's GRE study materials, including a book and a CD-ROM, but had lent them out to "someone" else.

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. The identity of the “someone” had never been probed by the authorities, Mannion said at the time.

Just two weeks prior to the investigators’ call for the “someone” who had Jovin’s GRE materials, they put out another public request for information. The team disseminated a sketch of a man seen running near the intersection where Jovin was stabbed.

The man in question was 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." The individual in the sketch seemed young enough to be a local university student, but investigators declined at the time to speculate beyond his physical description.

The Connecticut State’s Attorney’s office formed Jovin Investigation Team in the summer of 2007. Prior to that summer, the state’s Cold Case Unit had been in charge of the case since 2006, when it took over from the NHPD.

Anyone with information can reach the investigators at 203-676-1575 or at

Paul Needham contributed reporting.

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1264)6/15/2009 12:23:48 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
Re: 6/11/09 - New Haven Register: Investigators hope reunion sheds light on Jovin slaying

Investigators hope reunion sheds light on Jovin slaying
Thursday, June 11, 2009

By William Kaempffer, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — Yale University’s class of 1999 returned to New Haven last weekend to celebrate 10 years since their graduation.

A letter awaited them with an appeal for information from a team of investigators trying to solve the murder of their classmate, Suzanne Jovin, who was fatally stabbed Dec. 4, 1998, in the city’s East Rock neighborhood.

“Although he is most reluctant to mar this weekend of celebration, Assistant State’s Attorney James Clark has asked the University to seek your assistance in the continuing investigation of your classmate, Suzanne Jovin,” Linda Koch Lorimer, Yale’s vice president and secretary, wrote in the letter. “It is heart-wrenching that this horrible crime has not been solved.”

It’s been 10 1/2 years since the 21-year-old was stabbed 17 times in the back and neck and left for dead at the corner of East Rock and Edgehill roads. The slaying was investigated by New Haven and Yale police, and later by private investigators hired by Yale University.

Most recently, a four-man team of retired state police investigators was assembled to revisit the cold case with fresh eyes.

The team has made public appeals twice before, first to help identify a man seen running near the intersection where Jovin was killed, and weeks later for assistance in identifying the person to whom Jovin had loaned study materials for the Graduate Record Examination. Neither question has been answered.

Less than an hour before she was found stabbed, Jovin sent an e-mail to a female classmate promising to return the next day some materials she had borrowed for the GRE, but indicated that she first had to retrieve them from “someone.” Police never determined the identity of that “someone.”

Jovin, whose parents were scientists in Germany at the time, wrote the e-mail in German.

John Mannion, a former head of the state police Central District Major Crimes Unit who, with Clark, assembled the group of retired investigators, said they heard about the reunion from several of Jovin’s classmates.

“We thought it would be somewhat appropriate and beneficial to our case if we could just get the word out that we’re still alive, well and committed,” Mannion said, “and not only would we like to talk with someone from Suzanne’s class who had some thought or recollection that they hadn’t shared before, but also get word out to people who had previously been interviewed by the New Haven Police Department to contact us because we would like to interview them ourselves,” Mannion said.

Clark, a 1973 Yale graduate, thought the letter was a “tasteful and appropriate way” to bring the case to people’s attention without imposing on the reunion. “I was happy with the way the university approached it,” he said.

The four, who were brought in by the state’s attorney’s office in 1997 at a salary of $1 a year, now are special inspectors with the state’s attorney’s office, earning the hourly wage of a grade-one inspector.

Jovin was last seen alive at 9:25 p.m. after returning keys to a university van. She was found stabbed and near death 30 minutes later.

Mannion always found it “peculiar” how Jovin’s e-mail referred to a “someone,” he said, and they even had it translated by several people fluent in German to see if they might extract a different nuance.

He’s driven, he said, by a “deep sense of commitment” to the Jovin family, Clark, New Haven police and “most importantly, the memory of Suzanne.”

“Have we moved the investigation forward? Have we opened up different avenues of thought? Have we pursued different possibilities and people? Yes,” Mannion said. “Is it imminent for an arrest? No. But it could be just around the corner. We just don’t know that.”

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1265)6/15/2009 12:24:52 PM
From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell
   of 1389
Re: 6/11/09 - Hartford Courant: Investigators Reach Out To Yale's Class Of 1999 For Help In Solving Slaying


Investigators Reach Out To Yale's Class Of 1999 For Help In Solving Slaying
By DAVID OWENS | The Hartford Courant

June 11, 2009

NEW HAVEN — - The team of investigators working to solve the 1998 killing of Yale senior Suzanne Jovin has appealed to her classmates for assistance.

A letter distributed to members of the Yale Class of 1999 at its reunion this past weekend asked them to contact investigators if they could provide additional information.

Assistant State's Attorney James Clark, who is leading the team now investigating the 10-year-old homicide, said it's possible that people have information they didn't pass on to investigators for any number of reasons. Investigators also have a lot more information than they did 10 years ago and there are different questions investigators want to ask.

"Someone who was spoken to three days into it was asked different questions than someone who gets asked questions 10 years later," Clark said.

Investigators are "simply trying to cover every base possible," Clark said Wednesday. The team has already reached out to the large Yale community through the alumni association and the Yale Daily News.

The letter, written by Linda Koch Lorimer, Yale's vice president and secretary, asks Jovin's classmates to consider assisting the investigation.

"It is heart-wrenching that this horrible crime has not been solved," Lorimer wrote in the letter. "Mr. Clark and his investigation team ask you to consider whether you might have any information that might shed additional light on this case, and they ask those who have been interviewed before to consider speaking with them again." The number to call is 203-676-1575.

Jovin, 21, was stabbed 17 times and left for dead on a street near Yale's campus on Dec. 4, 1998. Investigators said that little physical evidence was found and that a weapon was never recovered.

The case has been investigated by New Haven police, the state's attorney's office, the state forensics laboratory, several federal agencies and private investigators hired by Yale and Jovin's family. A team based at New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington's office is now investigating the case.

Jovin, of Goettingen, Germany, spoke four languages and co-founded the university's German club. She was last seen alive after returning a university van that she had borrowed for a party thrown by Best Buddies, a group that pairs Yale students with people with mental disabilities.

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To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1266)9/13/2009 10:35:49 PM
From: Janice Shell
1 Recommendation   of 1389
There's a new murder at Yale; a graduate student. They just found the body.

I wonder if there're any similarities...

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