The Unsolved Murder Of Suzanne Jovin (1998) - Shreya Sachdev
DISCLAIMER: No disrespect is intended towards anyone that I talk about on this blog post. This blog post is for educational purposes and is being posted on this website in order to raise awareness about this case and to truly hope that the grieving families and friends of these victims find closure and finally find out what happened to their loved one(s). I have gathered all this information on the internet, but unfortunately I do not know how accurate or inaccurate it is. If I have made a mistake somewhere, then I apologize. It is not my intention to spread false information.
Suzanne Jovin was born on the 26th of January in 1976 in Germany to American parents. Suzanne grew up in Germany and was a very advanced student. In the 5th grade, she started learning Latin and in the 7th grade, she started learning French. At this time, she was already bilingual in both English and German. Suzanne Jovin wanted to study biology and chemistry as both of her parents were doctors. Suzanne’s mother had attended Yale University.
In 1995, Suzanne decided to follow into her mother’s footsteps and enrolled in Yale University. Originally, she had applied as a biochemistry major, but soon realized that this was not the right course for her, and decided to focus her attention on politics. She thus changed her major to political science and international studies. Towards the end of her time at Yale, she also decided to pursue a career in diplomatic service, as well as finishing up applications to graduate school.
According to Suzanne’s parents, Suzanne was a very friendly girl. Suzanne wasn’t somebody who was interested in money, but was rather somebody who wanted to help everyone she met, and was always very welcoming and kind to everyone. She wasn’t the kind of person to make enemies with anybody. Suzanne Jovin was short in height, but was still a very strong and athletic woman. She played squash, went jogging and skiing, and did step aerobics. As well as being very physically tough, she was also mentally tough. Suzanne’s friendly and family said that the media depicted Suzanne in the wrong way, and said that the media showed Suzanne as a weak and frail girl. in reality, Suzanne was very opinionated and was never afraid to speak her mind and stand up for what she believed in.
The night that Suzanne was murdered was the 4th of December in 1998. At 16:15pm, Suzanne went and dropped off her draft for her essay which she wrote about Osama Bin Laden to her advisor. After dropping this off, she went to attend an event that she had organized for Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization to encourage a global volunteer movement. Suzanne had organized a pizza party, and this was held in the Trinity Lutheran Church. Because she was the one running the event, she got there early to set up, and then stayed after it was over to clean up and put everything away. She then left at 8:30pm with another volunteer who she had offered a lift home to. At 8:45pm, Suzanne dropped off the car she had borrowed to the Yale Parking Lot. She then started walking two blocks down to get to her apartment. She lived on the second floor of this apartment. On the first floor of the apartment was a Yale Police Station. On her walk back to her apartment, at around 8:50pm, Suzanne walked past a group of girls who she knew from Yale, and they asked her if she wanted to come to the movies with them. However, she said that she couldn’t and that she was very tired. At 9:02pm, Suzanne logged onto her Yale e-mail account which suggests that she was now inside of her home. She sent an email in Germany to her friend telling her that she would happily lend her GRE books to her friend and that she would leave them in her locker once she collected them from “someone.”
This “someone.” has created attention from all over the world. Many people believe that it is strange how Suzanne refers to this person as someone, since you don’t usually lend your books to someone you don’t know. Usually, you would refer to them as a friend, and so many people believe that it is strange how she refers to this person as someone.
At 10:00pm, Suzanne logged out of her email account, and realized that she had forgotten to drop her keys off from the car that she had borrowed a few hours ago. She decided to walk back to drop off her keys. At this point, she was wearing exactly what she had worn when she had gone to the pizza party she had thrown. She was wearing jeans and a maroon jumper. On her way to return the keys, she walked past a classmate named Peter Stein who she stopped to have a little chat with. (and this is how we know that she was going to return the keys). Peter also mentioned that Suzanne told him that after she dropped off her keys, she had no other plans that night and was looking forward to getting a lot of sleep. Peter also mentioned that when he saw her, she did not have a backpack, but was holding some paper in her right hand. Peter also said that after their conversation ended, she was walking at a normal place and did not look scared or excited at all. Suzanne dropped her keys of at 9:25pm.
The next sighting of Suzanne occurred between 9:25pm and 9:30pm and this was on College Street, which means that Suzanne was not returning to her apartment as this route would have taken her much longer to get to. A female who had just left the Yale vs Princeton hockey game and was going to a party said that she passed Suzanne on College Street. She said that she didn’t see anything wrong with Suzanne at the time, but did say that there was a hispanic man behind her as well as an African-American man behind her as well. This was the last confirmed sighting of Suzanne, as sometime in the next 30 minutes she would be brutally murdered.
At 9:55pm, two people contacted 911 to report a woman bleeding on the street of Edge hill Road, which was around 1.81 miles away from College Street. Police arrived within minutes at around 9:58pm, and when they got there, they found that Suzanne had been stabbed 17 times in the back, the neck, and the head. They also found that her throat had been slit, and found some of the knife stuck to her head.
She was found fully clothes, laying on her stomach, and still wearing her earrings and watch. She also had money with her, and this ruled out the possibility of a robbery. Suzanne was taken straight to the hospital and was pronounced dead at 10:06pm. It was also said that she had died before police had arrived, so around 9:43pm. Due to the fact that she was found dead almost 2 miles from where she was last seen, it was proved that she had to have been driven to where she was found death, or she would not have made it in that timespan. Whether she got into this vehicle willingly, or was forced is still unknown to this day.
Nearby residents reported that they heard a loud argument at around the time of the murder, and some said that they saw a tanned van found directly to where her body was found. One witness said that he saw a man in his 20s or 30s who had a very athletic build running from the scene like his life depended on it. Thus, the first step for police was to find this man with the athletic build as well as find out who Suzanne had lent her books to.
The police began their investigation, but have been accused of many things. Police have been accused of mishandling information, contaminating evidence, and withholding evidence that is crucial to the case. However, police did collect some information from the crime scene and the first was a bottle of Fresca. This bottle was found in a bush nearby, when they examined it they found that it had Suzanne’s fingerprints on it as well as a palm print of an unidentified person. After more medical examination was done, police were able to find that only one stab out of the 17 were fatal.
Information about the Fresca bottle was not released to the public until three years later, which is unfortunate, because people knew that there was only one store in the vicinity that sold Fresca. This was the Krauszer’s market and was located on York Street which was only one block from Suzanne’s apartment. This store did have security footage and was open at the time of the murder.
There was a task force named the Jovin Task Force which had been assembled. In 2008, the Jovin task force came forward and revealed that sometime close to the murder, a witness had came forward to police and said that a white male had run past her and into a church. New Haven police showed her a photo of a man named James Van de Velde, who was Suzanne’s thesis advisor and asked her if this was the man. She said no, and when she said no, they brought her into his office to see him in person. She again said that it wasn’t him and police never contacted her again.
It seemed as if the New Haven Police was more interested in trying to pin James Van de Velde as the culprit of the crime, whereas the Jovin Task Force was more interested in trying to figure out who the “someone” was in the email that Suzanne referred to and put all of the efforts into figuring out who this person was, and why Suzanne would lend her books to somebody that she wouldn’t know.
Four days after the murder, James Van de Velde’s name was leaked to the media as the prime suspect in the murder case. They didn’t say his name directly to the public, but they did say that it was Suzanne’s political science instructor and advisor. As a result, his spring classes at Yale were cancelled. Police theorized that she was having an affair with James Van de Velde. The other theory was that he was interested in her, and she wasn’t. However, all of Suzanne’s friends and boyfriend say that this was completely untrue. Suzanne’s friends, however, did say that she was having trouble with James, because she felt as if he just brushed her off and didn’t dedicate enough time to her and her essay. Suzanne had also visited her parents during Thanksgiving and had told her parents that she resented the lack of mentoring she received from him, and that she was specifically having problems with him.
Police questioned James four days after Suzanne’s murder, but James said that he had no idea that he was even a suspect and thought that police questioning him was just a general chat. The next day, however, police took him into their office and questioned him for four hours very aggressively. James decided to not hire a lawyer, but did offer to let police take his blood samples, do a polygraph test, and search his car and apartment. Due to the fact that James was such a big suspect, his time at Yale was over - a real shame, because there was no evidence to even tie him to the murder.
Yale hired two private investigators to advance the case along, and it was under these two investigators that the DNA found under Suzanne’s fingerprints and the unidentified palm print on the Fresca bottle were finally test. Neither of these matched Jame’s DNA. Despite this and the lack of evidence that they had against James, police still decided to focus all of their attention on James. In 2000, James was employed by the Navy and the New Haven police went as far as to contact them and urge them to change their mind. On December 7th in 2001, James sued the New Haven Police for a civil rights violation. James had to go through years of scrutiny and years of being accused for no reason.
On December 8th in 2004, a witness gave the Jovin Task Force some information to suggest that there was a suspect in the case. The suspect’s name is hidden behind a student name called Billy. As he did commit suicide, it is only respectful to address him by the name Billy when talking about him in this case. Allegedly, according to some classmates, Billy had some mental issues when it came to women. He would scream really loudly to women who rejected him, and would behave very oddly around women in his workplace. On the night of the murder, Billy reportedly said to his roommate “They will never catch me.” There is also a lot of circumstantial evidence to link Billy to the murder. The first one being that they both spoke German, and that Billy also attended Yale. Billy also owned a green jacket which matched the description of the man’s jacket that a witness had said was running away from the scene like his life depended on it. Before his suicide, Billy also contacted his lawyer to see if he could transfer his assets to his niece, and told his lawyer “They’re out to get me.” However, in 2012, Billy did email a friend and say that he had nothing to do with the murder.
The second theory has to do a police officer committing the crime. Due to the fact that the police didn’t do the best of job at handling the evidence and advancing the case, it is possible that it was actually a police officer that committed the crime, and wanted to cast blame on James Van de Velde to not make himself appear as a suspect. As mentioned earlier, a police station was located on the first floor of Suzanne’s apartment. It is thus likely that Suzanne had stopped by and had a conversation with a police officer at one point.
The next theory is that this was a total stranger that had murdered Suzanne and that there was no real motive. It is possible that somebody attempted to abduct or assault her, and she fought back which is why the person decided to murder her.
The last theory is that the person who murdered her is the person who she had referred to in her email. The “somebody” that she had to pick her books from is the person that murdered her. People theorize that her referring to this person as “someone” means that she did not know them well, and that this person could have been dangerous. On the other hand, though, it is possible that this “someone” doesn’t really mean anything, and that she just meant friend.
Which theory do I believe?
This is the most confusing case I have researched into so far, and this is the only case in which I have no idea what happened. I do have a theory, but I am not certain and am not sure of it at all. This case blows my mind, and I admit I have no clue as to what happened. I have linked my theory down below, but please know that even I am very uncertain about this.
Wow. This case is insane. I believe that the “someone” that she referred to in her email is the person that murdered her. I believe that Suzanne logged onto her Yale e-mail account and told her friend that she would happily lend her GRE books to her, but first had to get them from “someone.” Once she finished the email, she called this “someone.” up and told them to meet her on the street (where she was murdered) so she could collect them. They agreed, but didn’t actually bring the books. They instead murdered her, because they were mad at her. This would explain the witness that said that they heard a couple arguing very loudly around the time that Suzanne was murdered. I also think that this explains the reason as to why Suzanne referred to this person as “someone.” and not a “friend.” Not because she didn’t know them well, but because she was having issues with them at this time, and was mad at them and didn’t want to call them a friend. Anyways, Suzanne and this “someone” were arguing, but Suzanne forced herself to go and meet them so that she could get her books back. The person she was meeting was mad that this was the reason that Suzanne had called them, and took the opportunity to kill her.
Bibliography & Credit: Fiori, Bella, director. THE MURDER OF SUZANNE JOVIN. YouTube, YouTube, 20 May 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVu4x_sfpPQ.