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Episode 105

The Murder of Suzanne Jovin

August 30, 2021   Tags: ,
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21-year-old Suzanne Jovin was stabbed 17 times on December 4th, 1998. The Yale student had just finished a draft of her senior essay on terrorism and spent the day volunteering. The police became laser focused on a person of interest who was later dismissed and the case remains unsolved today. 

Leading Up to the Murder:
On December 4th, 1998, Suzanne walked to Brewster Hall on the Yale University campus to turn in her essay. Her lecturer and essay advisor--James Van de Velde--was going to go through it and give her feedback.

After she dropped off the paper, and then had to get ready for the Best Buddy holiday pizza party that evening. Suzanne was the director of Best Buddies--a program that pairs Yale students with mentally disadvantaged adults in friendships. The party was set to begin at 6 PM at Trinity Lutheran Church. Suzanne had to borrow a car from the school to transport the Best Buddies to the church at Wall and Orange Streets. 

After the party was over, Suzanne stopped by her apartment on Park Street. A few students saw her in her window between 8:30 and 8:50 PM. They asked if she wanted to go to the movies. But Suzanne said she was planning on working on her essay more. 

At 9:02, Suzanne sent an email to one of her classmates. The classmate had called earlier in the day about borrowing Suzanne’s GRE study materials--But Suzanne had already lent them out. She told her classmate she would get them back and then leave them in the foyer of her building. Suzanne included the code to get into her building in the email. 

Eight minutes later Suzanne logged off her computer and went to return the car keys to Yale. Around 9:20 PM, fellow student Peter Stein spoke to Suzanne. She was near the Yale police office at the Phelps Gate on College Street. She told Peter she was just returning the keys for the school’s car she bought and then going home to crash. According to Yale Daily News, “She did not mention plans to go anywhere or do anything else afterward. She just said that she was very, very tired and that she was looking forward to getting a lot of sleep.”

Five minutes later, Suzanne was spotted on College Street walking toward Elm Street. A witness said a “hispanic or black guy in a hooded sweatshirt” was walking in front of her. And behind her was “a blonde man with glasses...a white guy dressed nicely.”

The Murder:
At 9:58, a 911 call was placed by a bystander, Suzanne’s body was discovered. Her body was face down in a grassy patch next to the sidewalk at the intersection of Edgehill and East Rock Roads. She had been stabbed 17 times in the head, neck and back. The tip of the knife was stuck in her skull. 

The intersection was two miles away from where Suzanne had previously been just 35 minutes earlier. The neighborhood was wealthy and many of the Yale faculty lived in the area. Near Suzanne’s body was a Fresca bottle. 

Suzanne was taken to the Yale-New Haven Hospital. She was pronounced dead at 10:26 PM. Her autopsy report has never been released. But we’re going to discuss the little bit of information we have. 

After Suzanne’s body was processed for evidence, male DNA was found under her fingernails. There were also signs of DNA in Suzanne’s blood. But it was difficult to discern the mixed DNA because it was in such a large quantity of Suzanne’s blood.

According to the Vanity Fair article “Murder Most Yale,” law enforcement believed Suzanne was attacked from behind. They think she got out of a car before or after an argument. It didn’t appear she tried to run from her attacker.




The Investigation:
New Haven Police searched the scene, even going through the sewers with local treasure hunters looking for the murder weapon. There was no sign of it. They set up roadblocks. 

They also dove into Suzanne’s life. At her apartment, they saw a list of phone numbers near her phone. One of those belonged to her boyfriend, Roman Caudillo. He was on his way back to New Haven after an evening in New York City. They tried the rest of the numbers. Her friends were either out partying or at the movies that night. 

A woman came forward who said she was driving in the area right before 10 PM. She was traveling at a slow speed near Huntington and Whitney when a man suddenly ran up to her passenger window. The man looked inside and then ran off. He jumped over the plants. The woman said “I never saw anybody run that fast.” 

In July 2008, new investigators spoke with the woman. She gave a better description and the sketch above was rendered. The man had “blondish hair, chiseled features and was wearing dark clothes and a loose-fitting green-colored jacket.” He was physically fit and between 20-30 years old. A sketch was rendered and distributed to alumni groups and the neighborhood.

Other witnesses claimed to have heard a couple fighting. They said they heard a man and woman’s voice in front of the apartment building at 750 Whitney Avenue. These witnesses said the argument continued and then screams were heard at the intersection Suzanne’s body was discovered in. 

The police also had reports of a tan or brown van near the intersection. The van was facing east. Law enforcement didn’t tell the public about the van for over two years. 

ASSIGNMENT:
21-year-old Suzanne Jovin was stabbed 17 times just before 10 PM on December 4th, 1998. The murder occured at the intersection of Edgehill and East Rock Roads in New Haven, Connecticut. She was seen 20 to 30 minutes earlier two miles away near the Phelps Gate of Yale University. It is possible she accepted a ride with someone while at the school. 

If you have information, you can call the CT Cold Case Unit Toll-Free Tip Line at 1-866-623-8058 or send an email to jovin.case@ct.gov. Or you can contact us.

CODE OF CONDUCT: 

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

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