A Murder at Yale: Suzanne Jovin
Suzanne Jovin Homicide Investigation Team
Suzanne Jovin

On Dec. 4, 1998, Yale senior Suzanne Jovin dropped off a draft of her senior essay at her adviser’s office and held a pizza party she organized for the local chapter of Best Buddies (which groups students with local mentally disabled adults). Then someone stabbed her 17 times and left her to die in the middle of the street.

Last seen: 9:25 p.m., Dec. 4, 1998, leaving Phelps Gate after dropping off keys to a Yale vehicle she borrowed for a Best Buddies event.

Body Found: 9:55 p.m., in the middle of the street, corner of Edgehill and East Rock roads. Jovin was stabbed 17 times in the neck, back and head.

Approximate Timeline of Events, Dec. 4, 1998:

  • 4:15 p.m.: Jovin drops off a draft of her 21-page thesis at the Prospect Street office for her professor and adviser, James R. Van de Velde.

  • 8:30 p.m.: Jovin leaves Trinity Lutheran Church pizza party she organized.

  • 8:45 p.m.: Jovin returns a university station wagon she borrowed to the parking lot at the corner of Edgewood Ave. and Howe St. She then walks to her apartment.

  • 8:50 p.m.: Friends stop by Jovin’s apartment window to see if she wants to go to a party. She declines.

  • 9:02 p.m.: Jovin sends an email to a friend saying she would leave GRE books she had borrowed for her in her lobby. She also gives the friend an access code to the building. In the message, Jovin says she had lent the GRE materials -- a book and a CD-ROM -- to “someone,” and needed to retrieve them. Police have never been able to identify who this "someone" was.

  • 9:10 p.m.: Jovin logs off, and needs to return the car keys of the borrowed car. So she walks to the Yale Police Communications Center at Phelps Gate.

  • 9:22 p.m.: Along the way, Jovin sees fellow classmate Peter Stein. He noted that she did not seem in distress, did not have a bag, and was only holding some white sheets of paper.

  • 9:25 p.m.: Jovin returns the car keys.

  • 9:25 p.m.: 9:30 p.m.: A Yale student walking back from the Yale hockey game sees Jovin walking up College Street.

  • 9:55 p.m.: 911 gets a call of a female lying in the road, bleeding, at the intersection of Edgehill and East Rock roads. This is 2 miles from where Jovin was last seen alive. 9:58: Police arrive to find Suzanne Jovin.

After the case went cold, the Suzanne Jovin Homicide Investigation Team held a public meeting on Dec. 4, 2014, to discuss the case. They are looking for the identity of three people who might be able to help with the case:

  • The person to whom Jovin loaned the GRE materials.

  • The female who took a taxi from Blatchley Avenue to the Newhallville section of New Haven, Ct., at 9:30, Dec. 4, 1998.

  • The man who was seen sprinting past a female motorist near Whitney Ave. and Huntington St.
New Haven Police Dept.
Suspect sketch

There were a lot of theories and clues tossed about: stories about white vans and tan vans, Fresca bottles and terrorism. There was also the public persecution of Jovin’s adviser, James Van de Velde, who was named as a suspect. Multiple lawsuits clearing his name were dropped in exchange for settlements.

It is believed that Suzanne Jovin was in a vehicle, as she could not have traveled the distance of 2 miles from College Street to the intersection where she was found in such a short amount of time.

Street View

Video of intersection from 2007:

Some think Jovin may have been abducted on Elm Street as she walked back to her Park St. apartment after dropping off the car keys.

You can follow a Websleuths discussion of the case.

If you have information about this case, contact the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice Suzanne Jovin Homicide Investigation Team.


New Haven Register: Police re-examine Yale student Suzanne Jovin’s murder; New Haven forum set for Dec. 4

Hartford Courant: Archive: Suzanne Jovin Slaying

Yale Daily News: 16 years later, police look for new clues in Jovin murder

New Haven Register: Randall Beach: Many trying to solve the mystery of who killed Suzanne Jovin