Van de Velde asks why officials have not ‘apologized’ for suspecting him in murder

To the Editor:

In the article “Former suspect in Jovin ’99 case calls for revisiting” (11/12) Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith said the University remains open to helping the state in its investigation of the murder.

Well, here’s an idea for President Levin along with every other person at Yale: Write the Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane (Chief State’s Attorney, 300 Corporate Place, Rocky Hill, CT 06067) and demand that two forensic tests at a minimum be conducted as soon as possible:

1. Test the partial palm print found on the soda bottle at the crime scene for DNA. If the DNA matches the DNA found under the fingernails of Jovin, then the DNA of the criminal will have been discerned. (Since Jovin likely bought the soda at then Krauzner’s at approximately 9:30 p.m., the only chance that such a match could be the result of innocent contact would be if the individual who stocked the soda bottle also somehow got his hand scraped when handing back the change from Suzanne’s purchase. Other than that extremely unlikely occurrence, a match would solve the crime — albeit without a name to match to the DNA). Although testing the print may destroy the print, it would be better to discern the DNA to match to DNA found under Jovin’s fingernail. A photograph of the palm print would remain still remain, of course, and matching DNA to another person’s would be far more incriminating than matching his/her palm print. With a DNA profile, the state could inform the public that they are looking for an Indo-European/Asian/African male of X age range (age can be determined from the hormones within the palm print) with the following unique characteristic:

2. The DNA found under Jovin’s fingernail evidently contained a rare marker. Therefore, search for the marker in all local, state and national databases. And let the public know of the marker if it can be used to identify an individual.

If indeed there have been numerous meetings concerning the case, as State’s Attorney Michael Dearington claims, such meetings suggest that there is a dearth of evidence and leads to work with. If so, this strongly suggests that naming me a suspect in the crime just days after the event was foolish, wrong and deeply injurious to the larger goal of getting assistance from the public.

Further still, if indeed experts are wrestling with how best to use the forensic evidence they have to find suspects in the case, then why hasn’t the city or University apologized for wrongly naming me a suspect, given that I cooperated fully with requests for access to my car, my DNA, my fingerprints, etc … ? Examining the forensics is admission that I am not a suspect in this crime since no forensics link me to it.

James Van de Velde

Nov. 24

Van de Velde is a former dean of Saybrook College and Yale lecturer. He is still the only suspect to have been named in connection with the 1998 murder of Suzanne Jovin ’99.

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