Investigators reach out to ’99 alumni

At the 10-year reunion for the class of 1999 in early June, the tragic death of Suzanne Jovin ’99 continued to linger over the group’s collective experience.

Jovin, a senior in Davenport College and a political science and international studies double major, was found stabbed 17 times on the evening of Dec. 4, 1998. The case remains unsolved. 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 murder.

The letter, written by University Secretary Linda Lorimer, is emblematic not only of investigators’ recent efforts to reach out to Yale alumni, but also of 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 8.5 x 11 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, labeled “In Memory of Suzanne Jovin,” depicted 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 with anyone who may have relevant information, regardless of whether they have been interviewed by police during the initial investigation.

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

Last July, investigators announced that they were seeking the identity of the 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 the 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.

Paul Needham contributed reporting.

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