Investigators are requesting DNA samples from men who knew Suzanne Jovin ’99 so they can be compared to traces of DNA obtained from underneath Jovin’s fingernails, State’s Attorney Michael Dearington said Friday in a written statement.
The New Haven Police Department has already obtained samples from Jovin’s boyfriend and from emergency medical technicians who responded to the distress call on the night she was murdered. None of these samples matched the DNA found on Jovin. Samples from all male police and fire department workers who had access to Jovin’s body also turned up negative.
In addition, investigators have ruled out James Van de Velde ’82, Jovin’s senior thesis advisor and the only person named by police as a suspect in the case, as a possible source of the DNA.
But just because someone’s DNA fails to match that found on Jovin does not mean police will rule out that person as a suspect. According to the statement, the DNA found on Jovin could belong to her assailant or merely to an uninvolved person with whom she had contact shortly before her death.
Scientists at the State Police Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Meriden were able to recover a significant amount of DNA from underneath the fingernails of Jovin’s left hand. Since the DNA is mixed with a relatively large amount of Jovin’s own blood, forensic technicians have been unable to tell the precise nature of the detected cellular material.
They have determined, however, that the DNA came from a male.
Investigators said that if all legitimate persons who may have contributed the DNA are excluded, “It becomes more likely (but not certain) that the profile is that of her assailant.”
Van de Velde currently works for the Defense Department. He has been in Egypt on assignment and was unavailable for comment.
His attorney, David Grudberg ’82, was also unavailable for comment over the weekend.
Jovin, a political science major from Gottingen, Germany, was found stabbed to death at the corner of Edgehill and East Rock roads in December 1998.
The investigation has remained at a standstill publicly since shortly after the murder. Yale cancelled Van de Velde’s classes in the spring of 1999 when he was named as a suspect. But Van de Velde has never been charged in connection with the murder, and the names of other possible suspects have never been revealed by New Haven police.
In March, Yale bumped up an extant state reward for information pertaining to the investigation from $50,000 to $150,000.