To the Editor:

In its June 30 issue, the Yale Daily News listed the investigation of the 1998 murder of Yale senior Suzanne Jovin among its top “issues to watch” during the year. On the fourth anniversary of the crime, Yale professor David Cameron’s insightful editorial (“Four years later, reflecting on Jovin’s murder,” 12/3) suggests that it’s time for Yale to stop watching and start doing something: light a fire under the investigation and ensure a safer New Haven.

As Cameron notes and Yale Daily News readers have learned, the New Haven Police Department’s murder investigation went off-course virtually from the start. James Van de Velde, Jovin’s instructor and senior thesis adviser, has filed suit against the NHPD for naming him “among the suspects.” A four-year investigation discovered nothing that links him to the crime. DNA evidence collected from the victim does not match his. An investigator hired by Yale found nothing suggesting his involvement.

Just as they rejected an offer of assistance from forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee, New Haven police have refused to call in Connecticut’s very successful “cold case” investigators. According to the New Haven Register, New Haven Police Chief Melvin H. Wearing claims the current investigators are “on track,” but allows that outside help might be welcome after another year has passed. Another year? What will police do in the next 12 months that they couldn’t accomplish in the previous 48? Equally alarming, the remarks of the New Haven state’s attorney and acting chief state’s attorney demonstrate even less of a sense of urgency.

As Yale Daily News readers know, Suzanne Jovin is remembered with much love and respect by all who knew her, and Van de Velde’s many friends are frustrated and angry about the failed investigation’s collateral damage to him. Both groups should insist that the NHPD allow “cold case” experts to contribute to the investigation of this horrible crime.

Kudos to Professor Cameron for keeping the investigation on Yale’s radar screen. Yale officials should follow his example, examine the investigation of the Jovin murder, and ask why the NHPD rejects expert help. Naming a suspect is an unacceptable substitute for catching a killer.

B. Thomas Parkman

December 10, 2002