To the Editor:
As a former crime reporter for the Yale Daily News, I have the dubious distinction of knowing more about the Suzanne Jovin ’99 murder case than any other current undergraduate not now associated with the News.
Through a year and more of covering the Jovin case and the subsequent lawsuits of James Van de Velde ’82, I always found far more questions than answers about the case itself and about its “only named suspect” — whom I met once and corresponded with extensively through e-mail.
As a reporter, I did my best to avoid drawing conclusions on his guilt or innocence in the absence of indisputable evidence, which has never been available. Even after leaving journalistic impartiality behind, I cannot vouch for Van de Velde’s innocence, much less prove it — the only way for anyone to prove such a negative would be to find Jovin’s real killer. But at least two points need to be reaffirmed for the vast majority of Yale students who only know Van de Velde’s name from his status as a suspect in the Jovin case.
First, despite intense media scrutiny of the case, absolutely no evidence has ever been made public that suggests Van de Velde had any role in Jovin’s murder. Nor is it likely that the police file on the case documents any such evidence: A member of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission who examined that file a year ago voiced his surprise over how much of it had already been leaked to the press.
Second, Van de Velde has maintained his innocence from the start of the investigation, which in itself is not surprising of a murder suspect. But his continued efforts to keep the case in the public eye and clear his name through lawsuits are hardly characteristic of a killer who got away with his crime.
While there is a great deal more information available on the case than I could possibly summarize here, I hope these points will help to prevent current students from jumping to the same conclusions about Van de Velde that many of their predecessors did four years ago.
Andrew Paciorek ’03
April 21, 2003
The writer is a former city editor of the Yale Daily News.