Nineteen years after the unsolved murder of Suzanne Jovin ’99, the state’s cold case unit is making a new push to identify the killer.

The state plans to use an investigative technology known as touch DNA to test small particles of DNA on Jovin’s clothing, in hopes of finally discovering the identity of her killer, according to a Sept. 26 report in the Hartford Courant. According to the Courant, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is set to become further involved in the case, interviewing past witnesses and new witnesses and hiring a hypnotist to elicit more information from people who may have seen Jovin, a senior at the time, on the night of her murder.

“It was a horrible incident. I think anybody who was around at the time was shocked by it, as one should be shocked by any such murder,” said Harold Attridge, a Yale Divinity School professor who was teaching at Yale at the time of the murder.

On the night of Dec. 4, 1998, just before 10 p.m., Jovin was brutally stabbed 17 times in the head, neck and back by an unknown male near the intersection of Edgehill and East Rock roads, about two miles northeast of Old Campus.

Jovin’s killer was never found.

After the murder, a mixture of heartbreak and shock lingered on campus.

“It was one of those things where you just assume there is going to be an arrest … and it never happened,” said Paul Freedman, a Yale history professor who was also teaching at the time.

Many students and faculty on campus were frustrated that there was little progress on the case and justice was never served, Attridge said.

He added that although the condition of New Haven has improved significantly since the time of the murder, he still finds it particularly perplexing that such a violent crime happened in a relatively safe residential area.

The investigation by the New Haven Police Department was “flawed in some respects” within the first few weeks following the murder, so Yale hired two New York-based detectives to take over the case, said David Cameron, a Yale political science professor who has assisted the investigators working on the case. In the mid-2000s, the case was further investigated by a team of retired state police detectives, and is now under the control of the state’s cold case unit in the office of Kevin Kane, the chief state’s attorney.

About an hour before her death, Jovin had mentioned that she was retrieving study materials from “someone” in an email to a friend. Additionally, according to a witness, a physically fit man in his 20s or 30s sprinted from the location where Jovin was found.

Yet, some of the mysteries remain unanswered: Why was Jovin at the intersection of Edgehill and East Rock roads? Who was the “someone” Jovin mentioned in the email? Who was the “running man,” and did he murder Jovin?

According to the investigation team’s website, the Division of Criminal Justice is still asking the public for information on the case.

“We are interested in all available information or leads, no matter how remote or trivial that information may seem,” the website states. “We want to hear from anyone who has heard something, seen something or who may even have repressed the knowledge of something that could be related to the murder of Ms. Jovin.”

And now, after 19 years, there is a renewed sense of hope among those following the case. Touch DNA, along with other information investigators seek from witnesses, could be the key to finding the man who took the life of a beloved daughter, sister and friend.

“I know [Officer Kane] from our service together on the state’s Eyewitness Identification Task Force” Cameron said. “I know he and his office are deeply committed to bringing the murderer to justice.”

Jack Jensen |