Day 5: The Murder of Suzanne Jovin
Updated: Apr 18
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Today we will be discussing the 1998 murder of Suzanne Jovin.
Suzanne Jovin was born on January 26, 1977 in Gottingen, West Germany. At the time of her death she was in America as a senior at Yale University. At Yale she was an exceptional student. In her free time she was a tutor through a program where Yale students helped out elementary school students. Suzanne sang in the freshman chorus and an orchestra called the Bach Society Orchestra. To finish it off she co-founded the German society and worked in the dining hall on campus.
That is obviously a lot for a college student to do but those who know her said she loved doing it all. It wasn’t a huge stressor for her, it was enjoyable activities.
December 4, 1998 around 4:15p.m. Suzanne went to put together a pizza making party that she had a hand in organizing for a local chapter of ‘Best Buddies.’ The ‘Best Buddies’ organization is one that brings students at colleges together with mentally disabled adults. That way they can do fun activities and interact.
At 8:30p.m. the event was over and Suzanne and another volunteer for the event got in the borrowed University station wagon to get home. Suzanne was simply being nice and dropping off this other volunteer at her home before going home herself.
By 8:45p.m. Suzanne had dropped off the other volunteer and was dropping off the borrowed car back at the school. Luckily she only lived two blocks away from the school so she was planning to walk home. She felt safe on campus due to it being fairly busy most of the time and her apartment being above a Yale Police Office.
She seemed to have gotten home fairly quickly. I say this because sometime before 8:50p.m. it is reported that some friends asked her if she wanted to join them in going to the movies but she declined. At 9:10p.m. there is a record of Suzanne sending an email to a friend in German stating she would leave books for her in the lobby of her (Suzanne’s) apartment. Due to that she also gave this friend the access code to her apartment lobby. The odd thing in this email is that Suzanne stated she had to get them back from the last person she lent them to but the name of this person has never been recovered.
It isn’t completely clear what time she left her apartment again but she did walk back towards campus in order to go return the keys from the car she borrowed. It is unclear why she didn’t return them when she returned the car. By 9:22p.m. she ran into a class mate, Peter Stein, they only talked for a few minutes before they were both on their way. Peter was later recorded, after the murder, stating this…
“She did not mention plans to go anywhere or do anything else afterward. She just said that she was very, very tired and that she was looking forward to getting a lot of sleep.”
He reported that she did not seem nervous or in a rush at all.
Due to the timeline of events it seems that Suzanne dropped the keys off around 9:25p.m. as she was last reportedly seen in between 9:25-9:30p.m. The person who last saw her was not sure if she was walking, waiting for someone, just pausing, or admiring the holiday lights along the street they were on.
9:55p.m. was the next time someone saw her and this person called 9-1-1 due to Suzanne bleeding quite a lot. Suzanne was found on the corner of Edgehill Road and East Rock Road which was almost two miles away from where she had last been seen on campus. Police found her fatally stabbed 17 times in the back of the head and neck, her throat was also slit. All of her jewelry and the $1 she had on her person were still there so robbery did not seem to be a motive here.
There was evidence in this case that could someday lead to the killer. DNA was taken from under Suzanne’s finger nails, there was a bottle of alcohol in the bushes near her body with a partial palm print, and a man was seen running away from the scene. This man was described as in his 20s or 30s, athletic build, well groomed hair, dark pants, and a loose fitting green jacket. Below is a sketch of the possible suspect.
There was also a record of a tan van stopped in the road and facing east where Suzanne was found. Lastly the tip of the knife was lodged in her skull which helped develop speculation of the murder weapon. The murder weapon was supposedly a 4-5inch non serrated knife.
There have been many suspects in this case from Suzanne’s thesis professor, to random criminals in the area, to some of Suzanne’s close friends. But none of these suspects have ever led to the solving of this case.
This theory states that the killer was the unnamed person in the email from Suzanne to her friend. This person was the one who borrowed Suzanne’s books and was suppose to be returning them soon, maybe even the night she was killed. The reason police believe this person might be responsible is because the books have never been returned or found and no one has come forward about being the person mentioned in the email.
This does seem very suspicious. If the person who borrowed the books was innocent it would seem that they could help out the case a lot by just coming forward. That would shift focus in the case like crazy.
Although many do not believe robbery gone wrong is what happened it is still on the list of possibilities. I would like to discuss why this theory would not make sense though. First off, Suzanne was found 2 miles from where she was last seen which seems odd if all she wanted to do that night was catch up on sleep. Secondly, none of her belongings were taken so it seems that the robber was not the most intelligent. Lastly, stabbing is a very intimate way of killing, it is normally the method used by someone who knows their victim, not a random robber. That is also the case in how many times she was stabbed. Generally someone who did not know her would not stab her that many times.
Suzanne had no known enemies, the only person she did not get along with completely was her thesis professor. It was reported that Suzanne thought he would be more helpful in the process than he had been so there was tension in that relationship. Because of this knowledge he was one of the first suspects but it ended up going no where. This doesn’t mean that he is 100% not the killer, that possibility is still there.
In 2012 Billy committed suicide, but he had been a student at Yale around the same time as Suzanne was. Many of those who went to Yale at the time believe he could’ve been the killer. It seems that Billy had mental problems and shown severe anger towards women. Closer to the time he died he told a friend that he was obsessed with the murder of Suzanne Jovin and that he was going to be arrested. Was this true? If so then police were coming to the same ideas that many on the internet were already at.
Further, on the night of the murder he told his roommate ‘they will never catch me.’ His roommate just thought it was a bad joke at the time. Since he was an architecture student he regularly had access to XACTO knives which sound like the blade piece found in Suzanne’s skull.
I will say that when looking at a picture of this suspect he has a striking resemblance to the sketch police did. He also owned clothes similar to those reported of the man running away from the scene.
No matter what the true theory is, it is apparent that a very smart and kind woman was taken far too soon. If you know anything at all about this case please contact the New Haven Police Department at (203) 946-7377.
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