The balmy weather made it a perfect night for undergraduates to celebrate the end of fall-semester classes before reading week and final exams. At the David S. Ingalls Rink, situated about a mile north of the turrets and bell towers of the main campus, hundreds of Yale students and faculty were out in force to cheer their hockey team on against Princeton.
Screaming themselves hoarse, the spectators watched the Princeton Tigers defeat the Yale Bulldogs, 5—2. Less than a mile north of Ingalls Rink, in the wealthy East Rock neighborhood, with its huge mansions and manicured lawns, people were also out enjoying the warm weather. Several of those later interviewed by the police said they saw nothing unusual. LaJeune Oxley, who lives at the corner of Edgehill and East Rock Roads, says she and her husband spent most of that evening in their kitchen listening to Bach. For some reason she had shut the kitchen door.
As it was, Oxley heard only a loud banging on her front door just after 10 p. She walked out of her kitchen and saw immediately, through her sitting-room window, the flashing lights of the police cars and the ambulance across the street. Terrified that something had happened to her year-old daughter, Daphne, who had not returned from walking the family dog, Oxley ran across the street, where a young woman wearing jeans and boots lay near the curb.
Oxley saw right away that it was not her daughter. The woman was Suzanne Jovin, a year-old senior at Yale, who was horribly injured. She had been murdered savagely, stabbed 17 times in the back and neck. During the past months, Oxley has gone over and over in her mind the details of what she saw that night and of what she afterward learned.
She knows that some of her neighbors heard an argument between a man and a woman around and, shortly after that, a scream. She knows from the newspapers that no weapon has been recovered.
The mystery of how someone was able to stab Suzanne Jovin 17 times in a well-lit neighborhood where people were out walking their dogs and where at least one party was going on is among the many strange aspects of that night. In the months following the murder, the questions have multiplied and become even more troubling. She was facedown.
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Her feet were almost in the street. We call that grassy area [between the curb and the sidewalk] the parkway; the body was across the parkway, at an angle. Her year-old boyfriend, Roman Caudillo, an engineering student, was on his way back to New Haven after spending the evening in New York City. She thought Suzanne had gotten into a problem or something. Devastated students sobbed in the courtyard. It seemed like a nightmare happening all over again. Over the years, Yale also pumped millions of dollars into the troubled, crime-ridden neighborhoods that surround the spectacular campus.
But Christian Prince was the victim of a random killing. Suzanne Jovin, the police believe, was murdered by someone she knew. Jovin was last reported seen around near Phelps Gate, the main entrance to Yale on College Street. At , someone called to report that a woman lay bleeding on the corner of Edgehill and East Rock, nearly two miles away. How had Jovin traveled so far in approximately 30 minutes?
The police think that she must have been driven there, and her friends are certain she would never have accepted a ride from a stranger. But whose car had she gotten into? Who could have killed her so brutally and left no clues? And why would anyone have wanted to kill Suzanne Jovin?
Van de Velde was a brilliant and well-liked political-science lecturer, who had previously held positions at the Pentagon and the State Department. In the week following the stabbing, Van de Velde vehemently denied any involvement in the crime and twice went in to be questioned by the police without bringing a lawyer.
He gave the police permission to search his red Jeep Wrangler and his apartment, which was a half-mile from the crime scene. According to one of his attorneys, Van de Velde also offered to take a blood test and a polygraph—offers, his lawyer says, the police did not act on. The New Haven police searched the sewers around the crime scene and enlisted local treasure hunters to comb the neighborhood with metal detectors; hoping to find witnesses, they set up roadblocks and interviewed scores of people—including Yale students and faculty members.
Still, seven months later no arrest has been made. How he could have done it and why, and how he could have covered his tracks so thoroughly, are baffling questions that the police have so far not publicly answered. And yet the police persist. Allegations have been put in motion. Suzanne Nahuela Jovin had not lived in the United States before she arrived at Yale in the fall of She grew up speaking English and German fluently, although German was the language she usually spoke with her sister and closest friend, Rebecca, who is Educated in the rigorous German school system, Suzanne began to study Latin in the fifth grade and French in the seventh.
She played the piano and the cello. In high school, at the Theodor-Heuss Gymnasium, she took a double major in biology and chemistry, passing her exams with top marks. In press accounts after her murder, Jovin was described in ways that made her seem very serious, even dull. But she was not that at all. In high school she sang with several rock bands.
It was always assumed that Jovin would go to college in the United States. Her mother had gotten her Ph. She immediately got involved in volunteer work—something her mother had done when she was at Yale, and had urged her daughter to do. Although she started out intending to major in one of the sciences, she switched to a double major in political science and international studies, friends say, after doing poorly in an advanced course in cell biology.
At the time of her death, Jovin was considering a career in the diplomatic service and was finishing applications to graduate schools in the field—including, her parents say, Tufts, Columbia, and Georgetown. It made Jovin appear fragile, a delicate sparrow of a woman. Her friends were taken aback by the picture. To begin with, friends insist that Jovin, who was five feet five inches and weighed pounds, was physically quite strong. She suffered no fools and could identify them with ease. On the night she was killed, Jovin spent the early part of the evening at Trinity Lutheran Church, four blocks from the campus, at a pizza-making party she had organized for Best Buddies, an international organization that pairs students with mentally disabled adults.
She had worked with the Yale chapter since her freshman year, and ran it by the time she was a senior.
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