Police Grill Yale Prof. In Senior's Death

A Yale faculty member who taught homicide victim and university undergraduate Suzanne Jovin is the lead suspect in the police investigation, the New Haven Register reported yesterday.

According to what the paper called city and university sources close to the case, the police questioned a male Yale teacher Monday and Tuesday night in addition to several other faculty members, the victim's boyfriend and others she worked with that evening.

No charges have been filed yet, and New Haven police officially denied having a suspect in the investigation.

Police have said, however, there is a strong possibility that Jovin knew her killer.

Among those faculty members questioned was Jovin's senior thesis adviser, James Van de Velde, who told several local television stations he had been asked whether he killed Jovin.


He said he told police, "Of course not."

"It's an absurd question," he told reporters. "My sense is that they have no leads and are just provoking people."

Yale administrators sent out at least one e-mail message to students asking them to remain calm during the investigation.

"If a member of the Yale community were, in fact, responsible for this horrible crime, it would be appalling," wrote Linda Koch Lorimer, vice president and secretary of Yale, in her e-mail message. "But let me state clearly: whoever is responsible should be brought to justice as quickly as possible," she added.

Jovin, a senior majoring in political science, was found dead of multiple stab wounds around 10 p.m. last Friday evening a little over a mile from campus. Last seen at 9:15 p.m. leaving a New Haven church where she was volunteering, Jovin was found in the posh East Rock neighborhood, where several Yale faculty members live, with 17 stab wounds in her head and chest.

Neighbors in the area where the body was found said they heard a man and woman arguing, but they did not know what about, police said.

The New Haven Register quoted unnamed sourcessaying that the suspect lives not far from whereher body was found.

Although police originally said they doubtedwhether Jovin was murdered where she was found,they now say it is likely that Jovin was attackedand left at the corner of East Rock and EdgehillRoad.

Yale students said last night they were shockedto learn a faculty member had been linked to themurder investigation.

"I just don't believe it. I can't imagine it,"said Jeffrey S. Gordon, a first-year.

Allison B. Hornstein, another Yale first-year,said the possibility that a faculty membercommitted the crime made it seem less arbitrary.

"In light of the fact that they suspect alecturer, that makes me feel a little more safebecause then it wouldn't be so random," she said.

Yale administrators have urged students to becareful walking through campus and the city lateat night, urging students to walk in groups.

Although Jovin came to Yale from Gottingen,Germany, she was an American citizen. She had beenactive in community service, working as a studentleader of Best Buddies, a group that pairs Yalestudents with mentally disabled students in thearea.

A memorial service for Jovin is scheduled for 1p.m. today.

--This report was compiled with wiredispatches.

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