Suzanne Jovin was, by all accounts, an extraordinary young woman.
The 21-year-old German-born student was in her senior year studying political science at the prestigious Yale University where her friends on campus described her as smart, beautiful and compassionate.
And compassionate she most certainly was. Alongside her studies, she made time for voluntary work as director of Best Buddies, a charity working with intellectually and developmentally disabled adults.
She was great fun too, her friends said, “sparkly”. She was not always as serious as her impressive academic credentials might suggest.
“Suzanne laughed a lot,” one friend told Vanity Fair back in 1999. “At Naples (a popular New Haven hangout) she’d go nuts when we got on the dance floor.”
Suzanne truly had the world at her feet.
But, tragically, she would never go on to fulfil her potential. On the evening of 4 December 1998, Suzanne was brutally murdered, stabbed 17 times in the back of her head and neck, left to die in the street just two miles away from the Yale campus.
Her throat had been slit and she had been stabbed so hard the tip of the knife was embedded in her skull.
There were no witnesses to the savage attack and initially the police had no suspects. They began to investigate, piecing together Suzanne’s last known movements.
On the afternoon of her death, about 4.30pm, Suzanne had handed in a draft of her senior essay to her course advisor, James Van Der Velde. The essay was written about Osama Bin Laden, three years before his name would become synonymous with the 9/11 terror attacks.
Then she had spent the early part of her evening at the nearby Trinity Lutheran Church, at a pizza-making party she had organised for Best Buddies.
She left the event about 8.30 pm, using a car borrowed from the university to drive some of the volunteers home.
LISTEN: Holly Wainwright and the Stephens Twins deep dive on our fascination with the crime genre. Post continues after audio…
From there she returned to her apartment on campus where she spoke with friends who were passing by and had called up to her window. They asked her if she wanted to go to the movies, but she declined, saying she had work to do.
At 9.02pm, she sent an email to a friend, telling her she was leaving some books for her in her apartment lobby, but that she first had to retrieve them from “someone”.
This person, the one who had borrowed the books, was never identified. More on that later.
Suzanne logged off at 9.10pm and was seen five minutes later on her way to return the keys of the borrowed car to the Yale police communications centre at the university.