Episode 104

Who Killed Penn State Student Betsy Aardsma?

August 23, 2021   Tags: , ,
Apple Podcasts
22-year-old English grad student Betsy Aardsma was working on an upcoming project in the library at Penn State in November of 1969. While in Aisle 51 on Level 2 of the Pattee Library, an unknown offender stabbed Betsy once. Despite several witnesses not far from the crime, the case remains unsolved. 

Leading Up to the Murder:
In the Fall of 1969, 22-year-old Betsy Aardsma was in the English Masters program at Pennsylvania State University. She had finished the University of Michigan. Initially she wanted to join the Peace Corps right after college, but her boyfriend David Wright said he wouldn’t wait for her. 

So, instead Betsy decided to go to grad school and keep her relationship. That fall while Betsy was at Penn State, David was living in Hershey, Pennsylvania--roughly two hours away--attending medical school.

Betsy spent that Thanksgiving--November 27th with David in Hershey. As the night wore on, Betsy wanted to return to school. She had a project she needed to finish. David agreed to drive her to the bus station so she could go back to campus. 

On the 28th, Betsy wore a red sweater dress with a white turtleneck underneath when she left her dorm in Atherton Hall. She and her roommate Sharon headed to the library in the afternoon. She had a 4 PM meeting with her professor.

The Murder:
Once her meeting was done, she got to work. She went to the third floor of the library to look through the card catalog. Then she went to second floor. 

At 4:45 student Shirley Brooks asked Betsy if she could borrow a pen. Betsy gave her one and Shirley returned it right away. Just a few moments later, a man using the copy machine heard a man and woman having a conversation. Nothing sounded heated or violent. Then he heard metal clanging and books falling. 

Suddenly, a man ran from Aisle 51. When the man running away saw the man standing at the copier, he yelled, “That girl needs help!” A different bystander tried to run after the man, but he never caught up with him. 

A student tried to revive Betsy, while a library employee called for an ambulance. Initially they thought she had passed out.

The paramedics tried to revive Betsy but were unsuccessful. They took her to the campus student health center, unclear of her injuries. While administering CPR, blood was visible. She was declared dead at 5:19 PM. 

An autopsy was performed that night. Betsy had been stabbed. Unlike a lot of the stabbing murders we cover, Betsy had only been stabbed once. There was a single wound in her left breast. It was one inch wide and three inches deep. 

The wound hit her pulmonary artery. Blood quickly entered her lungs which kept her from screaming and also accounted for the lack of blood on Aisle 51. 

The Investigation:
Nothing was left intact at the crime scene. The employees and paramedics thought she had passed out. When Betsy was taken out of the library, the staff cleaned up. They mopped the floors and put all the books back in their places.  

The area wasn’t marked off. After the staff straightened up, other students and people were allowed to walk through the area. No one had asked the people present during the attack to stay behind. But investigators began looking for anyone who was inside the library at the time of the murder.

According to the library records, 440 people came or went between 4:30 PM and 5:15 PM that day. Most of the witnesses could only recollect hearing the books fall and then a man running away. A description was given of the man. He wore khaki slacks, boat-style sneakers, a plaid button-down shirt, sport jacket, tie and glasses. His hair was brown. He was about 6 feet tall and 185 pounds.

Just a few aisles over from where Betsy was attacked, the library stored desks and shelves. On one of the desks was a half-empty can of soda. Along with the soda was a stack of adult magazines--they were a combination of gay, straight and “soft-cord girlie magazines.” Around the area Betsy was attacked, other adult magazines were stuffed in the shelves. 

An expert was brought in to use an ultraviolet black light. The tool was used to detect bodily fluids, although other things could show up under the light. Aisle 51 lit up. It appeared to be covered in semen. Samples were taken. Most of the samples were at least days old or older. 

Searching the rest of the library, there was one other possible piece of evidence collected. Close to the stairs that lead to level three were a “spray of tiny blood droplets.” Law enforcement said it looked like someone was flicking their hands. The blood was “oriented vertically” near a light switch.” The blood did match Betsy’s blood type. 

22-year-old Betsy Aardsma was killed in the Pattee Library at Penn State on November 28th, 1969. She had been stabbed once to the left breast. Despite possible persons of interest and even a confession, the case remains unsolved over fifty years later.

If you have any information, please contact us or Pennsylvania State Police at 717-783-5599.


1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.