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  1. #1

    PA - Betsy Aardsma, 22, Penn State, 29 Nov 1969

    Hi all,

    I'm working on trying to crack the Betsy Aardsma case. She was a 22-year-old co-ed murdered in the Pattee Library at Penn State University in 1969.

    More information is available on my site:

    www.whokilledbetsy.com

    The most comprehensive site for articles and information about the case online.

    I'd like some impressions and thoughts from the members here to try to point me in some directions I might not have gone otherwise.

    Regards,

    Derek

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Ohio
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    I've never heard of this case before, it's very interesting.

    My first thought was that whoever did this was a psycho, but then, as stated in one of the articles on your website, the person responsible was indeed very calculating. Whoever could have done this in a library with other people around and knew he would probably escape in the confusion that followed after Betsy was discovered was a very intelligent albeit scary individual.

    I didn't read the articles as thoroughly as I wanted to, but there were 2 things that stood out as far as who the perpetrator could have been:
    1) It sounds like the perp revisited the scene on anniversary dates. That was very creepy about the makeshift shrine on the 25th anniv. Then there was another message left on the 30th anniv in 1999 and also, there was a composite sketch of someone who was lingering around there in 1999 who nobody seemed to know.
    2) When the pathologist mentioned that whoever inflicited the wound knew exactly what he was doing. That of course indicated to me someone familiar with anatomy and knew just where to place the knife so that it would kill her almost instantly.

    I know her fiance was in med school. I don't think he committed the crime. Perhaps there was someone who went to med school with him who was enamored of Betsy. It didn't necessarily have to be a close friend of his, possibly just an acquaintance who knew who Betsy was and had feelings for her. He might even have made his feelings known to Betsy and been rejected by her. It just "sounds" like a crime of passion, you know "if I can't have her no one can," especially if the perp really is visiting the crime scene on anniversary dates.

    I have to go back and read all the articles more thoroughly but that was my first take on it from what I've read so far. It's a very interesting case, and also, that website you created for her is very good. Thanks for posting the link to that.
    Please Help Find Brian Shaffer!



    www.findbrianshaffer.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Very interesting case. My goodness, the composite of the man there in 1999 sure looks like someone. But, who??????

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by liz325 View Post
    My first thought was that whoever did this was a psycho, but then, as stated in one of the articles on your website, the person responsible was indeed very calculating. Whoever could have done this in a library with other people around and knew he would probably escape in the confusion that followed after Betsy was discovered was a very intelligent albeit scary individual.

    I have to go back and read all the articles more thoroughly but that was my first take on it from what I've read so far. It's a very interesting case, and also, that website you created for her is very good. Thanks for posting the link to that.
    Thanks for the feedback, and the insight. I'm glad you liked the website. I created it to dispel some of the inaccuracies I was seeing in other web-based resources about the case, and also of course as a way to try to scare up new information.

    I've done a bit of digging on this. I actually have two possible suspects who I am searching for more information on. One was allegedly reported to police back at the time, and the other was never reported. I need a name for both to help further the investigation.

    The first suspect that was reported was very interesting, apparently he was PO'd at the college. He also knew Betsy so it plays to motive that he would consider it a big "FU!" to the college by killing someone in their library, then escaping. He admitted to my contact that he was at the library that day.

    I've been in contact with the State Trooper in charge of the investigation, and he seems like a decent guy, despite being 6th or 7th investigator on the case, so he really has no link to the original investigation.

    My worry is that police have no "hold back" here; the murder weapon was never found, there was no struggle so no DNA/fingernail evidence, and the two best possible witnesses have never been located or come forward. There were as far as I know no fingerprints, and I have been to the scene of the crime -- it is old asbestos 9x9 floor tile, so no possibility of any footprint evidence at the scene.

    D

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by liz325 View Post
    I have to go back and read all the articles more thoroughly but that was my first take on it from what I've read so far. It's a very interesting case, and also, that website you created for her is very good. Thanks for posting the link to that.
    I do agree it sounds like a crime of passion or at least someone who had some kind of joy out of his "work" enough to go back and visit the scene. It's hard to say I guess if the memorials were the work of the killer, or perhaps just a sick fratboy joke. The stacks of the library are quite desolate and it would be easy for anyone to do pretty much anything there even to this day and not get caught.

    I'm also glad you liked the articles. If you come across any other original information like that elsewhere, let me know and I'll post it. Those were all the relevant local newspaper articles I could find about the case.

    Regards,

    Derek

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    372
    A couple of things to mention here. First, wearing a dress to school back in 1969 was the norm. Most girls didn't wear jeans on campus, even if permitted to do so at that time. What really stands out to me is that she didn't let out a scream, a moan, nothing. It stands to reason IF she saw it coming, she would have made some sort of sound or movement. To my way of thinking, she had to have known her killer, she had to have trusted this person enough so that if he said, "Close your eyes and don't peek, I have a surprise for you." she would have done so. And that's why there was no noise, no attempt to flee...she didn't see it coming. But who?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    182
    I wonder if the perp wold come back and if the library now has cameras. I would think that most would have at least a camera near the entrances?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    The second composite looks similar to the latest composite.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Phoenixville, PA
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    Sounds like there were two people involved:

    Around the same time, assistant stacks supervisor Dean Brungart walked through the core, saw Aardsma in an aisle, and then saw two men skulking nearby.
    {snip}
    Less than a minute later two men emerged from the core. One was a man in his early 20s with trim-cut brown hair, some six feet tall and about 185 lbs. He was wearing tan khakis and a light jacket.
    “ Somebody better help that girl,” he blurted out.

    Another male witness nearby confirmed hearing those words and turned to see the men talking to the girl. She then stood up and followed them back into the core. If she ever got a good look at the second man, police never made it clear. At the fourth aisle, the two men pointed out Aardsma lying on the floor among scattered books and walked on, saying they would find help.

    Read the whole article here

    Also -

    "Shortly before Thanksgiving, she had accepted Wright’s marriage proposal and the announcement was to be made official over the Christmas holiday."


    She was recently engaged. I think the killer was likely a fellow student who was interested in her and she had rejected his advances. Maybe her getting engaged sent him over the edge. The second person could have been a friend of his he enlisted to help. (One of them could have distracted her, covered her mouth, or held her down - while the other did the stabbing) Maybe one of them - the one who did the actual stabbing - attended the medical school. As was stated earlier, it was likely someone with knowledge of the human body - he knew exactly what he was doing. It was also mentioned in the article above as well as this one that there were several students from the English class at the library that day working on research projects. Perhaps one of them was in her class and knew she would be at the library.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Stella View Post
    A couple of things to mention here. First, wearing a dress to school back in 1969 was the norm. Most girls didn't wear jeans on campus, even if permitted to do so at that time. What really stands out to me is that she didn't let out a scream, a moan, nothing. It stands to reason IF she saw it coming, she would have made some sort of sound or movement. To my way of thinking, she had to have known her killer, she had to have trusted this person enough so that if he said, "Close your eyes and don't peek, I have a surprise for you." she would have done so. And that's why there was no noise, no attempt to flee...she didn't see it coming. But who?
    It's possible she was just talking to someone and they grabbed her...She may have had a split second to react and just been so shocked that she couldn't scream or anything?

    I don't know, it's certainly puzzling, and the lack of willing witnesses, etc., make it even moreso.

    D


  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Hope4Lost View Post
    I wonder if the perp wold come back and if the library now has cameras. I would think that most would have at least a camera near the entrances?
    Was there last weekend...No evidence of cameras or any kind of security measures at all. Surprising, really...And with the volume of people in and out, even a camera at the entrance would not definitively identify a person intent on visiting the scene, which is deep in the heart of the library's core.

    D

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Gina_M View Post
    She was recently engaged. I think the killer was likely a fellow student who was interested in her and she had rejected his advances. Maybe her getting engaged sent him over the edge. The second person could have been a friend of his he enlisted to help. (One of them could have distracted her, covered her mouth, or held her down - while the other did the stabbing) Maybe one of them - the one who did the actual stabbing - attended the medical school. As was stated earlier, it was likely someone with knowledge of the human body - he knew exactly what he was doing. It was also mentioned in the article above as well as this one that there were several students from the English class at the library that day working on research projects. Perhaps one of them was in her class and knew she would be at the library.
    It would either have had to be a classmate, or at random, or else someone who knew she would be at the library -- because she was scheduled to be on break, there was no reason for her to necessarily have been at the library at all. So there would have to be a meeting planned in advance, or someone looking for an opportunity and she was in the wrong place, or else a classmate who happened to see her there.

    Regards,

    D

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Ohio
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehorn View Post
    Thanks for the feedback, and the insight. I'm glad you liked the website. I created it to dispel some of the inaccuracies I was seeing in other web-based resources about the case, and also of course as a way to try to scare up new information.

    I've done a bit of digging on this. I actually have two possible suspects who I am searching for more information on. One was allegedly reported to police back at the time, and the other was never reported. I need a name for both to help further the investigation.

    The first suspect that was reported was very interesting, apparently he was PO'd at the college. He also knew Betsy so it plays to motive that he would consider it a big "FU!" to the college by killing someone in their library, then escaping. He admitted to my contact that he was at the library that day.

    I've been in contact with the State Trooper in charge of the investigation, and he seems like a decent guy, despite being 6th or 7th investigator on the case, so he really has no link to the original investigation.

    My worry is that police have no "hold back" here; the murder weapon was never found, there was no struggle so no DNA/fingernail evidence, and the two best possible witnesses have never been located or come forward. There were as far as I know no fingerprints, and I have been to the scene of the crime -- it is old asbestos 9x9 floor tile, so no possibility of any footprint evidence at the scene.

    D
    I agree with Gina...I believe there were two people involved. Of the two possible suspects you mentioned, do you know or can you say if either of them were one of the two who were seen leaving almost immediately after the girl found Betsy? One of them said someone should help that girl. That was very odd. They seemed almost nonchalant about the whole thing. In one of the articles I read it said another student chased them but couldn't catch up with them. Also, one of the former State Trooper's in charge of the case, Sally Brown, wouldn't let the guy who wrote several of those articles you included on your website see the case file. Do you think the current State Trooper would let you or someone else either investigating the case or writing about it see the file?

    I also believe she probably knew her killer and really didn't have time to react or scream because it happened so fast. It was strange though that the girl who found her (I think it was her) said she heard a scream or a cry, and everyone else who was there said they heard nothing.

    I have a subscription to NewspaperArchives.com. I'll have to look this weekend and see if I can find any other relevant news articles other than what you have posted on your website, although those articles are very good. I don't think I'll find any more that give much more new info but I'll look. It's just such a shame that there was no weapon found and no DNA or fingerprints or ANYTHING useful that could have assisted in the investigation. But from what I read, the police really couldn't investigate much in the beginning because no one knew until she was at the hospital some 30 minutes later that she had been stabbed.
    Please Help Find Brian Shaffer!



    www.findbrianshaffer.com

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by liz325 View Post
    In one of the articles I read it said another student chased them but couldn't catch up with them. Also, one of the former State Trooper's in charge of the case, Sally Brown, wouldn't let the guy who wrote several of those articles you included on your website see the case file. Do you think the current State Trooper would let you or someone else either investigating the case or writing about it see the file?

    I have a subscription to NewspaperArchives.com. I'll have to look this weekend and see if I can find any other relevant news articles other than what you have posted on your website, although those articles are very good. I don't think I'll find any more that give much more new info but I'll look. It's just such a shame that there was no weapon found and no DNA or fingerprints or ANYTHING useful that could have assisted in the investigation. But from what I read, the police really couldn't investigate much in the beginning because no one knew until she was at the hospital some 30 minutes later that she had been stabbed.
    The two guys seen and described were never located. The best I can say is that one of my suspects placed himself in the library on that day in a conversation later with someone I questioned. I haven't seen a picture of him or met him personally, and I don't even know his name at this point, but I can't say for sure if he was/was not one of those two guys.

    I haven't asked the State Trooper in charge currently if I could see the file...I'm kind of working up to that, but I didn't want to come out of the blue and ask, because that's the best way to get a "NO" for an answer.

    I did think it was interesting that one was chased by another student. I had never read that until I found that article.

    Wish I had more info for you.

    Regards,

    D

  15. #15
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    About the cameras, this article does state: "By 1994, it had been years since police investigated the library for clues—years since they set up hidden cameras in the stacks2 in search for a killer."

    Which makes me wonder, when the killer (or whoever) set up that shrine on the 25th anniversary, wouldn't it have been caught on camera?

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