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Thread: PA - Betsy Aardsma, 22, murdered at Penn State University, Nov 1969 - #2

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    PA - Betsy Aardsma, 22, murdered at Penn State University, Nov 1969 - #2

    Please continue here.

    Link to thread #1:
    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...=63523&page=32
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    Thank you.

    They just solved a 1968 murder in Philadelphia, so there is hope.

    http://cbs3.com/local/Candice.Clothi...2.1570298.html


    What happened to former Centre County DA Ray Gricar?

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    Does anyone have the tools, to put glasses on frank, like the ones in the composite photo.?
    Frank Hohimer...Comparisons? The hair, shape of face, but its the eyebrows , the uniqueness of them, that intrigues me


    Frank Hohimer suspect in valerie percy murder Sept 18,1966

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    Richard Macek
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    [21 September 1952–1 July 1976]

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  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by :+:MrTT:+: View Post
    Richard Macek
    We're working on some new information for an upcoming article. All I can say at this time are that there is some new information which has been developed may change the face of this investigation yet again.

    And photos of a suspect who fits not only the composites, but was there at the time, unlike the Zodiac Killer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehorn View Post
    We're working on some new information for an upcoming article. All I can say at this time are that there is some new information which has been developed may change the face of this investigation yet again.

    And photos of a suspect who fits not only the composites, but was there at the time, unlike the Zodiac Killer.
    Yay! I'm so excited now! Thanks for the update, littlehorn! Considering I this was a little over 8 years before I was born, I don't know why the case intrigues me so much. I don't think I've ever posted as I have nothing valuable to add but I'm elated there is new info!

  9. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TrishyPA View Post
    Yay! I'm so excited now! Thanks for the update, littlehorn! Considering I this was a little over 8 years before I was born, I don't know why the case intrigues me so much. I don't think I've ever posted as I have nothing valuable to add but I'm elated there is new info!
    While I can say that a lot of the evidence is circumstantial, there is a pretty strong case for what we have developed. I've spent hours on the phone with acquaintances, former colleagues, etc., and this guy feels like the most likely person to have done it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehorn View Post
    While I can say that a lot of the evidence is circumstantial, there is a pretty strong case for what we have developed. I've spent hours on the phone with acquaintances, former colleagues, etc., and this guy feels like the most likely person to have done it.
    Wow! That's great, littlehorn...please let us know of any new developments, and also when the article is coming out. Thanks!

  12. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Cambria View Post
    Wow! That's great, littlehorn...please let us know of any new developments, and also when the article is coming out. Thanks!
    Will do. Does anyone know of any newspapers or magazines that do cold case articles? Any information that we can disseminate nationally or even regionally is helpful, whether we submit an article to them, or they do one on the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehorn View Post
    We're working on some new information for an upcoming article. All I can say at this time are that there is some new information which has been developed may change the face of this investigation yet again.

    And photos of a suspect who fits not only the composites, but was there at the time, unlike the Zodiac Killer.
    Look forward to hearing more on this

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    I just learned of this case a couple days ago. That alone is as fascinating to me as the case, since I spent a good part of my childhood in State College, PA and not only has my father been teaching English at Penn State for over 41 yrs, he is Dr. Nicholas Joukovsky. Maybe I was better off to have never felt a danger as I recall navigating those hallways as a little girl, trying to find Dad's office and drag him away from his work at dinnertime.

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  16. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Queenpin2001 View Post
    I just learned of this case a couple days ago. That alone is as fascinating to me as the case, since I spent a good part of my childhood in State College, PA and not only has my father been teaching English at Penn State for over 41 yrs, he is Dr. Nicholas Joukovsky. Maybe I was better off to have never felt a danger as I recall navigating those hallways as a little girl, trying to find Dad's office and drag him away from his work at dinnertime.
    It is good to hear from you! Hope you will share your theories with the group here. I look forward to talking with you more in the future as well. Very interesting stuff.

  17. #13
    Found this and thought I should re-post it. The State College Magazine site has taken this down.

    Centre1969 Betsy Aardsma Unsolved
    In 1969, a graduate student named Betsy Aardsma was doing research for an English class in the Pattee stacks when she was murdered. To this day, the mystery remains unsolved.
    "I spoke to the police, and they're still actively investigating," Buell said. "They won't open the file to the public because they say it's an ongoing case."
    Buell said the library staff is not comfortable discussing the incident.
    "The library is kind of shady about the whole thing," Buell said. "They want to keep it hush. They don't like to talk about it."
    Retired pathologist Dr. Thomas Magnani studied the tape recorder on his breakfast room table as though hoping it might give him the answers he wanted. Staring blankly, his mind seemed far away. "It was such a shame," he said as I asked him to revisit the image of a 22-year-old girl, lying cold and motionless on an autopsy table in a Bellefonte hospital 30 years ago. It was the first time that Magnani had seen Betsy Ruth Aardsma, and the image has endured in his memory. The only evidence that she had been murdered was a puncture wound in the center of her chest shaped like a long, slender raindrop. "She was beautiful, absolutely beautiful," he added. "Such a shame...." The autopsy lasted until well after midnight. By the early hours of Nov. 29, 1969, Magnani had found all he could to determine the cause of death. He ruled it a homicide.

    The wound appeared to be the result of a single-edged knife. Because the blade penetrated the sternum, Magnani figured that the knife not only had to be fairly solid, but also that the person wielding the weapon had to put considerable strength behind it. "The blade went through the heart and scratched the tissue behind it," Magnani explained. "So take the width of your average young woman and you've got an approximate length of the murder weapon." That length comes to almost four inches, about the size of a hunting knife.

    Before I left, Magnani offered one last detail. "There was one thing that has puzzled me about the whole thing ever since: I could never understand why this girl on a normal Friday afternoon was wearing her Sunday-best clothes."
    The clothes. Newspapers of the time mentioned that Betsy Aardsma was wearing a red dress. As I left Magnani's house, I noticed that the onset of autumn had caused the trees to turn shades of a similar color. Who murdered this girl who, like me, was a Penn State student? And why was she murdered in the stacks of Pattee Library? I found myself more and more involved in a mystery that had remained unsolved for 30 years-a mystery that the Pennsyvlania State Police had compiled in a still-classified 1,300 page file. It seemed ridiculous that they had never named one suspect or established a motive. And since Trooper Sally Brown, who is currently in charge of the investigation, made it quite clear that I would never see the case file, I decided to find out as much as I could about the mystery myself.

    Surprisingly, no one had ever bothered to question Magnani about his involvement in the case. His autopsy report was apparently enough. The Centre Daily Times and Daily Collegian had directed all their questions to the coroner, Robert Neff, whose only connection to the murder was to order the autopsy from Magnani. The more I learned, however, the less surprised I became. The newspapers, it turned out, had overlooked a great deal in their coverage of the Aardsma murder.

    Perhaps it was intentional. The fact that this is the biggest murder in Penn State history is not something the university would like in public circles. But the legacy continues. No one will ever be able to wash the memories away completely. Even today, freshmen are told about the girl who was killed in the library. The story, according to faculty in the English department where Betsy Aardsma was enrolled, has become campus legend.

    "Who's Betsy Aardsma?" a student working in the library archives asked his supervisor some weeks ago as I sat nearby reading old newspaper clippings. "She's a girl that went to Penn State years ago," came the reply. "She was killed in the library by some psycho."

    A psycho? It's dismissive to call him a psycho. This was not the act of a lunatic. The timing of the attack, the place, the precision-all point to a cool and calculating murderer whose only objective that November afternoon was to kill Betsy Aardsma.

    Walk through the stacks of Pattee library and you will find a lonely and silent place. The area where Aardsma was killed is known as the level 2 core. Old hardcover books on history and poetry clutter the shelves. The flicker of the electric lights are the only light in the windowless area. Thirty years ago it was no different.

    Only two rows from the adjoining room known as the yellow area, Betsy Aardsma was found dead. Her attacker was probably taller than she, evidenced by the downward angle of Aardsma's wound. And the murder was almost certainly a man because of the sheer strength that's needed to sink a knife through bone. The rupture caused massive hemorrhaging in Aardsma's body. Shock was immediate, but death would not follow for one, long minute. What she saw during that minute has haunted me for the two years that I've studied the case. Magnani says that she was in shock, but her senses functioned. He thinks she saw her attacker. He also thinks she may have recognized him.
    On Nov. 28, 1969, the day of the murder, state police found themselves in an overwhelming situation. Normally, it was not unusual to see more than a thousand students in Pattee. Although the murder occurred around Thanksgiving and many of the students were gone for break, there were still hundreds of students in Pattee Library at the time, and the police found the task of locating them all impossible.

    Lieutenant William Kimmel headed the investigation, working with Sergeant Daniel Brody. Within days of the murder, a large temporary base was established in Boucke building on campus, with more than 15 state troopers working on the case. For the Rockview police, 72 hours came and went without any answers, despite the fact that over 650 staff and students had been in the library that afternoon, and more than 85 of them had been questioned by Dec. 1. Days turned into weeks and the investigation continued, but police ran out of leads. They had found no murder weapon, no motive and no suspects. Not even the $25,000 reward posted by the university succeeded in eliciting any valuable information.

    Through the newspapers, police continued to ask the public to come forward if they knew anything about Betsy Aardsma, no matter how insignificant. The facts were scattered and, at times, erroneous. "In a pool of blood" became a typical description of how she was found. In reality there had been so little visible blood that the first people on the scene-including a paramedic who transported Aardsma's body to the campus hospital in Ritenour Building-thought the girl had suffered nothing more than a seizure.

    When Kimmel was asked about a motive, he speculated that the attack could have been unprovoked and perpetrated by a stranger. He told the public he wasn't overlooking any possibilities. But perhaps he was not looking closely enough at the evidence he already had?
    Magnani's autopsy revealed no sexual abuse. "There was nothing under her fingernails, no bruises anywhere on her body that suggested a struggle of any kind," he said. It is clear that the death was no accident. Whoever the murderer was, his style indicated that he wanted her dead. "The guy knew what he was doing," Magnani pointed out. In a homicide, the lack of a struggle is suspicious because it indicates that the victim was possibly killed by someone the victim knew.

    In Aardsma's case that still left many suspects. According to her sister Carole, Betsy Aardsma was very popular and had many acquaintances. Police spoke with Aardsma's family and examined all of her correspondence. Despite later rumors that Aardsma posed nude for Penn State's art department, the police found no evidence that she was anything but a regular student.

    Aardsma did not come to Pennsylvania alone. She was engaged to David Wright who studied at Penn State's Milton Hershey School of Medicine. He had given her a ring several months before the murder. Police questioned him extensively, but Wright presented them with a solid alibi.

    Judging from the autopsy, Magnani thinks the murderer was familiar with the anatomy of the human body. The attack had been swift and precise. The only sounds heard by witnesses were of books falling, presumably as Aardsma fell to the floor. One of the witnesses was the anonymous girl who later found Aardsma in the so-called pool of blood. She also claimed to have heard a scream, although this contradicted the reports of an assistant stacks supervisor who heard books falling through a ventilator shaft open to level 3, but never reported hearing a cry.

    Police knew that Aardsma was killed at some point after 4:30 p.m. At 4:45 p.m., the anonymous girl was raised from her research by two young men emerging from the core. One of them looked at her and said, "Somebody better help that girl." The young woman followed them back into the stacks, but when they approached the row where Aardsma lay, they continued on, mumbling they would get help. They were never seen again.

    The girl, who recognized Aardsma because they had been classmates in English 501, was left alone. The second person on the scene was another girl who had been in the English 501 class with Aardsma. She went for help.
    Although nobody seemed to make anything of it at the time, I thought it was strange that the first two people on the scene were from Aardsma's English 501 class. I tracked down Nicholas Joukovsky, who co-taught the class with Harrison Meserole and still teaches at Penn State, and asked him whether it was a coincidence. "Not really," he told me. "Many of the students in the library at the time were from the 501 class."

    According to Joukovsky, he and Meserole had extended office hours that day for students to come and discuss their research projects. What he was telling me then, was that on Nov. 28, Betsy Aardsma was surrounded by people she knew. The fact that these students were mingling around the core was not peculiar because the stacks in that area were filled with possible topics for the projects, which focused on the introduction to research.

    Moreover, and much to my surprise, Meserole's office was only one floor away from the murder scene at the entrance to level 1, Room 2 Pattee, where students waited in line to see him. If it isn't so ironic that the two people to help her were fellow classmates, then there may be no irony at all to think that her killer was also in the class.
    This past fall, Joukovsky pulled his file on English 501 and scanned the attendance sheet. He was surprised to remember how large the class had been. More than 40 students had finished the class. "Some of the names I remember, and some I don't," he said with some frustration.

    Joukovsky had been shocked by the news of Aardsma's murder. He had seen her less than an hour before she was killed. "I had told her that I was interested in a book she had used for her first assignment," he said. "She told me that she was going to the library anyway and that she'd get it, so I was half-expecting to see her again that afternoon."
    According to reports from Aardsma's roommate, Sharon Brandt, the two had left their dorm-room 5 in Atherton Hall-earlier that afternoon. They separated at the library and planned to meet again later in the evening. But neither Brandt nor Joukovsky would see Aardsma again and neither would ever understand why she was murdered.
    Why was Betsy Aardsma murdered? The brutality with which she was slain indicated calculation, not lunacy. What might Aardsma have done to instill murder in someone she knew? Perhaps she had planned to meet someone-someone she cared about enough to wear her best clothes? Perhaps she was having problems with Wright and had decided to tell him that night that she did not want to marry him. Then again, perhaps her commitment to Wright was so strong that she resisted the advances of a fellow student-someone who had known her from class? If he could not have her, then no one would.

    And then there was Robert Durgy. It was no secret in the English department that Durgy, a former assistant professor, was under investigation for the murder. Police began to investigate Durgy when they learned that he had previously worked in Ann Arbor and that he had come to work at Penn State the same time that Aardsma enrolled. Although newspapers dutifully reported that police had no suspects and no motive, by May 1970, Lt. Kimmel was anxiously awaiting information from Michigan. His lead and the result of his investigation are still classified, but the puzzle can be fitted together.

    Before the murder in mid-November, Durgy confided to Professor Michael Begnal, who still teaches English at Penn State, that he could no longer face his students in class. "He seemed under a great deal of stress," Begnal said this past fall when I interviewed him. "He told us he was seeking counseling and we offered to take over his classes until he straightened things out."

    But things did not get better. Around Thanksgiving, Durgy packed his things and traveled back to Michigan with his wife and two children. A few weeks later in December, on a cold evening, Durgy was found mortally wounded after his car smashed into a bridge's median support. No alcohol was in his blood, no skid marks were on the road, and there was no ice anywhere. There was no evidence to suggest how or why Durgy's car had crashed. By the time police questioned Begnal in May about the Durgy/Aardsma connection, they were reaching for straws. Begnal told the police the same thing he told me: "[Durgy] seemed like a nice, ordinary guy. My wife and I would invite him and his wife to dinner sometimes. Our kids would play together." Begnal wouldn't dare to speculate if Durgy had a role in the Aardsma killing, but Kimmel was not easily deterred. He investigated a possible connection between Durgy and the serial killings at Ann Arbor as well as to the death of Betsy Aardsma. But later Kimmel found out that the Ann Arbor killer struck again after Durgy had come to Penn State. The one lead on the case to date was summarily scrapped without a word to the newspapers.

    The temporary office in Boucke closed. The 15 officers in charge of the investigation slowly dwindled to three. Kimmel dutifully continued to ask for witnesses to step forward. As the Durgy lead failed, Kimmel reiterated police's interest in a man and woman that witnesses had seen having a conversation in the core around the time Aardsma was murdered. But the two never came forward, presumably because the woman was Aardsma and the man was her unidentified killer.

    Police were also unable to find the two men who had first emerged from the core at 4:45 p.m. A composite drawing of the man who had said, "Somebody better help that girl" was released in the newspapers. It showed a plain face, with neatly-combed light hair-not much different than every other police composite hanging in post offices. It did not trigger recognition in anyone's memory.

    That drawing became the official composite of the only suspect in the murder in newspaper articles for years afterwards. On Nov. 28, 1989, Ted Anthony at the Daily Collegian attempted to make an interesting connection between Aardsma's killer and Ted Bundy; however, Aardsma's murder was before Bundy's killing spree and didn't have the characteristics of Bundy's trademark bludgeoning style.

    * * * *
    This past October, I walked to room 5 in Atherton Hall, which had been Aardsma's dormroom, and hesitantly knocked on the door. A student answered. I asked him if he knew of a girl named Betsy Aardsma. He narrowed his eyes and said no. "Is this something that my roommate Nick would know about?" he asked. I told him it was doubtful and explained the significance of his room. As I told him about Aardsma's murder and my investigation, the student looked at me as though I was the killer myself.

    Over the years, speculation has risen in conversations around State College. It was rumored that the police knew exactly who murdered Aardsma, but that they did not have sufficient evidence to arrest him. Dr. John Balaban, a former professor at Penn State who now teaches at the University of Miami, was said to have been pondering such theories. When I asked him to tell me what he had discovered, he simply responded, "I never met Aardsma and anything I would add would just be speculation." Perhaps speculation is all we have to solve this mystery. And perhaps the only comfort to Aardsma's family is that even if the killer can escape justice, he can never escape the judgment of God.
    On the other hand, the answer may also lie in Professor Joukovsky's office, in a file labeled "English 501 Fall 1969," among the hazy names on a class roster intermixed with fading memories. ~SCM

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  19. #14
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    Bumping this to the top.

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  21. #15
    Bumping for Betsy...

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  23. #16
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    Anything new on the Aardsma front?

  24. #17
    It's coming. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt now that it wasn't Ted Kaczynski or the Zodiac Killer.

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  26. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehorn View Post
    It's coming. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt now that it wasn't Ted Kaczynski or the Zodiac Killer.
    Look forward to hearing more!

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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehorn View Post
    It's coming. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt now that it wasn't Ted Kaczynski or the Zodiac Killer.
    Soon I hope! Oh, littlehorn, the suspense! Fill us in, please, please, please!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrishyPA View Post
    Soon I hope! Oh, littlehorn, the suspense! Fill us in, please, please, please!
    Ditto...don't keep us in suspense! I know you probably can't say much, but if there are any details you can fill us in on, please do!

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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehorn View Post
    It's coming. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt now that it wasn't Ted Kaczynski or the Zodiac Killer.
    Saw the thread on the top of the page and was hoping Littlehorn had filled us in!!

  31. #22
    Unfortunately I can't say much just yet. But things are happening, and information is coming in. Hopefully in the next month or so I should be able to give a full report.

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  33. #23
    Website is back online.

    We are now: www.whokilledbetsy.org

    Not completely functional yet, but working on it.

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  35. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlehorn View Post
    Website is back online.

    We are now: www.whokilledbetsy.org

    Not completely functional yet, but working on it.
    Glad the website is back up. I took a look and saw you finally named the suspect. As I recall, he was pretty high on the suspect list all along. Wasn't he also thought to possibly be involved in Lindy Biechler's murder? I know that the evidence you all have gathered will come out in time. Once again, thanks for the link to the website. I'm definitely going to stay tuned for more info...you and the others have worked so hard on this. Trooper Barrows really seems to have taken this case to heart!

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  37. #25
    Trooper Barrows has done a great job. Rick Haefner was strange from the beginning (reference the 2009 State College Magazine article where he was outed for the first time, by Sascha and I), and he just kept getting stranger.

    I hope to have the website fully functional by the weekend, although I am not going to put some of the articles, etc., back up, because the focus has changed a bit to be about gathering information on Haefner that could conclusively prove that he did it.

    And yes, Biechler's murder happened not far from his home, but I'm not sure where I stand on his possible involvement in that...

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