Murder of Betsy Aardsma

Betsy Ruth Aardsma (July 11, 1947 – November 28, 1969) was a 22-year-old American graduate student who was murdered in the “Stacks” area of Pattee Library at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania in November, 1969. Her murder remains unsolved.

Background

Aardsma was the second of four children born in Holland, Michigan to Esther and Richard Aardsma. She attended Holland High School where she graduated with honors. Aardsma then enrolled at the University of Michigan where she studied art and English. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Pennsylvania State University. At the time of her death, she was “unofficially engaged” to a Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center student named Richard Haefner.

Murder

Aardsma was in the library on November 28, 1969, doing research for a paper. At some point between 4:45 p.m. and 4:55 p.m. she was stabbed a single time through the left breast with a knife, severing her pulmonary artery and piercing the right ventricle of her heart. Police believe Aardsma was most likely attacked from behind, as her hands bore no defensive wounds. Following the stabbing, Aardsma slumped to the ground. Approximately one or two minutes later, one or two men exited the central region of the library, telling a desk clerk that “Somebody better help that girl” as they left. The man or men who spoke to the desk clerk have never been identified. Bystanders rendered first aid, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to Aardsma and a call was placed to the campus hospital, the Ritenour Health Center, at 5:01 PM. By 5:19 PM, an ambulance had transported Aardsma to the Health Center, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

After Aardsma was stabbed, the wound produced only a small amount of visible blood. Also, Aardsma was wearing a red dress at the time. As result of these two facts, the first responders thought that perhaps she had experienced a seizure or some other medical ailment. It was not until Aardsma was examined at the Health Center that anyone realized that she had been stabbed.

The murder of Betsy Aardsma has remained unsolved for 48 years as of April 3, 2018 and the Pennsylvania State Police are still actively seeking information on the case.