Murder of Betty Van Patter

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Betty Van Patter (c.1932 – December 13, 1974) was a bookkeeper for the Black Panther Party who was beaten and killed in a crime which has never been solved.[1][2]


After serving as a bookkeeper for Ramparts magazine, Van Patter became an aide to Panther leader Elaine Brown in 1974, after being introduced to the Party by Horowitz, David.[3]

Van Patter went missing on December 13, 1974. Some weeks later, her severely beaten corpse was found on a San Francisco Bay beach. There was insufficient evidence for police to charge anyone with van Patter's death but the Black Panther Party was “almost universally believed to be responsible.”[4] Christopher Hitchens wrote in the Los Angeles Times that: “There is no doubt now, and there was precious little then, of the Panther leadership's complicity in this revolting crime”.[5]


  1. ^ Coleman, Kate (June 22, 2003). "Just a Pack of Predators". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ Bender, Kristin (January 15, 2007). "Mother's slaying fuels daughter's devotion". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved July 27, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Who killed Betty Van Patter?", December 13, 1999; accessed March 15, 2015.
  4. ^ ""The Strange Journey of David Horowitz", Mother Jones Magazine, May 1987, p. 34 (on Google books)
  5. ^ Hitchen, Christopher, "Left-leaving, left-leaning", Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2003.