Death 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.


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.[1]

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.”[2] 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”.[3]


  1. ^ "Who killed Betty Van Patter?", December 13, 1999; accessed March 15, 2015.
  2. ^ ""The Strange Journey of David Horowitz", Mother Jones Magazine, May 1987, p. 34 (on Google books)
  3. ^ Hitchen, Christopher, "Left-leaving, left-leaning", Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2003.