Murder of Betty Van Patter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Betty Van Patter)
Jump to: navigation, search

Betty Louise Van Patter (October 12, 1929 – December 13, 1974 or January 17, 1975 [on gravestone]),[1] born Betty Louise Floyd,[2] was a bookkeeper who worked for the Black Panther Party . She was found beaten and murdered. While no one was ever charged for the crime, many believe it was committed by members of the party. She had threatened to make public her discovery that the party doctored its books and had major tax problems.[3][4]


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 David Horowitz.[5]

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,” as journalist Frank Browning wrote in 1987.[6] 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”.[7] FBI files investigating van Patter, likely inquiring into her death, have been destroyed.[8]

“While it was true that I had come to dislike Betty Van Patter, I had fired her, not killed her,” Brown wrote in 1993. Brown said Van Patter was fired because she was too nosy about the Black Panther Party and was of no benefit to the party.[4]


  1. ^, U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], retrieved April 26, 2017 
  2. ^, California Birth Index, 1905-1995 [database on-line], retrieved April 26, 2017 
  3. ^ Coleman, Kate (June 22, 2003). "Just a Pack of Predators". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Bender, Kristin (January 15, 2007). "Mother's slaying fuels daughter's devotion". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved July 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Who killed Betty Van Patter?", December 13, 1999; accessed March 15, 2015.
  6. ^ "The Strange Journey of David Horowitz", Mother Jones Magazine, May 1987, p. 34 (on Google books)
  7. ^ "Left-leaving, left-leaning", Christopher Hitchens, Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2003.
  8. ^ Leighton, Jared, Betty Louise Van Patter, retrieved April 26, 2017