Betty Van Patter (c.1932 – December 13, 1974) was a bookkeeper who was beaten and murdered by members of the Black Panther Party. She had threatened to make public her discovery that the party doctored its books and had major tax problems.
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.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”.
“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.