Betty Louise Van Patter (October 12, 1929 – December 13, 1974 or January 17, 1975 [on gravestone]), born Betty Louise Floyd, 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.
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”. FBI files investigating van Patter, likely inquiring into her death, have been destroyed.
“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.