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 David Horowitz.[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,” as journalist Frank Browning wrote in 1987.[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.