Murder of Betsy Aardsma

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Betsy Aardsma
Betsy Aardsma1.jpg
School yearbook photograph of Betsy Aardsma
Born Betsy Ruth Aardsma
(1947-07-11)July 11, 1947
Holland, Michigan, U.S.
Died November 28, 1969(1969-11-28) (aged 22)
University Park, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Cause of death Stab wound to the chest
Resting place Pilgrim Home Cemetery
Education Holland High School
Alma mater University of Michigan
Pennsylvania State University
Occupation Graduate student
Home town Holland, Michigan

Betsy Ruth Aardsma[1] (July 11, 1947 – November 28, 1969) was a 22-year-old American graduate student who was murdered in the "Stacks" area of Pattee Library at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania in November, 1969. Her murder remains officially unsolved.


Aardsma was the second of four children[2] born in Holland, Michigan to Esther and Richard Aardsma.[1] She attended Holland High School where she graduated with honors. Aardsma then enrolled at the University of Michigan where she studied art and English. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Pennsylvania State University. At the time of her death, she was "unofficially engaged" to a Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center student named David Wright.[3][4]


Aardsma was in the library on November 28, 1969, doing research for a paper. At some point between 4:45 p.m. and 4:55 p.m. she was stabbed a single time through the left breast with a knife, severing her pulmonary artery and piercing the right ventricle of her heart. Police believe Aardsma was most likely attacked from behind,[5] as her hands bore no defensive wounds. Following the stabbing, Aardsma slumped to the ground. Approximately one or two minutes later, one or two men exited the central region of the library, telling a desk clerk that "Somebody better help that girl" as they left. The man or men who spoke to the desk clerk have never been identified. Bystanders rendered first aid, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to Aardsma[6] and a call was placed to the campus hospital, the Ritenour Health Center, at 5:01 PM. By 5:19 PM, an ambulance[6] had transported Aardsma to the Health Center, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.[3]

After Aardsma was stabbed, the wound produced only a small amount of visible blood. Also, Aardsma was wearing a red dress at the time. As result of these two facts, the first responders thought that perhaps she had experienced a seizure or some other medical ailment. It was not until Aardsma was examined at the Health Center that anyone realized that she had been stabbed.

The murder of Betsy Aardsma has remained unsolved for 48 years as of July 13, 2018 and the Pennsylvania State Police are still actively seeking information on the case.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Anthony, Ted (June 23, 1957). "Penn State murder a mystery 20 years later". The Pittsburgh Press. p. A14. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  2. ^ The Partiot News Dec. 7, 2008
  3. ^ a b "Penn State Girl's Death Probed". The Pittsburgh Press. November 29, 1969. p. 2. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Oct. 31, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Cries for Help go Unheeded". Daily Collegian. 1969-12-02. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  7. ^ "Decades later, Penn State library slaying unsolved". Chicago Tribune. 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2008-08-07. [permanent dead link]

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