Mystery Of Stacks Murder Continues As Anniversary Nears
Happy Valley usually lives up to its namesake with football games, parties, and good times all around, but there’s one dark mystery that still haunts this place to this day.
Betsy Ruth Aardsma was stabbed to death in the Pattee Library on November 28 1969 and as the 40th anniversary of the murder approaches, her killer remains unknown. The mystery surrounding the murder would be enough to conjure up a “CSI:Penn State” episode that would send chills down your spine. The story goes something like this:
*After taking a bus back to school from seeing her boyfriend, the 22-year-old Aardsma decided to head to the library to finish an English paper that was due. She headed to the level two Core stacks at Pattee Library around 4:30pm
*Somewhere between 4:45pm and 4:55pm, Aardsma was stabbed a single time through the heart with a knife and staggered to the end of the row, knocking books over before she collapsed on the floor. Several minutes after, one or two men were seen leaving the Core reportedly telling the desk clerk “Somebody better help that girl.”
*At 5:19, Aardsma was taken to the hospital were she was pronounced dead.
Aardsma was wearing a red dress when she was killed, hiding what little blood there was from the stabbing and leading those who came to her aid to believe that she had suffered from a seizure. A counter at the library entrance showed that there were 3,219 people who came and went from the building that day. No murder weapon was ever recovered.
To this day, despite thousands of police interviews, the killer has never been caught.
George Keibler, now 78, was one of the 40 original state troopers who worked the case and has said “The whole library was a den of perverts” and filled with strange activity. “There were lots of people there who were screwed-up” Keibler has said, “You had people on LSD, you had people going there for sex. There are as many theories as you can ever imagine.” It was also reported the police found a porno-mag close to the scene and semen residue on the floor and books.
Recently, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Leigh Barrows remains the lone State Trooper who investigates the case; she keeps a picture of Aardsma on her desk next to her own daughter. She is still calling people and still trying to track down suspects. She says she won’t give up.
A wide range of endless suspects has come up in past years, including Ted Bundy, the Zodiac, English professors, Vietnam vets, and the list goes on and on. It was reported that a letter was sent to campus police from Atlanta in the 1970’s that read “You never did catch the guy who killed that [expletive] in the library,” but it never lead to anything.
All of this, and people’s wild imagination, has contributed to making the Aardsma murder in the stacks a full-fledged Urban legend at Penn State. Students still report seeing the girl’s ghost in the library, wearing her red dress and everything. Halloween also adds fuel to the fire every year as students constantly pull pranks like leaving notes and candles at the spot of the murder.
This is going to be interesting with finals coming up right around the murder anniversary. All I know is that it’s going to be a hell of a time trying to concentrate with the pages of all the books sticking together and Betsy Aardsma’s ghost drifting in and out of the stacks.
The mystery continues.
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About the Author
For more than a decade, the Penn State Bakery has provided the Nittany Lion Inn with a massive, display-only gingerbread house during the holidays. This year’s design features about 50 pounds of dough and 100 pounds of icing.
The menorah, which is valued at about $1,800, was returned, but was damaged, according to the complaints.
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