Betsy Aardsma was a student at Penn State University. She was 22 years old. She was nice and very pretty. People who knew her said she was sensitive and kind. She had a whole life ahead of her. But on November 28, 1969, something terrible happened at the school. The day after Thanksgiving, Betsy was studying in Pattee Library, which is the University’s biggest library. Betsy was standing in aisle 51 among the books when she was attacked out of the blue. She was stabbed in the chest once and died from it.
Bessy Aardsma was a young Penn State student who was ki*lled by a knife in the Pattee Library.
Elizabeth or “Betsy” Her birthday is July 11, 1947, and she was born in Holland, Michigan. It was Esther and Richard Aardsma who raised her. She was the second of four children. Her mom was a stay-at-home mom and dad worked for the Michigan State Treasurer as a sales tax clerk. The Aardsma family lived in a middle-class neighborhood on West 37th Street. People in the area were very religious and had strong conservative views.
Bessy Aardsma was very interested in art and poetry when she was very young. Her views were much more liberal than some of her neighbors’, and she really wanted to help people who were struggling. Betsy enjoyed going to Holland High School and did well in her classes. She got her diploma with honors in 1965.
Betsy went to Hope College right after high school. She wanted to become a doctor. Linda DenBesten lived with her. According to Linda, Betsy was a very smart and feminist young woman. She also called her “a fascinating person.”
Betsy began going to the University of Michigan in 1967. She learned English and art. She lived in an apartment with three other female students while she was there. This is where she met David Wright, her boyfriend. He was in medical school and her first real boyfriend. She got her diploma with honors in the summer of 1969.
Bettsy Aardsma had to make a tough choice after she graduated from the University of Michigan. She thought about going to Africa by joining the Peace Corps. In the end, she chose to go to Penn State (Pennsylvania State University). After Betsy had already signed up, she found out that her boyfriend David Wright was also going to study at Penn State, but in the College of Medicine. David was going to study at the Hershey campus of Penn State, while Betsy was going to study at University Park, which was the main campus in College Township, Pennsylvania. David warned Betsy that he couldn’t promise to stay by her side if she went abroad or if they had to spend a lot of time apart at different campuses.
Betsy began going to Penn State in October 1969. This girl stayed on campus in Atherton Hall with a girl named Sharon Brandt. Sharon remembered that her roommate studied a lot and didn’t do many activities outside of school. On the weekends, she would drive to Hershey to be with her boyfriend.
At that point, Betsy and David Wright had been dating for about a year and were talking about how they wanted to get engaged by Christmas. The fact that they lived 100 miles apart made their relationship hard. Both of them worked hard and wanted to get the best grades possible in school.
Not long before Thanksgiving, Betsy was stressed out because she had to do her English assignment. She was afraid she would get behind. The day before she died, she had spent Thanksgiving with her boyfriend in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It took about an hour and a half to get there from campus. Wright’s roommates and their girlfriends had invited Betsy and him to spend the holiday with them.
Betsy decided to get back to school early because she had to meet with her professor that Friday to write a paper for school. Wright sped On the afternoon of the 27th, Betsy took the bus stop in Harrisburg and went back to Penn State.
Bessy and Sharon, her roommate, had left their dorm on November 28th. After they were done studying that afternoon, the two girls planned to go see a movie that night. It wasn’t clear which movie they would go see—”Take the Money and Run” or “Easy Rider.”
The girls went their separate ways, and at four o’clock, Betsy stopped by to briefly talk to her English teacher, Nicholas Joukovksy. Sixty people had taken his class on British and American literature. Betsy had been researching and writing a paper about it. She told Professor Joukovksy that she would bring him a library book that he had used in class the next time she went there. After that, Betsy went to the Pattee library to work.
Outside of the library, she ran into two friends, Robert Steinberg and Linda Marsa. They talked for a short time. She put her book, purse, and jacket in the chair that had been assigned to her before going into the library. She looked through the card catalog for the exact reference materials she needed for her assignment. At 4:30, she went down to the Level 2 stacks to find them.
In 1969, Betsy Aardsma was k*illed in the “stacks” of Penn State’s Pattee library. The picture comes from Lancaster Online.
There were low ceilings and rows of books on Level 2 of the Pattee Library. The room was dimly lit. The area of the library was called “the stacks” by the students. People knew that part of the library was out of the way, and a lot of students thought the stacks were very creepy. It had dark green bookcases that went from floor to ceiling, dim lighting, and open grates between each floor to let air flow.
When people heard books falling from the shelves around 4:45 PM that afternoon, they knew something bad had happened. Some people heard a scream. When they went over to see what was going on, they saw Betsy lying under a stack of books. At first, people who were nearby didn’t understand how bad things were. They thought Betsy had just passed out. But things were in a much worse state. Someone had stabbed her in the heart on the left side of the breast. Betsy knocked over the books when she fell, which let other people know she was hurt. Someone who works at the library quickly called campus security.
Betsy was dressed in a red dress with no sleeves and a white turtleneck. Because it was cold in November, her clothes were made of thick material. After she was stabbed, the knife mark on her clothes wasn’t found right away. And her white shirt didn’t have much blood on it because of how she was stabbed. She was bleeding inside her body and into her lungs. The paramedics found that Betsy had gone to the bathroom. They thought she had either passed out or had a seizure because of this. That’s why they didn’t treat her wound.
Betsy Aardsma was quickly taken to the student hospital on campus by paramedics. Someone in charge at the campus hospital didn’t see that Betsy was bleeding until she got there. It looked like the two student paramedics were still trying to CPR on her. When they took off her shirt and bra, they saw that they were stained with blood. This is where they found her stab wound. The doctor saw that she had been stabbed in the chest and had bruises around the wound from how hard she had been hit. No one ever found the mur*der weapon. It was too late by that time. It was said that Betsy Aardsma was dead at 5:19 PM.
Mike Simmers was a new police officer in Pennsylvania. He was a police officer who worked undercover at Penn State and also went to college. Simmers’ main job was to stop drug deals on campus and keep the peace at anti-Vietnam War protests. Simmers was called in when Betsy Aardsma was k*illed. He was told it was for a “medical emergency.” Simmers wasn’t ready for the mur*der because he thought someone would have a seizure or pass out. He had no idea that he was responsible for a mur*der.
Simmers went to the Pattee library and was taken by campus security to aisle 51, where Betsy had been picked on. It wasn’t very well lit, and there were still books on the floor. Some of them were stained with something that wasn’t blood, but there wasn’t much blood at the crime scene. Betsy was already on her way to the hospital.
People were walking around the crime scene, which made it dirty, and some people had already started to clean up the mess. Simmers was really confused about what was going on. He was told that Betsy was already in the hospital by the campus police.
He went to the hospital to see the victim, but she was already dead when he got there. At that point, he learned that her de*ath had been ruled a m*urder.
Bettsy had been stabbed once in the left breast, and the person who did it hit her pulmonary artery, Simmers learned from the doctor. It was an inch wide and three inches deep. It was also clear why there wasn’t much or any blood at the crime scene because of how she was hurt.
The body of Betsy Aardsma was autopsied by Dr. Thomas Magnani on November 28 at 11 p.m. This happened at Bellefonte Hospital. By 4 AM on the 29th, he was done. Dr. Magnani found that the single stab wound to her breastbone had ki*lled her. The wound had gone through her heart and severed her pulmonary artery. She began to bleed into her chest because of this. Within five minutes, she had died. Because of how badly she was hurt, she couldn’t scream or call for help because she was nearly drowning in her own blood. He also came to the conclusion that Betsy had not been sexually assaulted.
On her chest, there were signs of petechial bleeding, and near her ear, there were bruises and scrapes that the doctor thought she got when she fell. Dr. Magnani thought that someone with a right hand had stabbed Betsy and that person had been standing in front of her during the attack. That’s also what he came to: Betsy’s attacker had stabbed her in the heart on purpose. Bessy’s hands did not have any defensive wounds.
The police thought she knew the person who hurt her. Because the stacks were so close together, people had to move to the side to let someone else step through. Betsy was being talked to by the front. She didn’t try to scream or shout.
Because Simmers thought he was in over his head, he called for help. The barracks for the state police were about eight miles from the school. The thieves and the state police went back to the library to look at the crime scene again. When Simmers and his team got there, they saw that the whole crime scene had been cleaned up. Someone cleaned the floor and put the books away. The students walked through the area on their way back to class. Also, anyone who might have seen what happened had already left the crime scene and wasn’t being asked about what they saw.
35 troopers from the Pennsylvania State Police were sent to look into Betsy’s de*ath. During the weeks it took them to question hundreds of Penn State students, they used the Boucke Building as a temporary command center. The troopers quickly learned that they had a very big job to do. About 400 people would come and go from the Pattee Library every Friday from 4:30 to 5 PM. But because it was a holiday, only about 90 people came and went during that time. The troopers looked into all of them, but none of them were thought to be suspects. They looked all over campus for the mur*der weapon but couldn’t find it. Someone put up a reward of $25,000 to find and arrest Betsy’s k*iller.
When Simmers and other police officers were able to find some of the witnesses in the library, they asked them what they had seen or heard that day. Most of the witnesses could only remember hearing the books fall from the shelves to the floor. A few could remember hearing a scream, but they couldn’t give them any more information.
For Dean Brungart, who worked as an assistant supervisor in the stacks, Betsy Aardsma was last seen just before she died. “A girl in a red dress standing alone in the aisle,” he had said about her. Another thing Brungart remembered was seeing two men standing in an aisle next to Betsy, close to the west end of the core. They were not making a sound.
Ten minutes after Betsy moved to the aisle, a man named Richard Allen heard a man and a woman talking in that area. He had been making copies on the machine. Even though he couldn’t hear what they were saying, Richard thought they were arguing based on the tone of their voice. Following a few minutes, there was a loud crash, and Richard thought it was a student running straight past him.
Joao Uafinda and Marilee Erdley were two people who saw a man run away from where Betsy had been stabbed. The man was said to be wearing khakis, a sports jacket, and a tie. He had brown hair, glasses, and was about six feet tall and 185 pounds. “Someone better help that girl!” the man yelled. Help that girl!
The man showed the two witnesses where Betsy was lying on the floor of the library. They quickly bent down to see if she was still alive. Uafinda saw that the man had quickly left the area while they were taking care of the young student. He went upstairs with the man and saw that he was in a hurry to leave the library. Uafinda tried to follow the man because he thought he was the one who hurt Betsy, but he couldn’t keep up with him. The last time Uafinda saw the man, he ran off in the direction of the Playground. After that, the police tried to get the unknown man to come forward so they could talk to him, but he never did. We still don’t know who he is.
The man was being chased by Uafinda, but Erdley was still trying to help Betsy. She began to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. At that point, there were a few other people there and a librarian as well. It was 5:01 PM, and someone called the Ritenour Health Center on campus to say that a girl had passed out in the Pattee Library. In just a few minutes, two student paramedics showed up and put Betsy on a gurney. They took her to the Health Center in an ambulance and did CPR on her as they went up the service elevator.
The police had made two sketches of the kil*ler that were put together. The first sketch was made based on Erdley’s description. The descriptions of Uafinda and the library clerk, who both saw the man run away, were used to make the second sketch. They got a good look at the man’s face and worked with the police to make a sketch based on what the witness said. Erdley’s sketch was later shared so that the man could be identified because it was thought that he might have ki*lled Betsy. Uafinda and the library clerk worked together to make the sketch, but it was never shown to the media.
Based on what witnesses said, a sketch drawing of the attacker was made.
Simmers talked about how the police had a few possible suspects but not enough proof to put anyone in jail for Betsy’s m*urder. The state police chose to use UV black light in aisle 51, which is where Betsy had been harmed. They found bodily fluids and semen in the stacks. The police couldn’t tell if any of the semen came from the attack, though, and thought some of it might be days old. Students often hid pornographic magazines in the stacks and used them to spend quality time with their partners.
Also, what looked like blood droplets were found by the police. They thought that the droplets might have come from someone wiping blood off their hands. Even though the blood looked like Betsy’s, the police couldn’t test it for DNA at the time. There wasn’t enough proof to put anyone in jail.
It was thought by the police that Betsy may have died because she saw a sexual encounter in the stacks. They thought it might have been an exhibitionist, a man living out his masturbation fantasies, or a gay encounter. A lot of people at the university didn’t like gay people, and if they were caught having gay relationships, they could be kicked out and get a lot of social rejection from their peers. The police thought Betsy might have known one or both of the men who were in the library together.
The police found one of the desks with a seat pulled backwards a few aisles away from where Betsy had been ki*lled. Along with a half-drunk can of pop, there was a stack of porn magazines from October to November 1969. Some were straight, and some were gay. Some prints were taken from the pop can and put into police databases, but they couldn’t find a match. The porn magazines couldn’t make any fingerprints that would work because they were too dirty.
Porn magazines and sperm were found on the walls, floor, and shelves of the room where Betsy had been ki*lled, as well as between the books. The semen samples were “practically everywhere,” according to one investigator.
The police had ideas about how Betsy was ki*lled. Anything from angry ex-boyfriends to unpaid drug debts (even though her family and friends said she never did drugs and only smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol sometimes). Some people thought she had accidentally seen a drug deal happen in the library and that they had kil*led her to hide the deal. Hundreds of witnesses were questioned (some news reports said the number was in the thousands, but that couldn’t be confirmed). There were many leads in the case that never led anywhere. No one was ever charged with ki*lling Betsy.
A lot of ideas were put forward about how Betsy Aardsma was k*illed. Many of the boys in school had feelings for Betsy because she was such a popular girl. But Betsy was focused on her schoolwork, even though a lot of guys wanted to date her. The police thought that the person who attacked her was someone close to her. It was likely that the person who k*illed her had been interested in her romantically but had been turned down.
Ted Bundy was thought to have ki*lled Betsy, which was another idea. He had k*illed many people, and he had been at Temple University around the time Betsy was ki*lled. The police looked for proof that Betsy had been one of Bundy’s victims but couldn’t find any. Eventually, they ruled out the idea.
For months, Simmers worked on the case of Betsy Aardsma. The fact that Simmers already knew the campus and a lot of the students from working as an undercover agent helped. There were thirty to forty state troopers working on the case, and they had to talk to a lot of Penn University State students. They had to follow up on a number of leads, some of which were in Michigan, which is Betsy’s home state.
There were other people who looked into Betsy’s mur*der besides the Pennsylvania State Police who worked on her case. It was the president of Penn State, Eric Walker, who looked into the mu*rder on his own. In the end, her case went cold. As possible leads dried up, the police eventually cut down on the number of troopers working on her case. The state’s Open Records Act says that no records about Betsy’s mur*der can be seen by anyone. Anyone who knows anything about this case is asked to come forward by the Pennsylvania State Police.
David Wright, Betsy’s boyfriend, had a hard time figuring out why Betsy had been kil*led. Wright thought that his girlfriend’s ki*ller had purposely followed her around campus, even though she had never said that she felt threatened at Penn State. The police had talked to Wright more than once after Betsy’s mu*rder, and he had gone over everything in his head. He couldn’t stop wondering if there were any other options that could have kept Betsy from being k*illed. He thought she might still be alive if he could have persuaded her to stay in Hershey and not go back to Penn State.
This is what David Wright said about Betsy’s choice to go back to Penn State: “I always regret it.” Perhaps it would have happened anyway, but I had finals after Thanksgiving and she had a lot of work to do. She always took the bus down, and that Thursday night she didn’t stay, she went back.
Bessy Aardsma was buried on December 3, 1969. The service for her was open, and she was buried in the Aardsma family plot in the Pilgrim Home Cemetery in Holland. The girl’s boyfriend gave her a single rose. He was very upset about losing her. This was the last letter Betsy ever sent him. It arrived the day after she was ki*lled.
After Betsy was ki*lled, Penn State made a police force for the campus. This had been expected for a long time. The campus had a lot of violent crime, sexual assaults, and protests in the years before she was k*illed. In the past, only campus patrol had dealt with these kinds of problems. It was becoming more and more clear that they needed to take more safety precautions to keep the students safe.
During their investigation, the police had looked into a few possible suspects. William Spencer, who was forty years old, was one of the men they looked into. In Saratoga Springs, New York, he opened Caffe Lena with his first wife. When it opened in May 1960, the café was the first coffee shop in the United States. Folk artists from all over the world had played at open houses at the Caffe Lena.
William Spencer got married again, and this time the couple moved from New York to Pennsylvania. Spencer began teaching sculpture at the college level while his second wife worked on her PhD. After Spencer went to a faculty Christmas party in 1969, the police first became interested in him as a possible suspect. Spencer used the phrase “having ki*lled that girl in the library” during the party. The police formally questioned him not long after the party.
Spencer told the police that he met Betsy Aardsma not long after moving to the area and that they became friends. So she could make extra money, he said, Betsy had posed naked for his sculpture classes. He told the police that he had been in the stacks on the day Betsy was kil*led. He saw the person who kil*led her leave the scene of the crime, and Spencer told them about the man and the big coat he was wearing that night. Spencer told the police that he could make a bust of the man he saw at the library to help them figure out who k*illed the man. After that, he took the finished sculpture to the police station.
When the police looked into William Spencer’s life, though, they quickly started to doubt his story. Since Spencer and his wife had only moved to the area a few weeks before the mu*rder, they didn’t think he would have had enough time to become friends with Betsy so quickly. He told the police that Betsy was posing as a naked model, but that story could never be proven because Betsy was always described as a modest woman. They chose not to believe his story. This was especially true since all of Spencer’s college classes used naked models who came from Philadelphia.
A man named Larry Maurer was another person the police looked into. Betsy had been in the same class as him. Before she died, they sometimes went out for coffee. Betsy and Larry Maurer were known to not have a bad attitude towards each other. The police quickly cleared him after a polygraph test.
There was no way that Larry Maurer could have been the man seen leaving the library. Maurer didn’t have glasses on and was blonde. One of the stacks witnesses had been in the same class as Maurer and would have been able to tell him was the kil*ler if it had been him.
‘Mu*rder in the Stacks: Penn State, Betsy Aardsma, and the K*iller Who Got Away’ was written by David DeKok. He said that Richard Haefner, a graduate student at Penn State, might have ki*lled Betsy. His name was on the list of hundreds of students that the state police talked to after Betsy was k*illed.
Haefner was in Atherton Hall at the time of Aardsma’s mur*der. This hall was across the courtyard from where Betsy Aardsma and her flatmate Sharon lived. People in Haefner’s dorm block didn’t like him. He often acted in strange ways because he had a terrible temper. A lot of rocks and minerals from the university were thought to have been stolen by him.
Richard Haefner was one of the people who might have ki*lled Betsy Aardsma. The picture comes from Lancaster Online.
Haefner was awkward around other people and always wore the same thing: khaki trousers and a sports coat. He also always had his brown hair cut short. The reason Haefner often tried to date women was to hide the fact that he was gay. In 1968, Haefner chose to go from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts so that he could visit a girl’s flat and tell her he loved her. He didn’t know the girl very well, so when he showed up out of the blue, she slammed the door in his face.
Sharon Brandt, Aardsma’s flatmate, told the police a few days after the mur*der that they should look into Richard Haefner. What did she say? She told the police that Betsy and Haefner broke up in October 1969. She broke up with them because she was getting serious with her boyfriend, a medical student from Hershey, Pennsylvania. In the weeks before Betsy died, Haefner went to their flat many times.
In December 1969, the police talked to Haefner. Haefner told the police that he had been seeing Betsy for about a week when they asked him about it. He told the police that he had gone to see Sharon and Betsy at their house at least once before she died, but that they were no longer together. He said that he wasn’t near the library on the night she was k*illed. He said he didn’t know about her de*ath until November 29, one day after she was stabbed.
Haefner said that he ate dinner at the building for the student union on November 28th. It was the first time he had heard that a student had died in the Pattee Library. Not long after learning that it was Betsy, whom he had called his “former girlfriend,” Haefner got very sick. The police asked him about it, and he said that he had never been to the Pattee Library because he only went to the Deike Building to get geology books.
For the first fourteen years, Sergeant George H. Keibler was in charge of the mur*der investigation. In 2010, Keibler talked about the case in an interview with “Lancaster Online.” He said that he knew who Richard Haefner was but that the man had never been thought of as a mu*rder suspect. Even now, the police won’t say that they think Haefner is a suspect in the mur*der. Instead, they’ll only say that they think Haefner may have known more than what he told them when they interviewed him. The identical picture that was made from two witnesses—the library clerk and Uafinda—had never been shown to the media. The picture did, however, look a lot like Haefner. It was also found out later that Haefner changed his whole school schedule after Betsy was ki*lled and studied off-campus for two years.
Both David DeKok and Betsy Aardsma went to the same high school. He was from Holland, Michigan. He had seen Betsy’s picture in the “Holland Evening Sentinel” in November 1969. She was six years younger than him. After reading the article, David was upset to learn that she had been stabbed to de*ath in the library. He had thought she was very pretty.
He chose to write a book about Betsy and the mur*der investigation later on. It was DeKok’s job to write for the “Patriot-News.” For example, he wrote about the 1970 student riots, the civil rights movements, and anti-war protests on campus. These events were important to the time period of his book.
DeKok focused on the fact that the crime scene wasn’t properly locked up. This was a big mistake on the part of the police, because DNA could have been taken from the crime scene before it was cleaned up. Because the police took so long to question everyone, some possible witnesses were not questioned.
DeKok thought Haefner had ki*lled Betsy. Bettsy and Richard Haefner knew each other and had been on a few dates together. Bettsy told Haefner that they should just be friends even though he really liked her. He tried to get together with her romantically, but she said no. After being turned down by Betsy, Haefner chose to talk to his college advisor. In what the advisor called “a disturbing manner,” he started to act in a strange way.
Richard Haefner was one of the people who might have k*illed Betsy. This picture was taken in the 1970s and comes from Lancaster Online.
His birthday is March 13, 1943. In 1961, he graduated from McCaskey High School. In 1965, he graduated from Franklin & Marshall College. Haefner worked at the North Museum while he was at Penn State. People thought he was very smart. He became a geologist after getting his PhD from Penn State University. He taught geology at the University of South Carolina after that. Journals called him an up-and-coming geologist and he gave talks at clubs and colleges on the east coast. Haefner was given the chance to teach at the university and work as a curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.
In 1975, Haefner had a very bad year in school. Two boys had come forward and said Haefner had raped them. The boys had been working in the man’s garage on Nevin Street with Haefner and other people. They would put together “rock boxes” out of rocks and minerals, which Haefner would then sell to the Smithsonian.
Haefner was accused of having a sexual encounter with a twelve-year-old boy that was not voluntary and of abusing the boy’s morals. During the whole thing, Haefner kept saying that he was innocent. He got a lot of people to prove his innocence, but it wasn’t enough. From January 27, 1976, to February 3, 1976, he was shown to a jury. The trial of Haefner was on the front page of the Lancaster newspaper all week. Over the years, the “Lancaster Online” had written about Betsy Aardsma’s case. Some of them wrote about Richard Haefner too. The jury couldn’t decide what to do, so they called the trial a mistrial.
Judge Anthony R. Appel charged Haefner with contempt of court because he spoke before it was his turn during his trial. He told the court that he passed a lie detector test, even though the test had been thrown out. He had to pay a $500 fine and spend one month in county prison. He was let out of jail after two weeks because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said he could do that while he appealed his contempt charge. Haefner won the case on appeal. In March 1979, the Supreme Court said that he could not be tried again because it would be against his constitutional rights to be tried twice for the same crime. In 1981, Haefner’s record was erased.
Even though the courts had found in his favour, Haefner chose to sue many of the people involved in the morals case. He went after the police, the court reporter, the county, the city, and his defence lawyer. George Werner, an attorney from Barley Snyder, Lancaster’s firm, fought for the city and the police department. Cases against Haefner that said his civil rights had been violated were thrown out of court.
When asked about Haefner’s many lawsuits, George Werner said, “The guy was very smart, and he was sure his career was going to be destroyed.” Going after these lawsuits was the only thing he had left, and he really dedicated his life to that.
Haefner was charged with a crime, but the California museum that wanted to hire him lost the lawsuit he filed. He was given $300,000.
People knew Haefner had a terrible temper. During the deposition of a witness, Haefner jumped across a table and tried to wrestle with the witness. He was acting as his own lawyer at the time. That wasn’t the first time his bad mood got him into trouble.
Haefner got in trouble for disorderly conduct in 1981 when he caused a disturbance in the lobby of Lancaster Newspapers. There was trouble at Haefner’s house on Nevin Street in 1994. Assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, hindering apprehension, and aggravated assault were some of the charges he faced when the police arrived. Authorities tried to get into Haefner’s house, but the man refused and instead chose to fight them.
He was in the Milltown, Delaware, Liquor World parking lot in 1998 when a woman came up to him. She saw a dog in a shopping cart and thought it might have been left behind. She was told by Haefner that the dog belonged to him. They fought with each other. After the woman tried to leave and get into her car, Haefner grabbed a bottle and hit the door of her car with it. In order to get his number plate number, the woman followed his car. But this made Haefner even more angry. He pulled her out of her car after going to it. He then attacked her violently, kicking and punching her so hard that she broke several teeth and her jaw was out of place. He was found guilty of assaulting the woman.
When Haefner decided to sue the woman in federal court, he said that he had been the victim and not the aggressor. His story was that the woman had slapped him, not the other way around. The judge threw out the case because it was pointless.
During his 1976 trial, Richard Haefner insisted that he was innocent. However, that wasn’t the only time he was seen with young boys. Haefner took a 13-year-old boy to Chincoteague, Virginia, in 1992. The boy’s mother said that her son was missing, and Haefner was arrested for attempting to take the child from the mom’s care. The charges against Haefner were dropped after the boy’s mother said that he had taken her son to Virginia on several separate trips. The boy went to a group home. It got to the point where Haefner wanted to visit the boy, but staff wouldn’t let him in. Haefner sued a lot of people because he was mad that he could no longer play with the child. Haefner went to court again and defended himself against Christopher Underhill, a lawyer from Lancaster who had already fought him in court several times.
Haefner had a heart attack in the Mojave Desert in 2002 while he was studying some rocks there. He had been alive for 58 years. He passed away in the bathroom of his hospital room. It was found that he died because of a torn aorta that let blood into his lungs. This is the same reason why Betsy Aardsma died.
People who lived next to Haefner were not at all sad when they heard that he had died. Haefner had a terrible relationship with his neighbours. Many of them did not like him at all. They were glad that he was no longer living in their neighbourhood when they heard that he had died. Someone who had lived next door to him for ten years called former mayor Charlie Smithgall to tell him about the man’s de*ath.
Poor Haefner had a short fuse, which made it hard for him to get along with his neighbours. His anger was well-known, and he would lash out at anyone who crossed him. Besides that, he was very angry.
The man’s property was dirty and not in good shape most of the time. In front of his house, there were always metal drums, tarp-covered rock piles, and wrecked cars. Even though many of Haefner’s neighbours were too afraid to tell him directly how bad his property was in condition, some had the guts to tell city officials about the house.
One problem with neighbours complaining was that Haefner would go on a rampage against the neighbour as soon as he found out who had told on him. Haefner would scare them by putting trash all over their neighbours’ porches and even putting a knife through one of their neighbours’ tyres. He would scream and yell at people a lot. Someone had once said that Haefner’s dog was going to the toilet in their yard. When they told him to clean up the mess, he got very angry. He picked up the dog poop with his hands and threw it out the window of their car.
Nobody wrote only David DeKok about Richard Haefner being the possible k*iller in the case of Betsy Aardsma. Sascha Skucek, an English professor at Penn State, wrote in the “State College Magazine” and “The Penn Stater Magazine” that he thought Haefner had ki*lled Betsy Aardsma. For years, Sascha Skucek had been looking into how Betsy was k*illed.
In 2008, Skucek thought Richard Haefner was most likely to have k*illed Betsy. This thought came from talking to Haefner’s professor. Haefner said he didn’t know about his ex-girlfriend’s de*ath until the day after it happened, but Skucek found out that the man wasn’t telling the truth about when he knew about Betsy’s de*ath.
He went to his professor’s house the night Betsy was k*illed. She had been stabbed in the library a few hours before he went over there. He asked the teacher if he had seen the papers or heard about the stabbing while he was there. It was too early for the local papers to have written about the stabbing, so that’s how he could have learned about it. Haefner talked for a long time about the stabbing in the library. The professor told Skucek that Haefner had “talked about being worried about what had happened to this young woman.” The professor didn’t tell the police about Haefner because he thought the man was acting very strangely and that the man might have had something to do with Betsy’s de*ath. As soon as Skucek was done talking to Haefner’s old professor, he was sure that the man was responsible for kil*led Betsy.
Sascha Skucek and Derek Sherwood, who runs the website whoki*lledbetsy.org, had been working together. Bettsy had been ki*lled about ten years before Sherwood was born. He knew about it because he grew up near State College. He thought of his sister when he saw Betsy because she had gone to Penn State. For some reason, Sherwood’s sister was afraid of the stacks and would only go down there when she had to. A lot of students did their best to stay away from the stacks. The ad that Sherwood put online asked for any information about Richard Haefner in exchange for money.
Chris Haefner, an author from Lancaster, saw the ad and chose to answer it. The ‘Sunday News’ got an email from him. He was a cousin of Richard Haefner. He was looking for some of his cousin’s work online. In the 1970s, he worked with Haefner for five years. He also lived next door to his cousin by a block. The Lost Dutchman Gemboree was a local gem and mineral show that Richard ran for more than ten years. Chris Haefner worked as an assistant director for the show.
This made Chris Haefner angry and confused at first when he saw what Sherwood was writing online about his cousin. Chris decided to start looking into the case on his own once he learned that Richard Haefner was thought to have ki*lled Betsy. Chris remembered that his cousin was very smart and had found new minerals in Cedar Hill Quarry (Lancaster County). The US government had also used his knowledge to find copper deposits in the De*ath Valley area.
At the same time, Chris thought about the times he and his cousin had talked and interacted in the past, when he thought that his cousin might have been involved in a mu*rder. As Chris thought back to 1975, he remembered hearing Richard and his mother Ere talking. They were in Richard’s garage on Nevin Street. Ere and Richard had a fight about the molestation charges that Richard was facing. She knew that her son had been accused of molesting a child since 1967. First they talked about what Richard “owed her,” and then they talked about what Richard “did to that girl at Penn State.”
Chris remembered that they hadn’t said Betsy’s name outright, but he did say this to Skucek: “The main point of the conversation was that he had told her something at some point, and she was there to defend him. And then, after everything she had done for him, he went and put everything on the line again.” When Chris thought back, his Aunt Ere had told him, “You might as well k*ill me too, Rick.”
For decades, Chris Haefner hadn’t given the conversation much thought because he didn’t have a name for the Penn State woman they were talking about. He told the “Sunday News” in an email that was why. That being said, Chris Haefner could now understand things better after talking to Skucek. He knew what Betsy Aardsma’s name was now. Chris remembered how Richard kept his cousin close after his cousin found out that Chris had heard what was being said about the Penn State girl (Betsy). Richard probably did this because he didn’t want Chris to say what he had heard.
When his cousin was on trial in 1976, Chris Haefner spoke in his defence. He told them, “He needed to involve me, so he asked me to testify on his behalf to get the case thrown out by putting the blame on the prosecution.” He said that they were paying their witnesses to lie for them. I was only asked to testify that I saw them, which I did, but it didn’t mean anything. He wasn’t telling the truth because he was scared of what I knew.
People who knew Haefner when he was at Penn State told Skucek about him, and he worked with amateur web detectives who ran a website about Betsy’s mur*der. It was agreed upon by both of them that Haefner was the one responsible.
Derek Sherwood said this about the mur*der that hasn’t been solved: “I’d like to think that if there are other people in Lancaster who know anything about this, they’d come forward.” A family has been waiting for answers for 41 years.
Simmers said this about the case: “So many people worked on this case and did everything they could.” But everything came together, and we couldn’t solve her case.
Betsy Aardsma’s murd*er has still not been solved after more than fifty years. A lot of students at Penn University are interested in this case. People think that the murd*er of Betsy Aardsma is one of the most famous mu*rders in Pennsylvania. But Penn State students have learned less about the library mur*der over time. A bit of a campus legend has grown around her. She is known as “the Girl in the Stacks,” and people on campus tell stories about her. Some people say that the young woman haunts that part of the Pattee Library. People still talk about how she might have been k*illed by Ted Bundy, the Zodiac Ki*ller, or another serial kil*ler.
‘It’s been so long, but we don’t want her to be forgotten,’ David DeKok said about the students not knowing about Betsy’s de*ath. That’s why we carry on. We will not give up on getting justice.
Betsy’s family has moved on with their lives and would rather not talk about her de*ath with reporters or do interviews with them. So many years have passed since the mur*der that most of the people who were investigating have either died or retired. Betsy Aardsma has not been treated fairly.
He often thinks about the unsolved mur*der and said, “It’s a case that was so horrible.” “That one still bothers me.” Even though it’s been decades, I still hope it can be solved. For her loved ones. Just for Betsy.