An Eventful Week

1969 11 23 Chicago TicketTwo days before the Stones concert, Chicago came to Penn State and played a concert in Rec Hall. I believe all four of us (Dave, Jon, Carl, and me) attended that concert as well.

To tell the truth, in those days I think I preferred Chicago to the Stones. Chicago had brass instruments as an integral part of the band, and I’ve always loved the sound of brass, although I don’t think Chicago’s music has had the staying power that the Stones has.

I have no recollection of that concert itself other than that I went.

It was Thanksgiving week, so things had slowed down anyway. And on Wednesday pretty much anybody who hadn’t already left the campus was leaving, while presumably I slept in to recover.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and then Friday I spent a good part of the day in the Pattee Library, the main central library on the campus.

I don’t know exactly what I did there that day, but I probably spent some time in the periodicals room, as the library subscribed to a wealth of magazines that I enjoyed reading or just browsing through.

But I definitely remember going into the stacks. Maybe I was searching for a specific book, or maybe I was just browsing among the thousands of books, or maybe I was doing a bit of both.

Towards late afternoon, I worked my way back to my dorm room and spent a nice quiet evening relaxing.

Saturday morning the news bulletin came over the radio.

Yesterday at around 5:00 PM Betsy Aardsma, a 22-year-old graduate student, had been stabbed to death in the stacks of Pattee Library.

It’s quite possible, even likely, that I had seen her while I was browsing around in the stacks; it’s even possible that I had seen her killer, although that’s much less likely. I had left well before the time of the murder, and I had not seen anything even remotely suspicious or worth reporting to the authorities.

Needless to say, this became the number one topic of conversation for some time.

And every year thereafter the local papers would print a retrospective of the story. Rumors flew back and forth, but the police never seemed to be anywhere near to having a serious suspect. 

Her murder has never been officially solved, but circumstantial evidence does point to one suspect who died 20 years ago.

Leave a Reply