Born in Holland, Michigan, 22-year-old Betsy Aardsma graduated from University of Michigan after studying art and English. She enrolled in Pennsylvania State University afterwards and dreamed of joining the peace corps. She was filled with liberal ideologies and had profound empathy for the underprivileged. Her boyfriend, David L. Wright was studying medicine while she was studying English. “She was artistic, and I was bright also. But I was more the serious bright and she was more artistic, so I think we balanced each other pretty well,” her friend, Jan Sasamoto Brandt, pleasantly recalled. Betsy was expected to do so well in life but tragically, she never got the chance.
It was the 28th of November, 1969, and Betsy was in the library on the campus at Pennsylvania State University. She was there to research for a paper she was working on. Between 16:45 and 16:55, Betsy was in Row 51 of the stacks of books. A witness in a row nearby would later say he heard a man and a woman having a conversation. It wasn’t an argument, he said. Shortly afterwards, the same witness said he heard books falling to the ground. Moments later, a man walked out of the library, commenting “somebody better help that girl” to the desk clerk. Other witnesses claim it was two men, not one.
Betsy was dead. She was lying motionless in Row 51. Students originally believed she had fainted or suffered some kind of seizure. In fact, she had been stabbed once through the heart and this would be uncovered at the hospital. She was wearing a red dress which had concealed the blood seeping from the wound. The lack of defensive wounds indicated that she had been attacked from behind. The fact that she didn’t let out a scream is also indicative of this. When investigators arrived at the crime scene, they were more than dismayed to discover that it had already been cleaned by the janitor. The desk clerk helped composites sketch artists draw up a portrait of the man who had spoken to her before leaving the library but it produced no leads.
Yesterday was my very first PRIDE festival. It was a very small PRIDE located in Holland, Michigan. Holland is a small, conservative town in western Michigan and it also happens to be where I attend college. It was Holland’s first outdoor PRIDE and I’m really glad I got to be a part of it. There was some great music, a comedian, a protesting lady with a sign about God hating gay people, and many other things that you’d expect to find. I also got froyo, which is fantastic.
I guess this is just a post to say how proud I am of Holland because this is such a big step. I’m also just really excited that I got to have this experience.