On November 28, 1969, the body of 22-year-old Betsy Aardsma was found stabbed to death between rows 50 and 51 on level 2 of the stacks of the Pattee Library of Penn State University. Aardsma was originally from Holland, Michigan, and was an alum of the University of Michigan. She had transferred to Penn State’s main campus to follow her boyfriend, David S. Wright, a med student at Penn State’s Hershey campus. Her murder is unsolved, and the details surrounding her death make it all the more tragic.
Aardsma was born in Holland, Michigan, a town rich in Dutch-American culture and steeped in Reformed Church religious practices, which include the concept of predestination. But more on that later.
She enrolled in Hope College, a Reformed church liberal arts college that was close to home, as a Honors pre-med student in 1969. She was described as very smart by most of her classmates, and was one of the only women in her science classes. However, by sophomore year she switched to English, as she found a deeper connection with the liberal arts, and often wrote poetry. Her friends described her as a liberal, and she adopted many ideas of early feminism, as evidenced by her decision to major in pre-med. She was also silently supportive of the Civil Rights movement and was vocally opposed to the Vietnam War. By the end of her sophomore year, she made the decision to transfer to the University of Michigan, most likely to escape the strict conservative and religious rules that dictated life at Hope College. She soon found a dream in the Peace Corps, and made the decision to join after she graduated.
However, life was not exactly peaceful during that time at the University of Michigan. John Norman Chapman, then known as the Co-ed Killer, Michigan Murderer, or Ypsilanti Ripper, was an active serial killer on campus at the time. Students such as Aardsma were living in fear as they attended classes. Additionally, Aardsma’s junior year at the University of Michigan was also when she met soon-to-be boyfriend David S. Wright, a pre-med student. The two lived in neighboring apartments their senior year; he with his fraternity, and she with some friends. Aardsma graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 1969, and still planned to join the Peace Corps later that year. However, Wright was not keen on the idea of being separated from his girlfriend for over a year, and let his insecurities be known. The two were also “unofficially engaged.” He stated later that he regretted making Aardsma choose between him and her dreams.
Wright was accepted as a student of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for the following school year, and Aardsma made the decision to apply to Penn State’s main campus, and become a teacher. She was quickly accepted, and started classes in the fall of 1969. She and Wright drove or took a bus to see each other every weekend, and Aardsma had many friends on campus. Her parents were happy with the transfer, as it meant she was getting away from the violence at the University of Michigan. Little did they know, violence would find her anyway.
On November 28, 1969, a day after returning from a Thanksgiving get-together with Wright and friends, Aardsma headed to the library to work on a project for her English 501 class. She and roommate Sharon Brandt headed to the stacks of the Pattee Library around 4:00 pm. She was wearing a sleeveless red dress and white turtleneck, which friends thought was an odd choice of outfit, especially for Aardsma. Police speculated at that time that she was going to meet someone, although there was no evidence of tension in her relationship with Wright. Around 4:45 pm, assistant stacks supervisor David Brungart spotted Aardsma between rows 50 and 51, along with two men chatting nearby.
Witnesses reported hearing falling books and a gasp, but no one saw anything because the rows of books were so packed together. Barely anyone was in the library at the time because of the holiday, and no one went to immediately check on what the sounds were. Another student, Mary Erdley, ran into to two men on their way out, one of whom told her, “Somebody better help that girl.” They led Erdley to Aardsma, who was lying on the ground, seemingly dead. They then disappeared. It apparently took twenty minutes before Erdley could get someone to stop to help Aardsma. An ambulance took her body to the Ritenour Student Health Center, where she was eventually pronounced dead at 5:50 pm. A librarian had previously tried to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and ambulance attendants thought she was alive and had suffered an epileptic seizure.
Aardsma had not suffered a seizure; she had been stabbed. Her cause of death was one swift stab to the heart with a 3 ½-4 inch hunting knife. The killer stabbed her in the front through her breastbone. There were no defensive wounds, and no scream. The bleeding was mostly internal in her lungs, and the little blood that did make it outside was disguised by her red dress. Aardsma had been caught off guard and killed in one fatal move.
So who killed Betsy Aardsma? It’s a mystery that’s plagued investigators and the Penn State community for almost 50 years. Police have no suspects, no leads, and barely any evidence. The two men who alerted Erdley of Aardsma’s body are thought to be the killers, but they’ve never been identified. Moreover, no motive have ever been discovered; no one had any reason to want Aardsma dead.
What makes this murder all the more mysterious is the fact that Aardsma predicted her own death many times. She wrote that she’d die young in letters to friends and told it to her family. Her church believed in the concept of predestination, and the priest at her funeral told her family that she had been destined to die, even reportedly reading one of Aardsma’s letters out loud. Her predetermined destiny, it seemed, came to fruition. But as to who killed her, or why, those questions have remained answered for decades, and likely will for many more.
‘When I woke up that day, I decided I was going to die.’
Date: September 17, 1996
School: Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Outcome: Overpowered. In prison.
When Jillian Robbins was 11 years old, she told her mother, ‘I want to die.’ Mrs Robbins could not understand her daughter’s depression: ‘She had always been happy and wonderful and bouncy and never cried and just nothing by joy…And something started chaning in early puberty.’
The family faced several upheavals over the years. Robbins was 5 when her parents divorced. A few years later her mother remarried, then divorced again. Then she married her second husband a second time, but again they divorced. Robbin’s father also remarried. Though these changes were presumably stressful for Robbins, there is no evidence of parental alcoholism, achild abuse or other traumas.
Robbins bounced back and forth between her parent’s homes during adolescence. her mother attended a graduate program at Penn State in University Park, Pennslyvania, and worked there as an administrator. When Mrs Robbins relocated to the university’s Harrisburg campus, her daughter stayed back at University Park. Robbin’s father, whom she reportedly idolised, was an administrator for the army reserve.
Apparently following in her father’s footsteps, Robbins joined the army reserve as a junior in high school. She attended basic trained in the summer of 1994, but dropped out of high school. Then, because she did not have sufficient high school credits, the army reserve kicked her out.
Robbins worked at a diner, and at 18 she married a coworker she had not known for long. After six months , she moved out. No details about the marriage have come to light. The following summer, she had an impatient stay in a psychiatric hospital.
Though Robbins found a new boyfriend, the relationship was unstable. On September 16,1996 they has a big fight. The next morning, Robbins took the rifle her father has given her to the Penn State campus and open fired. She killed one person and wounded another. Two other students were nearly hit; they found bullet fragments in their backpacks. A student wrestled Robbins to the ground before she could shoot anyone else.
What was wrong with Robbins? She has a long history of depression and psychiatric hospitalisations and had attempted suicide several weeks before the shooting. She also had symptoms of schizophrenia. Robbins reported that as early as 10th grade she had both auditory and visual hallucinations. She heard voices and saw, ‘tall, dark people with dark coats and no eyes.’ She said, ‘I could not handle the stresses of life. I could not handle the hallucinations, the delusions anymore.’
The nature of her delusions remain unknown. Her peers observed her oddness. A coworker said, ‘Everybody that worked there said the same thing: She did act strange and weird.’ She was given the nickname ‘Crazy Jill.’
The district attorney sough a plea agreement to avoid a trial that would allow Robbins to enter an insanity plea. He commented. “It was a solid claim for an insanity defence.’ Insainty pleas are rarely successful; for the district attorney to admit Robbins had a solid claim suggests there was compleing evidence she was psychotic.
But why did she shoot college students? Robbins could not explain this, saying she just wanted to die. Friends reported, however, that she did not like ‘preppy’ people. Perhaps as a high school drop out, she envivied college students.
Adapted from ‘School Shooters, Understanding High School, College and Adult Perpetrators’ by Peter Langman
Launched in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the online campus of the University of Pennsylvania highly respected.
It offers campus Penn State the world has a long list of programs on the Internet, with more than 120 online programs leading to a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificate programs.
Carnegie classification in higher education institutions recognize the campus of the University of Pennsylvania Maine research as a university with very high research activity.
US News & World Report ranked the University of Pennsylvania, University Park # 48 in national universities in the 2015 edition of Best Colleges. The magazine also ranked the university No. 52 in its list of the best universities in the world, No. 41 in the list of the best business schools have, and No. 33 in the list of the best schools of education. Penn State also tied for No. 14 in the list of top public school magazine.
Penn State World Campus score more than 10,000 students. After initial acceptance in the global campus, students must obtain admission to the appropriate college to choose her major at the University of Pennsylvania.
Students receive online instruction from teaching the same world-class faculty members on campus as students. Students online access to counselors academics, professional services, and tutoring online, and library services.
Also he received Smeal College of Business at the University of Pennsylvania accreditation from a reputable association prior to the faculties of business.
World Campus offers courses at synchronously, so that students can complete the coursework on schedule. Students must complete readings, assignments, discussions, and examinations by the deadlines set. Some graduate degree Penn State World Campus programs and the need to stay from a few days to two weeks in length.
Academic Ranking of World Universities 2014 (provided by the Center for universities world-class in Shanghai Jiao Tong University) ranked Penn State University, Park # 58 University University also received a rating No. 58 University rankings Times Higher Education 2014-2015.
Graduates campus of the University of Pennsylvania the world earn the same degree obtained by the traditional students Pennsylvania. Graduates can join the largest network of scholars in the United States.
Included Princeton Review Pennsylvania State University, University Park in the list of the best 379 colleges in 2015, while Forbes ranked Penn State No. 76 among research universities.
Smeal College of Pennsylvania of Business ranked No. 30 in the 2014 list of Undergraduate Business Bloomberg Business School programs.
The Association of American Universities member (which is an excellent research universities Society of North America), Pennsylvania State University has received accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
The offers include Penn State World Campus online degrees in areas such as technology, engineering, education, health care, business, and more.
they call it penn, not penn state. the only people who get confused about that are people who have never known anyone to go to penn or penn state. or people who don’t live in pennsylvania. it’s penn. no one calls it u of penn either. upenn, maybe. but it’s penn.
dennis says ivy league bc he went to an ivy league school aka penn
they are all Intimately familiar with penn because they live in philadelphia proper. penn is within walking distance of virtually anywhere in philadelphia proper.
in the first ep, terrel mentions drexel. it’s right next to penn (like, literally…. 3 blocks away, if that). charlie and mac go to the penn campus to meet college kids. they’ve been there. they know people who went there.
dennis doesn’t drive all the way down to university park to go to penn state. bc he went to penn. the distance between the two universities is 3 hours by car and 45 minutes by plane.
When Caroline Forbes finds herself in jail late one Friday night she didn’t think it could get any worse until she meets her arrogant cellmate, Klaus Mikaelson.
“Well isn’t this a sight for sore eyes,” he whistled, as she flopped down on the wooden bench, her back hitting the cold concrete wall behind her. “I never thought I’d see the Cheer Captain incarcerated.”
“I’m not the Cheer Captain,” she bit out, refusing to meet his gaze. She was actually Vice Captain, not that she’d give him the satisfaction of being almost right.
“Well, I’m not surprised what with that attitude,” he teased. “Where’s your pep, your energy and more importantly where are those spirit fingers?”
“I’m not in the mood,” she growled, inching further away from him. Could this night get any worse? It was bad enough she’d been arrested and confined to a cell in the local police station, this arrogant ass was just the cherry on top of a bad day.
“Oh come on love, I’ve been by myself for the past three hours, the least you could do is provide me with some conversation,” he said. “I promise, I don’t bite.” Caroline wasn’t quite sure she believed that.
It was at that point she turned her head, taking in his appearance. Even in his ripped Ramones T-Shirt and the beginnings of a black eye there was no doubting he was gorgeous.
“My mother told me never to converse with strangers,” she shot back.
“She probably also told you not to do anything illegal, but obviously that advice went straight out the window.” Caroline sighed, unable to stop herself. “I think I hit a nerve. Let me guess mommy issues?”
“Well, I have her to thank for your charming company so I’d say there are definitely issues.”
“Your own mother turned you in to the police?”
“No dumbass,” she growled. “My mother, who happens to be the Sheriff in a small town, decided it was best for me to stay the night and learn my lesson rather than bail me out.”
“And I thought I had problems.”
“Well, we’ve all got problems. I’d really prefer not to hear all about your drunken bar brawl.”
“Why do you assume I was in a fight?”
“Well, between the ripped shirt and black eye it’s just a little hunch I have.”
“Have you been checking me out, love?” He asked, sending her a cheeky grin. She could feel her cheeks flush, hoping it wasn’t as obvious as it felt.
“No, you wish,” she groaned. “Although maybe you should learn to control your temper and then you wouldn’t end up in these types of situations.”
“Who needs your Sheriff mother here to lecture me when I have you?” He joked. “Are you always this stuck up or am I just lucky?”
“Yeah, it’s your lucky night,” Caroline huffed, turning her back on him purposely and placing her legs on the bench drawing them towards her so her chin was resting on her knees.
If she was being honest, his close proximity was unnerving her and not in a bad way. Caroline really wasn’t quite sure how to handle it. But even with her back turned, she could still smell the spicy scent of his aftershave and feel the heat emanating from his body. She shook her head trying to remove the untoward thoughts he was causing.
“You’re no fun,” he teased. “You know it could be worse, we could be stuck in Folsom Prison.”
“Oh come on, you’re telling me you’ve never heard of the song? Johnny Cash, the man in black? And you call yourself an American.”
“I don’t call myself an American, I am one.”
“You know, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to believe that someone as highly strung as you broke the law.”
“I did break the law,” she spluttered, struggling not to turn and confront him knowing he was baiting her to do exactly that.
“So if that’s the case then, humour me,” he replied. “What exactly did you do, princess?”
“Break and enter,” she shot back, nonchalantly. “And don’t call me Princess.”