On the day after Thanksgiving in 1969, Betsy Aardsma, a 22-year-old graduate student in English at Penn State University, was stabbed to death in the stacks of Pattee Library at the university's main campus in the small town of State College. For more than 40 years, her murder went unsolved. Aardsma was smart, pretty and kind, and the Pennsylvania State Police could not figure out why anyone would want to kill her.
This book reveals the story behind what has been a scary mystery for generations of Penn State students, naming the likely killer and explaining why the police failed to bring Richard Haefner, also a Penn State graduate student, to justice. Much of the blame goes to Penn State itself, and especially to the killer's thesis adviser. The suspected killer, who died in 2002, was a pedophile who sought out women as cover for what he was. Although there is no known link between Haefner and Jerry Sandusky, the notorious former assistant football coach at Penn State, the listener will learn that more than one pedophile found a safe haven at the school during the same years. More than a simple true crime story, the book weaves together the events, culture, and attitudes of the late 1960s, memorializing Betsy Aardsma and her time and place in history.
©2014 David DeKok (P)2015 David DeKok
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"Well read and extensively researched."
At times the audio was inconsistent. The structure threw me off in the beginning but once I got used to switching between the different people involved, it became easier. Overall, great book that kept my attention.
Sad to think that so many years have gone by and this murder of such a promising young lady remains officially unsolved. But author David Dekok seems to have found the killer and solved the case. This isn't a conspiracy theory or wishful thinking but an incredibly well investigated examination of the evidence. Dekok is a veteran journalist and it shows as his writing paints a compelling picture. A fascinating book and one that I hope will lead to the State of Pennsylvania closing this open cold case. It is a shame that this ruthless killer with a short temper got away, literally, with murder. Highly recommended! And there is a new afterward in the audiobook only that is NOT in the print edition as even more was uncovered after the original publication of the print book. If you enjoy true crime this is about as good as it gets!
Long and detailed but worth every minute. A thorough examination that exposes truth and ignorance.
"Focuses on Society and Crime in the Late 1960s"
Yes - there was a lot of interesting information pertaining to a wide variety of events.
Maybe The Bundy Murders
I like the first half of the book. It really goes into the like of Betsey Aardasma.
Some people didn't like this book because it is not focused on the crime so much as the circumstances around it. I, personally, like this about the book.
The chemistry professor's crime scene analysis.
Eddie Frierson did an excellent job of varying his pitch, accent and delivery to accentuate the different characters' voices.
An education on society and cultural norms surrounding the timeframe of the murder.
The author was thorough in his analysis, shedding light on other potentially related crimes of the same era, on this police investigation, and on the background of the murderer. He does it in a way that draws the reader into the story, making us realize there is so much more to consider when a crime scene leaves "no clues".
"A very well researched and presented case!"
Having been associated with Penn State University for most of my life, both as a student and as an employee, it was very interesting to learn more about the subject. I had heard the story of the woman who was murdered in the library, but never new the details that were brought forth so well in this book. Before listening to the book, I had read it about a year before and Eddie Frierson's performance brought the story to life even more. Eddie's characterizations kept the audio version very interesting and entertaining.
Ann Rhule's book "The Stranger Beside Me" about the life of serial killer Ted Bundy. Ann's book is also very well researched, because it is the story of her very own experience with Ted. The research put into Murder In The Stacks makes you feel as though the author had the same personal experience with the people he has written about.
I have not had the pleasure to listen to any of Eddie's other work, but I will say that since hearing his portrayal in this book, I am looking at other titles he has narrated and am considering listening to some of those as well.
I think the title of the book itself would be a fitting movie tagline. It spells everything out perfectly.
I think everyone with interests in Penn State University should consume this book, because this story should be heard and known. Also, anyone who is interested in Pennsylvania history or true crime stories would enjoy this book.
"Is It Over Yet?"
I'm not hard to please. This book had me looking forward to it being finished. For the most part it felt like a strange combination of a genealogy report and a ninth grade history lesson. On and on about people that didn't play much of a part in the overall scheme of things. Maybe it was just me but it seemed like there was a lot of fill in to this book.
"Excellent true story"
In the upper echelon
Can't think of any
tiring boring and dry
Story bogged down in a few places; a bit too much detail. Fascinating background on Rick Heifner and incredible details. Narrator showed little passion in his reading and often very clipped in his narration. Many times it sounded like John Wayne, not someone who was was interested by the story. Did NOT like the attempts to make it sound real; the "fake" sound in a courtroom toward the end nor that of those he was quoting. Very artificial.
"Too long! Lots of conjecture."
Actually, there was a story within this book which was much more interesting than the story of Betsy Aardsma (as was presented by this author). The story of Dr Rick Haefner could be explored in much more detail. There are many more known details concerning him than what is known of the unfortunate girl who is the subject of this book. The things he did throughout his life were outrageous, illegal and psychopathic .
I could not finish this book. The author presented too many non-interesting facts about the history of Penn State, Happy Valley, race issues, etc. Extraneous facts that were clearly just meant to fill pages.
To be clear, this is an unsolved murder case.
I did not like the way the author seemed to present his theory of the identity of the murderer as if it is a fact.
No. Since this is officially an unsolved murder AND since there is not a lot of actual facts presented about this victim (due to the fact that she died in 1969), there is a plethora of filler information in this book that is just not interesting.
I'd try another book from the author, not the narrator
Literally anyone. His impersonations of the characters comes off as condescending and mocking.
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