“Who Killed Betsy?” by Derek Sherwood. Derek and I have been in touch for a while now to discuss the Betsy Aardsma case. No murder weapon was ever found, no defensive wounds on Aardsma, taunting letters and shrines but no biological materials to be tested for DNA and, no leads.
Despite not having time to read his book, I started browsing in it yesterday. Result? I kept reading and finished it in one sitting! Derek makes a convincing case for the man most likely to have killed Betsy Aardsma: Richard Haefner.
In clear words, Derek analyses the case and points out where mistakes were made. He starts with the most important one. “The biggest wrong assumption that was made in the Aardsma murder case came from the fact that the police never considered that a jilted suitor could potentially have been responsible for her murder.” This is contrary to what police later stated in newspapers: “that they felt that Aardsma may have known her killer” and that “they felt that she had not been followed or otherwise targeted.” If you state the latter then you must consider former boyfriends especially if you combine it with another statement police made in the media: “according to police, no one expected her to be at Penn State that day.”
Derek describes Betsy’s life, her family, heritage, dreams, and circles of friends. He touches on Penn State politics, its faculty, the police investigations and the aftermath. Haefner’s life, highs and lows, are described in details and the picture that emerges is that of a seriously troubled man who had characteristics that should have made him a suspect especially since he did know Betsy. Unfortunately, Haefner is deceased.
We may never know who murdered Betsy but after reading Derek’s research, it is a good bet that it was Haefner.
Something that I missed in the book is a timeline of the case possibly split up by witness statement. It would be a valuable tool to make the case visual and gives the readers the scene at-a-glance.
The book is engaging and a fast read that will keep you up until you have read the very last page. Don’t expect to be able to catch some sleep afterwards though. Your brain will not allow it. It is still preoccupied with Betsy and her senseless death.
My other book reviews are here.