He generously agreed to make an excerpt available for DCC’s readers from the chapter entitled “As Time Goes By” from his book.
“In the years after the murder, the college took steps to prevent would-be visitors to the core from visiting the scene of this unseemly chapter of Penn State University history. The core stacks were re-numbered, with the Level 2 core becoming “Stacks BA” – some say in memory of Betsy Aardsma. More lighting was added to the core, and some of the bookshelves at the end of the aisles were removed. The flooring remains the same as it was in 1969, and many of the graduate study carrels are still painted in the drab olive green that they wore in 1969. Most of the numbers have been removed, so it is hard to tell where Betsy’s study carrel was.
For the most part, the University had succeeded in forgetting the Aardsma murder, aside from the occasional anniversary article that would come out in the Daily Collegian or the Centre Daily Times. After the taunting letter, the next eerie reminder of the Aardsma murder would come in the form of a shrine found in the core stacks in 1994, around the 25th anniversary of the killing. Stacks Supervisor Tom Whalen found a candle burning in Aisle 51 on December 15th, 1994. Around the candle were scattered old newspaper clippings of the Aardsma murder, and written in red marker on the floor in front of the macabre display were the words:
R.I.P. Betsy Ruth Aardsma, Jul. 11, 1947 – Nov. 28, 1969. P.S. I’m Back.
Police were called, and photographs were taken, but again, no one could be linked to the display. The candle was still burning, so it was likely that the shrine was not more than a few hours old. Police had long since removed their hidden cameras from the stacks, placed there after the murder in hopes that they could catch suspicious activity if the killer had returned to his crime.
The date is troublesome – if it was the killer, had he forgotten the day he had murdered Aardsma? Or had he been otherwise occupied and unable to make it up for the real anniversary? Perhaps it had just been a sick joke, played by a fraternity brother, or an imbalanced person. The possibility exists that it was an elaborate prank – the Library Special Collections building has a file on Aardsma that contained original clippings and information, but most of those original clippings are no longer there. Although you are required to sign out the collection to view it now, things may have been different in 1994.
Whatever the source, the shrine was quietly cleaned up, and library employees were instructed not to talk about it.
Some secrets can’t or won’t stay buried, though, and in 1999, around the time of the 30th anniversary, another shrine was found. This time, the bizarre display was set up in the wrong aisle, and the marker used to write on the floor was blue. The newspaper clippings included with this shrine were photocopies. This shrine was generally considered to be a copycat, as it appeared so obviously to be a fake.
No further shrines have appeared, despite the passage of the 35th and 40th anniversary. Either the killer has died or is no longer commemorating his activities, or the pranksters no longer feel that the joke is funny.“