• Murder in the Stacks

  • Penn State, Betsy Aardsma, and the Killer Who Got Away
  • By: David DeKok
  • Narrated by: Eddie Frierson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 11-10-15
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: David DeKok
  • 4 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

Regular price: $24.95

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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

FASCINATING! SOLVED!

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!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A very well researched and presented case!

What made the experience of listening to Murder in the Stacks the most enjoyable?

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.

What other book might you compare Murder in the Stacks to and why?

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.

Have you listened to any of Eddie Frierson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I think the title of the book itself would be a fitting movie tagline. It spells everything out perfectly.

Any additional comments?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping Story

Long and detailed but worth every minute. A thorough examination that exposes truth and ignorance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JET
  • Helper, UT, United States
  • 03-16-16

Focuses on Society and Crime in the Late 1960s

Would you listen to Murder in the Stacks again? Why?

Yes - there was a lot of interesting information pertaining to a wide variety of events.

What other book might you compare Murder in the Stacks to and why?

Maybe The Bundy Murders

Have you listened to any of Eddie Frierson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I like the first half of the book. It really goes into the like of Betsey Aardasma.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thorough Analysis!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Murder in the Stacks?

The chemistry professor's crime scene analysis.

What about Eddie Frierson’s performance did you like?

Eddie Frierson did an excellent job of varying his pitch, accent and delivery to accentuate the different characters' voices.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

An education on society and cultural norms surrounding the timeframe of the murder.

Any additional comments?

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".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent true story

Where does Murder in the Stacks rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the upper echelon

What other book might you compare Murder in the Stacks to and why?

Can't think of any

What three words best describe Eddie Frierson’s voice?

tiring boring and dry

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Too long! Lots of conjecture.

What did you like best about Murder in the Stacks? What did you like least?

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.

Would you recommend Murder in the Stacks to your friends? Why or why not?

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.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

NO

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Ok

Would you try another book from David Dekok and/or Eddie Frierson?

I'd try another book from the author, not the narrator

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

N/A

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Eddie Frierson?

Literally anyone. His impersonations of the characters comes off as condescending and mocking.

Was Murder in the Stacks worth the listening time?

Yes.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful