TEN MYSTERIES FROM JASMINE HALL AND ONLINE COLLEGES

Jasmine Hall,  from a blog on Online Colleges,  forwarded this fascinating article today.  Each story would make a great platform on which to base a book in part because there are so few details.  In some cases, there were witnesses.  In others, it seemed victim and killer must have known each other.  In all cases, a young, bright student was killed.  In none, did the police identify a motive.

The 10 Most Notorious Unsolved College Crimes

by

February 14, 2012

If all you watched on TV was CSI, you’d start to think it’s impossible to get away with murder these days. With all the dusting, printing, X-raying, and blue-lighting, the technology would seem to have closed the book on the idea of the perfect murder. And yet, we know that’s not the case. There has always been a small segment of horrible crimes that go unsolved, and even with all our forensic advancements, trails still go cold and files get shelved. These are the notorious stories of 10 college victims whose murderers have never been brought to justice.

  1. Betsy Aardsma

    The bizarre case of Betsy Aardsma has confounded police for over 40 years. A cute, smart grad student at Penn State, Aardsma was well-liked and had recently become engaged. She was so studious, she was in the library over Thanksgiving break when she was stabbed once in the heart with a small knife. A man hurriedly leaving the section told a librarian, “Somebody better help that girl,” and several witnesses were able to describe him. Aardsma died five minutes later. Police never identified the man, and today the murder is officially a cold case.

  2. Suzanne Jovin

    This well-liked Yale student was active in volunteer work and sang in a school orchestra. On December 4, 1998 while walking back to her apartment after a charity fundraising event she had organized, Jovin was stabbed from behind 17 times. She was found at an intersection, bleeding on the street, at 9:55 p.m.; at 10:26, she was pronounced dead. The only suspect to come under scrutiny was James Van de Velde, Jovin’s thesis advisor, but he was cleared due to lack of evidence. The only clues in this cold case are DNA from under Jovin’s fingernails, prints on a Fresca bottle from an unidentified person, and a brown van.

  3. Charles Sessums

    What started with some innocent football game ribbing ended with blood on the field. During halftime of the 1926 Baylor-Texas A&M game, a float went past the Aggie cheering section with Baylor women holding up signs with scores from Baylor wins. Three Aggie fans mistook the women for guys in drag and knocked one of them off the float, causing immediate chaos as fans from both schools poured onto the field. In the melee, Corps cadet Charles Sessums was concussed by a navy-suited man wielding a 2×4. Sessums died of a blood clot the next morning, and no one has ever been charged for his killing.

  4. Thomas Burkett

    Though officially ruled a suicide, Thomas Burkett’s parents and many others believe the young man was murdered. The story of the Marymount College student’s death in 1991 is rife with weird details — a young man suspected of being a drug informant for the CIA; police laughing at the parents while their son’s body is wheeled away; two ambulances dispatched to the scene, one of which stops to let someone retrieve something from a ravine before turning off its emergency lights and driving away. Burkett’s car was not inspected by police, and one cop told the parents to “clean the mess up,” thereby ruining crime scene evidence. If Burkett was killed, his killer will almost certainly never be known.

  5. Cecilia Shepard and Cheri Jo Bates

    The Zodiac Killer is one of the most notorious monsters in American history. In the late ’60s and early ’70s he killed at least five people and claimed to have killed 37 in his taunting letters to newspapers, and to this day his identity remains unknown. Two of his victims were college students. Cheri Jo Bates left the campus library at Riverside City College in California one evening and was stabbed 14 times and nearly decapitated. On a picnic with a friend, 22-year-old Cecilia Shepherd was tied up and stabbed 10 times and died two days later.

  6. Jack Davis, Jr.

    At the very least, someone committed a crime by giving 20-year-old Jack Davis, Jr. alcohol on the night of October 16, 1987. After the man’s body was found in an Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus stairwell five days later, the autopsy declared Davis had died by vomiting, passing out, and inhaling his own vomit and choking. But subsequent investigation by various journalists and a detective has cast serious doubt on the accidental death theory. The body was exhumed in 1990, revealing previously-overlooked head trauma and a telling lack of vomit in the air passage. Yet with no new leads, the case has since been closed again.

  7. Roy Weber

    On Christmas Day, 2003, campus security at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island discovered Roy Weber’s body by the side of a road. The 22-year-old male prostitute had been shot in the head. Some have suggested that because Weber was a hustler and a drug addict, the ensuing investigation was not thorough. Nevertheless, the only lead police have is a black-and-white photo of a man caught on a low-income apartment complex security camera. He is the last-known person to have ever spoken to Weber, and police have never identified him.

  8. Donnie Farrell

    It was Homecoming Weekend in October 2007 at Rowan University in New Jersey. A group of men approached 19-year-old Donnie Farrell and five friends and asked them for directions to a party. After he told them that two of the men, in what police would call an “extremely swift attack,” suddenly leapt at Farrell, punching and kicking him. Before Farrell’s friends could react, the men had stolen Farrell’s wallet and fled. Farrell died the next day. Community members were stunned at the violent, unprovoked act, which police do not believe was race or gang-related. They have never made an arrest in the case. Journalism students at Rowan have started a project in hopes of keeping the case alive.

  9. Jill Lyn Euto

    When Jill Lyn Euto did not show up at her mother’s house to watch the 2001 Super Bowl with her family, her mother became concerned. When she called the next day at Jill’s work to be told Jill had never shown there either, she went immediately to Jill’s apartment. There she found the 18-year-old Syracuse freshman murdered with a butcher knife from her kitchen. No locks had been broken, nothing was taken, and the dog was unharmed, leading police to believe Lynn had known her attacker. Still, no arrests have ever been made.

  10. Tara Louise Baker

    Whoever murdered Tara Louise Baker went to great lengths to cover his tracks. After killing the bright, ambitious law student at the University of Georgia early in the morning of January 19, 2001, a white man of average build set fire to her house and fled. Police interviewed students and a $26,000 reward was offered, but not a single arrest has been made. Only recently did the governor’s office release a death certificate for Baker, giving her family a small sense of closure and preventing unscrupulous people from taking out credit cards.

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