This month’s unsolved murder case has all the markings of a case that gathers a large following. A young woman in college was murdered, found in a place where she wasn’t meant to be. The case has long gone cold, and the biggest theories often lead to big-name serial killers that were active in the area. So why is there a startling lack of information? Why has Jenny all but vanished from the news, from the collective consciousness? Let’s explore.
Who Was Jenny?
As I said in the introduction to this post, there is very, very little information about Jenny’s life to be found online. She was born on February 5, 1958. She was incredibly smart and worked hard to earn her grades. It’s been reported that she consistently made the Dean’s list for academic excellence. She began attending San Francisco State University. Her field of study varies from source to source – some say her major was biology, some say Pre-Dental. Jenny was 19 years old when her life was taken from her in 1977.
Jenny was last seen alive by her roommate on Sunday, September 11, 1977. Around 6 PM that night, she said she was going to the library to use one of their study rooms to get some work done. Only the basement level of the library was open at that time, with the study area there being open until 11 PM that night. No one present at the library on the night of September 11, 1977 remembered seeing Jenny, and she never returned to her dorm room.
Her roommate reported her missing the next morning, when she realized Jenny was still gone. At the library, a psychology professor entered a faculty reading room on the fourth floor when he made a horrific discovery – Jenny’s nude, lifeless body was inside. She had been stabbed 30 times, and beaten with a standing ashtray (per a news article from September 14). Other sources claim that she was strangled and that there was evidence of sexual assault. Her belongings were found in a neat pile nearby.
According to contemporary reports, only 400 people had a key to the room in which Jenny was discovered. This considerably narrowed down suspects, but it was not ruled out that the door was left ajar or propped open to allow unrestricted access. Students and faculty were questioned, but no one saw or heard a thing. Jenny had no known enemies, nothing had seemed wrong at the time. Soon, the leads ran dry and the case went cold.
The internet has run a little wild with theories on this case. The first suspect that comes up is often the infamous Zodiac Killer. This serial killer was never caught, and their identity is still unknown today. We know they were allegedly in correspondence with the police in the 60s and 70s, and their confirmed victims were all killed in the bay area. Their MO was typically to brutally stab or shoot their victims. That does loosely fit here, but it should be noted that all of the Zodiac’s confirmed victims were killed in the 1960’s. Unless the Zodiac Killer happened to be a student or a staff member at SFSU, I don’t see this theory as fitting.
Another big name that popped up in my search was Rodney Alcala, the so-called “dating game” killer. To me, he does not fit with this case at all, so I feel the need to swiftly debunk it here. We know Alcala was in California for the latter half of 1977 at least, though he seemed to stay in the Los Angeles area. Of course, he could have traveled up to San Francisco, but there is nothing indicating that he had. Alcala’s MO also does not match – his victims were bludgeoned and strangled, and he had no known instances of stabbing his victims. Alcala was also known to lure his victims into his grasp by pretending to be a photographer and asking them to model for him. Surely this would not have gone unnoticed in a crowded university library. Plus, how would he have gotten into the locked staff reading room? It just doesn’t fit.
While Alcala doesn’t fit and Zodiac is sensational, neither theory accounts for the fact that the staff reading room was likely locked that night, and a key would have been needed for Jenny to end up inside. It seems far more likely to me that someone with access to the campus, library, and staff room lured her up there. The suspect that comes up again and again in conjunction with this theory is a library guard who was on duty the night of Jenny’s murder. They allegedly then called out from his job the next day, leading people to assume he was lying low after his part in the murder. The fact that this person would have been in a position of power and therefore presumably trustworthy to Jenny lends credence to the idea that she would have followed them upstairs if asked. The same could be said of a professor, however. With such limited information available about this case, it’s hard to come to any conclusions.
I haven’t been able to find any information about whether Jenny’s case is still open, but it’s cold as ice regardless. If you or anyone you know has any information about the murder of Jenny Low Chang, contact the San Francisco State University Police Department here. You can also visit the San Francisco Police Department website here to see options to anonymously report a tip. It’s been nearly 45 years since Jenny Low Chang was murdered and she deserves to rest. The truth must come out.
43 thoughts on “The Unsolved: Jenny Low Chang”
Was wondering the other day was actually happened to this case. I San Francisco State University when this happened in fact she was in my biology resume ology class and a month into the semester the teacher announced that she had been either murdered or had died. The class was dismissed for that day. I didn’t match read about it in the papers except it’s in pieces. She was found in a part of the library that is exclusive. You could only get into it the Special key and those keys were given to the teachers. And I imagine that the janitors also had access to it. She lived on campus and I didn’t really know her personally but I do know that she was a pre-med student and was always sitting in the first couple of rows in front of her class which was quite big. According to the papers at that time they suspected one or two people even a janitor but I don’t recall the names. Would be great thing to actually find her killer and put the whole wishing for best that her family has found peace.
I knew Jenny in HS in Los Angeles….we were friends and had many mutual friends .
She was very sweet and studious. Would have made a great doctor.
Talking with some friends back in the day, they seemed to believe, like I do, that the murder investigation was inept at best.
I miss her, she was a good friend.
I have read recent articles that another prime suspect (who was verifiably in San Francisco at the time of the murder) was the “Dating Game Killer” Rodrigo “Rodney” Alcala.
He attacked and murdered another female at Fisherman’s Wharf within a day or two of Jenny’s murder……someone should reopen this case…..contact me if I can be of help.
(I believe evidence may exist and can be DNA tested and possibly link Alcala or another to the crime.)
I definitely agree that the investigation was not the best. I know you have likely heard this over and over, but I am so sorry for the pain you’ve felt in losing her. The case definitely needs to be looked at by a new investigative team. Alcala is definitely a possibility, but regardless of who the murderer is, they need to be brought to justice. Hopefully investigators preserved the murder weapon – that seems to be the most likely place to find touch DNA (sweat, skin cells, or fingerprints). I wonder if I could dig anything up on this with a records request to the authorities. Sit tight, I’ll get back to you.
That would be great!
Thanks for your concern.
She was truly a lovely person and is missed by many friends.
I would be interested in learning more about evidence the police may (should) have retained.
Also, are you aware of any cold-case investigators working the case presently?
I’m not certain which agency would be in charge?
I am contemplating calling an acquaintance of mine to ask whether he’d be interested in doing a documentary-type investigation into the case.
I will let you know what I find out.
I don’t know of any cold case investigators currently on the case. I would guess that either the SFSU police, SF Police, or CA State Police have ownership of the case. The campus police likely opened the investigation since it happened on campus, but it may have been handed to larger agencies as time went on. SF Police have a cold case unit but Jenny’s not listed as a case being investigated by them. Feel free to reach out by email, and I’ll be sure to do the same if I find anything!
Will do Casper.
Several friends are in law enforcement.
Maybe they can be of help.
I will reach out.
I am currently reaching out to all I know in regards to Jenny. I hope to have more information for to share with you soon.
Just wondering, have you had any luck with a records request?
Miriam, The janitor is not good for this one. Keep reading.
I will soon publish a novel based on the murder of Jenny Chang. Do you or anyone reading this have valid, relevant info? /s/ J. Andre Boles-True Crime Writer
I may be able to put you in touch with some of her HS and college friends.
Let me know if you’d like me to try that.
I can connect you two via email if you’d like.
Has your book been released?
I am aiming for the first of the year.
That would be fine, thanks.
SFPD has no interest in this case. It is their case but lack of public interest has dimmed their attention. I am still working on the case and will answer most, if not all questions soon. Sadly, no one seems to care. Stay tuned.
I am currently in touch with some KOd Jenny’s close HS friends. Awaiting their responses.
Steven, I would love to see this case closed but have little hope. I will leave no doubt as to the identity of the killer but cannot promise more. Fifty years in the business makes one pessimistic. Nevertheless, we march on. I like to believe that Jenny would approve.
The Zodiac aint even close. Alcala did not do it but he kinda fits the profile. How about Halbower? Very violent this guy. What about Seymour?- also very violent. The SFPD Inspectors know who did it. Inspector David Toschi (from the Zodiac case) knew but he’s dead. Where to from here. Does anyone care? Then tell me.
I spoke to two mutual friends of mine and Jenny’s yesterday….they still care.
I was a friend of Jennie’s at SFS (before it was SFSU). I remember the day she didn’t come to class (I believe it was a bio class – can’t recall for certain). I also remember the days Pearl May didn’t come to class, and the the day she did. That’s when she told me her great friend was dead. We, her circle of study partners, were stunned. She was such a wonderful human. Even though they’ve torn down the library building, I cannot shake the memories, or feel such pain for what she went through, there at the end. She held such promise. I’ve occasionally donated to her eponymous scholarship fund at SFSU. It’s the least I can do.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share this. I’m working on figuring out which agency has ownership of Jenny’s case at the moment, I’ll be sure to update everyone if I happen across any further information.
I tried to alert the SFPD about whether the Golden State Killer might have been involved, but I got no reaction from them.
Craig, SFPD has known since the discovery of Jenny’s body who killed her. The entire story is complicated and puzzling–to outsiders–but will soon be explained.
Wow…..just WOW….I hope to hear the resolution on this case.
I gnaws at me constantly.
Hey Casper, it is a SFPD case. The University PD is comprised of unsophisticated mopes with their heads in dark places. SFPD does not care even though it is their jurisdiction. The case was assigned to Toschi but he was too busy trying to look good. Never trust a cop wearing a bow tie.
Have you done a FOIA request for their records?
SFPD lists the case as still open even though no one is working it. Freedom of Info does not work on an active case. Best I can do is to get them to assign it to one of the retired guys. I tried that but lack of interest on the part of family and friends put the freeze on it. If it was assigned, I might get someone to move it forward. Beyond that, I am not free to publicly discuss where I am in the investigation. Try Sergio Romero for more or call me.
jandy……is there a way to get a FOIA request through….if we can make a case that no one is working this “active” case?
I just saw a crime show
I was blown away that Golden State Killer was not looked in to regarding Jenny’s case!
His MO is right there!!
I’m not sure about GSK – his MO veered more towards home invasions, rather than attacking in public places. It is known that he was in Sacramento, Stockton, and Rancho Cordova in late 77, though so he was in the area. It’s definitely possible, but it doesn’t seem very likely to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked into him, but focused on other suspects – since the SFPD allegedly has strong persons of interest, according Mr. Boles in this comment section. I’ve been thinking more about this case, wondering if we should revisit it to try and maybe get more eyes on it. Another post.
I worked the case from 1980 to 2003. The SFPD knew her killer the day she got killed, which is another story. The only thing that is unsolved is who killed her killer (the death certificate says it was heart disease). I like to think it was something or someone else. In 1975, I worked out of the same office as Dave Toschi (see Zodiac). All will be explained in my next book: THE GHOST OF JENNY CHANG. SFPD will not reopen the case because no one cares.
Definitely very frustrating for the case to be left open but cold and deny any FOIA requests – because there are some people that care. We care.
Can’t wait to read the book.
I like that idea CJ
J. Andre, when will your book be released??
I am a student at SF state and recently found out about this case. It has been 45 years and no one on campus knows. Would publishing a school article make this case more known and possibly reopen the case?
A school article certainly couldn’t hurt. Technically the case is open, but cold – meaning that no resources are being allocated to its investigation. Any way to raise awareness and spread the word about this case is worthwhile.
The more attention the better! Awesome!
It’s a long story but, I believe, the authorities are hesitant to reveal the level of their incompetence to the public. You might start by asking the University officials why they “buried the evidence.” Next, ask the mayor of San Francisco, why the cops don’t work the case. After that, tell me what they have to say. You may also contact the Chronicle, Kevin Fagan does better police work than most of the cops. Meanwhile, those who care remain on the job. /s/ J. Andre Boles aka The Tazz on Crime.
Well Tazz……SFPD simply blocks release of info by calling it an open case, but just won’t work the case. Seems illegal and unethical.
Another year (2022) about to end……45 years and counting….Jenny and her family and friends deserve answers.
I promise that the book, THE GHOST OF JENNY CHANG, will finally be available in 2023. Sorry for the delay but background on Jenny Chang has been hard to find. I will surprise everyone including myself, with the latest twist. Fellow fans of true mystery might want to check out the Chronicle podcast, THE DOODLER, while waiting. I am featured in one of the later episodes. You can also find me featured on ON THE CASE WITH PAULA ZAHN regarding MONSTER ON GYPSY HILL. Much more to follow….
Sounds great J. I can’t wait!
I would like you to know that Jenny was in the Highly Gifted Program in LAUSD, along with myself and several other friends. Some of our classmates went onto do great things, as I am sure Jenny would have.
I recently spoke to a few friends who are also anxious to read your book.
Thanks for the work you do.