The Unsolved: Jenny Low Chang

          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.

(A photo of Jenny taken during her time at
San Francisco State.
via Justice for Jenny)

The Murder

          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.

The Investigation

          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 fourth floor floorplan for the SFSU library – though the building underwent extensive renovation in 2008, the reading room is still on this floor.
via SFSU)

Theories

          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.

Investigating Agencies

          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.

Sources

24 thoughts on “The Unsolved: Jenny Low Chang

  1. Miriam1956

    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.

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    1. Steven Serrano

      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.)

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      1. 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.

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      2. Steven Serrano

        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.
        Thanks Casper

        – Steve

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      3. 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!

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      4. steven serrano

        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?

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    1. 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.

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      1. 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.

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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.

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    1. 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.

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      1. 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.

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      2. 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.

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