Police have been investigating the death of Ronald Bettig, 56, an associate professor of media studies, who was found at the bottom of a cliff at a quarry after felling 80 feet. They have now arrested Danelle Geier, 32, who lived with Bettig as well as George Ishler Jr., 39, who was charged with first- and third-degree murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault and evidence-tampering.
Police believe that Ishler and Geier believed that they could benefit from Bettig’s will. They allegedly wanted to drown Bettig in the ocean during a trip to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. Police say that Geier texted Ishler and suggested that she was ready to murder Bettig because she was upset that he had criticized how she was raising her son. They then allegedly convinced Bettig to travel to the quarry on the promise to harvest marijuana. Once near the plants along the cliff, police say that Ishler pushed Bettig over the cliff. The two defendants then alleged staged items to make it appear that Bettig went to the cliff alone (including the returning to the scene of the crime with material from the house). Three days later they called police to report Bettig missing.
Bettig has been on the faculty since 1988 and taught courses on the political economy of communications. In addition to his other publications, he is the author of “Copyrighting Culture: The Political Economy of Intellectual Property” (1996, Westview Press) and co-author, with Jeanne Lynn Hall, of “Big Media, Big Money: Cultural Texts and Political Economics” (2002, Roman & Littlefield). He won the Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Communications Alumni Society in 1996 and has been named Faculty Marshal five times. Bettig received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and his Bachelor’s degree from UC-San Diego.