Serial Killers: Ted Bundy
Updated: Aug 15, 2018
Eighteen-year-old Joni Lenz lived in a big house at 4325 8th N.E., near the University of Washington. When her roommates found Joni in her bed on the afternoon of January 4, 1974 they thought she was sick as they hadn’t seen her since the previous evening. As they approached her bed to wake her up, they were shocked to find that she was lying in a pool of blood still seeping from her head and face. She had been brutally attacked and had extensive head injuries. Terrified, they removed the covers and a sight that met their eyes could never be erased. Not only had their friend been beaten around the face, but one of the bed rods had been torn off during the attack and rammed into her vagina.
An ambulance was called, as Joni Lenz was still clinging to life. She remained in a coma for ten days. When she woke, she had no memory of what had happened. Although she had cheated death, she was left with brain damage.
The crime seemed to have no motive. Joni had not been raped, other than with the inserted bed rod.
Her attacker, it would later prove, was the serial killer, Ted Bundy who committed murder and mayhem across America. She was one of the lucky ones. Many would not be so lucky.
After spending the last remaining months of her pregnancy at a home for unwed mothers in Burlington, Vermont, 22-year-old Eleanor Louise Cowell, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania gave birth to her son Theodore Robert Cowell on November 24, 1946 at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers, in Burlington, Vermont. Her pregnancy had brought shock and shame to this highly religious Pennsylvanian family, where Eleanor had earned the reputation as being a 'good girl'.
Ted's natural father, has never been identified. Ted’s mother lists him as a ‘sailor’ on the birth certificate, and the child is noted as illegitimate. One name mentioned over time was Lloyd Marshall, who was an Air Force veteran and later a salesman. Another, was a man called Jack Worthington. A third theory is that the child was a product of incest, between Eleanor and her father, a man known for his violent temper. This too, has never been validated.
Whoever Ted’s father was, his identity was never revealed. Shortly after Ted's birth, he and his mother moved back to Philadelphia to live with Eleanor's parents who he would later refer to as his mother and father. This charade allowed Eleanor to escape any harsh criticism and prejudice for being an unwed mother. Theodore grew up referring to his own mother as his older sister.
At the age of four Ted moved to Tacoma, Washington, with his natural mother to live with relatives. It is there that they legally changed their names. Ted became Theodore Robert Nelson and his mother Eleanor became Louise Cowell.
A year after the move to Washington State, Louise Cowell met John Bundy at a local church. She married the North Carolinian and journeyman cook working at Madigan Army Hospital soon after. Johnnie Culpepper Bundy, loved Louise and Ted unconditionally. It was his name that Ted would assume for the rest of his life. A name that would later become synonymous with murder.
Louise and Johnnie were to have four other offspring, 2 daughters and 2 more sons who Ted spent much of his time baby-sitting after school. Ted never really took to his new father who tried unsuccessfully to raise him as his own son, by including him in camping trips and other father-son activities. Ted had his own ideas and thought of himself more a Cowell than a Bundy. The only man who he would ever really look up to was his grandfather who lived in Pennsylvania. He was the only man Ted respected and yet Ted was forced to leave him to move to a strange new place on the other side of the continent.
As a youth, Ted was terribly shy and was often teased and made the butt of pranks by bullies in his junior high school. Regardless of the sometimes humiliating experiences he suffered, he was able to maintain a high grade average that would continue throughout high school and later into college. Friends from high school would later remember Ted as being a more popular figure than he was in junior high. Although he was very shy, Ted was thought of as being "well dressed and exceptionally well mannered." Yet no one recalled him dating anyone during that period. His interests lay elsewhere such as in skiing and politics. In fact, it was in high school that Ted's interest in politics began to bloom.
In 1965, Ted graduated from high school and won a scholarship to the University of Puget Sound and in 1966 he transferred to the University of Washington, where he began his intensive studies in Chinese. He worked his way through the university by taking on low-level jobs such as a busboy, a lawyer's courier, and a shoe clerk. One summer he hauled heavy logs off the saw in a sawmill. Yet, he never stayed with any one position for very long. He was thought of by some employers to be unreliable. Although he was inconsistent with his work outside of school, he was more focused on his work in school and was able to maintain a high grade point average. But his focus changed during the spring of 1967 when he began a relationship that would change his life forever.
Diane Edwards, known in the media as Stephanie Brooks to hide her identity was everything Ted had ever dreamed of in a woman. She was a beautiful and highly sophisticated woman from a wealthy Californian family. Ted couldn't believe someone from her "class" would have an interest in someone like him. Although they had many differences, they both loved to ski and it was during their many ski trips together that they began to fall in love. Diane was Ted's first love and she was the first woman with whom he became involved with sexually. Ted and Diane spent a lot of time together doing things that most young couples in love did, such as romantic ski trips, long walks and intimate dinners. However, Diane was not as infatuated with Ted as he was with her. In fact, she liked Ted a lot but believed he had no real direction or future goals. Diane wanted someone who would fit in with her lifestyle and she didn't believe Ted was that person. Ted tried too hard to impress her, even if that meant lying, something that she didn't like at all.
In 1968, after graduating from the University of Washington Ted became interested in politics. A Republican, he crossed party lines briefly to support Robert Kennedy, and he opposed the Vietnam War. It was also during this year that Diane broke off relations with Ted. Ted never recovered from the break-up. Nothing, including school, seemed to hold any interest for him and he eventually dropped out, dumb-founded and depressed over the break-up. His one true love had left him and his world seemed to be falling apart. He managed to stay in touch with her by writing after she returned to California, yet she seemed uninterested in getting back together. But, Ted was obsessed with Diane and he couldn't get her out of his mind. It was an obsession that would span his lifetime and lead to a series of events that would shock the world.
To make matters worse, in 1969 Bundy learned of his true parentage. His "sister" was actually his mother and his "parents," he was to find out, were actually his grandparents. During this time in his life Bundy "became possessed of a kind of icy resolve." He changed from a shy and introverted person to a more focused and dominant character. He was driven, as if to prove himself to the world and, most importantly, to Diane. Ted was a man with a mission. He re-enrolled at the University of Washington and studied psychology, a subject in which he excelled. Bundy became an honors student and was well liked by his professors at the university.
About 1970, Ted met Elizabeth Kloepfer aka Meg Anders aka Elizabeth Kendall, a woman with whom he would be involved with, on and off, for nearly seven years. Elizabeth worked as a secretary and was a somewhat shy and quiet woman. She was a divorcee who seemed to have found the perfect father figure for her daughter in Ted Bundy. Elizabeth was deeply in love with Ted from the start and wanted to one day marry him. However, Ted was not yet ready for marriage because he felt there was still too much for him to accomplish. She knew that Ted didn't feel as strongly for her as she did him. She felt that on many occasions Ted was meeting with other women. Yet, Elizabeth thought time would bring him around to her and he would eventually change his ways. Elizabeth was unaware of his past relationship with Diane and that they still continued to keep in contact and visit each other. Ted remarked to a close friend at the time that Diane "was the one woman, the only woman I ever really loved. It's different from the way I feel about Elizabeth."
In 1972, Ted Bundy graduated with honors. He also worked as a paid staffer for the campaign of Washington Governor Don Evans. It was during this time that he knew he wanted to pursue a political career and decided to go to law school. He started working to save up the money so he could. He accepted an offer to work as Assistant Director for the Washington Republican State Central Committee. After the election he went on to counsel welfare recipients at the Harbor View (psychiatric) Hospital. A job he left for he felt the recipients were unappreciative of his efforts.
In 1973 he was accepted into the University of Puget Sound, and then the more prestigious University of Utah, Salt Lake City as a law student. His entry more to do with recommendation letters from Evans and old psychology professors, rather than on his own ability, as his entry tests were less than stellar. While here is studied the Mormon faith, and finally became a convert in 1975, converting to the Mormon faith, and that of his fiancee, Elizabeth Kloepfer. He would be ex-communicated by the church a year later.
In 1973, during a business trip to California for the Washington Republican Party, Ted met up with his old flame Diane Edwards for a night out. Diane was amazed at the transformation in Ted. He was much more confident and mature, not as aimless as he was when they last dated. They met several other times afterwards, unknown to Elizabeth. During Ted's business trips he romantically courted Diane and she once again fell in love with him.
Marriage was a topic brought up more than once by Ted over their many intimate rendezvous together during that fall and winter. Yet, just as suddenly as their romance began, it changed radically. Where once Ted lavished affection upon Diane, he was suddenly cold and despondent. It seemed as if Ted had lost all interest in her over the period of just a few weeks. Diane was undoubtedly confused as to the sudden change in Ted. In February 1974, with no warning or explanation Ted ended all contact with Diane. His plan of revenge worked. He rejected Diane as she had once rejected him. Diane was never to see or hear from Ted again.
On December 6, 1973, a young couple stumbled across the remains of a 15-year-old girl in McKenny Park, Washington. Kathy Devine was last seen by friends on November 25th hitchhiking to Oregon, trying to run away from home. Shortly after she began her journey, pathologists said she met her death. Kathy Devine had been strangled, sodomized and her throat cut. An investigation began immediately, but there was little remaining evidence at the scene. Kathy Devine was not the last one to die under such circumstances that year. A month after the discovery of the Devine girl came the attack of Joni Lenz, which was soon followed by an even more gruesome attack. It would be years later, that Ted Bundy would be proved not to be responsible for Katherine Merry Devine's murder. The suspect, William E. Cosden Jr., was already in prison in Washington, serving a lengthy sentence for rape. In 2002 William Cosden was convicted of her murder.
When Linda Ann Healy didn't show up for work or for dinner on January 31, 1974, friends and family began to worry. Healy's parents immediately called the police. Soon after their arrival, they discovered a mass of blood drenching Linda Ann's mattress. Police also found a nightgown close to the bed with blood about the collar. But, where was Lynda Ann? Again investigators were stymied. There was no evidence whatsoever that would help lead them to Linda Ann Healy.
During that spring and summer, seven more women students suddenly and inexplicably vanished within the states of Utah, Oregon and Washington. There were striking similarities among many of the cases. For instance, all the girls were white, thin, single, wearing slacks at the time of disappearance, had hair that was long and parted in the middle and they all disappeared in the evening.
Also around the time of the disappearances, police interviewed college students who told them of a strange man who was seen wearing a cast on either his arm or leg. Supposedly, the stranger seemed to be struggling with books and asking young women nearby for assistance. Other eyewitnesses reported a strange man in the campus parking lot who had a cast and asked for assistance with his car, a VW bug that he apparently had difficulty starting. Interestingly, around the same area where two of the girls mysteriously disappeared, there was seen such a man wearing a cast on his arm or leg.
Finally, in August of 1974 in Lake Sammamish State Park, Washington State, remains of some of the missing girls were found and two were later identified. It was remarkable that police were able to identify two of the bodies considering what was left, which consisted of strands of various colors of hair, five thigh bones, a couple of skulls and a jaw bone. The girls identified were Janice Ott and Denise Naslund who disappeared on the same day, July 14th.
The last people to have seen Janice Ott, a couple picnicking near by, remembered a handsome young man approaching the young woman. From what the couple could hear from the conversation between Ott and the young man, his name was Ted and he had difficulty loading his boat onto his car due to a broken arm. He asked Ott for assistance and she agreed to help. That was the last time twenty-three-year-old Janice Ott was seen alive.
Denise Naslund was spending the afternoon with her boyfriend and friends when she walked towards the restroom in the park, never to return again. That afternoon, around where she disappeared, a man who wore a cast and asked for help with his boat approached a couple of women. They were unable to assist the attractive young man. However, Denise Naslund was the kind of girl to help someone in need, especially someone with a broken arm--an act of kindness that cost her life.
Denise Naslund was not the last woman to disappear and be found dead.
Midvale, Utah's, Police Chief Louis Smith had a seventeen-year-old daughter who he frequently warned about the dangers of the world. He had seen all too much during his career and worried for his daughter's safety. Yet, his worst fears were to come true on October 18, 1974 when his daughter Melissa Smith disappeared. She was found 9 days after her disappearance -- strangled, sodomized and raped.
Thirteen days later on Halloween, seventeen-year-old Laura Aime disappeared. She was found on Thanksgiving Day in the Wasatch Mountains lying dead by a river. Aime had been beaten about the head and face with a crowbar, raped and sodomized. It was suspected that she was killed someplace other than where she was found due to the lack of blood at the crime scene. Other than her body, there was no physical evidence for the police to use.
The similarities between the Washington State and Oregon murders caught the attention of local police in Utah, who were frantically searching for the man responsible for these awful crimes. With each murder, the evidence was slowly mounting. Utah police consulted with Oregon and Washington State investigators. Almost all agreed that it was highly likely that the same man who committed the crimes in Oregon and Washington State had been responsible for the killings in Utah. Thanks to eyewitness accounts of the man in the cast seen near the areas where many of the women had disappeared, they were able to come up with a composite of the could-be-killer who called himself "Ted."
When Lynn Banks, a close friend of Elizabeth's, saw the account of Melissa Smith's murder in the paper and the composite of the could-be-killer, she knew Ted Bundy must be the man. It wasn't just her intense dislike and mistrust for Elizabeth's boyfriend that led her to believe Ted was the "man," but also the fact that he looked so much like the composite picture in the paper. Elizabeth also had to agree that the sketch of the killer did resemble Ted, yet she couldn't believe the man she loved and lived with could do such horrible things. Somewhat hesitant, she contacted the police in the fall of 1974, on the advice of her friend. Elizabeth was one of five people to have turned in Ted Bundy's name to police. Her report, along with the others, was filed away and forgotten until a few years later.
Police were so inundated with tips that when they came to Ted Bundy, an apparently respectable man, they set him aside to investigate other more likely suspects.
It was on November 8th, 1974, when police investigators were to get the break in the case for which they had been waiting. That Friday evening, a strange but handsome man in a book store at a Utah mall approached eighteen-year-old Carol DaRonch. The stranger told her that he had seen someone trying to break into her car and asked her to go along with him to the parking lot to see if anything had been stolen. Carol thought that the man must have been a mall security guard because he seemed so in control of the situation. When they arrived at the car, she checked it and informed the man everything was there. The man, who identified himself as Officer Roseland, was not satisfied and wanted to escort her to police headquarters. He wanted her to ID the supposed criminal and file a complaint. When he led her to a VW bug, she became suspicious and asked for identification. He quickly showed her a gold badge and then escorted her into the car.
He drove off quickly in the opposite direction of the police station and after a short while he suddenly stopped the car. Fear had set into Carol DaRonch. The "police officer" suddenly grabbed her and tried to put handcuffs on her. DaRonch screamed for her life. When she screamed, the man pulled out a handgun and threatened to kill her if she didn't stop. DaRonch found herself falling out of the car and then suddenly pushed up against the side of it by the madman. He had a crowbar in his hand and was ready to hit her head. Terror-struck, she kicked his genitals and managed to break free. DaRonch ran towards the road and caught the attention of a couple driving by. They stopped and DaRonch frantically jumped into their car. She was crying hysterically and told them a man had tried to kill her. They immediately took her to the police.
Sobbing, with the handcuffs still dangling from her wrists, she told the police what one of their men had done. But, there was no man with the name of Roseland that worked there.
Immediately police were dispatched to the place where DaRonch had struggled for her life just an hour earlier but the madman was long gone. However, the police were able to get a description of the man and his car and a few days later, from off the girl's coat, a blood type. The blood was type O, the same as Ted Bundy's, as police were later to learn.
That same evening, Jean Graham was busy backstage directing a play at Viewmont High School when she was approached by a handsome man who asked for her assistance with identifying a car. Yet, she was far too busy and refused him. Again, he later approached her and asked for her assistance, and again she refused him. Something seemed odd, almost scary about the man but she ignored it and kept on with the work at hand. But, she was bothered to see the man again in the back of the auditorium. She wondered what it was he really wanted.
Debby Kent, who was watching the evening performance along with her parents, left early to pick up her brother at the bowling alley. She told her parents that she'd be back to pick them up shortly, but she never did. In fact, she never made it to the car, which stood empty in the school parking lot. Debby Kent was nowhere to be found. What police did find in the parking lot was a small handcuff key. Later, when police tried to fit the key into the handcuffs worn by DaRonch earlier that night, it was a perfect match. The key that they found where Kent disappeared was able to open DaRonch's handcuffs. Almost a month later, a man would call police to tell them that he had seen a tan VW bug speed away from the high school parking lot the night of Kent's disappearance.
On January 12, 1975, Caryn Campbell, her fiancee, Dr. Raymond Gadowski, and his two children took a trip to Colorado. Caryn hoped she could enjoy the break away from work and spend more time with the children, while her fiancee attended a seminar. While relaxing in the lounge of her hotel with Gadowski and his son and daughter one night, she realized she had forgotten a magazine and returned to her room to retrieve it. Her fiancee and the children waited for her return in vain. He knew she was a bit ill that night and went back to the room to see if she needed help. Caryn was nowhere in sight. In fact, she had never made it to the room. By mid-morning, confused and worried, Gadowski informed the police of her disappearance. They searched every room in the hotel but they found no trace of Caryn. Almost a month later and a few miles from where she disappeared, recreational workers found Caryn's nude body laying a short distance from the road. She, like many of the victims found in Washington, Oregon and Utah, had suffered from repeated blows to the head. Again, little evidence was to be found at the scene. Apparently, she had been killed just hours after she disappeared.
A few months after Caryn Campbell's body was discovered, the remains of another person were found ten miles from where the bodies of Naslund and Ott were located. It was Brenda Ball, one of the seven women who had disappeared earlier that summer. The cause of her death was blows to the head with a blunt object.
Police searched the Taylor Mountains where the bodies were found. It would be only a couple days later when another body would be discovered. The body was that of Susan Rancourt, who had also disappeared earlier that summer. The Taylor Mountains had become the burial sight for the madman known as "Ted." Two more bodies were found that month; one of them was Lynda Ann Healy. All of the victims suffered from severe head contusions from a blunt instrument, possibly a crowbar.
Police continued unsuccessfully to look for the killer. Five more women were found dead in Colorado under similar circumstances. They were not the last to fall victim to Ted's killing spree.
On August 16th, 1975, Utah Highway Patrolman, Bob Hayward was sitting is his police car, patrolling an area just outside of Salt Lake County, when he spotted a suspicious tan VW bug drive past him. He knew the neighborhood well and almost all the residents that lived there and he couldn't remember seeing the tan VW there before. When he put on his lights to get a better view of the VW's license plate, the driver of the bug turned off his lights and began speeding away.
Immediately, Sergeant Hayward began to chase the vehicle. The car sped through two stop signs before it eventually pulled over into a nearby gas station. Bob Hayward pulled up behind the reckless driver and watched as the occupant got out of his car and approached the police vehicle. Hayward asked the young man for his registration and license, which was issued to Theodore Robert Bundy. Just then, two other troopers, officer's Fife and Twitchell, pulled up behind the tan VW. Hayward began to walk towards Bundy's car and noticed that the passenger seat was missing. With mounting suspicion and Bundy's permission, the three officers inspected the VW. The officers found a crowbar, ski mask, gloves, flashlight, rope, handcuffs, a pair of pantyhose, wire and an ice pick.
Bundy was immediately placed under arrest for suspicion of burglary.
Soon after Bundy's arrest, police began to find connections between him and the man who attacked Carol DaRonch. The handcuffs that were found in Bundy's car were the same make and brand that her attacker had used and the car he drove was similar to the one she had described. Furthermore, the crowbar found in Bundy's car was similar to the weapon that had threatened DaRonch earlier that November. They also suspected that Bundy was the man responsible for the kidnapping of Melissa Smith, Laura Aime and Debby Kent. There were just too many similarities among the cases for police to ignore. However, police knew they needed much more evidence to support the case against Bundy.
On October 2nd, 1975, Carol DaRonch along with Jean Graham and a friend of Debby Kent's were asked to view a line-up of seven men, one of whom was Bundy, at a Utah police station. Investigators were not surprised when Carol DaRonch picked Ted from the line-up as the man who had attacked her. Jean Graham and a friend of Debby Kent's had also picked Ted from the line-up as the man they had seen wandering around the auditorium the night Debby Kent had disappeared. Although Ted repeatedly professed his innocence, police were almost positive they had their man. Soon after he was picked out of the line-up, investigators launched a full-blown investigation into the man they knew as Theodore Robert Bundy.
During the fall of 1975, police investigators approached Elizabeth Kloepfer for whatever information she was able to give about Ted. After all, she had alerted police to her suspicions concerning her boyfriend in connection to the notorious "Ted." They believed Elizabeth would most likely hold the key to Bundy's whereabouts, habits and personality. What investigators learned would later help link Ted Bundy to the murder victims.
On September 16th, 1975, Elizabeth Kloepfer was called into the King County Police Major Crime Unit building in Washington State and interviewed by Detectives Jerry Thompson, Dennis Couch and Ira Beal. She was visibly stressed and nervous, but willing to offer the police any information necessary to help the case.
When asked about Ted, she stated that on the nights of the murders, she could not account for him. Elizabeth also told police that he would often sleep during the day and go out at night, exactly where she didn't know. She said that his interest in sex had waned during the last year. When he did show interest, he pressured her into bondage. When she told Bundy that she no longer wanted to participate in his bondage fantasies, he was very upset with her.
In a later interview with Elizabeth, investigators learned that Ted had plaster of Paris to make casts in his room, which she had noticed when they first began dating. She also noticed on a later occasion that in his car, Ted had a hatchet. But there was something else important to the case that Elizabeth would remember. She recalled that Ted had visited Lake Sammamish Park in July, where he had supposedly gone water skiing. A week after Ted had gone to Lake Sammamish Park, Janice Ott and Denise Naslund were reported missing.
After long hours of interviews with Elizabeth, investigators decided to shift their focus to Diane Edwards. Diane would tell them of how he had abruptly changed his manner towards her from a loving and affectionate man to cruel and insensitive. Upon further questioning, police learned that Bundy's relationship with Diane had overlapped with his relationship with Elizabeth and neither of them knew of the other woman. Ted seemed to be living a double life, filled with lies and betrayal. There was more to Ted than what investigators had initially expected.
Further investigation yielded more evidence that would later lead to his conviction. Lynda Ann Healy was linked to Bundy through a cousin of his; more eyewitnesses would recognize him from Lake Sammamish Park during the time Ott and Naslund disappeared; an old friend of Bundy's came forward saying he had seen pantyhose in the glove compartment of his car; plus Ted had spent a lot of time in the Taylor Mountains where the bodies of victims had been found. Bundy's credibility was further dented when police discovered he purchased gas on credit cards in the towns where some of the victims had disappeared. Furthermore, a friend had seen him with his arm in a cast when there was no record of him ever having a broken arm at any hospital. The evidence against Ted Bundy was building up, yet he still continued to profess his innocence.
On February 23, 1976 Ted was put on trial for the kidnapping of Carol DaRonch. Bundy sat in a relaxed manner in the courtroom, confident that he would be found innocent of the charges against him. He believed that there was no hard evidence to convict him, but he couldn't have been more wrong. When Carol DaRonch took the stand, she told of her ordeal that she suffered sixteen months earlier. When asked if she were able to recognize the person who attacked her, she began to cry as she lifted her hand and pointed a finger to the man who had called himself "Officer Roseland." The people in the courtroom turned their attention to Ted Bundy, who stared at DaRonch coldly as she pointed at him. Later in the trial, Ted had said he had never seen the defendant but he had no alibi to confirm his whereabouts the day of the attack.
The judge spent the weekend reviewing the case before he handed down a verdict. Two days later he would find Bundy guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of aggravated kidnapping. Ted Bundy was later sentenced on June 30th to one to fifteen years in prison with the possibility of parole.
While in prison, Bundy was subjected to a psychological evaluation that the court had previously requested. In Anne Rule's book The Stranger Beside Me, she stated that psychologists found Bundy to be neither "psychotic, neurotic, the victim of organic brain disease, alcoholic, addicted to drugs, suffering from a character disorder or amnesia, and was not a sexual deviate." The psychologists concluded that he had a "strong dependency on women, and deduced that that dependency was suspect." Upon further evaluation, they concluded that Ted had a "fear of being humiliated in his relationships with women."
While Bundy remained incarcerated in Utah State Prison, investigators began a search for evidence connecting him to the murders of Caryn Campbell and Melissa Smith. What Bundy did not realize was that his legal problems were to soon escalate. Detectives discovered in Bundy's VW hairs that were examined by the FBI and found to be characteristically alike to Campbell and Smith's hair. Further examination of Caryn Campbell's remains showed that her skull bore impressions made by a blunt instrument, and those impressions matched the crowbar that had been discovered in Bundy's car a year earlier. Colorado police filed charges against Bundy on October 22, 1976, for the murder of Caryn Campbell.
In April of 1977, Ted was transferred to Garfield County Jail in Colorado to await trial for the murder of Caryn Campbell. During preparation of his case, Bundy became increasingly unhappy with his representation. He believed his lawyer to be inept and incapable and eventually he fired him. Bundy, experienced in law, believed he could do the job better and he began to take up his own defense in the case. He felt confident that he would succeed at the trial scheduled for November 14, 1977. Bundy had a lot of work ahead of him. He was granted permission to leave the confines of the jail on occasion and utilize the courthouse library in Aspen, to conduct research. What police didn't know was that he was planning an escape.
On June 7th, during one of his trips to the library at the courthouse, Bundy managed to jump from an open window, injuring his ankle in the process, and escaped to freedom. He was not wearing any leg irons or handcuffs, so he did not stand out among the ordinary citizens in the town of Aspen. It was an escape that had been planned by Ted for a while. Aspen Police were quick to set up roadblocks surrounding the town, yet Ted knew to stay within the city limits for the time being and lay low. Police launched a massive land search, using scent tracking bloodhounds and 150 searchers in the hopes of catching Ted. However, Ted was able to elude them for days.
While on the run, Bundy managed to live off the food he stole from local cabins and nearby campers, occasionally sleeping in ones that were abandoned. Yet, Bundy knew that what he really needed was a car, which would better enable him to pass through police barriers. He couldn't hide in Aspen forever. Finally, Bundy found his ticket out of town when he discovered a car with the keys left in it. While trying to flee Aspen in the stolen vehicle, he was spotted by two police officers and recaptured, six days after his escape.
From then on, he was ordered to wear handcuffs and leg irons while conducting his research at the library in Aspen. However, Bundy was not the type of man who liked to be tied down.
Almost seven months later, Bundy again attempted an escape, but this time he was more successful. On December 30th, he crawled up into the ceiling of the Garfield County Jail and made his way to another part of the building. He managed to find another opening in the ceiling that led down into the closet of a jailer's apartment. He sat and waited until he knew the apartment was empty, then casually walked out of the front door to his freedom. His escape would go undiscovered until the following afternoon, more than fifteen hours later.
By the time police learned of his escape, Bundy was well on his way to Chicago. Chicago was one of the few stops that Bundy would make along the route to his final destination, sunny Florida. By mid January of 1978 Ted Bundy, using his newly acquired name Chris Hagen, had settled comfortably into a one-room apartment in Tallahassee, Florida.
Ted Bundy enjoyed his new found freedom in a place that knew little if nothing about him or his past. Bundy was stimulated by intelligence and youth and felt comfortable in his new environment nearby Florida State University. He spent much of his free time walking around F.S.U.'s campus, occasionally ducking into classes unnoticed and listening in on lectures. When he was not wandering around campus, he would spend his time in his apartment watching the television he had stolen. Theft became second nature to Bundy. Almost everything in his apartment was stolen merchandise. Even the food he ate was purchased from stolen credit cards. Under the circumstances, Bundy seemed to have enough material things to make him
content. What he didn't have and what he missed the most was companionship.
On Saturday night, January 14th, few of the sorority sisters could be found at the Chi Omega House. Most were out dancing or at keg parties on campus. It wasn't unusual for the sisters to stay out late, since there was no curfew. In fact, it was pretty normal for the girls to return in the early morning hours. However, none of the sisters was prepared to confront the horror that awaited them back at their sorority house later that night.
At 3 AM, Nita Neary was dropped off at the sorority house by her boyfriend after attending a keg party on campus. Upon reaching the door to the house, she noticed it standing wide open. Soon after she had entered the building, she heard some movement, as if someone was running in the rooms above her. Suddenly, she heard the footsteps approaching the staircase near her and she hid in a doorway, out of view. She watched as a man with a knit blue cap pulled over his eyes, holding a log with cloth around it, ran down the stairs and out the door.
Nita's first thought was that the sorority house had been burglarized. She immediately ran up the stairs to wake her roommate, Nancy Dowdy. Nita told her of the strange man she saw leaving the building. Unsure of what to do, the girls made their way to the housemother's room. Yet, before they were able to make it to her room, they saw another roommate, Karen Chandler, staggering down the hall. Her entire head was soaked with blood. While Nancy tried to help Karen, Nita woke up the housemother and the two of them went to check on another roommate nearby. They found Kathy Klein in her room alive, but in a horrible state. She was also covered in blood that was seeping from open wounds on her head. Hysterical, Nancy ran to the phone and dialed the police.
Police later found two more girls dead in their rooms lying in their beds. Someone had attacked them while they slept. Lisa Levy was the first girl that officers found dead. Pathologists who later performed the autopsy on her found that she had been beaten on the head with a log, raped and strangled. Upon further examination, they discovered bite marks on her buttocks and on one of her nipples. In fact, Lisa's nipple had been so severely bitten that it was almost severed from the rest of her breast. She had also been sexually assaulted with a hair spray bottle.
Postmortem reports on Margaret Bowman showed that she suffered similar fatal injuries, although she had not been sexually assaulted and she showed no signs of bite marks. She had been strangled by a pair of pantyhose that were later found at the scene of the crime. She had also been beaten on the head, yet so severely that her skull was splintered and a portion of her brain was exposed. Neither she nor Lisa Levy showed signs of a struggle.
Investigators who interviewed the survivors learned nothing. None of the girls had any memory of the events of that fatal night. Like Levy and Bowman, they too had been asleep when they were attacked. The only witness was Nita Neary who was able to catch a profile of the killer as he fled. However, the assailant would not travel far before claiming another victim that night.
Less than a mile from the Chi Omega House, Debbie Ciccarelli was awakened by loud banging noises coming from the apartment next to hers. She wondered what her friend in the adjoining apartment was doing to make so much noise at four in the morning. As the banging noises persisted, Debbie became suspicious and woke her roommate Nancy Young. As they listened, they heard Cheryl Thompson next door moaning. Frightened, they called over to her house to see if she was all right. When no one picked up the phone, they immediately called the police.
The police came quickly. After all, they were just blocks away at the Chi Omega House tending to the crime scene there. They entered Cheryl's apartment and walked to her bedroom, where they found her sitting on the bed. Her face was just beginning to swell from the bludgeoning to her head. She was still somewhat conscious and half nude, but lucky to be alive. Police discovered a mask at the foot of her bed. According to Anne Rule in The Stranger Beside Me the mask that was found "resembled almost exactly the mask taken from Ted Bundy's car when he'd been arrested in Utah in August of 1975."
Police investigators worked diligently on the evidence that was left behind. They were able to get a blood type from the assailant, sperm samples and fingerprint smudges. Unfortunately, most of the evidence that was tested proved to be inconclusive. The only firm evidence investigators were able to obtain were the hairs found in the mask, teeth impressions from the bite marks on the victims and an eyewitness account from Nita Neary. Investigators did not have a suspect and Ted Bundy was unknown to them.
On February 9th, 1978, Lake City Police received a phone call from the distressed parents of twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach. They were hysterical and said that their daughter had disappeared that day. Police were to launch a massive search to find the missing girl, who disappeared from her school grounds. The person who last saw her was her friend Priscilla Blakney. In fact, she saw Kim get into the car of a stranger the day she disappeared. Unfortunately, she was unable to accurately remember the car or the driver. They found her body eight weeks later in a state park in Suwannee County, Florida. The young girl's body yielded little information due to advanced decomposition. However, police were to later find the evidence they needed in a van driven by Ted Bundy.
A few days before Kimberly Leach had disappeared, a strange man in a white van approached fourteen-year-old Leslie Parmenter as she waited for her brother to pick her up. The man had claimed he was from the fire department and asked her if she attended the school nearby. She found it strange that an on-duty fireman was wearing plaid pants and a navy jacket. Leslie began to feel uncomfortable. She had been warned on many occasions by her father, who was the Chief of Detectives for the Jacksonville Police Department, not to talk with strangers. She was relieved when her brother drove up. Suspicious of the man, Leslie's brother Danny ordered her into the car. Danny followed the man and wrote down his license plate, so he could later give it to his father.
Upon hearing of the stranger in the white van, Detective James Parmenter had the license plate checked out. He learned it belonged to a man named Randall Ragen, and he decided to pay him a visit. Ragen informed the detective that his plates had been stolen and he had already been issued new ones. The detective later found out that the van his children had seen was also stolen and he had an idea who it might have been. He decided to take his children to the police station to show them a stack of mug shots, Bundy's picture being among them. He hadn't realized how close he had been to losing his own daughter. Both of his children recognized the man in the van to be Ted Bundy.
The van long since discarded, Bundy set out towards Pensacola, Florida, in a new stolen car. This time he managed to find a vehicle he was more comfortable driving, a VW bug. Officer David Lee was patrolling an area in West Pensacola when he saw an orange VW at 10 PM on February 15th. He knew the area well and most of the residents, yet he had never before seen the car. Officer Lee decided to run a check on the license plates and soon found out that they were stolen. Immediately, he turned on his lights and began to follow the VW.
Once again, as had happened in Utah several years earlier, Bundy gave chase. Suddenly, Bundy pulled over and stopped. Officer Lee ordered him out of his car and told Bundy to lay down with his hands in front. To Lee's surprise, as he had begun to handcuff Bundy, he rolled over and began to fight the officer. Bundy managed to fight his way free and run. Just as soon as he did, Lee fired his weapon at him. Bundy dropped to the ground, pretending to have been shot. As the officer approached him lying on the ground, he was again attacked by Bundy. However, the officer was able to overpower him. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station. Bundy had finally been caught.
Over the months following Bundy's arrest, investigators were able to compile critical evidence to be used against Bundy in the Leach case. The white van that had been stolen by Bundy was found and