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Ted Bundy

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At 7:18 on the morning of 24 January 1989, an executioner hired by the state of Florida flipped a switch and sent a 2,000 volt surge of electricity coursing through the body of Ted Bundy. For 60 seconds the mass killer arched and twisted against the straps that held him, as if fighting death. Then, as the power was switched off, he sank back, his life extinguished. 'Old Sparky', the oldest electric chair in America, had done its duty once again.

It was nine years and 277 days since the death penalty had been passed. Across the USA, in a nation used to outbreaks of bizarre and horrific crime, work stopped as people stood around televisions, popping Champaign corks and cheering at the news. After 15 years, America's most loathed mass killer had finally been dealt with.

On the eve of his death, Bundy, the handsome young lawyer, by now 42, finally broke down and confessed to the murder of 23 young women. Detectives believe the true figure was well over 36, maybe even as high as 150.

Ted Bundy was a classic 'organised' serial killer. His crimes were not spur-of-the-moment- decisions: they were carefully planned and executed. He was intelligent and articulate and had a degree in psychology to his credit. Handsome and clean cut, his outward appearance gave no clue to the monster inside. Even as he was tried for his awful crimes, it still seemed difficult to believe that Ted Bundy was actually a brutal sadist.

Bundy's first attack is thought to have occurred on January 4, 1974 at the Washington State University in Seattle. An 18 year old student, Sharon Clarke, had settled down for the night in a modern residential block when Bundy crept into her room. She was battered with a heavy blunt object that fractured her skull, she was then raped and sexually assaulted. Sharon was found the next day in a coma by classmates who had gone to her room thinking she had overslept. For weeks she hovered on the edge of death before pulling through. But it was almost three months before she could talk to detectives, by which time Bundy had wreaked more horror and havoc.

Four weeks after the first attack, Bundy returned to Washington State University. When friends called round to see Lynda Anne Healy they found her missing and her bed soaked with blood.

On March 12 19 year old Donna Manson left her room on her campus at the Evergreen State College to go to a nearby jazz evening in Olympia, one hour drive from Seattle. On April 17, 18 year old Susan Rancourt, a student at the Central Washington State College at Ellensberg - 145 kilometres from Seattle - filled up a washing machine at a campus laundrette, and left saying she would be back for her laundry later. Neither girl was ever seen alive again.

One university student almost murdered, three missing - police agreed it looked ominous. And it would be six months before the terrible fate of the girls became clear.

Ted Bundy drove a bronze-coloured VW Beetle car, which had the passenger seat removed when he went out 'hunting'. Wearing a mask and equipped with hand cuffs, he beat each girl about the head with an iron bar or similar weapon. The semi- conscious victim was then dragged into the car and driven to his murder site: Taylor Mountain. Pulling off a lonely mountain road 32 kilometres from Seattle, he knew he would be undisturbed while he raped and killed.

With the body buried, Bundy drove back to Seattle and he resumed his respectable life. As psychologists later discovered, there was nothing 'insane' about Ted Bundy. He knew exactly what he was doing. But he began to believe he could always outwit the police.

The pattern was repeated in May, but this time nearly 370 kilometres away at a university campus at Corvallis, Oregon. Roberta Parkes, aged 20, left her room just before 11pm to walk 200 metres to the students union building. She vanished from the face of the earth.

Homicide detectives from five forces were now pooling their information. They were not sure the disappearances were linked to the attack on Sharon Clarke but they had nothing-not even a sighting of the suspect-to work on.

While they looked for a lead another girl went missing, this time back in Seattle. Brenda Ball had gone out dancing at a nightclub on the evening of June 1, 1974. It was a Saturday and none of her friends thought it was a matter of much concern when she didn’t come back for the rest of the weekend. When the alarm was raised, there was little the police could discover about her disappearance except that she had left the nightclub with a good looking man who had his arm in a sling. Homicide officers didn’t know it then, but they were going to hear more in the years to come about a man with an injured arm.

The tension brewing around the university at Seattle reached near hysteria when yet another young woman suddenly vanished ten days later. At 11pm 18 year old student Georgeanne Hawkins left a party to walk back to her room, a mere 80 metres away. It was as if the ground had opened up and swallowed her: the next day there was no trace of her.

The police were filled with foreboding and frustration. The man in charge of the case, Detective Captain Joseph Mackie, believed he had a serial killer on his hands but how could he be certain when there were no bodies and virtually no evidence?

On July 14 the pressure on Mackie and his team became even greater: two more young women vanished on the same day at the same place. Janice Ott, a striking 23 year old blonde and 18 year old Denise Naslund vanished while on a day out to Lake Sammamish, a national park and popular beauty spot 16 kilometres outside Seattle. The women did not know each other-both had gone separately.

Television and newspaper appeals soon brought forward the first pieces of hard information. Janice had definitely been seen leaving the park with a good looking young man. A witness had heard the man ask her if she would help him get a boat on to the roof of his car.

Bundy was very pleased with himself. It was one thing to bludgeon a sleeping woman unconscious and drive her away in the middle of the night. This time he had abducted two young women together-in broad daylight - which confirmed his long held conviction of superiority. Bundy had a natural air of authority and he carried several items of police gear, including a fake ID. This was not just a trick to lure girls into his car: the feeling of control they gave him was like a drug, a drug on which he became increasingly dependent. The feeling lasted even after he had killed his victims; he kept 'souvenirs' to help him relive the moment. He hid the bodies in remote places, revisiting several of them to experience again the thrill of total control. He even had sex with the corpses.

The attacks at night in halls of residence were becoming too risky for Bundy. He would still continue to seek out well educated, well brought up young women, such as college students, but now would lure them into his clutches by asking them politely for help. An arm in a sling would help to convince them that he needed assistance - for what possible harm could a nice looking man with only one arm free do?

On September 7 the police investigations turned into a murder enquiry when the bodies of Janice Ott and Denise Naslund were found hidden in a ditch along with an unidentified body eight kilometres away from Lake Sammanish.

The resultant publicity from the discovery of the bodies led to several young women contacting the murder squad. Detective Robert Keppel of King County in Washington State, who had taken over the investigation since the Sammanish disappearances, and his experienced partner Roger Dunn, had few clues as to the killer's identity, but they were sure now that they had worked out his preferred modus operandi , his 'MO'.

A student at the same university as Susan Rancourt, missing since April, came forward to say she had been approached by someone fitting the description of the man with his arm in a sling, on the same day Susan had disappeared.

More reports came in from other women who had been approached by a stranger wearing a cast on his arm, sometimes on his leg. Help with a boat was also mentioned. A girl told of the night a man 'with a broken leg' had asked her to help him carry some books. It was the same place and the same night that Georgeanna Hawkins had disappeared.

Detectives were now sure that they were up against a cunning and rapacious (not sure if that word is in the right context) serial killer. The police began sifting through thousands of names of possible suspects. One name that came out was Theodore Robert Bundy.

An extremely bright graduate in psychology, Bundy had been studying law at the University in Tacoma, approximately 40 kilometres from Seattle, and had lived close to the campuses from which several of the missing girls had been snatched.

However, there was not the slightest hint that he could be a psychotic serial killer. Investigating officers discovered that Bundy had worked keenly for Republican candidates in local elections and spent his spare time working with emotionally disturbed children.

He was in a permanent relationship with an attractive young women and looked to have a career ahead of him in law or politics.

However, what the police did not know was that Theodore 'Ted' Bundy had moved from the state of Washington in September 1974 to Salt Lake City in Utah, 4,800 kilometres away, to study law at university. Coincidentally, girls stopped vanishing in Washington State. But in Utah, police noticed there was something distinctly worrying going on. On October 18, Melissa Smith, teenage daughter of local police chief Louis Smith, vanished from a restaurant car park. Nine days later she was found raped, battered and strangled in the bush near the Summit Park mountain resort.

On October 31, another teenager, Laura Ann Aime, mysteriously vanished from a party at the American Fork park at Salt Lake. Hikers found her body nearly a month later hidden in shrub on a hillside. Like Melissa, she had been raped, battered and strangled.

A little over a week later, two women had terrifying close encounters with Bundy. One lived to tell the tale. The other vanished without a trace, presumed murdered.

The woman who survived was 18 year old Carol DaRonch, who was in Salt Lake City shopping centre when she was approached by a man claiming to be a police officer. He tricked her into his car, and when she became suspicious he tried to handcuff her, but she fought back, screaming and yelling. Eventually she fell out of the car. Bundy followed her, illuminated by the headlights of an approaching car, he leapt into his vehicle and sped away.

That seemed to end the nights drama. But even as the lawmen were reassuring lucky that Carol was safe, another chain of events with more tragic consequences was being played out just 24 kilometres away at the Viewmont High School.

A play was in progress in the school theatre when a young teacher was approached by a man claiming to be a police officer and asking her to identify a car in the car park. The teachers refusal saved her life.

Seventeen year old Debbie Kent was not so fortunate. She had gone to the play with her family, leaving a younger brother at a nearby roller skating rink. At 10pm she volunteered to take the family car and collect him.

Witnesses later told police they heard screams from the school car park and saw a bronze coloured VW Beetle drive away. Debbie was never seen again. Police found one clue, a handcuff key.

As quickly as they started, the killings in Utah stopped. But the killer hadn't stopped killing. He'd just moved on once more. By January he was in the ski resort of Aspen, Colorado.

Caryn Campbell, a 23 year old nurse, had gone to Aspen from her home in Michigan with her boyfriend, a doctor, to attend a medical conference. They booked into the Wildwood Inn on January 12 1975. On the first evening they were in the lobby chatting with some friendswhen Caryn said she was going back to her room to get a magazine. She never returned. Police mounted a huge search, but there was no trace.

A month later the worst fears of the local police force were realised when Caryn Campbell's naked body was found buried in a snow bank on a mountain road between Aspen and the neighbouring resort of Snowmass.

Events began to move quickly. On March 1 1975, two forestry workers were checking timber growth on Taylor Mountain in the Cascade range when they saw a white, shiny sphere half buried in moss. It was the skull of Brenda Ball. Detectives Keppel and Dunn were quickly joined at the site by a full team of police forensic detectives and searchers. Within 24 hours they had made three more finds, the remains of Lynda Ann Healy, Susan Rancourt and Roberta Parks. A fortnight later, on March 15, the killer struck again. In Vail, another wealthy ski resort 160kms from Aspen, 26 year old ski instructor Julie Cunningham organised to meet a girlfriend in a bar. She left home but never made the bar. Like so many young women before, she simply vanished.

On April 6 it apparently happened again. Denise Oliverson lived in Grand Junction, Colorado, a small town on the interstate highway between Salt Lake City and Aspen. Following an argument with her husband, Denise took her bicycle and rode off to visit her parents who lived nearby. Her bike and shoes were later found in a ditch under a railway bridge.

On April 15 Melanie Cooley vanished in Nederland, Colorado. Two weeks later her body was found 20kms away. She had been beaten to death and raped.

Ten weeks after that on July 1, Shelly Robertson disappeared from another Colorado town, this time the resort of Golden. Her naked and beaten body was found hidden in a disused mineshaft in late August.

On July 4, a petrol station attendant, 19 year old Nancy Baird disappeared from the courtyard of where she worked at Bountiful, Colorado. The Seattle murder squad, Colorado homicide and FBI specialists on serial killers were in no doubt that the 'campus killer' had struck once again.

Eighteen young women dead or missing, and hardly a clue-just a vague description, a plaster cast and a common car. For the harassed Colorado police, they didn’t amount to much. Thousands of possible lines of enquiry were followed through and checked.

Again, the name of law student Ted Bundy came up. Some months earlier his girlfriend, Megan Roberts had approached detectives in Seattle. Megan was worried about certain aspects of her boyfriends behaviour. She found a bag of women’s underwear hidden in his apartment. He kept medical supplies-bandages, plaster or Paris, surgical gloves, even a crutch-in a cupboard without explanation. He also had a knife in the glove compartment of his Volkswagen. There was more, she said Bundy liked to tie her up with her stockings. Experiments with bondage and anal sex were followed by mock strangulations that left her frightened for her life. But Bundy's name was just one on a list of over 3,000 suspects.

While Megan's revelations raised some eyebrows, they did not catapult Ted Bundy to the top of the list. There were weirder suspects to be dealt with first.

Since his college days Bundy had had little difficulty attracting women. It seemed highly unlikely that a man with a steady girlfriend could be vanishing from time to time in order to perpetuate such dreadful crimes. But, although Bundy could start a normal sexual relationship, he could never maintain one. One former girlfriend described him as an unexcited lover. For Ted Bundy normality was not enough, and it made him angry.

He was angry with everyone-his girlfriends, his family and people in general. Bundy’s early childhood was unhappy. He felt stigmatised by illegitimacy, frequent moves and name changes. For whatever reason, his inner rage led him to regard women as disposable items. Kidnap, murder and necrophilia offered him something that 'mere' sex could not.

Bundy’s murderous career received its first check on August 16, 1975. In the early hours of the morning he was driving his car through Granger, a small town near Salt Lake City. He was looking for a victim, but instead attracted the attention of a highway patrolman parked at a quiet junction. Sergent Bob Hayward flashed Bundy to stop but Bundy turned off his lights and sped away.

Hayward gave chase while another highway patrol car also joined the pursuit. The VW ran through two stop signs before finally pulling over.

Hayward questioned the driver, a tall, slim man in his 20's, who told the officer: "i'm lost". The patrolman, an officer with over 20 years service knew the driver was hiding something. He asked to see his drivers licence. The name on the licence was Theodore Bundy.

Hayward, now joined by two colleagues in the back-up car, decided to search the VW. He found a strange collection of items a crowbar, an ice pick, torn strips of bed sheet, a pair of handcuffs and a mask with eye holes, made from a pair of stockings.

Bundy had a plausible explanation for everything: eg. the mask was a home-made ski hood. But Hayward wasn’t taken in. Bundy was arrested as a suspected burglar. He was taken to jail, then bailed pending further enquiries. The enquiries were taken up by Captain Pete Hayward, brother of the patrol officer who flagged Bundy down. It was Pete Hayward who had interviewed Megan Roberts personally when she had nervously walked into a police station and named her boyfriend, Ted Bundy as a murder suspect.

Three days after he had been stopped, Bundy was rearrested and charged with being equipped to commit burglary. Hayward and Detective Jerry Thompson were quiet excited. Bundy looked like a good suspect for the attempted snatch of Carol DaRonch. The car, crowbar and handcuffs all fitted. Could this be the mass killer sought in four states?

Thompson searched Bundy's apartment and found a map of Colorado. Bundy denied ever having been there. But in Aspen detectives alerted about the arrest of Bundy requisitioned his credit card records. He had lied about Colorado. Bundy had filled up with petrol in that state three times at different petrol stations. The dates coincided with the days Caryn Campbell, Julie Cunningham and Denise Oliverson had vanished.

Bundy was initially charged with kidnapping Carol DaRonch and was held in custody. Detectives from Seattle, Salt lake and Aspen held an emergency summit conference. On November 20, Bundy was given $100,000US bail. He went to Seattle to stay with friends, shadowed around the clock by undercover officers.

In February 1976 he went back to Utah to face trial on the kidnap charge. Bundy put up a strong defence, denying he had been anywhere near the shopping mall where Carol DaRonch had been snatched two years before.

When questioned about why he tried to escape when the Highway Patrol tried to stop his car, Bundy calmly told the jury he had been smoking drugs. He panicked when he saw the police car and sped off throwing several cannabis 'joints' out of the window.

But Carol DaRonch proved a resolute witness, positively identifying Bundy as her abductor. He was convicted and sentenced to between 1 and 15 years in jail.

The police had won a battle, but the war between the law and the young lawyer was by no means over. While detectives renewed their efforts to link Bundy to the murdered girls, the 'Campus Killer' was making plans to escape.

By January 1977 the authorities in Aspen had enough evidence to charge Bundy with the murder of Caryn Campbell. Bundy announced that he would defend himself, and requested access to the prison law library in Glenwood Springs close to Aspen.

On June 7 he asked to visit the court house library for some last minute cramming just before his appearance. He was left alone and escaped by jumping from a second story window. Bundy was recaptured just 1 week later, pulled over by a police car while driving a stolen Cadillac.

The murder trial was rescheduled for January 1978. But Bundy had no intention of showing up. Faking illness throughout December, he refused food and slimmed down enough to climb through a loose ceiling panel on the night of the New Years Eve celebrations in 1977.

He crawled through a ceiling space, smashed into an adjacent room and vanished into the night. Lawmen greeted the news with stunned disbelief. In Aspen, Bundys latest escape tourned him into a ghoulish folk hero, with T-shirts and even a folk song celebrating his escape.

Eight days after escaping, Bundy, now known by the alias Chris Hagen, got off a bus from Chicago in the town of Tallahassee. He booked into a respectable guest house, paying $100 advance in cash.

How long Bundy could have eluded capture is open to question. He was an accomplished thief who wined and dined with several girls, paying his bills with stolen credit cards. Had he had devoted his considerably intelligence to staying free he might still be at liberty to this day. But the months of confinement only served to increase Bundys appetite.

And his confidence knew no bounds. He had proved to himself that he could abduct, rape and kill at will. It had only been a bit of bad luck with the highway patrol that landed him in prison. Like several other serial killers, bundy was now convinced he could outwit the police. Nobody would catch ted bundy.

Only two weeks after his escape, he killed again. But it was not to be a single murder. In the early hours of January 15 1978 he launched himself into a frenzied attack on five girls living on a university campus. Bundy broke all his own rules that night. Having broken into the Chi Omerga sorority house, home to 40 students, he moved from room to room, attacking at leisure.

Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner suffered severe head injuries that disfigured them for life after being hit with an oak branck. Bundy used the same branch in the rooms of Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy, but he had gone further, sexually assaulting both girls as they lay dying.

At 3:15am Nita Neary returned to the building from a night out. Perhaps disturbed by the approaching footsteps, bundy fled down the stairs, passing the terrified girl as he raced into the street. But bundy was not finished yet. He attacked again only four ‘blocks’ away.

Three girls rented a house on Dunwoody Street. Nancy Young and Debbie Cicarelli woke to hear a violent struggle and called the police. Officers already on the scene because of the earlier mayhem found Cheryl Thomas, a ballet student, lying in a pool of blood with massive head injuries. Among the gore lay a stocking mask. Bundy had not even bothered to keep it on.

While the university (could not find the name of this university) reeled in shock at the events, the man known as Chris Hagen maintained a bold front. He kept late hours and seemed to drink more than was good for him, but he payed his way.

Once again bundy was living off stolen credit cards and stealing vehicles to keep himself on the move. On the 8th of February bundy tried to abduct a schoolgirl in Jacksonville. He posed as a fire officer, but fled when the girls brother appeared unexpectedly. The children of a police detective, they noted down the plate number of the van bundy was driving and reported what had happened.

On February 9 bundy kidnapped a 12 year old girl from outside the Junior High School in Lake City. Kimberly leach was no runaway and she vanished days before she was to be the schools Valentines Day princess. Police feared the worst.

The van was found on February 13 and forensic analysis had barely begun before police found Ted Bundy himself. He had stolen an orange Volkswagon Beetle and was parked in a side street in the town of Pensacola at 1:30am when police patrolman Dave Lee approached.

Bundy was frightened and once again made the mistake of racing a patrol car in a VW Beetle. Forced onto the kerb, he was arrested at gunpoint. At first bundy blustered, saying his name was Kenneth Misner, but the ID he showed police was stolen. He had a wallet full of stolen credit cards and some of them had turned out to have been used in Lake City on the day Kimberly Leach disappeared.

Eventually he admitted his true identity, but he would not confess to the brutal atacks on the nearby campus or the abduction of Kimberly Leach.

Kimberlys body was found two months later, hidden in a derelict pig sty. An examination of the van and her remains showed that she had been raped in the vehicle and then suffocated in the mud while Bundy assaulted her again. He had mutilated her body with a knife.

Bundy was tried in June 1979 for the murders of Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy. After rejecting a chance to plea-bargain he was found guilty by the jury and the legal panel ordered the death penalty - in Florida by the electric chair. The following year bundy was handed down another death sentence for murdering Kimberly Leach.

Although Bundy exploited every legal avenue to save himself, state prosecutors were determined to see justice done. It took nearly ten years and many millions of dollars to defeat every challenge, but in the end he was made to keep his appointment with ‘old sparky’

If you have any comments, suggestions, complaints etc. please let me know, and they will be taken into consideration.

If you do need more information on Ted Bundy or the case study I have created, let me know. If you need any information on any serial killers, I can happily help and specialise in Ted Bundy, The Night Stalker, Boston Strangler, Fred and Rosemary West, Harold Shipman, Jeffrey Dahmer, Moors Murders, Dennis Nilsen, Red Ripper, Charles Manson and Son Of Sam. I am in the process of creating crime case studies for each of these.

Edited by Adam Wilkinson
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  • 2 months later...
Guest Stephen Turner

Adam, good stuff, keep posting some of us are reading..I am currently putting together a long post on the Zodiac killer,Have you visited the jack the ripper threads? be good to get your comments..Steve.

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Thanks Steve, I have finally finished the Ted Bundy crime case study and am starting on The Night Stalker. I don't have too much knowledge on Jack The Ripper, I know you are considered an expert, so I will visit the threads and comment when I have time. And I only have general knowledge on the Zodiac Killer. It will be good to see your work. B)

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Guest Stephen Turner
Thanks Steve, I have finally finished the Ted Bundy crime case study and am starting on The Night Stalker. I don't have too much knowledge on Jack The Ripper, I know you are considered an expert, so I will visit the threads and comment when I have time. And I only have general knowledge on the Zodiac Killer. It will be good to see your work. B)

Adam, have a look at the ripper, he's the "Grandaddy" of all serial killers. A good place to start is "Industrialisation and the rise of the serial killer" on the ripper threads..Steve.

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Hi Adam and Steve

I agree with Steve that this is a good thread, so thanks for starting it, Adam!

Bundy presents a very interesting case but perhaps a misleading one as far as serial killers generally go. He was a good looking, well educated man, just the type that you would not suspect would turn out to be such a killer. It seems to me that most serial killers turn out to be more innocuous and less glamorous types such as a working man like Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, who worked as a painter, or middle class men who seem like pillars of the community like John Wayne Gacy (a boy scout troop leader) and Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, sentenced only last month and who was also a boy scout leader and a leader of his local church.

What I do think is applicable about Bundy to the Ripper case is that I am convinced that the Ripper either was a charming type or had something about him that he could persuade women to go with him even at the height of the Ripper murder scare. The other possibility is that if it was not sheer charm, he could have seemed a responsible man such as a Rader or a Gacy, a recognized responsible man who would not hurt you -- until the inner demon came out. In any case, there had to be something about the Ripper also that set the victims at ease.

All my best


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Guest Stephen Turner

Hi Chris, good insights as usual, I dont know about you, but I wish I could have written with as much aplomb when I was eighteen as Adam does..Steve.

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Hi Chris, good insights as usual, I dont know about you, but I wish I could have written with as much aplomb when I was eighteen as Adam does..Steve.

Hi Steve

Yes Adam's writing is impressive, and I do know that it took many years for me to become as practiced in writing as I am now. Possibly the computer age has made it possible for younger authors to progress faster than we did.


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Thanks Steve and Chris,

It took me a while to write that thread, didn't just do it overnight. :)

I do advanced english at school, so I suppose that helps. Thanks for the support and I will start a thread on 'The Night Stalker' in a few weeks time.

Edited by Adam Wilkinson
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