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Ted Bundy: All-American Serial Killer
When women began disappearing in and around Seattle, Washington in 1974, nobody suspected Theodore Robert "Ted" Bundy would be behind their disappearances. Bundy was, after all, a student at the University of Washington, a political volunteer, and a suicide hotline operator. Again, no one would suspect him of being involved in the disappearances and murders of various women around Salt Lake City, Utah when he attended law school at the University of Utah, however, when he was arrested in August 1975, it was discovered that Bundy had been involved in the disappearances of at least 24 women in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado. After he was extradited to Colorado, he escaped custody on two, occasions, on June 7, 1977 and December 30, 1977, which gave him the opportunity to make his way to Florida and kill at least six more women before he was finally apprehended and sentenced to death.
Victims, Crime Scenes, and Discoveries
One of the reasons that Bundy was initially so difficult to apprehend was his organization as a killer. In Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters, Peter Vronsky (2004) states, "Bundy was so organized that the police never located the crime scenes where his first seventeen victims were actually killed. Six of his [known] victims remain missing to this day" (p. 102). Furthermore, because of Bundy's extensive travelling throughout the United States, it is difficult to determine exactly how many crimes scenes there actually are.
Bundy's first victim was Karen Sparks. On January 4, 1974, Sparks was discovered in her bed with her face and hair matted with blood. On January 31, 1974, 22-year-old Lynda Healy disappeared from her basement apartment near the University of Washington (Vronsky, 2004, p. 122). On March 12, 1974, in Olympia, Washington, about an hour away from Seattle, Donna Gail Manson disappeared without a trace en route to a jazz concert. On April 17, 1974, Susan Rancourt also disappeared without a trace en route to meet with friends at the movies. While police found no trace of her movements prior to her disappearance, there were two witnesses that stated they saw a "young, handsome, neatly dressed man, with his left arm set in a cast and driving a bronze colored Volkswagen bug" (Vronsky, 2004, p. 123). On May 6, 1974, in Corvallis, Oregon, Kathy Parks disappeared without a trace on her way to meet friends for coffee (Vronsky, 2004, p.125). On June 1, 1974, Brenda Ball disappeared after being last seen trying to hitch a ride after the Flaming Tavern outside Seattle closed. On March 1, 1975, Ball's skull was found in the Taylor Mountains by forestry students. Upon a more extensive sweep of the area, law enforcement officials also found the remains of Rancourt, Parks, and Healy. On June 11, 1974, Bundy was back at the University of Washington attacking Georgeann Hawkins, who was last seen within 50 feet of her sorority house. Hawkins' body has never been found (Vronsky, 2004, p.126).
The first series of double murders committed by Bundy occurred on July 14, 1974 at Lake Sammamish State Park. The first victim was Jan Ott, who disappeared after talking to a then unknown handsome man who was wearing a cast (Vronsky, 2004, p.129). Two hours after Ott was last seen with Bundy, Denise Naslund disappeared after being approached by a man with a broken arm asking for help with his boat (Vronsky, 2004, p.130). Two months later, on September 7, 1974, Ott's and Naslund's remains were found in the Issaquah hills about a mile from the lake (Vronsky, 2004, p.132). It took days for forensic anthropologists to reassemble the remains during which they discovered bones from a third, unidentified body. On August 2, 1974, Carol Valenzuela disappeared without a trace, and although many had assumed she left town unannounced, her body was found in October in Olympia, Washington near the Oregon border. Her body had also been ravaged by animals and an unidentified set of remains was found next to her (Vronsky, 2004, p.132).
In August 1974, Bundy moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend law school and it would not take long before Bundy was back to his old habits. On October 2, 1974, Nancy Wilcox was last seen getting into a Volkswagen before disappearing without a trace (Vronsky, 2004, p.132). On October 18, 1974, Melissa Smith, the daughter of a local police chief, disappeared. Her body was found on October 28 and was the first intact enough to have an autopsy performed (Vronsky, 2004, p.133; Bell, n.d.). Less than two weeks later, on October 31, 1974, Laura Aime disappeared after leaving a party. Aime's body was found on November 27, 1974 -- Thanksgiving Day -- in American Fork Canyon (Utah County still looking for 2 women's killers, 1977).
Bundy would continue killing women until he was arrested for a final time in Florida, however, it was his next victim, Carol DaRonch, that would bring about Bundy's downfall in Utah. On November 8, 1974, Bundy attempted to abduct DaRonch, but she was able to fight him off when he tried to put handcuffs on her. Remaining undeterred and resolved to abduct a woman that day, he abducted Debra Kent from Viewmont High School. Kent disappeared after leaving the auditorium of a school play she was watching with her parents to go pick her brother up from a nearby skating rink. While Kent disappeared without a trace, police found a small handcuff key that would later prove to be a perfect match to the handcuff's used on DaRonch (Vronsky, 2004,p.133; Bell, n.d.).
After Kent's disappearance, Bundy temporarily moved on to attack women in Colorado. On January 12, 1975, in Snowmass at the Wildwood Inn, Caryn Campbell disappeared on her way to her room. Her body would be discovered a month later a few miles away (Vronsky, 2004, p.135; Bell, n.d.; Rule, 1989, p.126). On March 15, 1975 in Vail, Julie Cunningham disappeared on her way to meet a friend at a bar; her body was never found (Vronsky, 2004, p.136). On April 6, 1975, in Grand Junction, Denise Oliverson disappeared on her way to her parents' house. On April 15, 1975, Melanie Cooley disappeared without a trace in Nederland; her body was never recovered (Vronsky, 2004, p.136).
Bundy's next victim would be Lynette Culver who disappeared in May 1975 in Pocatello, Utah. Police did not know of Bundy's involvement in Culver's disappearance until Bundy made a last minute confession in which he also claimed that he dumped her body in the Snake River (Levenson, 1989). Another last minute confession was his involvement in the disappearance of Susan Curtis who disappeared without a trace from Provo, Utah, and whose body was never recovered on June 28, 1975 (Michaud & Aynesworth, 1999, p. 343). Bundy is also suspected to have been involved in the disappearances of Shelley Robertson in Golden, Colorado on July 1, 1975 and of Nancy Baird, who was last seen in Farmington, Utah, seven hours after Robertson disappeared (Vronsky, 2004, p.137).
Soon after these murders, Bundy would be arrested and incarcerated, however, after escaping from jail a second time, would move on to Florida and a final murder spree. On January 15, 1978, Bundy slipped into the Chi Omega sorority house "carrying a log and walked from room to room battering the heads of sleeping women" (Vronsky, 2004, p.139). These women were Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman, who were killed, and Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner, both of whom survived the attack (Bell, n.d.). On the same night, and less than a mile away, Bundy brutally beat Cheryl Thomas. Bundy's final attack would take place on February 9, 1978 when Kimberly Leach disappeared from in front of her school. Her body would be discovered in April in an abandoned shed in Suwannee County. She had been strangled, and raped and sodomized (Vronsky, 2004, p.139; Bell, n.d.). He was finally arrested on February 15, 1978.
Because of the massive geographical extent of Bundy's crimes, the evidence collected at various scenes was not cross-examined to the fullest extent. One of the limitations of evidence collection and cross-examination was the lack of technology present to allow law enforcement officials communicate their findings, compare notes, and run queries to narrow their suspect pool. Because of these limitations, when Bundy was arrested in Utah for the attempted kidnapping of DaRonch, among other things, they did not know about his involvement in the disappearances of women in Washington. Since the first discovery of Bundy's victims in and near Seattle, police had compiled a list of 3,000 names -- Bundy's reported four times -- which were fed into a computer for analysis. The names of Volkswagen owners in Washington was subsequently added as were the names of victims' friends, the names of people in their address books, the class lists of missing students, mental patients in state within the last 10 years, known sex offenders, names of hotel guests staying near Lake Sammamish, and the names…[continue]
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