Serial killer Ted Bundy, with his wild eyes and disturbing charisma, is back in the public’s imagination because of a Netflix documentary and upcoming movie with Zac Efron that some people believe inappropriately sexualizes the murderer.
In real life, though, Bundy was able to use his manipulative and superficial charm, his white-collar jobs (law student, political aide and so forth), and his (some said) good looks to disarm victims. In so doing Bundy, who left a trail of murdered women throughout the United States, secured his place in history as one of the United States’ most notorious serial killers. He was eventually put to death in Florida.
However, how many women did Ted Bundy kill? Who were his victims? There are deaths that he was convicted in, deaths he was suspected in, and deaths he confessed to. Some victims survived his attacks. Overall, it’s believed that Bundy killed at least 30 women, although some people think he may have murdered many more women than that.
The former number is the number he confessed to, describing a murder spree that covered seven states and spanned the years 1974 and 1978. Some think his death toll could have reached 100. Some sites say he confessed to 36 homicides.
He once told federal agents of the real total: “add one digit to that (the 30 confessions), and you’ll have it,” Mirror reports. The Seattle Times reports that Bundy’s victims included 11 in Washington State. “Law enforcement investigators were not able to identify all the victims and suspected he killed dozens more,” the newspaper reported. His murder spree is usually believed to have started in Washington State in 1974, according to Biography.com, but this is disputed. Some believe Bundy started murdering a lot earlier.
According to Oxygen, these are the states Bundy killed in: Washington, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Florida, Idaho and California. The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Michael Newton also says that some experts think Bundy may have killed more than 100 women and girls, and they believe that he might have started killing in adolescence. But, the book notes, there’s none or not a lot of evidence in some of the cases. In some cases, remains were discovered. In other cases, the women simply disappeared. According to Biography.com, a lot of his victims looked like a college girlfriend he lost.
According to the book, the earliest known, confirmed murder victim of Bundy was an unidentified hitchhiker in Washington State in 1973. He killed a 12-year-old girl two years later, the book says. The victims all looked remarkably similar, typically with long, straight dark hair parted in the middle.
The details are beyond disturbing as Bundy was accused of keeping some of his victims’ heads in his apartment. According to Mirror, he would “wash their hair, apply make-up to them, and engage in sexual acts with” the severed heads. Some women survived Bundy’s attacks. For example, Susan Clarke was a Washington State victim who survived, according to the Newton book. She was assaulted and “bludgeoned in her bed,” but lived, the book reports. Karen Sparks (also called Joni Lenz) survived a vicious attack by Bundy. The college student was bludgeoned with a piece of a bed frame.
Here are some of the suspected victims of Theodore Bundy, as well as photos of Bundy victims.
Kathy Kleiner Rubin, Karen Chandler, Margaret Bowman & Lisa Levy
One of Bundy’s most frightening attacks came when he broke into a Florida sorority house in the middle of the night. Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy, two sorority sisters in the home, were murdered. Bundy battered Bowman’s head and strangled her with pantyhose, according to Rolling Stone. As for poor Lisa Levy, “he beat, raped and strangled her,” the magazine reported, even leaving behind bite marks that proved his ultimate undoing.
Kathy Kleiner Rubin and Karen Chandler survived the horrific attack by Bundy. Kleiner was a 20-year-old student at Florida State University when, horrifically, he crept into the bedroom she shared with Chandler and began beating the two women with a club, Rolling Stone reports. When another sorority sister came home from a date, and the car’s headlights shone into the Kleiner Rubin/Chandler room, it disrupted Bundy’s attack, allowing the two women to survive it, according to Rolling Stone.
Cheryl Thomas was subsequently beaten in her apartment by Bundy a short ways away. However, she survived the attack.
Kimberly Leach was one of Bundy’s youngest victims. She was only 12-years-old. She left her Florida middle school to retrieve a purse she left in a homeroom and was seen leaving with a man. She was crying. According to Murderpedia, her bones were later found in a pigpen, and there was evidence she was strangled and sexually assaulted.
Lynda Ann Healy
Healy was a student at the University of Washington, who was abducted from her basement bedroom in 1974. Authorities later found her skull on Taylor Mountain, which was the site where Bundy dumped multiple bodies. You can see crime scene photos from her house here.
Healy was a ski forecaster majoring in psychology.
According to Oxygen, Ball “was last seen talking to a man with his arm in a sling before she vanished.” She was one of the victims whose remains were found on Taylor Mountain.
Ball “disappeared outside a Burien, Wash., tavern in 1974,” the Associated Press reports.
Oxygen reports that Rancourt, whose remains were also found on Taylor Mountain, was bludgeoned to death. The 18-year-old had disappeared while going to see a German-language film in Washington State, reports the Newton book.
According to Daily Record News, Susan Rancourt was “a 5-foot-2-inch, 118-pound blonde with blue eyes who came to Central from Anchorage, Alaska.” She was also majoring in biology “and was last seen at a meeting in Munson Hall for future residence hall leaders.”
Bundy later confessed to murdering her.
Roberta ‘Kathy’ Parks
Roberta Parks was only 22 when she went for a walk around her neighborhood and was never seen again, according to Newton. She was sometimes called “Kathy.”
A Facebook page set up to remember Parks says, “I created this page in memory of my former classmate, Kathy Parks. Kathy and I were classmates at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California in 1972/1973. Kathy was majoring in Liberal Arts at the time. I remember the first time I saw her in Humanities class, I looked at her and our eyes met. I looked into those deep blue eyes and I just melted, for I thought she was incredibly beautiful. She was the textbook visage of the All-American Girl, clean cut and well dressed with waist length, ash blonde hair and deep blue eyes.”
The 19-year-old disappeared while going to a concert in Washington State, according to the Newton book. Bundy later confessed to her murder. She was a college student who played the flute.
According to the Deseret News, Bundy confessed that he “killed Manson, took her skull to his girlfriend’s house and burned it in the fireplace ‘down to the last ash’ in ‘a fit of…paranoia and cleanliness.'”
Janice Ann Ott & Denise Marie Naslund
Ott and Naslund were both kidnapped by Bundy in a Washington State park called Lake Sammamish State Park. According to KIRO 7, the attack was one of Bundy’s most brazen because thousands of people were in the park that day.
Their remains were found two months later. Naslund was in the park with friends and left to go to the bathroom, and Ott was spotted helping a man with a cast. Naslund wanted to be a computer programmer.
Bundy is also a suspect in the murder of 12-year-old Lynette Culver. He confessed to the murder, according to the Idaho State Journal. She was abducted on her way home from school and her body was thrown in a river, the newspaper reported. However, other girls in the area went missing around the same time and after Bundy was incarcerated.
Georgann Hawkins was a freshman at the University of Washington when Ted Bundy murdered her. According to GV News, her death was the one that he spoke the most about.
“She had quite a following but she was not the kind of person who stuck to one group or clique. She had friends among everybody, older than her and younger than her,” Georgann’s mother told GVNews about her. She disappeared while walking to her sorority house.
In his confession, according to The Charley Project, Bundy claimed he asked Hawkins to help him with a briefcase and then knocked her out, eventually strangling her. He claimed one of her bones was found at Taylor Mountain. She was only 18.
Debi Kent, Susan Curtis, Carol DaRonch, Nancy Wilcox & Melissa Anne Smith
These women were Utah victims of Ted Bundy.
Nancy Wilcox walked out of her Utah home and was never seen again alive, according to ABC 4, which recounted what happened to Bundy’s Utah victims. She was only 16. Bundy had moved to Utah to study law at the University of Utah.
Melissa Anne Smith was the daughter of a police chief in Utah. “Her nude body was later found in the mountains. She had been strangled and raped,” ABC 4 reported.
Laura Aime was 17. She left a cafe and was “beaten, raped and strangled,” and then also left in the mountains, the television station reported.
According to the Charley Project, Debi Kent disappeared from a high school parking lot. One of her bones was later recovered.
Deseret News reports that Curtis and Kent lived in the same neighborhood and went to the same school. Kent was 17 and Curtis was 15. A key found in the parking lot when Kent disappeared matched a handcuff recovered from a surviving victim, Carol DaRonch, who survived Bundy’s attack a few hours before Kent vanished. In fact, she fought him off and escaped in heroic circumstances.
Curtis had vanished earlier while walking to a dorm at Brigham Young University.
In the Netflix documentary on Bundy, DaRonch describes in vivid detail how Bundy convinced her he was a cop, but, when she realized that wasn’t true, she fought him off, and she was later able to identify him in court.
“He headed down a side street and then he suddenly pulled over up on the side of a curb up by an elementary school and that’s when I just started freaking out,” she said in The Ted Bundy Tapes show. “And he grabbed my arm and he got one handcuff on one wrist and he didn’t get the other one on and the one was just dangling. I had never been so frightened in my entire life.
Caryn Campbell, Julie Cunningham, Melanie Cooley & Denise Oliverson
Caryn Campbell disappeared in Snowmass, Colorado at a hotel. According to Aspen Peak, she was staying at Snowmass’ Wildwood Inn, and she went back to her room to get a magazine. She was never seen alive again, but her frozen corpse was discovered the next month, the site reports.
Campbell was a nurse from Michigan, who was in Snowmass because her doctor fiance was attending a conference, Aspen Peak reports.
Julie Cunningham was another Colorado victim of Bundy. She vanished in Vail while trying to help a man with crutches, according to Vail Daily. She worked in a ski shop and was walking to a restaurant when she encountered the serial killer, the newspaper reports, adding that Bundy confessed to knocking her unconscious, putting her in his trunk, and then strangling her.
According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, on April 6, 1975, Denise Oliverson “set out on a bicycle ride from her home at 1619 LaVeta Street en-route to her parent’s house. The next day, a search party found her bicycle and shoes under the Fifth Street Bridge, near the railroad tracks. Authorities suspect Denise was killed by serial killer Ted Bundy. In 1989, days before his execution, Ted Bundy told investigators he had disposed of a body in a river outside of Grand Junction, Colorado.”
There are a lot of victims placed in the “maybe Bundy did it category.” For example, Nancy Baird vanished from the gas station where she worked as an attendant, Charley Project reports. However, Bundy did not confess to her murder, and it’s not 100 percent clear that he did it.
According to the Charley Project, Vicki Lynne Hollar, a seamstress, was last seen getting into her vehicle. Bundy did not confess to the crime but was in the area at the time, and it’s believed that Hollar was one of his victims, although her body was never found.
Rita Lorraine Jolly is another victim who might have been killed by Bundy. According to the Doe Network, she vanished while going for a walk around her neighborhood and was a high school junior. Bundy is among five suspects in the case.
In 1966, flight attendant Lonnie Trumbell was blundgeoned to death by an unknown person in her apartment with a piece of lumber. Her roommate was injured but survived the attack. Bundy is a suspect in that attack, but the link has never been proven.
Bundy is suspected by some of murdering 14-year-old Brenda Baker but denied it.
Ann Marie Burr was an 8-year-old Washington State girl who may be a Bundy victim, according to The Seattle Times. She disappeared in 1961, and some people think she could have been Bundy’s first victim, the newspaper reports. She simply vanished from the family’s home and was never seen again; Bundy, born in 1946, lived in Tacoma, as did Burr, and visited an uncle in her neighborhood. Bundy denied that he killed Burr.
Melanie Cooley is another possible Bundy victim from Colorado. She often hitchhiked home and was found beaten to death.
The book Ted Bundy: The Worst and Most Popular Serial Killer in America’s History, by J.D. Rockefeller, also lists these women as possible Bundy victims: Sandra Jean Weaver (Utah); Carol L. Valenzuela and Martha Morrison (Vancouver); Debbie Smith (Salt Lake City.)
Shelley Robertson is often listed as a possible Bundy victim. Unresolved Homicides.org reports that Shelley Robertson “disappeared without a trace. Seven weeks later, her body was found in a mine shaft near Georgetown” in Colorado.
An investigator asked Bundy about her death but he replied, “I don’t want to talk about that,” the site says. Debbie Smith’s body was found at the Salt Lake airport.
Rita Curran was found murdered in her Vermont home. The case is unsolved, but some people think Bundy is a possible suspect. However, Vermont investigators later “discarded him” as a suspect, reports The Burlington Free Press.