Charismatic psychopath Ted Bundy raped, murdered and killed numerous young women during the 1970s and public fascination for the notorious serial killer has continued for forty years. The true number of his victims is unknown.
Bundy first went on trial in Utah on Feb. 23, 1976, for the aggravated kidnapping of Carol DaRonch, an 18-year-old woman whom he tried to kidnap, but got away. Later the truth emerged that following his attempt gone awry, Bundy killed 17-year-old Debra Kent. He was found guilty and sentenced to a one to fifteen jail sentence in Utah State Prison, on 30 June 1976.
Following the Utah trial, Bundy was extradited to Colorado for the murder of nurse Caryn Campbell in April 1977. However, on June 7, he managed to escape, but was captured eight days later. Then on December 30 1977, he escaped again by climbing a ceiling panel in the Garfield County Jail, where he was being held pending trial.
While on the lam, Bundy committed petty thefts, but was unable to stop his thirst for murder. He hit a Florida State University sorority house on January 14, 1978. Four young women were severely sexually abused and two women, Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman, died as a result. But he was not caught. On Feb. 9, 1978, he sexually assaulted and murdered 12-year-old Kimberly Leach. She was his last victim.
On Feb. 15, 1978, Bundy was caught after a policeman stopped him for driving a VW Beetle with stolen licence plates. Eventually, he was charged with the murders of Levy and Bowman and the attacks on the other women.
Bundy’s second trial was one of the first nationally televised court cases and proved to be a watershed moment for the country’s fascination with the justice system. At first, Bundy has agreed to a plea deal, but at the last moment refused the deal and thus it went to trial. The trial took place in Miami and began on June 25, 1979. The trial had the eyes of the country on it and Bundy made headlines for his over-the-top persona. The jury deliberated for less than seven hours before finding Bundy guilty of two counts murder, of the Bowman and Levy murders, three counts of attempted first-degree murder (for the assaults on Kleiner, Chandler and Thomas) and two counts of burglary on July 24, 1979. Trial judge Edward Cowart sentenced Bundy to death twice for the murders.
His third trial pertained to the murder of Kimberly Leach, and began on January 7, 1980. His defense counsel pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. But the jury found him guilty and the judge sentenced him to yet another death sentence electrocution on Feb. 7, 1980.
Throughout all of it, Bundy maintained his innocence until 36 hours before his execution when he confessed to the murders of 30 women. Bundy was executed via the electric chair at Florida State Prison on January 24, 1989.
Attorney Polly Nelson, a member of his last defense team, wrote in her book Defending the Devil: My Story as Ted Bundy’s Last Lawyer, that Bundy was “the very definition of heartless evil.”
On March 12, 2019, police announced that DNA testing helped them close a four-decade-old case by confirming the remains of a missing Utah teen killed by Bundy.
In November 1974, the previously mentioned 17-year-old Debra Kent went missing after leaving a high school play during intermission to pick up her brother at an ice skating rink, Police Sgt. Shane Alexander said to Desert News. She was never seen again.
As previously noted, Bundy confessed to many murders hours before his death, Debra Kent’s being one of them. He told authorities where her body was but her body was never found, thus her case was never closed.
Following renewed interest in Bundy due to “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” and the movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”, the police announced that in 2015 they were able to do DNA testing on a patella bone found where Bundy had said he’d put the body and that it was a match to Kent.