The name of the world's most infamous serial killer, with 34 known murders of women attributed to him and dozens more he most likely committed, lept off the page as Kenyon shuffled through the papers inside the envelope. Kenyon had poured himself a double Bushmills over ice when he went back inside the living room before opening the envelope.
Mostly, it was filled with old newspaper clippings in which
Bundy's name was prominent in the headlines. He sat in his leather
chair, sipped the whisky and picked out the most recent article. It
'COED MURDERS STILL A MYSTERY AFTER 25 YEARS'
Police still baffled by the murder of two
19-year-old tens on their way home from
open, but will the killer ever be known?
By Marty Patrick
Like the thousands of teens who have come before and after
them to the shore for Memorial Day weekend fun, Elizabeth Anderson
On Memorial Day morning the two young women. Packed their blue
1966 Chevrolet convertible bound for the
They left before sunrise, hoping to beat traffic, but stopped at a Somers Point diner for an early breakfast.
Somewhere, somehow, someone met up with the two junior college students -- on this very day 25 years ago. Police found their bodies dumped and covered with leaves in the woods off the Parkway's milepost 36.
Who killed them is a mystery that's now a quarter-of-century old and one that won't die in the memories of those who have investigated it and those who were here at the time.
"I'll never forget it as long as I live," said former Atlantic County Prosecutor Terry McElroy. "Every time I drive by that spot, I still think about it."
The savage killings set off one of the largest manhunts in history. When the young women were first reported missing, a 13-state bulletin was broadcast. A $20,000 reward was offered for the assailant.
Years later, two nationally known serial killers -- Ted Bundy
and Gerald Eugene Stano -- were separately linked to the killings
but police in
State Police as well as the current
New evidence was discovered 14 years after the slayings, and
Shortly after their bodies were found, an investigator said, "There's a killer loose somewhere. We don't know where he's going to be next."
They still don't know.
WARNED TO BE CAREFUL
Davis of Mechanicsburg,
The young women arrived in
When they decided to leave at about to beat holiday traffic, the owner of the rooming house reportedly told the students, "Be careful." The two promised to write to tell the Sybens of their safe arrival in Camp Hill.
Both women were expected to join
After crossing the
Then they left at about
Several hours later, a state trooper cruising the northbound
lane of the Parkway spotted the blue convertible abandoned by the
side of the road. He had it towed to a
A routine check of the license was botched when someone in
A day later, a worried Craig
The young women's fathers rented a helicopter and flew the entire route they would have taken home. A 13-state alert was issued.
Three days after their disappearance, police finally linked the abandoned car to the missing women. A search was under way near where the car had been found, but it was a Parkway maintenance man who found the bodies.
HIGH PROFILE CASE
The killer had a three-day start on authorities.
called then-Prosecutor McElroy to the scene to "handle the media,"
he said. He also accompanied
"The whole thing was just sad," McElroy said. "Mr. Anderson was terribly upset and disappointed. He had tried so hard to track down the girls."
The fathers offered a $20,000 reward for the killer.
Captain Pat Calderone, now in charge of the field operations section for the State Police, was the lead investigator at the Absecon station that handled the case in 1969. Some 30 officers out of the station were assigned to the murders.
"This was probably the most high profile case a lot of us have ever seen," Calderone said.
"There was so much information that came in on that. We had detectives traveling all over the Northeast. We followed every lead that came in.
"There were thousands of interviews with people and for years we gathered information," Calderone added.
Several days after the murders, an 18-year-old
State Police questioned and released the suspect. McElroy concluded later that summer that there was insufficient to charge anyone with the murders.
"There is so much accountability for everything these girls did the whole time they were down in Ocean City," Calderone added.
"Even from the time they went to the diner and then that's it. We really have nothing until their car was found on the parkway," Calderone continued.
NO RELIABLE LEADS
A year after the murders, police set up a trailer outside the Somers Point circle in an effort to gather any scintilla of information that could lead to the killer. The trailer remained at the spot every summer for three years.
"Were you here on Memorial Day, 1969?" read a sign outside the trailer. "Information wanted on the Coed Murders -- Call or Stop Here."
One witness reported seeing two women in a blue car pick up a hitchhiker. Another reported a young man in his late teens near the car at the time of the murders. Yet another saw a man behind the wheel of the convertible and a black Buick parked a few feet ahead.
Calls flooded into police after the release of a composite sketch of a possible suspect.
None of the suspects was ever found and police never did find anyone who saw the two leave the diner. The missing car keys were found 11 days after the deaths, several miles from the murder site, by children picking flowers.
Dozens of youths in the area were questioned -- including the men in the diner -- but all were cleared by passing polygraph tests.
"It was a sad, and in my mind, a disappointing case because it was never solved," McElroy said. "It's a shame they didn't catch whoever did this."
STANO, BUNDY SUSPECTED
Some 13 years after the murders, Gerald Eugene Stano, Florida's confessed mass murderer, claimed that he killed the two coeds. Stano, formerly of Philadelphia, had also confessed to killing 31 women in Florida, six in Pennsylvania and two in New Jersey.
Calderone said that Stano didn't do it. "He had given Florida authorities a confession and at that time, myself and Sgt. James Nolan went down there to interview him," Calderone said.
"He tried to convince us that he killed those girls, but he couldn't come close to what actually happened.
"There were enough details about the crime that he didn't know," Calderone said. "He wasn't even close."
After Stano's bogus confession, a new witness came forward who placed the Norristown man -- a long suspected target of the investigation -- near the scene of the murders.
In May, 1983, State Police requested that the prosecutor review the new information to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against the man, now 33. The renewed investigation failed to uncover any evidence necessary to bring forth charges.
Some 20 years after the slayings, evidence also arose that appeared to link serial murderer Ted Bundy to the coed killings.
A Washington state investigator who interviewed Bundy before he was executed said that he believed the serial murderer is suspected in the killing of the two college women. Somers Point is about 60 miles southeast of Philadelphia, where Bundy attended Temple University's College of Liberal Arts at the time.
Bundy admitted to 23 murders during interviews with investigators from around the country before his execution as he tried to bargain with the Florida governor for more time.
"We've looked at Bundy, but there was no evidential value that Bundy did it," Calderone said. "Looking at his modus operandi and what he has done in the past, we can't exclude him, but we don't have anything to link him."
CASE STILL OPEN
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office maintains files on the killings and an investigator is assigned to them. However, nothing new in the case has arisen in a few years.
Calderone said the cabinet full of information gathered on the case remains with State Police and the investigation is still considered "open."
McElroy said it is "conceivable" that there could be someone out there who knows something about the case.
This summer, Anderson and
Instead the young women remain a memory -- to those who loved them and to those who tried to find their killer. "The State Police certainly haven't closed the doors on it," Calderone said. "Everyone who worked on it hopes that someday we'll get a break -- not a conviction, but something that would put their families at rest."
If there is anyone with information, State Police can be reached at 609 882 2000. Ask for the Major Crimes Unit or call the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office at 609 645 5908 and ask for Major Crimes.
Kenyon refilled his glass and scanned another dozen clippings about Bundy's murders in Washington State, Utah and Florida in the 1970s and 1980s. There were three articles that attempted to analyze him psychologically, focusing on his good looks, charm and rising star status as a brilliant young operative in the Washington State Republican Party.
One particularly incisive analysis published by the Time-Life organization concluded that over the course of Bundy's 42 years, he had many names and wore many masks. Up to and after his electrocution in the Florida State Peniteniary, his mother clung to her perception of the ideal son. Louise Cowell was 21 in 1946 when she got pregnant. The identity of the father-- contributor of one-half of Ted Bundy's hideous genetic legacy -- would remain a mystery. Cowell would later describe the father only as a member of the armed forces, a man she dated only a few times. In the postwar era of Ted's conception, having an illegitimate child was scandalous -- a potentially life-wrecking experience for a young woman. The product of a strict Methodist background, Miss Cowell could barely find the courage to tell her parents about her condition. Even if it had been legal, abortion was out of the question for the Cowells, so Louise left Philadelphia to enter the Elizabeth Lund Home for unwed mothers in Burlington, Vermont. On Nov. 24, 1946, she gave birth to Theodore Robert Cowell.
Shortly after the baby's birth, the young mother travelled home, leaving her son with strangers while she and her mother debated whether to put him up for adoption. After about two months, the family elected to keep the boy, and Louise returned to Vermont and carried him home. In a transparent attempt to silence any whispers about the baby, Louise's parents, Sam and Eleanor, let it be known that he was their own adopted son. Ted, it seemed, knew that Louise was his mother, but for public consumption she pretended to be his older sister. Ted came to adore Sam Cowell, or so Ted always said, recalling with rosy nostalgia happy boyhood camping and fishing trips with his grandfather. But Sam Cowell, the genial patriarch who doted on Ted, was not the same Sam Cowell other family members recall. By some accounts, the old man was an ill-tempered tyrant. He was a landscape architect, a perfectionist in his craft, but apt to be more patient with plants than with people. Some of Cowell's kin avow that he dispersed verbal abuse liberally and, toward his wife, occasional physical abuse as well. A declared racist and intolerant in general, Sam Cowell could not abide anyone who failed to measure up to his exacting standards. His harshness extended to animals; dogs that came near him got a swift kick, cats were swung by the tail. Cowell's wife, Eleanor, suffered frequent bouts of depression, episodes bad enough to lead eventually to electroshock treatments. In time, she developed an irrational fear of open spaces, and she never left her house.
The Time-Life report also described Bundy’s compulsion to acquire status symbols. Ted Bundy hungered for power as he moved through an adolescence that set the stage for the psychotic need to possess unto death bright, pretty young women. To feed his power quest, Ted Bundy began creating an elaborate fiction of the Ted he wanted to be: suave and stylish Ted, wealthy and successful Ted, brilliant and accomplished Ted, famous celebrity. In short, Lady Killer Ted. One of the reality intrusions on this fiction was the matter of his birth. It remains unclear exactly when Ted realized he was illegitimate. But according to a story he later told a girlfriend, he was about 10 or 12 when a cousin called him a bastard and showed him a birth certificate to prove it. He would say, in later years, the subject was insignificant. "I can't understand why everyone makes such a big deal out of that," he once remarked. "I don't consider it to be important." At the time, however, he appeared to care very much. When a friend tried to console him, Bundy's response was bitter. "It's not you that's a bastard,” he snapped. It seemed he could never quite forgive his mother for this barrier to his own social status. "She never even had the decency to tell me herself," Bundy said.
Descriptions of many of the murders were included and the infamous MO was repeated a dozen times: The handsome stranger approaching an attractive woman with dark long hair. He pretended to need help. Sometimes he wore a specially made removable cast on his arm to garner sympathy, other times his tale of woe focused on his disabled car. Occasionally, he flashed a police badge and claimed the woman's help was needed to solve a crime, if she would get into his VW Beetle and come to the station for a review of mug shots. Finesse was Ted Bundy's game, at least until the vicious predator gained control over his victim inside the Beetle. His favorite instrument of death was his bare hands either by strangulation or plowing a crow bar into to the victim's head. Sometimes he toyed with them, raped and sodomized them, let them hope for light at the end of the tunnel before crushing their skulls. By all evidence, what Ted Bundy really felt for women was a vast and bottomless rage. In his mask, he attracted them, even enchanted them, but the real Ted Bundy stalked them and abducted them, tortured them, beat them, strangled them and even tore their flesh with his teeth, like a wild beast. He desecrated their bodies, often dismembered them, sometimes discarded them for four-legged animals to finish off.
Kenyon noted the transformation from the smooth operator Bundy had been in the early stages of his murderous career to the out-of-control, enraged predator he became near the end of his serial murders when he entered the Chi Omega sorority house in Tallahassee, home for many of Florida State University's prettiest coeds, on the night of Jan. 14, 1978. Bundy was on the lam from authorities in Colorado after having wriggled through the trapdoor in the ceiling of his jail cell. He had lost 30 pounds in jail in order to make the escape, his second breakout since authorities identified him as the world's most prolific serial killer. In fact the phrase several killers was coined to describe him. He got off the bus in Tallahassee a week earlier hoping once again to pass himself off as a graduate student. First he needed a new social security card and driver's license to play out his new identity. As Chris Hagen, Bundy rented a room in a ramshackle boarding house then stole a television, radio and a typewriter to furnish his room at The Oaks. Soon he began shoplifting food and other items at the local supermarket as well as credit cards from unattended handbags in carts. He drank a lot of beer in his room to regain the weight he had lost in jail Other than growing a mustache and penciling a fake mole onto his left cheek, Ted Bundy made no attempt to disguise himself as he began reestablishing himself in Florida. It seemed Ted Bundy could elude authorities almost at will but he could not escape himself.
A Miami Herald clipping described how one of the 36 Chi Omega sisters, Karen Chandler returned to the sorority house around six-thirty after having spent the afternoon at her family home helping her ailing mother. Kathy Kleiner, Karen's roommate, went to dinner with her fiancé that evening while Margaret Bowman, 21, went out on a blind date arranged by another Chi O, Melanie Nelson. Having no plans, Melanie Nelson and another sister, Lisa Levy, went next door to a popular bar called Sherrod's. Also in the bar looking for a good time was "Chris Hagen." By then, "Chris Hagen" had decided he really did not much care for Tallahassee and planned to move on. Had he done so, he might still be at large today. But he was drawn to Sherrod's on this Saturday night because his demons pounded hard inside his head. Maybe he simply missed the notoriety and action that was part of his other life. In any event, he hung out at the bar sucking on a Coors and checking out the women with his shark eyes.
When Melanie and Lisa returned to the sorority house around 2 a.m. they noticed the sliding glass door in the back of the house was ajar but they shrugged their shoulders since it had been found open in the same way only a few days earlier. Margaret Bowman was ecstatic about her blind date and insisted that Melanie come to her room and talk about it. Lisa begged off and went to her room. Melanie and Margaret chatted for about a half hour, then Melanie returned to her room around 2:45 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, Nita Neary kissed her boyfriend good night and entered the house through the back door. She, too, was troubled that it had been left unlocked but before she could think about it, she saw a tall slender man racing down the stairway. He wore a dark jacket and had a blue knit cap pulled down over his face. He carried what looked like a club, perhaps a log. In an instant, he slipped through the door and vanished. At first, she assumed the house had been burglarized. She awakened two of her sorority sisters and, with an umbrella as their weapon, they set out to check each room. As they planned their investigation, Karen Chandler stumbled out of her room, crashing heavily against a wall as if she had had too much to drink. She tried to speak to them but could not; her mouth was full of blood. Her skull, jawbone, both cheeks and the orbit of her right eye were shattered. One of the girls with Nita ran into Karen Chandler's room and found Kathy Kleiner sitting propped up in her bed holding her head in her hands and moaning. Blood gushed from several head wounds, oozing through her fingers onto the bed. Pieces of oak bark were strewn over the pillows and bedding. The spray of gore had reached even the walls and ceiling. Several teeth lay scattered on Kleiner's bloody sheets.
The first police officer arrived at 3:23 a.m. to a chaotic scene of terrified young women scurrying in all directions as groups of police and paramedics arrived every few minutes. One of them, FSU Officer Ray Crew, cautiously entered Lisa Levy's room and found her silent with the cover pulled over her head. Assuming she had been shot when he rolled her body over and found a bloodstain at breast level, Officer Crew called for a medic. The emergency team rushed in and looked frantically for the source of Lisa's wound. They were horrified when they cut away her nightgown and discovered Lisa Levy's right nipple dangling by a thin strand of tissue. It had been nearly bitten off. Later, investigators would find a savage double bite mark on Levy's left buttock, where the attacker had torn at her flesh with his teeth. There was also extensive ripping and slashing of the victim's vagina and rectum. Several days later police concluded the injuries were caused by an aerosol hair spray bottle they discovered coated with blood, fecal matter and matted hair.
The Miami Herald said Officer Crew left Lisa Levy, whose body was already growing cold, with the paramedics and moved onto Margaret Bowman's room where he found her lying face down and the covers pulled up around her neck. Crew could see her brain through the shattered skull. Crew pulled back the blanket and knew there was no point in reviving her. A nylon stocking bit into her neck, a gold necklace tangled in the folds of the nylon. She was taken directly to the morgue. Lisa Levy was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner were rushed to the Tallahassee Hospital for emergency surgery; both survived.
Subsequently, investigators determined the assaults had taken place within a span of 15 minutes, within earshot of about three dozen people. Apparently, the killer had brought his own supply of pantyhose to use as garrotes and had snatched up a heavy oak log from the backyard woodpile to use as a club. (A week later, at the Oaks, "Chris Hagen" praised the killer in mealtime conversation with other boarders for cleverly using a weapon that could not be traced). Ted Bundy's objective now was fast and furious slaughter, even though he inexplicably took the time to cover the bodies of Lisa and Margaret almost tenderly with their own blankets.
The Time-Life report said that in the aftermath of the Chi Omega carnage, Bundy turned reckless. His speech had become slurred and he his gait shambling. He used credit cards for trifles, particularly socks and underwear. He stayed at motels and skipped out on the bill in the morning. He charged $9 for junk food as he meandered east towards Jacksonville in a Dodge van he had stolen in Tallahassee. On Feb. 9, he lured fresh-faced Kimberly Diane Leach, 12, into the white van near Lake City Junior High School, where she had just been elected first runner-up to the queen at the school's annual Valentine's Day Dance.
It was the description of the Kimberly Leach murder that sent the coldest chill through Kenyon. The Time-Life report described Florida State Trooper Kenneth Robinson searching a remote and swampy state park for the girl's body two months after the abduction. Robinson noticed something unusual beneath an abandoned hog shed. The site had for years served as a dumping ground for a local meat packer, and animal bones and debris were scattered everywhere, attracting buzzards and other kinds of scavengers. The bone that caught Trooper Robinson's attention, however, was protruding from a small sneaker. Bundy had taken his 12-year-old victim into a deserted pigsty and killed her there, leaving her clothes folded in a neat stack beside her. Little was left of the body after eight weeks of exposure, but the coroner’s inquest revealed a severe neck wound and massive injury to the pelvic region. These facts, and the position of the remains when they were found, implied that the child had been on her hands and knees when Bundy slit her throat from behind, as if he were butchering a hog.
Included in the package were the observations of Ann Rule, the famous true crime writer. In an incredible stroke of luck - at once good and bad- Ms. Rule befriended Bundy when she was a struggling writer. In fact, this one-in-a-million long shot set the stage for her first best seller, “The Stranger Beside Me.” It was based on her experiences sitting next to Bundy when both served as a call takers at a crisis hotline in Seattle in the 1970s. “The Stranger Beside Me” was published in 1980. The narrative in Geena’s packet was a personal remembrance written be Ann Rule in the updated 20th anniversary edition of the inside story of Ann Rule’s friend, Ted Bundy:
It has been a quarter of a century since the day Ted Bundy called to ask for my help and to tell me that he was a suspect in the disappearance of more than a dozen young women. And the memory of that call still shocks me. Although I tend to picture Ted as a man in his early twenties, he would have turned fifty-four in 2000. Instead, he died in the electric chair at Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida, almost a dozen years ago. In my mind and in the public’s memory, he remains a handsome, youngish man. His physical attractiveness helped to make him a mythical character, an antihero who continues to intrigue readers, many of whom were not even born when he carried out his horrendous crimes. Ted Bundy has long since become the poster boy for serial murder. Indeed, John Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan, was thrilled when Ted answered his letters. David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam Killer,” also corresponded with Ted.
Like the bleak handiwork of other killers embraced by popular culture, the horrific details of his obsessive stalking have been blurred with time, and clever “rogue-Ted” is the one people remember. That is unfortunate, because young women must be aware that Ted Bundy was not a singular man; his counterparts exist and they are dangerous.
Time and again, I have naively believed the fascination with Ted would diminish and that I would never have to think about him again. I have long since accepted that I will be answering questions about him until the end of my days. Not long ago, I lay in the operating room as an anesthesiologist prepared to put me to sleep before surgery.
One of the OR nurses leaned toward me and spoke to me in soft, concerned voice,
“Ann?” she began.
“Yes?” I thought she was asking if I was comfortable. “Tell me,” she continued. “What was Ted Bundy really like?”
I was unconscious before I could frame an answer, and that was just as well. I don’t know that I – or anyone else who ever knew Ted or studied him–have the key to who he really was. I doubt that even he knew that. I do know that my own view of him has evolved in a way exactly opposite of the public’s acceptance of Ted as a folk character. When I read my own evaluation of him in the ‘70s, I realize I had a long way to go to achieve true accuracy. In the almost three decades since I first laid eyes on Ted, I have been forced to accept increasingly grisly truths. The human mind-my own included-creates elaborate unconscious pathways to let it deal with horror.
My memory of Ted Bundy is clear, but bifurcated; I remember two Teds. One is the young man who sat beside me two nights a week in Seattle’s Crisis Clinic. The other is the voyeur, the rapist, the killer, and the necrophile. Try as I might, I still can’t bring the images together. Looking at them under an imaginary microscope, I cannot superimpose the murderer over the promising student. And I am not alone. Most of the people who knew him struggle with the same dichotomy.
And so I deal, always, with separate Teds. As I sit in police seminars and watch slides of Ted’s dead victims- the ones who were found before they skeletal – I see the evidence that he returned to the scenes of his crimes to line dead lips and eyes with garish makeup and to put blush on pale cheeks. I accept that this was done by the second Ted. I accept that he engaged not only cruel murder but in necrophilia. I can deal with this intellectually, but I try never to let it slip into the emotional side of my mind. Yet even writing about it makes my throat close and the skin at the back of my neck prickle.
Ted Bundy is the one subject that I have never been able to regard in a detached manner. He is the only subject that I knew before, during, and after his crimes – and I hope there will never be another. Although I would not have stopped his execution if I had the power to do so, I try never to see the photographs of his body. The first time I saw such a photo was on the cover of a tabloid prominently displayed in British Columbia store. Today, his dead image is ubiquitous on the Internet. Even so, when one pops up unexpectedly, I click my mouse instantly to move on.
With the advent of computer communication, I have heard from more women who encountered Ted Bundy- and lived to tell about it- than ever before. When I lecture, I recognize the haunted look in the eyes of women who approach me to tell of remembered terror. Just as in the past, I realize they cannot all have met Ted Bundy. But some of them have. The women are in their fifties now, their outward appearance so changed from that of the girls who bought into the emotional climate of the ‘60s and ‘70s when it was O.K. to trust strangers and hitchhike.
One told me of the good-looking man in the Volkswagen who gave her a ride west of Spokane, Washington, only to turn off the I-90 freeway onto a deserted road, where he produced a pair of handcuffs. “I managed to fight him off and run into the brush,” she remembered. “At first he drove away, but I heard his car stop just out of my sight and I knew he was waiting for me to come out. I crouched behind a clump of sagebrush for hours until I heard his car start up again. I wasn’t sure it he was really gone, but I was freezing and I had cramps in my arms and legs from being in one position so long. I ran to a ranch house and they let me in.
When later she saw a picture of Ted Bundy, she recognized him. A quarter of a century after that encounter, she trembled as she remembered a night when she was sure she was going to die.
Another woman recalled a rainy evening when she got lost while driving near the University of Washington in Seattle. She became aware of the light-colored Volkswagen that was tailing her car as she circled through narrow streets. When she was forced to stop at a dead-end lane, the driver pulled behind her car close enough to trap her. A wavy-haired, handsome man emerged from the Volkswagen and headed toward her.
“And then some teenage boys came walking by,” she told me. “The guy hurried back to his car and backed up. It was Ted Bundy. I’m sure it was.”
There is little doubt that Ted stalked and trolled and watched constantly; he would have had to. For every hapless young woman that he managed to force or charm into his car, Ted probably approached ten times as many who got away. The aspect of their stories that strikes me the most is how frightened the lucky ones still are, a dozen years after Ted’s execution. They alternately berate themselves for having been so foolish to go with a stranger, and relive a sense of guilt that they survived while other girls didn’t.
I know I will continue to get these letters. As I wrote this page, two more came in today’s mail.
In the fall of 1999, I had occasion to visit another city where Ted had once walked. Although I ‘d read the police reports about Ted’s final capture in Florida in the wee hours of February 15, 1978, I had never been to Pensacola. Last year, I was invited there to present a seminar for Dr. Phil Levine’s annual conference for medial examiners and detectives.
Hard by the Gulf Coast, often in the path of hurricanes, Pensacola is a city memorable both for its traditions and its technology. It has quaint old houses, lovingly restored, and posh homes with swimming pools where wealthy retirees live. Pensacola’s old railroad station is now part of a hotel, and the sumptuous barbecues for visiting conferences are served in a hall that is actually a museum of reconstructed stores. Trees and vegetation grow thick and heavy in the steamy heat. Overhead, the Blue Angels soar in practice sessions after taking off from their home airfield at he Pensacola Naval Air Station.
The ambiance of Pensacola didn’t matter to Ted Bundy twenty-two years ago; he was only passing through as he headed west. During breaks in Levine’s conference, several Pensacola detectives gave me a fascinating tour. They drove me to the area where Ted made his last run. It was a semi-residential area, a block off Interstate 10, the main east-west highway. Squat frame houses with screened porches looked out at the back honky-tonks and hulks of dead cars. There were dirt yards with ragged trees and skinny cats slinking by.
Of all the places Ted’s obsession had taken him, this neighborhood had to have been the most cheerless. I could see why the residents had berated the Pensacola cop- David Lee- when they saw him struggling with a man on the ground; police wouldn’t be popular in this neighborhood.
We drove next to the police precinct and my tour guides pointed out the back entrance where the prisoner who said he was “Kenneth Misner” had entered. Ted had called me from this building so long ago. Odd to see it. Strange to be in Pensacola, the last place he was ever free. Over in the convention center, there were pictures of Ted Bundy’s corpse on a software program designed for detectives; he has achieved the kind of infamy that makes him one of the subjects of almost any police investigative conference that is held, but he lost his struggle with a single cop in a quaint Florida town he’d only meant to see in his rearview mirror.
Many of the families of young women thought to have been victims of Ted Bundy never did find their daughters’ remains. From time to time, parts of skeletons turn up in rural areas, but to date there have been no positive identifications made. Indeed, medical examiners’ offices have misplaced a number of skeletons over the intervening years, although the value of skulls and bones as identifiers through mitochondrial DNA tests will probably ensure that it won’t happen again. The remains of Janice Ott and Denise Naslund, the two women who disappeared from Lake Sammamish State Park on July 14, 1974, were lost forever when the King County Medical Examiner’s office was relocated. Their families sued, and eventually King County settled with them for about $112,000 per family. The passing years have worn away the survivors of Ted’s victims. Several parents have died, among them Eleanor Rose, Denise Naslund’s mother, who died early in 2000. Eleanor kept Denise’s room exactly as it was on the morning Denise left for a picnic at Lake Sammamish. Her stuffed animals were still on her bed, and her clothes still hung in her closet. Denise’s car remained parked in front of her mother’s house.
One of the biggest unanswered questions about Ted Bundy is still whether he had anything to do with the disappearance of Ann Marie Burr, who was eight years old on August 31, 1961, the last time she was seen. Ann Marie lived in Tacoma, Washington, and so did Ted, who was fourteen at the time and reportedly the Burr’s morning paperboy.
Detectives who investigated Ann Marie’s disappearance have never agreed about Bundy as a viable suspect. He himself denied any culpability and he wrote to the Burrs in 1986, “I do not know what happened to your daughter, Ann Marie. I had nothing to do with her disappearance. You said she disappeared August 31, 1961. At the time I was a normal fourteen-year-old –boy. I did not wander the streets late at night. I did not steal cars. I had absolutely no desire to harm anyone. I was an average kid. For your sake, you really must understand this.”
There are, of course, many indicators that Ted Bundy was anything but a normal, average teenager. His mother, Louise, seventy-five now, insists that he was not the one who took Ann Marie away. “We were such a close family,” she says. “He was living at home. All these other things happened when he was away.” Louis Bundy feels that Ted was too small in stature at the time to force Ann Marie Burr from her home.
“She had a strong little personality, “ her father, Donald Burr, recalls. “You just felt happy to be around her. She was just a regular little girl.”
On August 30th, Ann Marie ate dinner with a friend who lived nearby and was invited to stay over that night, but her mother, Beverly, said no. That night, the Burr children went to bed about 8:30. Ann was the oldest; Greg and Julie slept in the basement with their do, the parents on the first floor, and Ann and Mary upstairs. It was about 11:00 when Ann brought Mary down to their parents because she was crying and complaining because the cast on her broken arm making her frantic with itching.
The two girls went back up to bed. At 5 am, Beverly got up and saw that there was a wild summer rainstorm outside. The living room window was open.
Ann was gone.
And she still is, despite massive searches, rewards, despite detectives who hid in the Burrs’ basement for more than a month, expecting a ransom call. It was the cruelest tragedy for the Burrs- never knowing what had become of their little strawberry-blonde daughter. The very house they lived in reminded them that she was gone. After six years, they had to move-but they always kept their old phone number, just in case she might call one day, or someone might call about her.
Donald Burr is sure he saw Ted Bundy in a ditch at a construction site at the University of Puget Sound Campus on the morning Ann Marie vanished. Over the years, scores of people have asked me about the connection between Ted and Ann Marie. The most compelling, perhaps, is a woman who e-mailed me, hinting that Ted, a ninth grader, had taken her when she was a young teenager to see where he “had hidden a body.” Yet she balked at being more specific.
The Burrs adopted a daughter, Laura, and somehow continued without Ann Marie. But they never had an ending to their search. Finally, on September 18, 1999, they held a mass at St. Patrick’s church in Tacoma, a memorial to remember a little girl who seemed to have been swallowed up into thin air. The Burrs had a theme for the memorial mass: butterflies. Butterflies meant that Ann Marie was safe and free, flying above the earth where no one could trap or harm her.
It has been a long time. Bob Keppel and Roger Dunn, the two young detectives who investigated the Bundy murders in the mid-1970s, have retired now. Dunn runs a very successful private investigation agency. Bob Keppel is renowned as an expert in serial murder. He writes books, serves as an expert witness in similar cases, and teaches an extremely popular class-called simply “Murder”- at the University of Washington. He has created the Homicide Information Tracking Unit (HITS), a computer system that connects information on murders, rapes, missing persons, sexual predators, and other crimes in Washington and Oregon.
The investigators who tracked Ted Bundy learned a great deal about the sadistic sociopathic killer over the years, and that knowledge may well save prospective victims of the serial killers who came after Bundy.
If that is true, it may be the one positive thing about so much tragedy and loss.
April 22, 2000
Atop the copies of newspaper and magazine articles and a few crime reports on the Coed murders was a two-page memo marked confidential:
TO: Campaign A Team
FROM: Geena Fallon, Media Consultant
RE: Staking Claim on Law & Order Issue
DATE: April 6, 2003
The Remington poll results came in yesterday and there's both good news and bad news. First the bad news: our guy is down by 10 points (32 to 22), compared to Harvey Denton. This is due mostly to Denton's natural advantage of having North Jersey media exposure where 65 percent of the population lives. Matt Moran is solid in the southern part of the state, largely due to his exposure for leading the charge on a new wave of casino expansion Atlantic City to create 10,000 new jobs. Moran is especially strong on the economic development issue and for asserting leadership in the State Senate for implementation of the Weaver Commission's recommendations on streamlining government resulting in $50 tax rebates for the past three years. These issues have provided modest visibility for Matt Moran in North Jersey but insufficient exposure for large numbers of voters to recognize his name. After all, Moran was merely the sponsoring legislator; the governor got most of the credit.
Denton seems to have used his district Senate seat better than Moran as a showcase. For one thing, Denton, who lives in the suburban community of Livingston in southern Essex County, enjoys better recognition in Moran's home turf than Moran has in North Jersey, presumably because of Denton's sponsorship of the bill to restore the death penalty two years ago. He made the most of rebounding off the U.S. Supreme Court's recent rulings allowing states to decide the capital punishment issue for themselves. And, smartly, Denton started the ball rolling by focusing on offenders who kill police officers during the commission of a crime. Now, with the campaign on, he keeps talking about extending the penalty to offenders who kill a child during the commission of a crime. His bill will go nowhere because the Constitution prohibits any such discrimination but few voters are legal scholars and Denton's proposal has a nice ring. Mainly, though, it's Denton's way of reminding them that he's their protector.
We know it plays well because Remington tested the issue in the polls. Clearly, voters are scared and they want somebody with huge kiones to stand between them and the bad guys in Newark, Camden and Paterson, etc., eyeballing their nice homes and perky daughters in the burbs. I wish I could write it all off to playing the race card but the data show that suburban blacks -- whose numbers have quadrupled in the past 10 years and who have become our most reliable primary voters -- are just as paranoid as the whites who were scooped up in their parents' arms in the major wave of white flight in the 60s and 70s. In short, voters of all stripes -- black, white, liberal, conservative, male, female -- are looking for a protector. (Denton is using David Klein for polling and has probably detected the same thing Remington has). High taxes, welfare reform remain high on the voters' radar screen but they're more concerned about crime.
In reality, Denton owns the issue. He has been in the Legislature for 20 years and staked out the death penalty from day one. Remember how in the beginning of his career he led murder victim survivors in so-called "informational picketing" at the court house in Newark while juries deliberated inside on the guilt or innocence of a high-profile murderer? Sixty Minutes bit on it one year and who can forget his misty eyes on Nightline last year when Ted Koppel asked him how he felt about the court ruling against live TV coverage of the first execution? "It defeats the whole point of the death penalty as a deterrent," he choked out for old Teddy. He hasn't done anything else during his 20 years in the state house but he did vote for O'Toole's tax rebate bill as well as the one Matt Moran sponsored to provide weekend and night child care for welfare recipients forced into jobs. Denton also chimed in on major environmental reforms, auto insurance rate rollbacks, and has been careful not to piss off organized labor.
Now for the good news. First, Remington concludes that Democrats, incumbent unaffiliated and independent-minded Republicans are tired of the GOP. They say it’s time for a change and believe the incumbent’s heir apparent will continue the dog-and-pony show they've grown tired of. If the incumbent and her heir apparent, Donnie Collins, pooled their Q quotient they wouldn't be able to warm an empty match box. The same goes, by the way, for Harvey Denton. Great guy one on one but turns to stone when there's more than 10 people in the room. And he looks like a clown on television. Matt Moran has more charisma especially on TV., than Death and ? combined. Matt is
Remington says most of the Democrat voters are undecided and disinclined to vote the party line even in Hudson, Essex and Camden Counties. (But we still have to work hard to stay in touch with the county and municipal chairs who have endorsed us. Their ability to turn out voters is a shadow of what it used to be but they contribute enough to make schmoozing them worthwhile). Remington's opinion is that we can win IF WE CAN SWING TWO THIRDS OF THE UNDECIDED VOTERS!
Remington tested the Ted Bundy thing on the baseline poll and it's golden. He says voters, especially the independent-minded ones, are ready for a new twist on the law and order issue. Remington says their concern about law and order has shifted to a quest for justice rather than simplistic lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key rhetoric personified by Harvey Denton. Matt scored 80 percent, his highest approval rating on the hypothetical questions, if he brings about closure in the COED murders after all these years and pins it on Bundy. Everyone has heard of Ted Bundy and Matt's announcement that he solved the case and brought relief to the families of the victims would be a message that resonates. It doesn't matter that Bundy has been executed already; it's about justice for the survivors -- an angle, in this instance especially, that resonates with women (who make up the overwhelming majority of the undecided voters in Remington's cross tabs). While many voters throughout the state vaguely recall the case, most do not. But the spots we produce will make it seem as if the murders happened last week, and that Bundy is just now being brought to justice. Leave it to me to create the illusion.
Now it's up to us to connect the dots. You remember my mentioning Bash Kenyon? I'm going to talk to him tonight about taking on the assignment and joining the campaign to handle media day-to-day. Kenyon is a careful, creative journalist who, with some coaching from me, will know exactly how to package the material we need to make the case that Bundy murdered the coeds. I have known Kenyon for 15 years and he has an incisive mind. If he moved a little quicker and had been willing to take chances when opportunities cropped, he would be covering the White House for the New York Times today instead of drifting in the world of small-time news hawking. The Trentonian's loss is our gain. I feel confident he will accept our offer. By the weekend, I predict he will begin putting the pieces together on the Bundy thing and make Matt Moran look like a hero at a spectacular news conference on May 1, Law Day! Three days later, with the press clips generated from the news conference to add the flavor of third-party credibility, I will have a spot ready for air that will make Matt look like a modern day version of the Lone Ranger. It will be presented as the ultimate good-versus-evil morality play with America's most notorious monster in the role of villain.
Here's the step-by-step I have in mind for Kenyon:
2. Interview the shrink who Bundy confessed to about the Coed killings. If she's any
good, the shrink ought to join Matt at the May 1 news conference.
3. Line up survivors to breathe appropriate sighs of relief. We want them at the news conference, too. (I will have our own film crew on hand to shoot their reactions. With editing, it will look like an endorsement for Matt).
REMINDER: 56 Wake-ups till Election Day.