While some Bundy experts, including former King County detective Robert D. Keppel, believe Ted may have started killing in his early to mid-teens a twelve-year-old neighbor vanished from her house when Bundy was fourteen the earliest verified murders began in 1974, when he was 27.
Shortly after midnight on 4 January 1974, Bundy entered the house of Joni Lenz, an 18-year-old student at the University of Washington, and bludgeoned her with a crowbar while she slept. Bundy also removed a bed rod from Lenz’s bed and used it to sexually assault her. She was found the next morning, in a coma, lying in a pool of blood. Lenz survived the attack, but suffered permanent brain damage.
Bundy’s next victim was Lynda Ann Healy, a senior at the University of Washington. On 31 January 1974, Bundy broke into her room, knocked her unconscious, maticulusly removed her clothes and dressed her in jeans and a shirt, foled her night clothes, wrapped her in bedsheet, and carried her outside. A single hair would be found at the crime scene which did not belong to the victim. A year would pass before her decapitated, dismembered remains were found.
From that January to June he stalked and killed more than one young woman a month, a spree that culminated in July with the double daytime abduction and murder of two females at a lakeside park near Seattle.
He murdered approximately ten victims in Oregon, Utah and Washington. Bundy had a remarkable advantage as his facial features were charming yet not especially memorable. He would be later described as a chameleon, able to look totally different just by changing his hairstyle, for example.
All his victims had been young, attractive, with their dark hair worn at shoulder length or longer, parted in middle – they all resembled Stephanie, the love of his life that he could never have.
That autumn, Bundy moved on to Utah, where the killings began in October with the murder in Midvale of Melissa Smith, the 17-year-old daughter of police chief Louis Smith. Bundy raped, sodomized, and strangled the Smith girl. Her body was found nine days later. Next was Laura Aime, also 17, who disappeared on Halloween. Her remains were found nearly a month later, on Thanksgiving Day, on the banks of a river.
A week before the final, grim discovery, Ted Bundy was arrested in Salt Lake City for suspicion of burglary. Erratic driving had attracted the attention of police, and an examination of his car – a small VW – revealed peculiar items such as handcuffs and a pair of panty hose with eyeholes cut to form a stocking mask. The glove compartment yielded gasoline receipts and maps that linked the suspect with a list of Colorado ski resorts, including Vail and Snowmass. Carol Da Ronch – a lucky woman that escaped- identified Ted Bundy as the man who had attacked her in November, and her testimony was sufficient to convict him on a charge of attempted kidnapping. Other states were waiting for a shot at Bundy now, and in January 1977 he was extradited to Colorado for trial in the murder of Caryn Campbell, at Snowmass.
Faced with prison time already, Bundy had no time to spare for further trials. He fled from custody, and was recaptured after eight days on the road. He tried again, with more success, found lodgings on the outskirts of Florida State University. Suspected in a score of deaths already, Bundy had secured himself another happy hunting ground.
In the small hours of January 15, 1978, he invaded the Chi Omega sorority house, dressed all in black and armed with a heavy wooden club. Before he left, two women had been raped and killed, a third severely injured by the beating he inflicted with his bludgeon. Within the hour, he had slipped inside another house, just blocks away, to club another victim in her bed. She, too, survived. Detectives at the Chi Omega house discovered bite marks on the corpses there, appalling evidence of Bundy’s fervor at the moment of the kill.
On February 6, Ted stole a van and drove to Jacksonville, where he was spotted in the act of trying to abduct a school girl. Three days later, twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach disappeared from a schoolyard nearby; she was found in the first week of April, her body discarded near Suwanee State Park.
After the murder of Leach, Bundy for some reason returned to his Tallahassee apartment, though the rent was due, and dumped the stolen van in a high-crime neighborhood. It was never found. Bundy then stole another vehicle, only to be nearly arrested after being pulled over. He managed to escape when the officer left him alone while he checked the stolen car’s plates. Returning to his apartment Bundy wiped the place clean of prints, stole a VW and finally fled Tallahassee. After some harrowing encounters with restraint and hotel employees concerning his now-reported stolen credit cards, Bundy ended up in Pensacola, Florida, where his stolen plates were recognized by a patrol officer and he was pulled over after a short chase. Refusing to go quietly, Bundy fled on foot, falling and pretending to be shot when the officer fired on him. Bundy leaped up and resisted when the officer ran up to him, but after a brief struggle Bundy was again – once and for all – under arrest.