On August 16th, 1975, Theodore “Ted” Bundy was cruising his car through the residential area of a Salt Lake City suburb at 3 am, when Highway Patrol Officer Sgt. Bob Hayward noticed the suspicious tan Volkswagen Beetle. Hayward signaled for the car to pull over but a panicked Bundy sped off. When Hayward finally caught up in the pursuit, he approached with his gun drawn, unaware that standing in front of him was one of the most notorious serial killers of all time.
Bundy cried out that he was lost and he had been to the drive-in cinema that night to watch “Towering Inferno” – Hayward knew that film had not been playing. Peering through the window of the Beetle, it could be seen that the front passenger seat had been removed from the front of the car and placed in the back.
Inside the vehicle, the following suspicious objects were found: a crowbar behind the driver’s seat, a box of large green plastic garbage bags, an ice pick, a flashlight, a pair of gloves, torn strips of sheeting, a knit ski mask, a pair of handcuffs, and a strange mask made from pantyhose. This would later be revealed in court as Bundy’s “Kill Kit.”
This would later be revealed in court as Bundy’s “Kill Kit.” Also, the reason the passenger seat was removed was so victims could be hidden on the floor.
Bundy was arrested for evading a police officer. If he had not initially sped off, they would have checked his license – he was wanted for no crimes in the area – and been sent on his way.
He didn’t look like your typical serial killer; handsome, well-dressed and intelligent – it was these characteristics he used to trap his female victims. A harrowing thought, as it this point, Bundy had already killed at least 25 women in four different states and who knows how many more lives he would have taken if not for his arrest.
Bundy was released following a search of his home when they found nothing incriminating. (Later, he bragged the officers had missed a Polaroid collection of his victims which he later destroyed.) Though they were still suspicious, Bundy was placed on 24-hour surveillance and Salt Lake City police flew to Seattle to interview his ex-girlfriend.
In 1969, Elizabeth “Liz” Kloepfer (pictured with Bundy below) met Bundy when she worked as a secretary at University of Washington Medical School. Liz was divorced, insecure and desperately seeking a father figure for her young daughter.
During their relationship, Bundy had already begun his killing spree and a concerned Liz reported her suspicions to the police. In 1974, she told them, “Ted went out a lot in the middle of the night. And I didn’t know where he went. Then he napped during the day. And I found things, things I couldn’t understand.”
These objects included: a set of crutches, a bag of plaster that he admitted stealing from a medical supply house, a meat cleaver, never used for cooking, that he packed when he moved to Utah, surgical gloves, an Oriental knife in a wooden case that he kept in his glove compartment; and a sack full of women’s clothing which did not belong to her. (Bundy also bragged that he burned the head belonging to a victim in the fireplace at Liz’s home – although it’s unknown if this is fact or another twisted tendency of Bundy’s to shock people.)
Liz had complained to Seattle police two years previous but they refused to believe this was substantial enough evidence to apprehend him. It is unknown how many lives could have been saved had the police listened to Liz when she raised the alarm early on. Finally, Liz had someone willing to listen to her concerns and that was the Salt Lake City police.
It was time for them to move in on Bundy.
On October 2nd, 1975 in Utah, three witnesses identified Bundy from a police lineup. He was charged with attempted murder and kidnapping with bail set at $100,000. Now Utah authorities were able to seize Bundy’s car and following an examination, they found three hairs which matched potential victims.
FBI lab specialist Robert Neill concluded that the presence of hair strands in one car matching three different victims who had never met one another would be “a coincidence of mind-boggling rarity.” Bundy was finished.
During his prison sentence, as he was awaiting trial, Bundy made many attempts to escape prison – some of which were successful. Finally, Bundy confessed to killing thirty victims between 1974 and 1978, although the real victim count is believed to be much higher. If it wasn’t for his pre-dawn drive through the suburbs on August 16th, 1975, who knows how many more innocent lives he would have claimed.