On February 1, 1974, University of Washington student Lynda Ann Healy disappears from her apartment and is killed by Ted Bundy. The murder marked Bundy’s entry into the ranks of serial killers as he had recently attacked his first victim, Sharon Clarke, in her Seattle home. By the time he was finally captured on April 27, 1979, Bundy had become America’s most famous serial killer.
In the summer of 1974, Bundy attacked at least seven young women in Washington. Bundy’s victims looked remarkably similar to each other: Nearly all of them had long, dark hair parted in the middle. Those who knew him said that he was very smart and personable, and he used his charm to pick up his victims. In another gambit, he also used a fake cast on his arm to appear less threatening.
By the fall of 1974, the disappearances of young women stopped in Washington and started in Utah after Bundy enrolled in law school in Salt Lake City. He later expanded his area of attack to Colorado and, on August 16, 1975, was arrested by police as he prowled a neighborhood in his Volkswagen.
In Aspen, Bundy was charged with murder but escaped out the window of the courthouse library. For eight days he eluded authorities on the outskirts of Aspen. When he was finally caught, Bundy was put in a jail cell, only to escape again on December 30, 1977, while awaiting trial.
Within two weeks, he had settled near Florida State University and began raping and killing more young women. This time, he didn’t bother trying to charm victims into his car. Two weeks after a sorority house attack, Bundy raped and strangled 12-year-old Kimberly Leachnear Jacksonville. Days later, Bundy was arrested while driving a stolen Volkswagen.
Bundy ably defended himself at trial, but the evidence, including teeth marks on one of his victims, condemned him to a death sentence in Florida. For the next 10 years, Bundy filed appeal after appeal to avoid the electric chair. This was unsuccessful, and he eventually confessed to 36 murders. When he was executed on January 24, 1989, thousands of people came to cheer outside the Florida State Prison.