Ted Bundy: Did He Abduct Singer Debbie Harry? 

Debbie Harry is a sensational performer and has been part of the mainstream music scene for the past four decades. Her early songs with rock band Blondie, such as “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture,” hearken back to a time before serial killers were idolized and admired. There’s no question that she has experienced many strange situations as a member of the entertainment field, but does Debbie Harry’s claim that Ted Bundy attempted to kidnap her have any merit? Let’s find out.

First, let’s address the claim. The story is that in 1972 during the early hours of the morning, Harry was looking for a cab in the lower east side of New York City. She wasn’t having any success, but noticed a lone male driver in a white VW Bug trailing her. He beckoned to her to get in his car, telling her he would take her where she wanted to go. She considered it, noted she wasn’t likely to find a ride anytime soon, and ultimately slid into the passenger seat.

She instantly sensed she had made a mistake. The young driver was handsome, but he emitted a terrible odor. There was no interior door handle and the car windows were only cracked. She looked for a window crank to get some air, but much like the door handle, it was missing too. In desperation, she somehow managed to get her hand through the window and lower it, grabbing the door handle from the outside. As she tugged on the handle, the car took a sharp curve, thrusting her to the ground. Much to her relief, the vehicle drove away and she never saw the driver again.

Now let’s analyze what we know about Ted Bundy. Right from the start of our story, we have a geographical problem. Bundy wasn’t known to be in the New York City area, or on the east coast at all, during 1972. At that time, he was deeply engrossed in his work with the Seattle Republican Party, working on a re-election campaign for Governor Dan Evans. He was also working at the suicide hotline where he met crime writer, Ann Rule. To top it all off, Bundy had a summer job on a psychiatric ward, a requirement to obtain a psychology degree from the University of Washington. Though a highly mobile killer, Ted had neither the time nor the energy to make trans-national trips, especially without anyone around him noticing.

Secondly, details about the man’s car are obviously wrong. Both of Bundy’s VW Bugs were beige or tan. The interior was normal, though the passenger seat was occasionally moved into the back seat to provide room for his victims’ bodies (what he later referenced as “cargo”).

Bundy’s 1968 VW Bug when it was displayed in Washington D.C. in 2012.

My main gripe with Harry’s assertion is the claim that only realized Bundy was her abductor in 1989, after he had been executed.She happened to notice his picture in the newspaper and exclaimed that he was the driver of the white VW Bug. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and I don’t feel she could have possibly remembered her abductor’s face after seventeen years had passed. Though I don’t doubt Debbie Harry had a harrowing experience at the hands of a dangerous man, it’s highly implausible that the man in that VW Bug was Ted Bundy.


CrimeCon 2019: A Recap

Various photos I took of the French Quarter

Visiting several areas in the French Quarter

This year, CrimeCon took place in “The Big Easy” between June 7-June 9 and New Orleans was the perfect place to host the convention because it’s a mysterious city full of ghost stories and tales of murder. As many attendees discovered, an aura of other-worldiness permeated the air all around us well into the witching hours as we descended upon the Hilton Riverside hotel. Opening the conference was Golden State Killer investigator, Paul Holes. His presentation at CrimeCon in Nashville last year proved so popular that the convention committee invited him to kick-start this year’s event. Paul has a good stage presence and it’s not hard to imagine him working on a case. He welcomed us to New Orleans and reminded everyone to remember the victims of violent crimes as opposed to glorifying the criminals. He pointed out that during the first CrimeCon in 2017, he was still looking for the Golden State Killer. By 2018, Joseph DeAngelo had been identified using familial DNA and since then, over 50 cold cases had been solved using the same revolutionary method of identification. Paul told us he wanted more unidentified criminals to be unmasked and stressed the importance of laws allowing familial DNA to be used in police investigations. The crowd was utterly charmed by the handsome law enforcement agent and applauded vigorously as the session ended.

Paul Holes on stage at CrimeCon

The first session I attended was for fans of the Netflix documentary, “The Staircase.” David Rudolf, who defended author Michael Peterson accused of his wife’s murder, discussed the bad reputation of defense attorneys and said he wanted to find a way for people to view them in a more positive light. He talked about the documentary and the decision to allow a camera crew for follow his client and defense team. He gave them strict boundaries, including downloading the film every night to a server in Europe so the prosecution would have a harder time subpoenaing the video, if they chose to try. Then he asked the audience if we wanted to hear more about the “blow poke,” which if you remember, was a very controversial piece of evidence to show that Peterson bludgeoned Kathleen after pushing her down the stairs in their home. The audience replied with a loud “YES!” and Rudolf commented that he hadn’t even heard of a blow poke until this case came along. Getting serious, he said the blow poke wasn’t even considered a murder weapon until approximately two months before the trial began. Investigators found the blow poke in the Peterson’s yard and moved it to the garage where the defense team found it more than a year later. Rudolf said that he was appalled to discover that investigators searched Peterson’s house in 2002 without knowledge of the defense team. He ended the session stating he didn’t care if we thought Peterson was guilty (his murder verdict was overturned and changed to manslaughter in 2017), but that the system was broken because he never should have been found guilty of murder in the first place.

David Rudolf, discussing the blow poke in the Peterson case

David Rudolf, Michael Peterson’s attorney

Between sessions, I visited Podcast Row. This is by far my favorite part of CrimeCon and consists of many podcasters convening at separate tables, offering swag, conversation, and lots of selfies with their fans. The first face I saw this year was also the first face I saw last year, that of Mike “Morf” Morford. Morf is a Zodiac killer expert whose podcast, “Criminology,” is well worth a listen. Partnering with Mike Ferguson, of “True Crime All the Time” fame, they were lucky enough to have me write season 3 of their podcast about Ted Bundy. (I wrote the entire script covering 3 episodes.) I was thrilled to run into Mike “Gibby” Gibson and Mike Ferguson, who both present “True Crime All the Time”, and Mike Browne who hosts the Canadian podcast, “Dark Poutine.” His co-host, Scott, was also kind enough to grant me a photo, for which I know he was thrilled. I met the fabulous and very gracious Warbabyyy, host of “Murderous Minors,” whom I nicknamed “Ava Cherry” for her bleach blonde hair! Justin and Aaron from “Generation Why” were as friendly as ever and posed for more than one selfie with me. Podcast Row didn’t just include podcasts. There was a taser demonstration (I’ll never get that jarring taser sound out of my head), books and publishers, a K9 presentation, and merchandise to buy including t-shirts, silver handcuff necklaces, and wine glasses. Nancy Grace was on hand for pictures with her fans along with various meet and greets to meet some of your favorite writers and presenters. Depending on how things go, you may just see me on Podcast Row next!

Some of the amazing podcasters I met on Podcast Row and Mike Patty on the bottom left, grandfather of Libby German!

I was already enjoying being at CrimeCon, but to make things even more fantastic for me was that I met one of my heroes, Ted Bundy survivor, Kathy Kleiner Rubin. She thanked me for writing such a wonderful article about her (Scroll down on this blog to see my article about Kathy) & invited me to hang out with her. We went to several sessions and since she is a New Orleans resident, she was my tour guide. We saw an incredible drag show on Bourbon Street and ate some delicious cajun food. I am in love with alligator meat now!

Kathy and me hanging around town!

Kathy also co-hosted a CrimeCon session dedicated to Ann Rule. Investigator Sheryl McCollum started off the conversation about how Ann Rule affected her life and Leslie Rule, Ann’s daughter, told tales of Ann’s youth and how she met Ted Bundy when both volunteered for a suicide hotline. Kathy’s story was the most compelling part of the Ted Bundy legacy. She stood and very confidentally told her story of survival after being left for dead by at Florida State University’s Chi Omega sorority house. She was only twenty and had never even heard the name Ted Bundy. After Bundy murdered her sorority sisters, Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy, he came into the darkened room she shared with Karen Chandler armed with a piece of oak firewood, high on adrenaline. Kathy heard him stumble over a footlocker between their twin beds and became aware of his darkened frame leaning over her, his arm raised. She felt a “thud” on the right side of her face, but no initial pain. When her roommate stirred nearby, Bundy began hitting Karen with the firewood. “Bundy was good at killing people. Because he didn’t kill me, I was alive and making noise…he came back to my side to come and kill me.” After returning to attack Kathy again, carlights from the back parking lot lit up the small room and Bundy got “spooked,” running out of the room. “Now I felt the pain of being hit so hard in the face. I remember sitting up and rocking back and forth, screaming for someone to come help us. The next thing I remember, there was a police officer in my room, and I felt so safe.”

Kathy Kleiner tells her story to the crowd

Kathy suffered a broken jaw, broken in three places and had damage to her shoulder. Her jaw had been hit so hard that it was dangling from her face. Blood was everywhere in the room. She was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital to heal. Bark was pulled from her face, indicating that she had been beaten by the same oak log as her sorority sisters. After many weeks of recuperation and her jaw being reset, she finally made it home where she was informed that her attacker had been caught. Kathy was summoned by the Grand Jury to determine if Bundy would be tried in her case. “I looked at him and he looked at me. I stared him down because I had power now.” She felt he may have been looking at her in an attempt to intimidate her. Kathy admitted that “he had a cocky attitude” and she was relieved when he was charged by the state of Florida with three counts of attempted murder and two counts of murder. Kathy said she had been comforted by Leon County District Attorney Ken Katsaris saying that he “had been so kind to me.” Bravely facing the crowd of people, quietly riveted by her story, she ended with her personal mantra: “I don’t like the term victim, I’m actually a survivor. In my opinion, I’m a thriver.”

Kathy and me chilling with Warbabyyy on Podcast Row!!

Kathy being interviewed by the Oxygen Channel!

Kathy and I were personally invited to attend a presentation of the Natalie Wood investigation by one of the producers of 48 Hours, Ryan Smith. News reporter Erin Moriarty showed clips of Natalie Wood and introduced Natalie’s sister, Lana Wood to the stage. Lana reminded us that “Natalie Wood was one of the biggest film stars imaginable” and said “the Wagner/Wood love story was one of the great Hollywood love stories.” After a tumultuous marriage, Wood and Wagner divorced in April of 1962, but they remarried in July of 1972. Lana was both stunned and astounded when Natalie went back to Wagner after a decade apart. On November 28, 1981, Natalie, who was notoriously afraid of the water and was unable to swim, boarded Wagner’s yacht docked near Catalina Island for a night of drinking and relaxing. It later came to light that Natalie and Robert had a huge fight about where the boat should be docked overnight and by the next morning, Wood was missing. Her body was found floating in nearby waters, several hours after the fight. Her autopsy report indicated there were twenty-six bruises on her body. Some investigators speculated that “she looked like the victim of an assault.” Lana feared their relationship was violent, so she went by Wagner’s house and confronted him about the incident. She stated he told her, “It was an accident, you’ve gotta believe me.” She tried to speak to him on several occasions, but found herself no longer being allowed around Wagner’s family or Natalie’s daughters and claims Wagner blacklisted her from Hollywood. Lana made no secret that she suspected that Wood’s husband, Robert Wagner, knows more than he has said about her sister’s mysterious death. Moriarty asked Lana if she thought the case would be solved, but Lana didn’t think the case would ever lead to an arrest. When asked how she wanted her older sister remembered, she recalled that Natalie was “highly intelligent, very loving” and she hoped her sister would be proud that Lana is trying to find justice for her death.

Still picture of Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood

Lana Wood, Natalie’s sister, and Erin Moriarty on stage

Ryan Smith of 48 Hours and Kathy Kleiner

The final session I was attended was an update on the Delphi, Indiana murders. On February 13, 2017, best friends Abby Williams and Libby German were found dead after being dropped off to spend time on the Monan High Bridge Trail. A short while later, neither girl was answering her phone. After a search and rescue party descended in the area, their bodies were found not far from the drop-off point the next day. Police have generated a sketch of the killer based on eyewitnesses and a short video recorded on Abby’s phone. A panel including Libby German’s sister Kelsi and grandfather, Mike Patty, and Abby’s grandparents were on stage along with a law enforcement officer working the case. Mike Patty believes that someone knows the identity of the killer and needs to come forward to help the girls receive justice. “Don’t play investigator. We want your tips.” Police insisted that the public resist the urge to investigate the crime and to trust in the process. (Tips can be sent to abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com based on their Wikipedia page.) Commentary was made about the recently revealed new composite sketch of the “Bridge Guy” and how much younger the suspect appears to be. He was seen by more than one witness and is thought to have brownish-red hair and police stated he does not have blue eyes. Wrapping up the session, the panel wanted people to keep their eyes opened for any information that could help lead them to the killer of two bright, energetic young women who had so much potential.

Delphi families on stage

If you missed CrimeCon in New Orleans this year, don’t sweat it. Two upcoming CrimeCon events are being held in Chicago and Seattle later in 2019. Chicago is hosting CrimeCon: On the Run which promises one night of sessions covering the arc of a case to the investigation and interrogation. In Seattle, CrimeCon is offering a “Crowd Solve” event over the course of a weekend to dive into the real-life case of Nancy Moyer, missing since 2009. You can also start saving your money to attend CrimeCon in Orlando, Florida next year from May 1-3 at the World Center Mariott Hotel. Tickets go on sale on Monday, June 17th. Get them early to ensure you get the best rates and I hope I’ll see you in Orlando!

CRIMECON 2019: A Brief Look

CrimeCon begins on June 7th this year, and so the countdown has begun. This year the convention will take place in New Orleans and promises to be bigger than ever. Many famous faces and events have been planned for our entertainment, so much so, that it’s literally overwhelming! That said, two events I don’t want to miss are Friday’s 5:30 PM presentation titled “A Tribute to the Queen of True Crime: Ann Rule.” The hosts include Rule’s daughter, Leslie Rule and Ted Bundy survivor Kathy Kleiner Rubin. The event promises to take the audience on a journey through working with Ann on one of her books and hearing a riveting tale from Kathy about pulling through after being seriously injured in the Chi Omega attacks by Ted Bundy. At 6:45 PM, a meet and greet is being held for the same hosts and here is where I hope to get a hug from Kathy Kleiner Rubin. She was gracious enough to allow me to interview her for this blog and has promised me a big hug, so I’m holding her to it!

Kathy Kleiner Rubin: I’m coming for that hug!

Saturday, June 8th promises various sessions starting as early as 8:00 AM (if you’re an early riser!) including “Death Row Stories” presented by HLN and “The Use of Technology in Forensics Investigation.” I am very interested in the scientific side of criminal investigations, so I can definitely see myself at the latter session. Oxygen has a heavy presence at CrimeCon this year. Kelly Siegler will be talking about her program, “Cold Justice,” and will be available later for a meet and greet. Paul Holes, long-time investigator of California’s “Golden State Killer” will host a session called “The DNA of Murder” for Oxygen. You can also check out the Innocence Project session entitled “Frame: The Wrongful Conviction of Reginald Adams” and on Sunday, June 9th, gear up for Dr. Henry Lee to discuss “Concepts in Homicide Investigation.”

Kelly Seigler

Paul Holes

Something I really enjoyed at the Nashville CrimeCon event was Podcast Row. The main area of the hotel held several rows of tables with your favorite podcasters available for conversations, autographs, and selfies. Personally, that was probably my favorite area to visit. It’s great to rub elbows with some of the best online personalities in crime “radio” and it’s how I scored the scripting gig for the 3rd season of Criminology.

For more information about CrimeCon this year, stop by http://www.crimecon.com and watch for live tweets & some video I’ll post to the site and Twitter (@rosedysfunction) while I’m there. See you soon!

E. J. Hammon

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile: What the new Ted Bundy movie got right and wrong

Movie poster

Over the past two years, since crime fans were made aware that a new Ted Bundy movie was forthcoming, we have been waiting for it with bated breath. There was debate over whether Zac Efron had the acting chops to truly possess the mindset and mannerisms of Bundy or if his good looks would detract from the seriousness of the film. Readers of Liz Kloepfer’s book, “The Phantom Prince,” were ready to see just how close to the book the script came and whether the facts of the cases were portrayed correctly. Personally, I had certain expectations for the film, hoping to see a new side to the Bundy myth and for a light to be shone on his deeds once and for all.

Sadly, I was mostly disappointed. Most of the scenarios in the movie, though based on reality, were distorted to make the story more watchable and exciting. Characterizations of detectives and police officers were exaggerated to make Ted seem more sympathetic that he actually was. The majority of the murders and violence were glossed over and viewed only in hindsight. That isn’t to say that the movie got everything wrong. I also understand that some of the actions by individuals were supposed to have been seen from Bundy and Liz’s points of view. However, that wasn’t made truly obvious. I wasn’t completely disappointed by the movie, just underwhelmed.

Florida victims Lisa Levy & Margaret Bowman

I appreciated that they actually used the real names of his victims, survivors, and detectives on the storyline. Often, names are changed to protect the identity of certain players in a crime drama. Since all of the names in the movie were of people listed in public record, there was really no need to change them. I liked that some of the actual footage of news stories was used. It lent to more of a feel of the era in which these crimes occurred. Actual pictures of the victims helped lend a feeling of truth to the story-telling as well.

Ken Katsaris reading Bundy’s indictments before the press in Florida

What I didn’t like was the portrayal of Ken Katsaris, sheriff of Leon County, Florida, as a cowboy of sorts. Though responsible for noting and preserving the bite marks on Lisa Levy’s buttocks, he didn’t waltz into Ted’s cell with random people to take pictures of his teeth. Casts of his Ted’s teeth were taken against his will (under a warrant), the photographs and casts were taken by a qualified dentist in a dental chair. There are pictures of Ted having the procedure done. Despite his anger in his eyes, he wasn’t in any physical pain during the process. I was also disappointed that the final scene between Ted and Liz never happened. She didn’t visit him in Florida, though he called her various times from prison there. There is no evidence that he wrote “Hacksaw” on the visiting room window to anyone visiting him. This was merely a part of the script meant to ratchet up the drama. Finally, the timing of Carole Boone’s pregnancy was wrong. She didn’t give birth to their daughter Rose until October 1981, several months after Bundy was found guilty a second time. The movie shows only his first Florida trial and Carole was definitely not pregnant during that time.

In the dentist’s chair

In conclusion, though an exciting film, it is still mostly fiction, despite being drawn from Liz Kloepfer’s book. Director Joe Berlinger had the chance to dispel a great deal of Bundy myths in the making of his film, but he chose to romanticize him instead. Unfortunately, that makes it harder for writers and others in the media to present a true picture of a killer who was less charm than violence, less pretty boy than monster. Ironically, Berlinger directed the Netflix documentary about Bundy, “Confessions of a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” This film is actually very well done and factual and I would recommend it over “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” any day.

Did Ted Bundy Want To Get Caught?

Sigmund Freud once speculated that most criminals wanted to get caught because they experienced an overwhelming sense of guilt. Despite the popularity of this theory, there is overwhelming evidence that people who consistently skirt the law do not want to be caught. In the case of psychopaths, Bundy included, they do not possess a sense of guilt, throwing Freud’s analysis out of orbit. Bundy made some major mistakes that brought him the authorities’ attention and once he was on their radar, he couldn’t shake their accusations. If estimates of his killings are correct, he only murdered women between 1974 and 1978, a relatively short amount of time for an organized serial killer. However, one cannot but imagine that by avoiding several errors, he may have been able to continue killing indefinitely.

Bundy in black & white

Bundy’s first mistake was underestimating how police would perceive his car randomly idling on nights when he was trolling for victims. He was arrested in both Utah and Florida when he was hanging out in his car, smoking marijuana. In truth, he was probably just trying to determine where else he could find women in the middle of the night before being noticed by police. By slowly cruising through residential neighborhoods, he drew attention to himself even more. In Florida, Bundy stole a car and was stopped at one A.M. by a Pensacola, Florida officer. After running the plate and realizing the vehicle was stolen, Bundy was pulled over. He kicked Officer David Lee’s feet out from under him and ran. The officer had to fire a warning shot and tackle the suspect.

Blatantly lying to the police might have worked if he’d used better lies. When he was pulled over during the early hours of the morning August of 1975, Officer Bob Hayward asked Ted what he was doing all the way out in Granger when he lived in Salt Lake City. Ted gave the cop a ridiculous excuse about seeing the film “The Towering Inferno” in the nearby theater. However, the officer knew that the film wasn’t playing, catching him in his first lie. Noticing the front passenger seat missing in Bundy’s VW Bug, Hayward had probable cause to search further. Bundy’s burglary tools (aka “kill kit”) were discovered and he was promptly handcuffed and booked at the local police station. The charges just piled on after a local detective remember a description of his car and tools from Carol DaRonch’s attempted kidnapping.

Finally, something that would have helped Bundy continue his freedom and/or avoid the death penalty would have been by pleading guilty to the kidnapping and murder charges against him. To assume that Bundy would do what was best for himself was to not realize he was a true psychopath. Grand standing and narcissism prevented him from listening to reason when considering how to handle the charges against him. His appeals attorney, Polly Nelson, later wrote that he “sabotaged the entire defense effort out of spite, distrust, and grandiose delusion.” It became more important to showboat and be the center of attention rather than to be strategic about his pleas. It has been theorized that had he pleaded guilty on his original charge of attempted kidnapping, he would have been paroled quickly and probably wouldn’t have been charged in Colorado for the January 1975 murder of Caryn Campbell due to lack of direct evidence. If Bundy had plead guilty to murdering the Chi Omega sorority victims in 1978, he could have avoided the death penalty in that case. Even so, Bundy realized he would have to admit guilt in public and he would never voluntarily admit that, at least not until his final execution date was imminent.

Bundy declaring his innocence to Leon County Sheriff, Ken Katsaris

In summary, Bundy never wanted to be caught, regardless of what Freud or his followers may have suggested. In fact, Bundy once told Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, “Guilt. It’s this mechanism we use to control people. It’s an illusion. It’s a kind of social control mechanism and it’s very unhealthy. It does terrible things to our body.” That hardly sounds like the words of a person who felt remorse or sorrow over all of the horrible things he did. If he had been smarter about hunting for victims, it’s possible he could have continued killing for decades, much to the detriment to women everywhere.

Other resources:

Samenow, S.E. (2016, August 4) Do Criminals Desire to Get Caught? Another myth with roots in Freud. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inside-the-criminal-mind/201608/do-criminals-desire-get-caught-0

Kathy Kleiner Rubin: A Life Touched but not Destroyed by Serial Killer, Ted Bundy

by E.J. Hammon c. 2019
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Kathy Kleiner Rubin, who survived the Chi Omega sorority attack at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida in the 1970’s. To my surprise, I learned she’s much more than a survivor. Here is the story she shared about her experience.

Kathy Kleiner Rubin

It was a crime that shocked the nation and helped lead to the final arrest of brutal serial killer, Theodore Robert Bundy. In the early morning hours of January 15, 1978, four young women in Florida State University’s Chi Omega sorority house were brutally attacked while sleeping. Recently escaped from a Colorado prison, Bundy had been on the run for approximately a week before he made his way to Florida. After soaking in the sun and living on stolen credit cards for another week, the former law student, who’d held such promise just four short years before, made a decision that would seal his fate.

The many faces of Ted Bundy

This was not the Ted Bundy we knew from the western region of the United States. There he had been careful. His actions were tempered and he took few chances. But by the time he made his way to Florida, Bundy was like a wild animal, an addict who hadn’t had his murder “fix” in years. He wasn’t about to wait another moment before killing as many women as possible. His brutality knew no bounds.
Two years before that fateful night, in 1976, eighteen-year-old Kathy Kleiner was just beginning her adventure at Florida State University. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and already a survivor of childhood lupus, Kathy hoped to find her freedom there and to gain some independence from her overly-protective mother. Florida State offered the archaeology degree she sought and boasted a healthy, active Greek life on campus. She joined the Chi Omega sorority when her friend, already a member, suggested she pledge. Kathy felt good about the place when she met the residents. She was also excited to be part of such a popular campus society. The sorority house regularly hosted toga parties, encouraged service work within the community, and favored the young women spending time with their fellow sisters. After years of battling loneliness while her parents worked out-of-town, Kathy felt she finally fit in somewhere. She was finally somewhere she belonged.
At the same time, in Colorado, twenty-nine-year-old Ted Bundy was just beginning his life behind bars. He had been found guilty in the 1974 attempted kidnapping of Utah resident, Carol DaRonch, and was extradited two years later to Aspen to be tried for the murder of Michigan nurse, Caryn Campbell. Bundy’s first escape was from an Aspen facility in June 1977. A week later, he was found not far from the courthouse, disoriented and half-starved after his time on the run. Deemed a flight risk, he was subsequently moved to the jail in Glenwood Springs, Colorado to further await his trial. He escaped from his new cell on the night of December 30, 1977. After traveling for several days, he finally landed in Tallahassee on January 8, 1978. Renting a room near the Florida State campus, Bundy started prowling around the local area, searching for his next victim.

Bundy prepared for court

He was seen on the night of Saturday, January 14th at a local college bar, named Sherrod’s. Now thirty-one, Bundy stood out around the college-age students in the bar. Several young women remembered him leering, one noting he looked like “an ex-con.” Margaret Bowman was at the bar that night. Bundy probably saw her and later followed her back to her sorority, noticing an unlocked side door. It was then that he began planning his attack.
As the evening wore on, most of the sorority girls went to sleep. Kathy remembers getting back from a wedding earlier that day and doing her homework. Her roommate, Karen Chandler, had been sewing and both young women went to bed around 10:30 or 11:00 that night. In the early morning hours of January 15, 1978, Ted Bundy brazenly entered the Chi Omega sorority house on the campus of Florida State University. He ascended to the second floor carrying a piece of oak firewood that he grabbed from outside of the building. Entering Margaret Bowman’s room, he violently beat and strangled her to death using a piece of nylon pantyhose. Moving lithely across the hall to Lisa Levy’s room, Bundy beat, strangled, and sexually assaulted the young woman. He nearly bit off one of her nipples and left a bite mark imprint so deeply embedded on her left buttock that it was used against him in court.

He crept across the hall again, invading the room next door to where Margaret now lay dead. Kathy believes that after killing her two sorority sisters, Bundy came into their room high on adrenaline. She can remember hearing noise and thinks he tripped on the foot locker situated between the twin beds. She opened her eyes a bit and saw a silhouette above her holding the firewood up in the air before striking her. She was fully awakened when the shadowy figure brought the wood down with a thud on her right side. The action didn’t initially cause pain. Karen began stirring and waking after hearing noise in the room. Kathy later realized that the assailant began hitting Karen on the face and the shoulder before raining down more sharp blows on her. During the onslaught, time stood still. Seconds felt like hours.

Chopped firewood outside the Chi Omega sorority house

Suddenly, a bright light came through the large windows in their room. A young man was returning sorority sister, Nita Neary, to the house and his car’s headlights lit up the room. The sudden brightness spooked their attacker and he quickly exited with no further brutality. Kathy believes Bundy felt he would be identified, not knowing that she couldn’t see him without her glasses. And just like that, the blitz attack on the sorority sisters ended, the ghost gone like a flash in the night. Unbeknownst to him, he had been spotted by Neary on his way down the stairs and she would prove to be a compelling witness in court.

Nita Neary in court

After the burst of light faded from the room, it suddenly seemed very dark. Kathy could feel sticky stuff around her in the bed and she suddenly became aware of a great deal of pain on her head and shoulder. Things didn’t make sense. “It was just kind of a dream,” she recalls.
She sat up in bed and tried to talk, but her jaw had been shattered. She could only communicate by making moans and groans. She kept wondering why Karen didn’t come over to help her, not realizing that she was hurt as well. “I was screaming in my head, wanting someone to help me but my jaw wouldn’t work!”
Kathy was unaware that her roommate Karen had wandered out of the room to look for help. One of the sorority sisters who had gone to the bathroom saw Karen and walked her back to the room. At that point, the women saw Kathy and noticed she had been hurt.

“Things were happening in slow motion. The paramedics came in to help us. I remember the paramedic being there and I asked him what was going on. He said, ‘It’s okay, lay down, you were shot in the face, we’re going to help you.'” The injuries to her jaw were so severe that they looked like a gunshot wound to a skilled medical technician. The frightened young woman was put on a gurney and taken down the wooden staircase from the second floor. She heard noise and didn’t understand what was going on. “I remember it was freezing outside, snowing, and couldn’t communicate. I was laying down but couldn’t ask what was going on. It felt like a carnival atmosphere.” She saw people looking at her and the waiting seemed to take forever. She was cold, vulnerable, and very confused.

On the way to the hospital, she didn’t lose consciousness, but found she couldn’t communicate due to the damage to her jaw. Kathy overheard some of the emergency medical technicians discuss the severity of her injuries and she became very self-conscious as people were looking over her injuries. When a doctor suggested running a rape kit on her, she became anxious and scared. She had only been wearing a nightgown and underwear when she was brought in and her nightgown had been cut off to assess her injuries. She recognized a nurse who was working on her and was relieved when the young woman talked the doctor out of doing the rape kit. The nurse argued that it didn’t make sense that a violent criminal would put underwear back on a victim after sexually assaulting her. Kathy felt like the nurse was an angel for helping her avoid further humiliation after everything she had already experienced.

Meanwhile, his need for blood not yet sated, Bundy made his way through a nearby neighborhood. Finding a darkened student apartment, he broke in and sexually assaulted Cheryl Thomas, a Florida State dance student. He was frightened off when her neighbor called her phone after hearing her moaning. The young woman suffered permanent physical damage and was unable to pursue her dream as a professional dancer. Bundy’s brazen attacks bespoke a desperate man feeding his addiction to murder in the most animalistic way. When the sun finally rose, two women were dead, and three had been mercilessly assaulted.

In the meantime, Kathy was being further assessed in the hospital. Doctors determined that her jaw was broken in three places. It had to be broken again in order to realign it, using three wires in the bone. Her jaw was wired shut for nine long weeks. Eating was difficult and usually included eating soft, runny food. Doctors also found that she had nearly bitten her tongue off. It could not be stitched, having to heal with time. Kathy’s shoulder had been fractured and her eyes were purple and puffy. The pain medication made her groggy. She woke up in single hospital bed with flowers all over her room, but she woke up alone. She wondered why none of her family or friends were nearby, only to find that police were guarding the room and not letting anyone come in. Finally, after protests from friends and family, they were allowed in begrudgingly, but no sorority sisters were permitted to enter. The sisters had been asked by police not to contact Kathy so that their conversations wouldn’t corrupt her memory of the crime.

Once she was able to get around on her own, police asked Kathy to return to her dorm room to determine if anything was missing or out of place. She took heavy steps to get up the stairs to the second floor and was surprised to see yellow police tape over Margaret and Lisa’s rooms. No one had mentioned it to her and she hadn’t been prepared. The young woman, unsteady on her feet, entered her room and noticed that the blood-stained walls looked “very brutal.” Her brand new sheets that she received for Christmas were covered in blood. Whatever didn’t have blood on it had black powder from where investigators had attempted to lift fingerprints. “They wanted to see if anything was missing but in our case, Bundy was so startled, that he didn’t have time to take a souvenir,” Kathy says. She never returned to Florida State University for classes.
On February 9, 1978, Bundy kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach in Lake City, Florida. He was in a frenzy and was psychologically unraveling. Found wandering the streets of Pensacola at 1:00 A.M. on February 15th, Bundy was arrested and booked on possession of stolen property. Once identified as the escaped killer on the loose from Colorado, police quickly linked him to the recent attacks in their communities.
During the time between the attack and Bundy’s trial, Kathy tried to call the Chi Omega house to speak with her sisters. She could only reach the new pledges who were supposed to take messages for the senior members, but nobody ever called her back. She felt isolated from the people who could have given her strength during the time she needed them most. When her friend Susie died two years later, Kathy attended the funeral and ran into some former sorority sisters. They hugged her, but it was too little, too late. She pushed them away and asked why they never called her back. They simply told her, “You were bad publicity for the sorority,” adding, “We couldn’t get new pledges if we talked to you. We couldn’t get any money.” Suddenly, the one place where Kathy had been most comfortable in life had been ripped away from her through no fault of her own.
When a Grand Jury convened to discuss laying charges in the sorority attack, Kathy returned to Tallahassee. She entered a room and found herself at the opposite end of a long table from Ted Bundy. Ken Katsaris, the Sheriff of Leon County who brought the indictment against Ted, was kind to her and made her feel at ease during the process. While answering questions, Bundy looked at her and she looked back at him, neither one looking away. Kathy wasn’t going to be intimidated and was determined to hold her ground. The interviewer asked if she had seen her attacker’s face and she had to admit that she couldn’t see his face in the dark room. She’d never even heard of Ted Bundy because most of his crimes happened almost three-thousand miles away.
Despite her inability to identify her mysterious attacker, police had enough evidence to charge Bundy and take him to trial. Later, his attorneys entered a change of venue request and his trial was moved to Miami to begin in July of 1979. Kathy waited for the trial to start in a conference room with Karen Chandler, Nita Neary, other sorority sisters and the paramedics, all of whom were witnesses for the prosecution. Kathy immediately stood to thank the paramedics and gave them hugs. She wanted to let them know how much she appreciated them. They were her heroes.

Kathy on the witness stand.

None of the witnesses were allowed to be in the courtroom while the others gave their testimony. Kathy’s parents and aunt attended for a couple of days, but found the subject matter difficult to endure. They were in the room while she was on the stand and she admits she wasn’t scared, despite having been through so much. Bundy’s hands were up under his chin as he watched her on the witness stand. Though she couldn’t confirm to the court that Bundy was her attacker, she told the story about that night and kept her eyes on the defendant while talking, never daring to look away. Bundy’s defense team didn’t have any questions for her, possibly indicating they weren’t concerned about her testimony.

A frowning Ted in court.

Ted Bundy was found guilty of the Tallahassee charges against him based on bite-mark evidence and Nita Neary’s eyewitness testimony. He was found guilty on three counts of attempted murder, two counts of burglary, and two counts of murder. Bundy was sentenced to two death sentences on the murder charges. Six months later, tried in the murder of twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach in Orlando, he received another death sentence.

Throughout the next decade, execution dates were set and overturned, frustrating his surviving victims and the families of other victims. Kathy was initially interested in attending the proceedings, but was disappointed with the various stays. “You give him a stay, why don’t you let your daughter date him? It hurt so much. A lot of it was for Margaret and Lisa. They weren’t there to ask for a stay.”
The night before Bundy’s execution, Ken Katsaris called and updated Kathy throughout the night. The next day, Tuesday, January 24, 1989, she received a call telling her that her attacker had been executed. She recalls being in her Boca Raton condo with her fiance Scott and she sat on the sofa, wailing, for about fifteen minutes, mourning the loss of Lisa and Margaret. Once she let her grief out, she stood up and felt a weight lifted from her shoulders.
Though the nightmare of Ted Bundy would never fully disappear, Kathy was finally able to move on. There’s a sadness to her voice when she talks about her deceased sorority sisters. “Margaret was older when I moved into the sorority,” she recalls. “She was so cool and pretty. Everyone liked her and she was one of those sisters you looked up to. I remember hanging out with Lisa, painting our nails.” The emotion is palpable despite all of the years that have passed.

Kathy in happier times

In the years that followed, Kathy Kleiner Rubin overcame her anxieties by working in a lumber yard to overcome her mistrust of men and later found a position at a hospital to get over her fear of hospitals. She overcame breast cancer in her thirties. She had two miscarriages, but now has a grown son with whom she is close. She is happily married to her husband, Scott, and cares for two very lively dogs in their household. Kathy is excited about the new movie about Ted Bundy because she feels it will give people a chance to see what he did. Watching movies and reading books about him have helped her come to terms with the attack. After every difficult experience, she has moved beyond it to thrive in her life. Her family has been there to help her so she didn’t have to do everything for herself which she cites as helping tremendously.

When asked if she has any advice to give others, Kathy suggests, “Stay strong, keep a positive attitude. If you go to a place in your mind that’s safe and happy, go there and visit. It will take you away from that nasty violent thing.” She also recommends when experiencing something difficult, “Grieve, let it out. Over time, you can eventually let it go.” Finally, speaking about herself, she relates, “I’m so much more than a survivor. I do things my way…I just keep going! I want to live, there’s so much to do!”

Killer Celebrity

A poem by E.J. Hammon

He slayed with wild abandon,
Killing women from coast to coast;
But what Ted Bundy did best,
Was to brag and to boast.

His braggadacio lured in his victims,
His cunning hid them away;
He caught them and he killed them,
And he watched their blood spray.

But what he didn’t count on,
What he couldn’t see;
Was those victims would return,
And Bundy couldn’t flee.

His trials were a farce, he said,
He wasn’t defended well;
And what the public wanted, he cried,
Was to send his soul to Hell.

Hell was what they wanted, he screamed,
And Bundy was getting scared;
Until Ted Bundy’s jailers,
Walked him to Florida’s Chair.

He waited for the warden,
He knew he’d make that last minute call;
But before the sun rose that day,
The lady killer was covered in his death pall.

c. 2019