Serial killer Ted Bundy dies in the electric chair in Florida on January 24, 1989.

  • By Dave Wilma
  • Posted 8/25/2000
  • Essay 2637
See Additional Media

On January 24, 1989, serial killer Ted Bundy (1946-1989) dies in the electric chair in Florida. Before his execution, a tearful Bundy confesses to more than 20 murders of girls and young women, including 11 in Washington, between 1973 and 1978.

Many Murders

Theodore Robert Bundy grew up in Tacoma, graduated from the University of Washington, and attended law school at the University of Puget Sound and later the University of Utah. He volunteered at a crisis clinic and as a political campaign worker. Bundy told investigators that he began killing in 1973 after being influenced by pornography. Psychologists found that he had deeper problems though. He kidnapped and bludgeoned and strangled and raped young women, leaving their bodies in remote areas. In 1974, police in Western Washington sought a young man named "Ted" driving a Volkswagen who was seen speaking to some of the victims before they disappeared. Among thousands of tips received by police from a concerned public were five leads pointing to Bundy.

Bundy moved his crimes to Colorado and Utah in late 1974. One of his first victims managed to escape after Bundy handcuffed her and tried to force her into his Volkswagen. Her description led to Bundy's arrest by a patrolman in August 1975, but not before he had kidnapped and murdered several other women. Bundy was convicted of aggravated kidnapping in Utah and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was then charged with two murders in Colorado and moved there for trial. He managed to escape from jail in Aspen, Colorado, in June 1977. He was soon recaptured, but seven months later, he escaped again. Bundy stole cars and credit cards and he assumed a false identity to travel to Florida.

In January 1978, Bundy beat and strangled to death two sorority sisters at Florida State University in Tallahassee. A few weeks later, he kidnapped and murdered a 12-year-old schoolgirl in Lake City, FLorida. Bundy was arrested one last time when he fought with a police officer who had stopped him for speeding.

Sentenced to Death

Bundy was convicted of the three Florida murders in 1978 and sentenced to death. He acted as his own attorney during the trials. He proclaimed his innocence until just days before his execution when he consented to interviews by investigators. Often crying, he described more than 20 killings. Bundy denied any killings before 1973, but police suspected him in unsolved deaths and disappearances dating back to when he was 15 years old.

Bundy's known victims are as follows:

  • Kathleen Merry Devine, 15, disappeared while hitchhiking to Oregon on November 15, 1973.
  • Joni Lenz, severely beaten in her bed on January 4, 1974. She survived.
  • Lynda Ann Healy, 21, disappeared from her basement bedroom in the University District on February 1, 1974. Healy worked at a radio station broadcasting ski reports.
  • Donna Gail Manson, 19, disappeared from the campus of Evergreen State College on March 12, 1974.
  • Susan Elaine Rancourt, 18, disappeared from the campus of Central Washington State University in Ellensburg on April 17, 1974.
  • Roberta Kathleen Parks, 22, disappeared from the campus of Oregon State University on May 6, 1974.
  • Brenda Carol Ball, 22, last seen in a tavern in Burien on June 1, 1974.
  • Georgann Hawkins, 18, disappeared from behind her sorority near the University of Washington on June 11, 1974.
  • Janice Ott, 23, and Denise Naslund, 19, both disappeared from Lake Samammish State Park on July 14, 1974.
  • Carol Valenzuela, 20, disappeared near Vancouver, Washington, on August 2, 1974.
  • Laura Aime, 17, disappeared from Lehi, Utah, on October 30, 1974.
  • Nancy Wilcox, 16, a cheerleader, disappeared from Utah in October 1974.
  • Melissa Smith, 17, disappeared from Midvale, Utah, on October 18, 1974.
  • Carol LaRonch, 18, escaped as Bundy tried to kidnap her in Salt Lake City on November 8, 1974.
  • Debby Kent, 17, disappeared from an ice skating rink in Bountiful, Utah, on November 8, 1975.
  • Denise Oliverson, 25, a homemaker, disappeared from Grand Junction, Colorado, on April 6, 1975.
  • Melanie Cooley, 18, disappeared from Nederland, Colorado, on April 15, 1975.
  • Shelly Robertson, 24, disappeared from Golden, Colorado, on July 1, 1975.
  • Nancy Baird, 23, disappeared from the gas station where she worked in Layton, Utah, in July 1975.
  • Julie Cunningham, 26, a sporting goods employee, disappeared from Vail, Colorado, on March 15, 1975.
  • Caryn Campbell, 23, a nurse, disappeared from the parking lot of her hotel in Utah on January 12, 1975.
  • Margaret Bowman, 21, and Lisa Levy, 20, sorority sisters at Florida State University, clubbed and strangled on January 14, 1978.
  • Karen Chandler, 21, Kathy Kleiner, 20, and Cheryl Thomas were also severely attacked that same night, but they survived. 
  • Kimberly Diane Leach, 12, disappeared from her junior high school in Lake City, Florida, on February 9, 1978.

It is thought -- because of his proximity to the crimes at the time and the modus operandi -- that dozens of other deaths and disappearances may have been the work of Bundy.


Jack Brown and Carol Ostrom, "Bundy Put to Death," The Seattle Times, January 24, 1989, A-1, A-9; Don Duncan, Susan Gilmore, Eloulse Schumacher, "Bundy Execution Brings Relief to Families - and a 'Void.'" Ibid., January 24, 1989, pp. A-1, A-8; Richard W. Larsen, "When Did the Trail of Death Start?" Ibid., January 24, 1989, p. A-8; Don Duncan, "Bundy," Ibid., January 24, 1989, p. A-4; "Ted Bundy Timeline," Deseret News, February 13, 1999 (
Note: This entry was corrected on February 6, 2019.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You