37 Gruesome Facts I Learned About Ted Bundy From 'The Stranger Beside Me'

37 Gruesome Facts I Learned About Ted Bundy From ‘The Stranger Beside Me’

The Stranger Beside Me is an iconic true crime book written by Ann Rule about the man she befriended while working on a crisis hotline in Seattle. The man who turned out to be Ted Bundy.


[*] Ann Rule was a former policewoman who thought because of her “innate skill” and training, she would be able to sense the difference between a bad person and a good person.

[*] Ann met Ted Bundy when she was a volunteer and he was a work-study student on a crisis hotline in Seattle. She liked him immediately and they became friends. Ann was 15 years older than him and viewed him as a younger brother (a particularly sympathetic position for Ted to be in, as Ann lost her actual brother to suicide).

[*] While working on the crisis hotline, she witness Ted be empathetic and helpful with the callers. She said she witnessed him saving many lives.

[*] When their shifts were over and it was dark out, Ted would walk Ann to her car to make sure she was safely inside.

[*] At the time she met Ted, Ann was already a freelance writer for several true crime magazines. Months before Ted would ever become a suspect in the cases of the Washington girls she signed a contract to write a book about it. It was never meant to be a book about the man she thought was her friend.

Ted’s victims

The “murder kit” found in Bundy’s car. Kmsullivan12

[*] No true body count exists for Bundy. At one point he told detectives they needed to “add a digit” to their estimate. Ann Rule thinks his count could be over one-hundred.

[*] Most of Ted’s victims where college-aged brunettes with long hair parted in the middle. Ann Rule wonders if this is because Ted’s first girlfriend Stephanie Brooks had hurt and humiliated Ted when she left, and he may have preyed on women who looked like her.

[*] 1974 — Karen Sparks (called Joni Lenz in the book, 18). Attacked, bludgeoned and sexually assaulted while she slept in her basement room. Survived.

[*] 1974 — Lynda Ann Healy (21). Abducted from her room while she slept.

[*] 1974 — Donna Gail Manson (19). Abducted from campus at The Evergreen State College.

[*] 1974 — Susan Elaine Rancourt (18). Abducted from campus at Central Washington State College.

[*] During the investigation following Susan Rancourt’s disappearance, other female students told police about a strange man they’d seen on campus. Here’s what one student said:

“One girl said she’d talked to a tall, handsome man in his twenties outside the campus library on April 12, a man who had one arm in a sling and a metal brace on his finger. He’d had trouble managing his armload of books and had dropped several. “Finally, he asked me if I’d help him carry them to his car,” she recalled. The car, a Volkswagen Bug, was parked about 300 yards from the railroad trestle. She’d carried his books to the car, and then noticed that the passenger seat was missing. Something—she couldn’t even say what—had caused the hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end, something about that missing seat. He seemed nice enough, and they’d talked about how he’d been injured skiing at Crystal Mountain, but, suddenly, she just wanted to be away from him. “I put the books on the hood of his car, and I ran.”

Ted Bundy’s Volklswagen Beetle, DCTWINKIE5500

[*] 1974 — Roberta Kathleen Parks (22). Missing from Oregon State University in Corvallis.

[*] 1974 — Brenda Carol Ball (22). Abducted from the Flame Tavern in Burien, Washington.

[*] 1974 — Georgann Hawkins (18). Abducted from an alley behind her sorority house. She had to walk only ninety feet between the house she was visiting and her own home.

[*] 1974 — Janice Ann Ott (23). Abducted from Lake Sammish State Park (a crowded beach area, in broad daylight).

[*] Janie Ott and her Husband Jim Ott were living long distance when she was abducted and murdered. After her death her husband received a letter she had sent before she went missing. In the letter she was complaining about the length of time (5 days) it took her letters to reach him: “Five days! Isn’t that a drag? Someone could expire before you ever got wind of it.”

[*] 1974 — Denise Marie Naslund (19). Abducted from Lake Sammish State Park only hours after Janice Ott.

[*] 1974 — Nancy Wilcox (16). Ambushed and strangled in Holladay, Utah. Her body was never found.

[*] 1974 — Melissa Anne Smith (17). Abducted from Midvale, Utah.

[*] 1974 — Laura Ann Aime (17). Abducted from Lehi, Utah.

[*] 1974 — Carol DaRonch (18). Attempted abduction in Murray, Utah.

[*] 1974 — Debra Jean Kent (17) Abducted from a school parking lot in Bountiful, Utah.

[*] 1975 — Caryn Eileen Campbell (23). Abducted from a hotel hallway in Snowmass, Colorado while her family waited for her in the lounge to retrieve a magazine from their room.

The hotel hallway Caryn Campbell disappeared from. Vidor

[*] 1975 — Julie Cunningham (26). Abducted from a bar in Vail, Colorado.

[*] 1975 — Denise Lynn Oliverson (25). Abducted while riding her bike to her parent’s home in Grand Junction, Colorado.

[*] 1975 — Lynette Dawn Culver (12). Abducted from her middle school in Pocatello, Idaho.

[*] 1975 — Susan Curtis (15). Abducted from the campus of Brigham Young University.

[*] 1978 — Margaret Elizabeth Bowman (21). Killed in her sleep at the Chi Omega sorority house.

[*] 1978 — Lisa Levy (20). Killed in her sleep at the Chi Omega sorority house.

[*] 1978 — Karen Chandler (21). Attacked in her sleep at the Chi Omega sorority house. Survived.

[*] 1978 — Kathy Kleiner (21). Attacked in her sleep at the Chi Omega sorority house. Survived.

[*] 1978 — Cheryl Thomas (21). Attacked in her sleep. Survived.

[*] 1978 — Kimberly Diane Leach (12). Abducted from her middle school in Lake City, Florida.

Other potential victims

[*] Ann Marie Burr (8). This was Ted Bundy’s neighbor when he was 14. She disappeared from her bed one night and her body was never found. Ann Rule says that she thinks he killed Ann Marie.

[*] Lisa E. Wick and Lonnie Trumbull (both 20). In 1966 they were attacked in their sleep and bludgeoned and strangled (which is how he attacked all of the victims were were attacked in their beds) in Seattle near a store where Bundy had worked. Trumbull died from the attack and Wick told Ann Rule “I know that it was Ted Bundy who did that to us” despite suffering memory loss.

[*] Susan Davis and Elizabeth Perry (both 19). Both women were stabbed in 1969. While this wasn’t Bundy’s M.O., he has been considered a “strong suspect” in the case.

[*] Rita Curran (24). Murdered in her apartment in 1971. Her workplace in Burlington, Vermont was next door to the home where Bundy was born — a place he may have been visiting.

[*] Joyce LePage (21). Abducted from Washington State University in 1971.

[*] Rita Lorraine Jolly (17). Abducted from West Linn, Oregon in 1973.

[*] Vicki Lynn Hollar (24). Abducted from Eugene, Oregon in 1973.

[*] Brenda Joy Baker (14). Abducted from Washington in 1973.

[*] Sandra Jean Weaver (19). Abducted from Salt Lake City, Utah in 1974.

[*] Carol L. Valenzuela (20). Abducted from Vancouver, Washington in 1974.

[*] Martha Morrison (17). Abducted from Eugene, Oregon in 1974.

[*] Melanie Suzanne “Suzy” Cooley (18). Abducted from Nederland, Colorado in 1975.

[*] Shelly (or Shelley) Kay Robertson (25). Abducted from Golden, Colorado in 1975.

[*] Nancy Perry Baird (23). Abducted from Farmington, Utah in 1975.

[*] Debbie Smith (17). Abducted from Salt Lake City, Utah in 1975.

Modus Operandi

Florida Department of Corrections

[*] Ted Bundy’s fingerprints were never found at any crime scene. He even wiped his own apartment so that fingerprints could not be taken if it was searched.

[*] He preferred Volkswagen Beetles because you could remove the passenger seat, which made forcing an unconscious body into that space a lot easier.

[*] One woman wrote to Ann Rule and described an encounter with a man she believes was Ted Bundy. It would explain what happens when he abducts someone:

“One told me of the good-looking man in the Volkswagen who gave her a ride west of Spokane, Washington, only to turn off the I-90 freeway onto a deserted road, where he produced a pair of handcuffs. “I managed to fight him off and run into the brush,” she remembered. “At first he drove away, but I heard his car stop just out of my sight and I knew he was waiting for me to come out. I crouched behind a clump of sagebrush for hours until I heard his car start up again. I wasn’t sure if he was really gone, but I was freezing and I had cramps in my arms and legs from being in one position so long. I ran to a ranch house and they let me in.”

[*] Another firsthand account:

Brenda Ball disappeared from The Flame Tavern on Memorial Day Weekend, 1974. A week or so after Brenda vanished, a young mother named Vikky spent the evening at a tavern just down the street, Brubeck’s Topless Bar.

Twenty-five, petite, with long brown hair parted in the middle, Vicky drove there in her convertible, and left before midnight. Her car wouldn’t start, so she accepted a ride home with friends. At 4 A.M., just as the sun was beginning to light the eastern horizon, Vikky went back to try to start her car. She didn’t want to leave it vulnerable and open in the tavern lot.

“I was fiddling with the car, trying to get it started—and it wasn’t responding—when this good-looking man walked out from behind the tavern. I don’t know what he was doing there at that time of the morning, and it didn’t occur to me then that he might have deliberately disabled my car.

“He tried to start it, and then he told me that I needed jumper cables. He didn’t have any, but he told me he had friends in Federal Way who did. We went to this store and he sent me in to get some. The guy inside thought I was nuts, and said he didn’t have any jumper cables. Well, the man who was ‘helping’ me said, ‘I know someone who has jumpers.’ “Before I could say no, we hit the freeway in his car, heading someplace north—toward Issaquah. We were driving along, and I thought he knew where he was going, but I was worried because my five-year-old daughter was home alone.

All of a sudden, the guy said, ‘Do me a favor,’ and I looked at him, and he pulled a switchblade from between his legs and held it to my neck. “I started to cry, and he said, ‘Take your top off,’ and I said, ‘It’s coming off,’ and he said, ‘now your pants’ and then he made me take off my underclothes.

“I sat there stark naked, and I tried to talk to him—to use psychology. I told him he was a nice-looking guy and he didn’t need to do something like this to have a woman. He said, ‘I don’t want that—I want a little variety.’ “I grabbed for the knife, and he was furious. He shouted, ‘Don’t do that.’

“Finally, I said, ‘My five-year-old’s home alone, and she’s going to wake up and she’ll be all alone.’

“He changed all of a sudden. Just like that. He drove onto a street with tall trees. He said, ‘This is it—this is where you get out.’ I shut my eyes, thinking he was going to stab me, and said, ‘Not without my clothes.’ He threw my clothes out of the car, but he kept my purse and shoes. “I got to a house and they let me in, and called the police. They found that someone had pulled the distributor cap on my car. They never located the guy who pulled the knife on me. “But a year or so later, I was watching the news on television and I saw the man on the screen. I yelled to my friend, ‘Look! That’s him. That’s the guy who almost killed me.’ When they said his name, it was Ted Bundy.”


[*] No matter what was happening in his life, Ted was always able to keep at least one girlfriend around. Usually he juggled women with Meg Anders being his long time serious partner.

[*] Stephanie Brooks. Stephanie Brooks was his first serious relationship. She was beautiful and wealthy and Ted felt he wasn’t good enough for her and was heartbroken when she eventually broke up with him.

[*] Elizabeth Kloepfer/Meg Anders. They dated seriously from 1969 through his escape and the Florida murders (the end date is not clear as they went back and forth many times). On the urging of a friend, she went to police and told them she believed Bundy was the man they were looking for.

[*] In the latter part of 1973 (while seriously dating Meg) Ted wooed Stephanie and got her to fall in love with him again. She planned to marry him. Then, suddenly, he dropped her. He had planned the whole thing as revenge.

[*] Carole Ann Boone was a former co-worker who had once teased him about being the suspect in the police drawings. They began dating while he was on trial and she likely supplied him with the money he needed to have a successful escape from jail. She supported him through all his trials (even after the Florida murders). They married during his Florida trial.

[*] Ted has a daughter who was conceived while he was in prison with Carole Ann Boone. The inmates had a $5 buy in for a drawing and the winner would use the collective money to bribe the guards so that they could have a conjugal visit.

Ted’s personality

[*] Ann Rule says Ted isn’t “as handsome, brilliant, or charismatic as crime folklore has deemed him.”

[*] He received a commendation from the Seattle Police Department in 1970 because he chased down a mugger and returned the stolen purse to its owner. That year he also saved a small child from drowning.

[*] St. Petersburg Times as Ted to review The Stranger Beside Me. He said he would only if he received their normal book critic rate of $35.

Police investigation

[*] When Ann Rule finally began to suspect that her friend Ted could possible be the killer, she informed detectives who put his name in with 2,400 other people they were considering. Because they were certain the person they were looking for was an experienced criminal with a record, they didn’t get around to looking into him until Ted’s girlfriend came forward.

[*] Ted’s coworkers teased him that he looked like the person in the police drawings, but they didn’t think he was seriously a suspect.

[*] It was so hard to pull all the cases of the missing girls together and find a suspect that Ted was never charged in Washington.

[*] Eventually he was arrested following a pretty routine traffic stop (a cop wanted to pull him over because he was driving suspiciously in a residential neighborhood, Ted fled before eventually pulling over and lying about what he was doing) in Utah.

[*] Even then, when everyone thought Ted was behind a lot of these crimes, it was hard to build a case. He was only convicted of attempted kidnapping and was serving time while working on his defense against the impending murder trial in Aspen when he escaped.

[*] We know most of Ted’s victims because of his confessions, not because of police investigation.


Bundy during his Florida trial. Donn Dughi

[*] Because he had been a law student, Ted wanted to be his own lawyer for his trials. He always demanded special treatment like use of law libraries and to not wear handcuffs or leg shackles during court. While in the law library in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, he jumped from a second story window and ran away. He roamed the Colorado wilderness for 6 days before stealing a car and subsequently being pulled over and arrested for erratic driving.

[*] In his Glenwood Springs jail cell, Bundy acquired a hacksaw and cut a hole in the ceiling of his cell. He dieted so that he could crawl through the ceiling and let himself out in a closet of a jailer who was out for the night. He changed into the jailer’s clothes and walked away with $500 in cash he had smuggled in jail. He would not be missed until lunch time the next day.

[*] While in a Florida jail he threw an orange at a light outside his jail cell. Later it was found that he had hidden shards of glass from the broken light in his cell.

[*] In his Florida cell, it was discovered that he had gotten hold of a hacksaw. Two of the bars on his cell were sawed through and glued in place with a glue he made from soap. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Emily Madriga