10 Killers Who Targeted College Women

Ted Bundy /// Wikimedia Commons
Ted Bundy /// Wikimedia Commons

1. Ted Bundy

Self-described as “the coldest motherfucker you’ll ever put your eyes on,” Bundy is one of the most infamous of American serial killers. Charismatic and preternaturally manipulative, he is suspected of killing at least 30 women in the 1970s, many of them young college students.

“Ted lured females,” wrote Bundy biographer Stephen Michaud, “the way a lifeless silk flower can dupe a honey bee.” To appear vulnerable rather than murderous, Bundy would often approach victims with his arm in a sling and ask their assistance in carrying items to his Volkswagen Beetle. His usual MO was to rape his victims before either bludgeoning or strangling them to death. He also often returned to the murder scene to perform sexual acts with their corpses until their rotting state of putrefaction made it impossible. Treating his victims as fetish items, he gave one corpse a shampoo and applied makeup to another’s face.

In 1974 female college students in Washington State began missing at the rate of around one per month, many of whom were later verified to be Bundy’s victims. In a sickening twist of fate, at the time Bundy had been working for a government agency that was searching for the missing women.

When evidence began compiling against Bundy, he fled the state and left a trail of blood all the way to Florida, where on a single night in January 1978 he entered a sorority house and attacked four women within the span of 15 minutes, killing two of them. But he was such a meticulous killer, no one at the sorority house heard a thing. Despite his dozens of murders, Bundy was so adept at his craft that police never found his fingerprints at a single crime scene. But he was eventually arrested and convicted of the two sorority murders and was put to death in 1989.

Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman, two of Ted Bundy's victims /// Wikimedia Commons
Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman, two of Ted Bundy’s victims. ( Wikimedia Commons)

2. John Norman Collins

Known variously as “The Michigan Coed Killer” and the “Ypsilanti Ripper,” Collins was a student at Eastern Michigan University convicted of raping and murdering at least one female student and suspected of killing eight or more.

Collins was said to have a pronounced revulsion for menstruating women, and several of his suspected victims were murdered while on their period.

His first suspected victim was an Eastern Michigan University student named Mary Fleszar, abducted in July 1967 and found a month later hacked to pieces and decaying. In a stroke of unbelievable nerve, Collins showed up at the mortuary where her body was being embalmed and asked if he could take pictures. (His request was sternly refused.)

Emboldened with each new murder, Collins began taunting police by leaving items of his victims’ clothing at a rural Michigan farmhouse. At a point when his suspected death toll was five, police found five lilacs that had been slit with a knife and carefully arranged near the farmhouse, as if Collins was taunting the authorities. But he was not careful enough, because hair clippings found in his final victim’s panties matched those found in the basement of his uncle, a Michigan State Trooper, who was instrumental in Collins’s arrest.

Edmund Kemper /// Wikimedia Commons
Edmund Kemper, ( Wikimedia Commons)

3. Edmund Kemper

A hulking 6’9”, 300-pound giant with a genius-level IQ and severe mommy issues, Big Ed was only fifteen in 1964 when he shot his grandmother to death and subsequently stabbed her. He was committed to a state mental hospital and released in 1969.

In 1972 he began preying on female hitchhikers in Northern California. He picked up two Fresno State University coeds, forced one at gunpoint into his car’s trunk, shoved a plastic bag over the other’s head, and stabbed her to death. He then fatally stabbed the other girl before taking them both home and decapitating them. He abducted and murdered at least six female coeds, often mutilating their bodies and having sex with their corpses. He reportedly buried one girl’s head so that it faced his house and he could indulge sexual fantasies that she was watching him.

On Easter Sunday 1973 Kemper finally bludgeoned and stabbed his own mother to death. He decapitated her and over the next few days used her head as a dartboard. He is currently serving a life sentence in California.

4. Marc Lépine

Known as “The Man Who Hated Women,” Lépine went on a shooting spree at Montreal’s École Polytechnique one afternoon in December 1989 that left 14 women dead. According to a witness, Lépine smiled throughout his attack “like he was having a good time.”

Although a friend’s mother described him as a “shy, withdrawn man who was always polite and sweet,” Lépine grew into adulthood nursing severe grudges against women in general and feminism in particular. On the fateful December afternoon, he entered a classroom, split the male and female students into two groups, and demanded that all male students leave. He fired one round into the ceiling and shouted “You’re all a bunch of feminists! I hate feminists!” He then shot at all nine remaining female students, killing six of them. He roamed through the school over the next twenty minutes, eventually shooting 28 people. He shot himself to death before being abducted.

He had left a suicide note listing 19 prominent Canadian feminists that he wished to kill. The note included this passage:

I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker. For seven years life has brought me no joy and being totally blasé, I have decided to put an end to those viragos.

Canadian feminists cited Lépine’s rampage as evidence of widespread societal hatred of and violence toward women. Others disagreed, arguing that feminism had so emasculated Canadian men that not a single one of the dozens of males who had a chance to chivalrously tackle and stop Lépine before his rampage was bold enough to make a move.

Danny Rolling Wikimedia Commons
Danny Rolling. (Wikimedia Commons)

5. Danny Rolling

Known as the “Gainesville Ripper,” Rolling murdered five college students—one male and four females—during a rape, robbery, and killing spree in August 1990. It is widely assumed that his only male victim died because he impeded access to one of Rolling’s female victims. His murders were the inspiration for the film Scream.

Rolling would typically seize upon his unsuspecting victims, bind and gag them, cut their clothes off, rape them, and them stab them to death. He would then pose their naked corpses in “sexually provocative” positions. He went one step further with murder victim Sonja Larson—he decapitated her and posed her head so that it appeared to be gazing down at her naked body.

Sarah Sidner was working as a student journalist at the time of Rolling’s trial:

I was among those allowed to view the crime scene photos that were entered into evidence. I have never been able to get those scenes out of my head. The worst: a picture of a victim’s body on a bed with her severed head staring down from a bookshelf. It is the stuff of nightmares. They were haunting, purposely theatrical photos that were pornographic in nature due to the positioning of the bodies. All of them seemed to be scenes from a horror film too gruesome to make.

Rolling died via lethal injection in October 2006.

6. Elliot Rodger

Although he technically killed two women and five men—including himself—Rodger’s May 2014 shooting and stabbing spree near the University of California at Santa Barbara is generally thought to have been spurred by his toxic hatred of women. However, a more careful review of Rodger’s own words—as expressed in the chilling “Retribution” video he filmed right before his rampage and in his rambling, 100,000-word manifesto he titled My Twisted World—showed that he bore intense hatred for two types of people: 1) the women who wouldn’t fuck him; and 2) the men that these women chose to fuck instead.

A friend of Rodger’s family would remark that Elliot seemed “broken from the moment of conception.” Although born to wealth and privilege, he died a virgin yet blamed women—rather than his cold and detached personality—for his lack of success with females. Still, many seized on this bloody event as a sign of pervasive cultural misogyny rather than the specific misogyny of a solitary unloved, grandiose, and delusional male.

7. Richard Speck

A drifter who looked like some pockmarked greaser blond Vulcan cousin of Mr. Spock from Star Trek, Richard Speck boasted a BORN TO RAISE HELL tattoo on one arm. After a day of binge-drinking, he entered a group residence for nursing students on Chicago’s South Side on July 13, 1966 armed with a gun and a knife. Over the next few hours he systematically bound eight nursing students, strangling and stabbing them to death. He raped one of his victims—Gloria Davy, a nursing student who was said to closely resemble his estranged wife.

Speck received life imprisonment as a result of this one-shot killing spree. In 1996, five years after Speck died of a heart attack, surreptitious jailhouse footage emerged showing that Speck had apparently begun “transitioning” to a female while behind bars, as it revealed him with a pair of floppy breasts.

Derrick Todd Lee /// Baton Rouge Police Department
Derrick Todd Lee. (Baton Rouge Police Department)

8. Derrick Todd Lee

For all that we hear about how racial profiling discriminates against nonwhites, for a time Derrick Todd Lee was the accidental beneficiary of racial profiling, since forensic investigators by default assume that serial killers are white. But when Baton Rouge police allowed a private firm to test DNA found near the crime scenes of a suspected string of serial murders committed around Louisiana State University, the results indicated that the perpetrator was of 85% African ancestry. Since Lee tested with an average IQ of 65 on a string of standardized intelligence tests, it was thought that he would be ruled incompetent to stand trial. But the trial proceeded anyway, and in 2004 he was convicted for raping and murdering LSU graduate student Charlotte Murray Pace. Dubbed the “Baton Rouge Serial Killer,” Lee is currently on Death Row at the notorious Louisiana State Prison in Angola.

Andrew Urdiales /// Orange County Sheriff's Department
Andrew Urdiales. (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

9. Andrew Urdiales

A serial rapist and killer suspected of at least eight slayings, in 1997 Urdiales confessed to the 1986 murder of Robbin Brandley, a student at Saddleback College who was stabbed 41 times in a poorly lit campus parking lot after leaving a jazz piano recital.

George E. Wells /// Photo courtesy of Berea College,
George E. Wells. (Photo courtesy of Berea College)

10. George E. Wells

While in high school, Kentuckian George E. Wells had asked his high-school crush Opal Sturgell to marry him but was rebuffed. When they both started attending Berea College, Wells continued harassing her with no success. He had reportedly been warned several times to keep away from her. Upon seeing her with another male on campus one day in August 1937, Wells asked Sturgell if he could speak with her privately. She refused. Minutes later, Wells emerged from some bushes and shot Sturgell to death. Wells fled the scene and was never captured. An investigation revealed a poem in Wells’s room. Entitled “To A Lady,” it was presumably written for his eventual murder victim. TC mark


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