Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ted Bundy

Caught Again

Less than a mile from the Chi Omega House, a young woman was awakened by loud banging noises coming from the apartment next to hers. She wondered what her friend in the adjoining apartment was doing to make so much noise at four in the morning. As the banging noises persisted, she became suspicious and woke her roommate. As they listened, they heard Cheryl next door moaning. Frightened, they called over to her house to see if she was all right. When no one picked up the phone, they immediately called the police.

The police came quickly. After all, they were just blocks away at the Chi Omega House tending to the crime scene there. They entered Cheryl's apartment and walked to her bedroom, where they found her sitting on the bed. Her face was just beginning to swell from the bludgeoning to her head. She was still somewhat conscious and half nude, but lucky to be alive. Police discovered a mask at the foot of her bed. According to Anne Rule in The Stranger Beside Me the mask that was found "resembled almost exactly the mask taken from Ted Bundy's car when he'd been arrested in Utah in August of 1975."

Police investigators worked diligently on the evidence that was left behind. They were able to get a blood type from the assailant, sperm samples and fingerprint smudges. Unfortunately, most of the evidence that was tested proved to be inconclusive. The only firm evidence investigators were able to obtain were the hairs found in the mask, teeth impressions from the bite marks on the victims and an eyewitness account from Nita Neary. Investigators did not have a suspect and Ted Bundy was unknown to them.

Kimberly Leach, the last victim.
Kimberly Leach, the last victim

On February 9th, 1978, Lake City police received a phone call from the distressed parents of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach. They were hysterical and said that their daughter had disappeared that day. Police launched a massive search to find the missing girl, who disappeared from her school grounds. The person who last saw her was her friend Priscilla who saw Kimberly get into the car of a stranger the day she disappeared. Unfortunately, she was unable to accurately remember the car or the driver. They found Kimberly's body eight weeks later in a state park in Suwannee County, Florida. The young girl's body yielded little information due to advanced decomposition. However, police were to later find the evidence they needed in a van driven by Ted Bundy.

A few days before Kimberly Leach had disappeared, a strange man in a white van approached a 14-year-old girl as she waited for her brother to pick her up. The man had claimed he was from the fire department and asked her if she attended the school nearby. She found it strange that an on-duty fireman was wearing plaid pants and a navy jacket. She began to feel uncomfortable. She had been warned on many occasions by her father, who was the Chief of Detectives for the Jacksonville Police Department, not to talk with strangers. She was relieved when her brother drove up. Suspicious of the man, her brother ordered her into the car, followed the man and wrote down his license plate to give it to his father.

Upon hearing of the stranger in the white van, Detective James Parmenter had the license plate checked out. He learned it belonged to a man named Randall Ragen, and he decided to pay him a visit. Ragen informed the detective that his plates had been stolen and he had already been issued new ones. The detective later found out that the van his children had seen was also stolen and he had an idea who it might have been. He decided to take his children to the police station to show them a stack of mug shots, Bundy's picture being among them. He hadn't realized how close he had been to losing his own daughter. Both of his children recognized the man in the van as Ted Bundy.

The van long since discarded, Bundy set out towards Pensacola, Florida in a new stolen car. This time he managed to find a vehicle he was more comfortable driving, a VW bug. Officer David Lee was patrolling an area in West Pensacola when he saw an orange VW at 10 p.m. on February 15th. He knew the area well and most of the residents, yet he had never before seen the car. Officer Lee decided to run a check on the license plates and soon found out that they were stolen. Immediately, he turned on his lights and began to follow the VW.

Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy

Once again, as had happened in Utah several years earlier, Bundy started to flee. Suddenly, Bundy pulled over and stopped. Officer Lee ordered him out of his car and told Bundy to lay down with his hands in front. To Lee's surprise, as he had begun to handcuff Bundy, he rolled over and began to fight the officer. Bundy managed to fight his way free and run. Just as soon as he did, Lee fired his weapon at him. Bundy dropped to the ground, pretending to have been shot. As the officer approached him lying on the ground, he was again attacked by Bundy. However, the officer was able to overpower him. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station. Bundy had finally been caught.

Over the months following Bundy's arrest, investigators were able to compile critical evidence to be used against Bundy in the Leach case. The white van that had been stolen by Bundy was found and they had three eyewitnesses that had seen him driving it the afternoon Kimberly had disappeared. Forensic tests conducted on the van yielded fibers of material that had come from Bundy's clothes.

Tests also revealed Kimberly Leach's blood type on the van's carpet and semen and Ted's blood type on her underwear. Further evidence was Ted's shoe impressions in the soil located next to the place Kimberly was found. Police felt confident with the information they had tying Bundy to the Leach case and on July 31, 1978, Ted Bundy was charged with the girl's murder. Soon after, he would also be charged with the Chi Omega murders. Facing the death penalty, Ted would later plead in his own defense that he was not guilty of the murders.

 

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