Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Love and Death: The Sunset Strip Killers

Turning the Tide

The male victim was found on August 9, five days after he had been killed, according to the Los Angeles Times. He'd been left in a van that turned out to belong to him. But he was in bad shape from being locked inside during the heat wave. He was blistered, blackened, and decomposing, and his head had been severed from his body and was missing. He had been viciously stabbed nine separate times and also slashed across the buttocks, from which pieces had been removed.

Jack Robert Murray, victim
Jack Robert Murray, victim

Despite not locating his head, police soon identified him as country singer John "Jack" Robert Murray, 45, of Van Nuys. The man sang part-time at Little Nashville, a bar located two blocks from where he was found. While the killer had removed this man's head, that same person had overlooked something crucial: spent shell casings which suggested that the victim had been shot.

Aside from the beheading, it did not appear to anyone that his murder bore any association with the string of killings that the police were investigating. But it wasn't long before they discovered that Murray had not been murdered by the Sunset Slayer. His demise had come at the hands of a woman who claimed on the phone to be the Slayer's girlfriend.

She had broken down on August 11 where she worked at the Valley Medical Center in Van Nuys, telling some coworkers that she had taken lives, and those who heard her say this had called the police. This woman's name was Carol Bundy, and she was an overweight, 37-year-old vocational nurse who was apparently involved with a man named Douglas Clark.

The police went to Bundy's home, arrested her, and confiscated what she handed them. It turned out to be three pairs of panties that she said had been taken from the victims, as well as a photo album of Clark in compromising positions with an 11-year-old neighbor girl. She also admitted that she had killed Jack Murray herself.

Another team had already arrested Clark in Burbank where he worked as a boiler engineer for the Jergens Corporation. He went to jail charged with "lewd and lascivious conduct" with a minor and with aiding and abetting a murder suspect (Bundy apparently needed his assistance with Jack's head). While awaiting Clark's hearing, police had time to search for evidence of the more serious crimes of which Bundy was accusing him. His bail was set at $500,000 and he was assigned a public defender. It was an unusually high figure for bail, but the police feared that if Clark were freed, he would destroy evidence needed for a murder investigation.

At Clark's workplace, a coworker stumbled across the place in the boiler room where Clark had stashed the two .25-calibre Raven automatics. The worker turned them in and the police lab linked one of them via ballistics tests to the five known victims. Clark was charged with those five murders.

A pathologist got to work to determine if the same person had beheaded both Murray and Exxie Wilson, but he determined that two different people had used two different knives. Just as Bundy was telling them.

Commander William Booth would not speculate for the press on the motives for the murders or how the two suspects were related, but he was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, "It is believed in several of the killings that sexual activity was involved." He also indicated that media coverage had brought forward leads that were credited with helping to make the arrests.

Carol Bundy was arraigned on August 13, 1980 in the murder of John Murray, and ordered held without bail until her preliminary hearing in two weeks. The complaint noted that Murray had been killed because he was a witness to a crime and Bundy wanted to prevent him from offering testimony.

Reporters asked police if Murray had been the anonymous caller who had offered important information, but they declined to say. In fact, the media would eventually learn that it was Carol Bundy herself who had called after the murders of the stepsisters.

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