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Crime News Snapped

How Many People Did Ted Bundy Kill? A Timeline Of The Serial Killer's Gruesome Murder Spree

Before his execution, Bundy confessed to 30 murders, but how many people did he really kill? Some fear his actual body count is more than 100.

By Benjamin H. Smith

Ted Bundy is one of America’s most prolific serial killers. From 1974 until his final capture in 1978, he preyed on young woman, leaving a trail of misogynistic violence from one end of the country to the other. Unlike many serial killers, Bundy was by all appearances an upstanding member of mainstream society, successful and well-liked — but that didn't stop him from brutally murdering many, many people.

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He used his personal charms to lure victims to his infamous but unassuming Volkswagen Beetle, often feigning injury and asking for help, before beating them unconscious and taking them to another location where they were raped, tortured and murdered. After disposing of their bodies in remote wooded areas, he would often revisit their corpses to perform sexual acts.  

If you don't know how many people Ted Bundy killed or how exactly he was brought to justice, below is a timeline of the important moments in Bundy’s life and the dozens of horrific crimes he committed. Before his execution, Bundy confessed to 30 murders, some of which remain unconfirmed, but others wondering how many he killed theorize his actual body count is more than 100.

November 24, 1947

Eleanor Louise “Louise” Cowell, 22, gives birth to Theodore Robert Cowell at an unwed mothers home in Burlington, Vermont. The true identity of his father has never been confirmed.


As a toddler, Ted lives in Philadelphia thinking his maternal grandfather and grandmother are his parents and his mother is his older sister. He learns his true parentage at a later date, though has given conflicting accounts of how and when.


Ted and his mother move to Tacoma, Washington.


Louise Cowell marries Johnny Culpepper Bundy, who formally adopts Ted. They go on to have four children together.


Theodore Bundy graduates from Tacoma’s Woodrow Wilson High School.  As a teenager, he is twice arrested for suspicion of burglary and auto theft. 


Bundy transfers from the University of Puget Sound to the University of Washington.


Ted drops out of college and works as a volunteer for Republican presidential nominee Nelson Rockefeller.


Theodore Bundy graduates from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in psychology.


Bundy is hired as an assistant to the Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. That fall, he begins studying law at the University of Puget Sound.

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January 4, 1974

Bundy breaks into the basement apartment of 18-year-old University of Washington student Karen Sparks as she’s sleeping. Using a metal rod, he savagely beats her then sexually assaults her with it. She remains in a coma for 10 days, but survives with brain damage and internal injuries. 

February 1, 1974

University of Washington student Lynda Ann Healy, 21, is abducted from her apartment by Bundy. Pieces of her skull are later found at Washington’s Taylor Mountain, where Bundy dumped the remains of various victims. 

March 12, 1974

Donna Gail Manson, a 19-year-old student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, disappears after leaving her dorm. Bundy later claims responsibility for her murder.

April 17, 1974

Susan Elaine Rancourt, 18, goes missing from Central Washington State College in Ellensburg. Witnesses say a man with his arm in a sling had been asking for help moving books into his tan Volkswagen Beetle. Rancourt’s skull was later found on Taylor Mountain.

May 1974

Bundy begins working at the Washington State Department of Emergency Services in Olympia, and begins dating Carole Ann Boone.

May 6, 1974

Roberta Kathleen Parks, age 22, a student at Oregon State University in Corvallis disappears after going to meet friends for coffee. Her skull was later found on Taylor Mountain.

June 1, 1974

Brenda Carol Ball, 22, is last seen talking to a man with his arm in a sling after leaving a bar in Burien, Washington. Her skull was later found on Taylor Mountain.

June 11, 1974

University of Washington student Georgann Hawkins, 18, goes missing while walking the one block between her boyfriend’s dormitory and her sorority house.

July 14, 1974

Janice Ann Ott, 23, goes missing at Lake Sammamish State Park. She is last seen walking with a man with his left arm in a sling who had approached other women that day asking for help moving a sailboat from his car, a tan Volkswagen. He told people his name was “Ted.” Later that afternoon, 19-year-old Denise Marie Naslund disappears from the crowded beach area.

August 30, 1974

Bundy moves to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah Law School. 

September 6, 1974

The remains of Ott and Naslund are discovered in Issaquah, Washington. Bundy says additional remains found there belonged to Georgann Hawkins.

October 2, 1974

Before his execution, Bundy admitted to raping and murdering 16-year-old Nancy Wilcox of Holladay, a suburb of Salt Lake City.

October 18, 1974

Melissa Anne Smith, 17, daughter of Midvale, Utah’s chief of police chief goes missing. Her nude corpse is later found, showing signs of rape and strangulation.

October 31, 1974

On Halloween night, 17-year-old Laura Ann Aime goes missing. Her nude body is found in a canyon

November 8, 1974

In Murray, Utah, Bundy poses as a police officer and tries to abduct 18-year-old Carol DaRonch. When he attempts to handcuff her, she fights him off and escapes on foot. Later that night, he abducts and murders Debra Jean Kent, 17, in Bountiful, Utah. A key found in the parking lot where she disappeared matches the handcuffs that DaRonch had been wearing when she escaped.

January 12, 1975

Michigan nurse Caryn Eileen Campbell, 23, disappears from a hotel in Aspen, Colorado. Her nude body is found in a snow bank a month later, beaten to death.

March 15, 1975

Bundy abducts and murders Julie Cunningham, age 26. He later confesses to posing as an injured skier on crutches and asking for her help carrying his ski boots before knocking her unconscious and strangling her.

April 6, 1975

Denise Lynn Oliverson, 24, of Grand Junction, Colorado, goes missing while riding her bike. Bundy later claims he threw her body in the Colorado River.

May 6, 1975

Lynette Dawn Culver, 12, goes missing from her junior high school in Pocatello, Idaho. Bundy later says he dumped her body into the nearby Snake River. 

June 28, 1975

Susan Curtis, 15, goes missing after attending a youth group meeting at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Bundy confesses to her murder moments before being executed.

August 18, 1975

Utah Highway Patrol Capt. Robert Hayward notices a suspicious vehicle in a Salt Lake City suburb in the early morning. When it speeds off, he gives chase before stopping it an empty gas station. While searching the car, he finds pantyhose, a ski mask, a crowbar, an ice pick and handcuffs. Bundy is arrested on suspicion of evading.

September 1975

Now under surveillance by police, Bundy sells his Volkswagen Beetle to a teenager in Midvale, Utah. It is almost immediately impounded and sent to the FBI, and hairs matching Caryn Campbell, Melissa Smith and Carol DaRonch are found inside the car.

October 2, 1975

After being picked out of a lineup by Carol DaRonch, Ted Bundy is arrested for the kidnapping.

March 1, 1976

Bundy is found guilty of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to serve a minimum of one to a maximum of 15 years in the Utah State Prison.

October 20, 1976

Bundy is charged with the January 1975 murder of Caryn Campbell and extradited to Colorado.

June 7, 1977

While awaiting trial at Aspen’s Pitkin County Courthouse, Bundy jumps from a second-story window and flees into the nearby wilderness. After a few days, he is apprehended.

December 31, 1977

While most of the staff is home for the holidays, Bundy saws a hole in the ceiling of his jail cell at the Garfield County Jail in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and escapes.

January 7, 1978

Bundy makes his way to Tallahassee, Florida, renting a room at The Oaks rooming house under the name Chris Hagen.

January 15, 1978

Sometime after 2:30 AM, Bundy breaks into FSU’s Chi Omega sorority house where he murders Margaret Bowman, 21, and Lisa Levy, 20. Both women are strangled and bludgeoned to death. Bundy mutilates Levy, savagely biting her on the nipple and buttock, and sodomizing her with a hair spray bottle. He then attacks Kathy Kleiner and Karen Chandler, both 21, in their room, beating them with a club, breaking their jaws, knocking out teeth and leaving lacerations on their faces. Just blocks away, he breaks into the ground floor bedroom of 21-year-old Cheryl Thomas, beating her so badly that a nerve connecting to one of her ears is severed. When her roommates hear the commotion, they call the police, and Bundy flees into the night. 

February 9, 1978

Bundy abducts 12-year-old Kimberly Leach from her junior high school in Lake City, Florida. Her dead body is found in a pigpen seven weeks later, showing signs of sexual and physical abuse.

February 15, 1978

Bundy is pulled over while driving a stolen Volkswagen Beetle in Pensacola, Florida, and tries to run away on foot. After being subdued, he is arrested for car theft. He initially gives a fake name before being identified.

July 25, 1979

Theodore Robert Bundy is found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder in the first degree and two counts of burglary. Less than a week later, he receives two death sentences for the murders of Bowman and Levy.

February 9, 1980

Ted Bundy is convicted of kidnapping and first-degree murder for the death of Kimberly Leach, for which he receives his third death penalty. During sentencing, he proposes to Carole Boone. She accepts and later gives birth to a daughter, Rose.

January 24, 1989

Ted Bundy is pronounced dead at 7:16 AM after being sent to the electric chair at Florida State Prison. According to The New York Times, his final words are ''Give my love to my family and friends.''


[Photo: Getty Images]