Eyewitness News --
Serial Killer Ted Bundy's attacks in January of 1978 left FSU and the Tallahassee community in shock. As Bundy went on the run, those left in the wake of his violence locked their doors, bought guns and prayed for peace.
As a manhunt was launched for a killer, the sense of community changed in Tallahassee.. and not for the better. Sergeant (Ret) Bill Taylor was with the FSU Police Department at the time.
"Within a few weeks there was not a handgun in town to be bought. You could go by houses and all you could see were shiny new locks on all the houses around," says Taylor.
It seemed that neighborly trust had moved out and fear had moved in.
The Chi Omega House was the scene of an unthinkable tragedy that night, but Taylor, one of the first on the scene, says it was also the scene of something else, that something else was sheer courage.
"They came back in that house even before Bundy was captured, and that took a lot of guts" says Taylor.
The day after the attacks, Lark Mott-Smith rushed back to town to stand with the girls at the Chi-Omega house.
The former FSU Chi Omega Chapter President says that after much prayer she told them, "we had to make their lives count for something."
Meanwhile, the search for Ted Bundy ended a month later with his arrest in Pensacola.
As he showed off for the press, evidence was gathered for his trial. Bundy actually acted as his own attorney in the 1979 Miami trial. The first person he cross-examined was Ray Crew. one of the first officers on the scene. He says he felt Bundy was reliving the crime as he testified. The former FSU Police Officer says it was unnerving.
"I got the feeling I was feeding his obsession with the whole thing," says Crew.
Bundy was eventually convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy, and in a separate trial, for the death of Kimberly Leach of Lake City.
"It was just a sense of loss. These were bright young people with futures ahead of them," says Crew.
The day before his execution in 1989, Bundy actually shunned the press, talking only with Christian broadcaster Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family.
Bundy said he took full responsibility for his crimes, but that viewing violent sexual pornography was a major contributing factor.
He warned: "Decent people will condemn the behavior of Ted Bundy, while they walk past racks of magazines full of the very things that send young kids down the road to becoming Ted Bundys."
He told Dobson that he had accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
He was executed the next day.
Some have grave doubts about the sincerity of Bundy's repentance, but forgiveness for the man who confessed to killing dozens of women across the country is something those left behind are still wrestling with
"At first I thought, 'How can you find forgiveness?' and then I realized, that's part of the growing. Forgiveness is not for Ted Bundy.. forgiveness helps yourselves, " says Mott-Smith.
Cheryl Thomas, the FSU dancer who was attacked, went on to overcome her injuries and dance again. She eventually went on to dance as the snow queen in "The Nutcracker," and helped to inspire a younger generation of dancers as a teacher. She and the other survivors know that despite the fear and sadness that never seem to fully go away, the dance of life didn't end that night.
"There will always be grief, that's part of the healing process. But even though there may be pain at night, there will be joy in the morning," says Mott-Smith.
Cheryl Thomas wanted people in Tallahassee to know how much their support meant in her recovery. She says an officer named Duane Pickle, the police guard outside her hospital room, even raised a Doberman Pinscher puppy, and gave it to her so she would feel secure going back to college.