The Ted Bundy Murders

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."

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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.
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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.

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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.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Knowyourhistory Location: Crawfordville on Dec 17, 2010 at 05:41 AM
    Just as Ted Bundy brutally stalked and murdered innocent women, during slavery thousands of innocent men, women and children who were hunted and brutally murdered. Senseless murder was as common during slavery as child abuse is today. I believe the point that anonymous is making is that regardless of the method of cruelty or the person inflictings we must be reminded from time to time. I hope that we can stop being so defensive when folks mention slavery. Its a major part of U.S. History no matter how shameful or disgusting. Descendants of enslaved women and men must never forget how they came to be here.
  • by mk on Nov 22, 2010 at 11:41 AM
    in my opinion, all of you are 'missing the point'. I feel as if Anonymous used slavery as an example of a tragedy because you learn so much about it in school. They could have used any tragedy in history, whether is be the Holocaust, Slavery, Wars or 9/11. We need to remember these horrible events in history whether we agree with it or not.
  • by Phelisha Location: Tallahassee on Nov 22, 2010 at 11:31 AM
    Sometimes you have to revisit these types of tragedies to remind the people around you to be cautious. People forget that these things don't only happen on movies. Just yesterday, a 27 YO mother was found dead with her 3 young children. That could have very well ben anybody. The point is George, they are not revisiting this story just to cause people to hurt more. Use your head for more than a hat rack.
  • by went thro it as a female scared. on Nov 19, 2010 at 07:33 AM
    I had a aunt who married a Jew. Who as a child escaped w/family,they had only the clothes they could wear. They sewed money and other valables in the hems and seams. It was alfull trip for them, but compared to what was going on over there,the trip was nothing. My great grandparents&grandparents escaped from the reservations and passed for white to give the family a better life. YEAH,Anonymous, this has nothing to do with this subject.So dec..you missed it also. Unless you are talking about the fear around at that time makeing slaves of us.To scared to go anywhere alone.Scared to sleep for fear he could get out AGAIN and living in walking distance from the jail. That is the only way I can acept your so call look back.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 18, 2010 at 06:29 AM
    Yeah, Anonymous, I don't see any point in bringing up slavery when the story is about a serial killer; however, if you want to discuss slavery you should also discuss the Holocaust or the fact that Native Americans were pushed off their land by our founding fathers. Lots of people died but I suppose those two tragedies will never compare to slavery, huh? I wonder why...
  • by DEC on Nov 18, 2010 at 06:20 AM
    To ga @ 5:09pm....you missed the point of their message. Reread it and think about it.
  • by ga Location: ga on Nov 17, 2010 at 02:09 PM
    what has the ted bundy murders got to do with slavery anonymous????? totally different subject!!!!
  • by Anonymous on Nov 17, 2010 at 05:22 AM
    sometimes you have to look back so people wont forget what happened and how precious lives were lost due to Ted Bundy. The same with slavery, many many many lives were lost. So its good to look back so people will know and heal from tragedies.
  • by Zach Location: Georgia on Nov 16, 2010 at 06:15 AM
    Yes, WCTV ran a special called "Viewers Choice" where people got to vote and choose which story they wanted to re-visit.
  • by cori on Nov 15, 2010 at 04:40 PM
    george, this 'revisiting' of the Bundy murders was actually chosen by WCTV viewers out of a handful of other topics for art myers to report on...hence the genre title 'viewers' choice stories'....don't read it if you're not interested.
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