Bundy's first killing spree culminated on July 14 with the broad-daylight abductions of two women from a crowded beach at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah, Washington. Five female witnesses described a handsome young man wearing a white tennis outfit with his left arm in a sling, speaking with a light accent, perhaps Canadian, perhaps British. Introducing himself as "Ted", he asked their help in unloading a sailboat from his tan- or bronze-colored Volkswagen Beetle. Four refused; one accompanied him as far as his car, saw that there was no sailboat, and fled. Three additional witnesses saw him approach Janice Anne Ott, 23, a probation case worker at the King County Juvenile Court, with the sailboat story, and watched her leave the beach in his company. About four hours later, Denise Naslund, an 18-year-old woman who was studying to become a computer programmer, left a picnic to go to the restroom and never returned. Bundy would later confess that Ott was still alive when he returned with Naslund—and that one was forced to watch as the other was murdered.
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One week after his arrival in Tallahassee, at approximately 3:00 a.m. on January 15, 1978, Bundy entered Florida State's Chi Omega sorority house. He bludgeoned Margaret Bowman, 21, with a branch from an oak tree as she slept, then strangled her with a nylon stocking. He then turned on 20-year-old Lisa Levy, beating her unconscious, strangling her, tearing off one of her nipples, biting deeply into her left buttock, and sexually assaulting her with a hair mist bottle. In an adjoining bedroom he attacked Kathy Kleiner, who suffered a broken jaw and deep shoulder lacerations, and Karen Chandler, who suffered a concussion, broken jaw, loss of teeth, and a crushed finger. After leaving Chi Omega, Bundy broke into an apartment building eight blocks away and attacked FSU student Cheryl Thomas, dislocating her shoulder and fracturing her jaw and her skull in five places. She was left with permanent equilibrium damage that ended her dance career.
Ted Bundy killed more than 30 young women throughout the 1970's.
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His simpler M.O. consisted of forcible late-night entry followed by violent attack with a blunt weapon on a sleeping victim. Such attacks were virtually silent and usually remained undiscovered until morning. Some victims were sexually assaulted with inert objects; all were left as they lay, unconscious or dead. In the more elaborate technique, Bundy would employ various ruses designed to lure his victim to the vicinity of his vehicle where he had pre-positioned a weapon, usually a crowbar. In many cases he wore a plaster cast on one leg or a sling on one arm, and sometimes hobbled on crutches, then requested assistance in carrying something to his vehicle. At other times he identified himself as a police officer or firefighter. Once near or inside his car or van the victim would be overpowered, bludgeoned, and restrained with handcuffs. Most were sexually assaulted and strangled, either at the primary crime scene or (more commonly) after being transported to a pre-selected secondary site, often a considerable distance away.
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On September 2 Bundy sold his Volkswagen Beetle to a Midvale teenager. Utah police impounded it; FBI technicians dismantled and searched it. They found hairs that matched Caryn Campbell's, and the ridges of the crowbar confiscated during Bundy's initial arrest matched the blunt-instrument impressions on Campbell's skull. Later, they would also report finding hair strands "microscopically indistinguishable" from those of Melissa Smith and Carol DaRonch. FBI lab specialist William Neil concluded that hair found in one car matching three victims who had never met would be "a coincidence of mind-boggling rarity."
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This confidence led him to kill innocent young women who slightly resembled Stephanie Brooks, the woman who first broke his heart. It's unclear when Bundy began his killing but the first known murders were in the 1970s, according to the . In 1974 — the year Bundy moved to Utah for law school — several young women were reported missing in Idaho and Utah. Many of them were found dead with indications that they were raped, beaten, and strangled.
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Bundy first escaped from prison during his transfer to Aspen. But, he was found eight days later. Ignoring the advice of his friends, family, and lawyers, Bundy attempted to escape again — and this time proved to be more successful than his last. He climbed through a crawlspace in his prison cell, broke through a hole in the ceiling, and changed into street clothes found in the jailkeeper closet. He stole a car and made his way to Tallahassee, Florida, according to .