The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy (1246)

I actively decided not to review this book after I finished it. I was totally bummed out at the end of it and couldn’t give anymore mental space to this garbage human being. He was just the absolute worst and I hate that there are so many documentaries and movies that focus on him and only one I can think of that focuses on his victims, Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer. Unfortunately his name still had to be in the title and it couldn’t just be Falling for a Killer. It sucks that we are still saying his name because you just know he’d love it.

Ugh, he sucks!

So why did I read the book? The story is important. Remembering the victims and their stories is important. Learning that you don’t owe any strange man your time is important. If a strange man with a cast tries to flag you down to help him? You can just walk on! Actually, in this day and age, where far too many men reply to violence against women with ‘not all men’ I strongly encourage that you get to a place of safety as quickly as possible.

This book was insightful and well told. The fact that Ann Rule knew and worked with him gives us a lot more insight. The fact that she was a woman who interacted with him also adds something I think.

It didn’t get 5 stars from me because there are for sure parts that didn’t age well and even though I wouldn’t for a second think that she blamed the victims, sometimes the language used felt like victim blaming. It’s just an era thing, this book was written in 1980 so it’s to be expected. Just felt jarring and took away from the experience!

List of victims posted below book information. Trigger warning: how they were attacked and killed also listed.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Names of Victims:

Joni Lenz, 18

Survived attack: 4 January, 1974. Lenz, a student at the University of Washington, was raped with a bedpost but survived the attack.

Lynda Ann Healy, 21

Died: 1 February, 1974. Healy was a University of Washington student. She was kidnapped and her body found in 1975 on Taylor Mountain, near Issaquah, Washington.

Donna Gail Manson, 19

Died: 12 March, 1974. After confessing to Manson’s murder, Bundy said he burned her skull in Liz Kendall’s, his girlfriend, fireplace.

Susan Rancourt, 18

Died: 17 April, 1974. Rancourt was abducted on campus at Central Washington State College, and her skull was later found near Taylor Mountain, where Bundy placed several skulls over the years.

Roberta Parks, 20

Died: 17 April, 1974. Parks was abducted from Oregon State University and her skull was found during the same search of Taylor Mountain that found Susan Rancourt’s skull. Bundy said he raped and killed her.

Brenda Carol Ball, 22

Died: 1 June, 1974. Ball was abducted from a town south of Seattle. Like many of Bundy’s victims, her skull was also found at Taylor Mountain.

Georgeann Hawkins, 18

Missing since: 11 June, 1974. Hawkins disappeared while walking to her boyfriend’s house and her body has never been found. Bundy confessed to knocking her unconscious and then killing her.

Denise Naslund, 18

Died: 14 July, 1974. Naslund disappeared from Lake Sammamish State Park. Two months later, her body was found on a hillside near Issaquah.

Janice Ott, 23

Died: 14 July, 1974. Ott was also abducted from Lake Sammamish State Park on the same day as Denise Naslund. Her body was also found in the same location in Issaquah.

Nancy Wilcox, 16 

Missing since: 2 October, 1974. Wilcox went missing in Holladay, Utah, after she went out to buy a pack of gum, but her body has never been found. Bundy confessed to sexually assaulting and strangling her, then burying her body near Capitol Reef National Park, located about 200 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Melissa Smith, 17

Died: 26 October, 1974. Smith – the teenage daughter of the Midvale police chief in Salt Lake City – was raped and beaten by Bundy and her body was found in the mountains nearby.

Laura Aime, 17

Missing since: 31 October, 1974. After disappearing on Halloween night, Aime’s body was later found frozen in Provo Canyon.

Carol DaRonch, 18

Survived attack: 8 November, 1974. In The Ted Bundy Tapes, DaRonch says that Bundy identified himself as a police officer, told her that her car was broken into and asked her to go down “to the station.” As he attempted to handcuff her, she fought off Bundy and escaped.

Debra Kent, 17

Died: 8 November, 1974. Bundy confessed to murdering Kent and burying her body in the same area as Nancy Wilcox.

Caryn Campbell, 23

Died: 12 January, 1975. Campbell was heading to her hotel room in Aspen when she disappeared. Her body was found naked and beaten next to a road.

Julie Cunningham, 26

Died: 15 March, 1975. Cunningham was walking to a restaurant to meet up with a friend when she offered to help Bundy, who was pretending to struggle on crutches. He kidnapped her and put her in his trunk where he drove to the desert, strangled her to death, and left her body there.

Denise Oliverson, 24

Missing since: 6 April, 1975. Oliverson disappeared while riding her bike to her parent’s home. Bundy confessed to killing her and dumping her body in the Colorado River, but it was never found.

Melanie Cooley, 18

Died: 15 April, 1975. After disappearing on her way home from high school, Cooley was tied up and bludgeoned to death with a rock. Her body was found in Coal Creek Canyon. Bundy has been suspected in her murder, but it was never confirmed.

Lynette Culver, 12

Missing since: 6 May, 1975. Culver was abducted from her neighbourhood in Pocatello, Idaho. Bundy confessed he killed her and threw her body into the Snake River. Her body has not been found.

Susan Curtis, 15

Missing since: 27 June, 1975. Curtis was abducted while walking back to her room during a Mormon youth conference at Brigham Young University. Curtis was Bundy’s last confession as he walked down to the hall to be executed. She is still regarded as a missing person as her body has not been found.

Margaret Bowman, 21

Died: 15 January, 1978. On the night of 15 January, Bundy attacked four women in the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University.  Bundy beat Bowman with a piece of firewood and strangled her.

Lisa Levy, 20

Died: 15 January, 1978. Bundy beat and strangled Levy to death in the Chi Omega house.

Kathy Kleiner, 20

Attacked: 15 January, 1978. Bundy bludgeoned Kleiner with a piece of firewood and left her with her jaw hanging off.

Karen Chandler, 22

Attacked: 15 January, 1978. Chandler was Kathy Kleiner’s roommate in the Chi Omega house, and Bundy beat both women at the same time. Despite a broken jaw and right arm, and four teeth knocked out, Chandler survived.

Cheryl Thomas, 21

Attacked: 15 January, 1978. Bundy crawled through a window in Thomas’ Florida State University home and attempted to beat her to death. She survived after her neighbour raised an alarm over the noise.

Kimberly Leach, 12

Died: 9 February, 1978. Leach was one of Bundy’s youngest and last victims. She disappeared in the middle of the school day, then her body was found two months later in a shed behind Suwannee River State Park.

Source: Ted Bundy victims: Who were the women murdered by serial killer, and how many might there have been?

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