Feb 26, 2024 - News

How a Utah teen took down Ted Bundy 48 years ago

An old newspaper headline that reads "Judge says Bundy is guilty of kidnapping"
The Deseret News, Mar. 1, 1976. Image via Utah Digital Newspapers archive, the University of Utah

Forty-eight years ago this week, Ted Bundy was convicted of kidnapping a teenager from Fashion Place Mall, bringing a temporary stop to his coast-to-coast killing spree.

The big picture: Bundy ultimately confessed to murdering 30 people in the 1970s, mostly teenage girls and 20-something women — including at least four victims in Utah.

Zoom in: 18-year-old Carol DaRonch brought Bundy down after he lured her to his car on Nov. 8, 1974 by posing as a police officer and telling her that her car had been broken into.

  • He handcuffed one of DaRonch's wrists and threatened her with a gun and a crowbar.
  • She "was able to wriggle out of the car and stand in the middle of State Street near the mall in the lights of an oncoming vehicle, which stopped," the Provo Daily Herald reported.

Later that day, police were called to Viewmont High School in Bountiful when 17-year-old Debra Kent disappeared after she left the school to pick up her brother from a roller rink.

What they found: A tiny key on the ground near the high school matched the handcuff on DaRonch's wrist.

  • The discovery linked DaRonch's case to Kent, whom Bundy later confessed to killing.

Catch up quick: Bundy was a University of Utah law student when he began killing teens in Utah.

  • After Kent's disappearance, Bundy killed at least four victims in Colorado, including a 12-year-old girl.
  • In June 1975, he killed a 15-year-old who was attending a youth conference at BYU.

Flashback: After a trooper stopped Bundy's car that August near West Valley City, a Salt Lake County detective recalled details from DaRonch's statement that matched items in Bundy's car.

  • He also remembered that Bundy's girlfriend from Seattle, who tried to report Bundy in connection with a string of murders there, had called deputies in Salt Lake after learning of teen disappearances around the time of DaRonch's kidnapping.

Coup de grâce: DaRonch identified Bundy in a photo lineup, leading to his conviction for her kidnapping on March 1, 1976.

Yes, but: Bundy was moved to Colorado for murder charges, where he escaped multiple times.

  • He fled to Florida, where he killed more people and was eventually caught and executed.

Previously in Old News


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