Lake Sammamish Murders


Sunday, July 14, 1974, was a beautiful day in Issaquah, WA, 20 miles east of Seattle. On that warm, summer day, hundreds of people gathered at the 512 acre Lake Sammamish state park to enjoy the beach, boating, or a picnic. One of those good-looking locals was a quiet, unassuming man who masked his devilish intentions behind a white tennis outfit and a cast around his arm. Witnesses said he introduced himself as “Ted.” Many of the young women who had been approached by him thought he affected a Canadian or a British accent. He was charming when he asked for help getting unhooking his boat from his tan VW Bug. Most of the young ladies refused for some reason or another, but petite, blonde Janice Ott eagerly accompanied the young man to his car. She was never seen again.

Janice Ott… taken on June 16, 1974. In it, she is wearing the shorts she had on the day she disappeared. The top is different, though. She is standing next to her own car, a Volkswagen, oddly enough.

Four hours later, beautiful brunette Denise Naslund argued with her boyfriend then went off to use the park’s public restroom. Her friends, dog, and boyfriend waited for her until the park closed, then called the police when she didn’t return. Later, Denise’s mother was interviewed by the police and told them Denise was not in the habit of leaving on her own.


For almost two months, the young women were missing despite exhaustive searches by family and friends. On September 6, 1974, skeletal remains were found two miles east of Lake Sammamish and were identified as belonging to Janice Ott and Denise Naslund.

Bundy was asked about these crimes while in prison in Florida. He told investigators that Ott was still alive when he kidnapped Naslund and one was forced to watch as he murdered the other. This scene is dramatized in the 2002 film Bundy, and it’s jarring to watch. On the day before his execution, Bundy recanted this confession and stated the women were not in the same area at the same time. Little else is known about the brutal crimes beyond what he told police and what was found at the body dump. Investigators are still boggled at his ability to kidnap and murder two women in one day and thankfully, there is no evidence he duplicated this crime.

Tourist photo from “Lake Sam” on 7/14/74. Ted Bundy is thought to be in the VW bug shown to the left of the photo.

20 thoughts on “Lake Sammamish Murders

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  1. Yes, i believe he made Janice Ott watch while he raped and murdered Denise Naslund..HHe confirmed this to FBI Agent Bill Hagmaier.


    1. He did tell Hagmaier that he had one of the women watch while he murdered the other, but he later reneged his admission. That said, Ted was a pathological liar, so it’s impossible to know the truth of this statement. However, the idea alone is repugnant, which may be why he recanted.


  2. Why would he risk going back to lake sammamish if he had already accomplished his mission?Maybe jan ott had really gotten under bundy’s skin that he wanted to terrorize her before killng her(he spent 4 hours with jan).The second victim was merely collateral damage.


    1. That’s exactly what Ted suggested to Stephen Michaud & Hugh Aynesworth. He wasn’t satisfied with Ott & was cocky enough to return to a ripe hunting area to get a 2nd victim. Also, consider how successfully pulling off both abductions in 1 day would have fed his ego?


  3. Its odd that a 16 year old and a few others could see through bundy and a probation officer(Janice) just bought bundy’s stupid line.Looks like she certainly got turned on by ted and the thought of infidelity must have played on her mind,to her detriment off course.Naslund must have been so stoned that she couldnt exercise good judgement.


    1. It’s hard to know just what Janice Ott was thinking what Bundy approached her. Maybe she was charmed by him, thought it was an innocent act, or maybe she hoped to cheat on her husband. There’s really no way to know. We do know that he didn’t come across as dangerous, and may have even appeared to be a bit dorky in his cast and white tennis outfit. We know less about Denise Naslund’s abduction since she walked off and he either talked her to his car from the restroom or got control of her by threatening her, despite all of the people in the area. It was a very tragic day in history and the last thing we want to do is victim blame. The only one deserving of blame here is Bundy.


  4. I’ve often wondered if he had an accomplice. He had no regular source of income, but was able to attend college, pay for an apartment, afford nice clothes.


    1. You bring up a good point. I know he was good at talking people out of their money, including elderly women who took a liking to him. Ann Rule mentions one woman in particular who let Ted talk her into giving him money and letting him use her home and china to bring women over for dinner. He was also a consummate thief. I’m not sure if he pawned any of the things he stole, but he was very resourceful.


  5. E.J.: The timeline of Bundy’s claim that he raped and murdered Naslund in front of Ott is as follows:

    1981: Speaking in the 3rd person, Bundy told author Stephen Michaud that since the killer craved control, there was a good possibility that he raped/murdered Naslund in front of Ott.

    1989: A week before he was executed, Bundy told his appellate lawyer that he was going to confess to law enforcement in the hope that he would delay his execution for at least 6 months. Bundy later admitted that his goal was to delay his execution for 3 years. Bundy’s lawyer asked him to describe one of the murders in order to get sense of how he would divulge information to law enforcement. Bundy proceeded to recount the time when he picked up a hitchhiker in Idaho; sexually assaulting her in his vehicle; strangling her to death; dragging her into a wooded area; having sex with her corpse; and then leaving her body in the woods, so that the animals could dispose of the body. A psychiatrist hired by the defense was present during this interview, and when asked about his Ott/Naslund 3rd person confession to Michaud, Bundy recanted his claim that he raped/murdered Naslund in front of Ott.

    1989: Twenty-Four hours prior to his execution, Bundy told Bill Hagmaier that he transported an unconscious Janice Ott to a secluded cabin 2-3 miles from Lake Sammamish, repeatedly raped her, handcuffed her, and knocked her unconscious before returning to Lake Sammamish. Bundy later returned to the cabin with Denise Naslund, Ott regained consciousness, and Bundy claims he raped/murdered Naslund in front of Ott. To my knowledge, Bundy did not recant that narrative to Hagmaier or to Bob Keppel. Bundy would not have discussed the Naslund/Ott murders with any other investigator (e.g., Colorado, Utah, Florida, Idaho) because of time limits (e.g., 90 minutes each) and the focus being on victims in their respective jurisdictions.


    1. Thanks for the details & reminder of all the flip-flopping Bundy did about this event! I believe his final telling after I went back & reread his “confession” to Michaud. Some of it really rang true.


  6. E.J.: You’re welcome. The one common thread in the Naslund/Ott narratives is that Michaud, Polly Nelson, Hagmaier, and Keppel all described a drastic change in Bundy’s total being whenever he recounted the level of his depravity. This included voice inflection, body posture, and even a change in eye color for goodness sake. Bundy clearly was reliving the murders and those moments were one of the few times when Bundy was actually telling the truth. Having said that, it appears that even when he was telling the truth about a specific murder, he felt the need to throw in a lie or two. Prime example is when he described the abduction and murder of Georgann Hawkins to Bob Keppel. Most of the details regarding Georgann’s murder checked out, but Bundy clearly lied when he told Keppel the location of where he buried her head. Keppel assigned an excavation crew to dig up a hillside where Bundy claimed he buried Georgann’s head, but nothing was found. Just another one of Bundy’s sick games. He tells a truth (e.g., Hawkins was the source of the spinal column/rib cage and leg bone found at the Naslund/Ott dump site), but then lies about where he disposed of Hawkins head or skull.


  7. Always wondered about the long timeline with Ott and the compressed one with Naslund. He spends hours raping Ott presumably. Then goes back with no idea if he will be able to get another victim. Abducts Naslund around 4pm and is at Liz’s home by like 630. So he killed and desposed of both, went home and changed and the went over to Lizs home in like 2hrs?

    Anyone know if he changed clothes between abductions?


  8. Like a lot of us we’re both fascinated and repelled by a monster like Bundy the really scary part is how some like that could get away with it for so long!


      1. The fact that you’re a serial killer that has sex with your deceased victims is a personality trait they keep pretty guarded.
        His girlfriend did give his name to the police.


      2. Liz did give his name to the Police, but, being a serial killer that has sex with your deceased victims isn’t something you’ll pick out about someone as easy as he seems a little jealous and controlling.
        My sister in law was actually convicted for her “part” in her serial killer boyfriends murders. She did 10 years in prison because they believed that she was able to notify the police sooner than she did, when she found out.
        What’s even weirder, is that when she was telling me some of the stories, I pointed out that she met him only because she was about to be one of his victims, and the realization shocked her – she’d never thought about the coincidence.
        She had come home to her apartment one evening, and when she entered, she thought she saw a shadow move in her back room, she walked outside real quick and her neighbor was coming up the walkway. She asked him if he could help her – she thought there might be someone inside, so he played hero and I pointed out that her back sliding glass door (that they found unlocked) led to the patio which led to the walkway if you hopped the wall, lol. She said she never actually had thought of that – she thought she was being paranoid and no one was actually there, and she often forgot to lock that sliding door. He was most likely in there casing the joint and she surprised him. Obviously, he turned out to be the neighbor.
        I’ve always been fascinated by this stuff, and my brother doesn’t even like her to talk about it, so, whenever he’s not around, I can usually get some of te stories out of her.


  9. Did anyone ever investigate the supposed cabin where the assaults took place? Was there any physical evidence recovered there? Are there photos of the cabin? Very little information seems to exist.


    1. Out of all the reading I have done over the years, I have never heard that discussed or mentioned. That’s a good question.I will try to see if there is anything about it, since you have me curious about it, now!
      If the bodies had just been dumped when he was done away from the cabin, they probably wouldn’t have even known about it until he told them – by then, they didn’t need the evidence, if that was the case.


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