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.

8 thoughts on “Lake Sammamish Murders

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    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.


  1. 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?


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


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