Ted Bundy’s Glenwood Springs

Perhaps no other jail should be held more accountable for its lackadaisical attitude towards Ted Bundy than the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Despite his previous escape from law officials in Aspen and rumors of someone crawling above the cells at night, jailers and their superiors chose to ignore red flags, subsequently allowing for Bundy’s descent on the unsuspecting women of Florida in January of 1978.

On the evening of December 30, 1977, Bundy crawled through the 12 inch by 12 inch hole in his ceiling, no small feat by any measure, and made his way onto the snowy streets below. The Garfield County jail has since been repurposed as offices, but it’s fascinating to consider how an inmate could have found his way out of the large building, let alone have escaped to sunny Florida within just days.

I’ve visited the sheriff’s department several times and been allowed to tour part of the building, though not the former jail. Employees working there are aware of Bundy’s history in the jail, but don’t have any real connection to the momentous event that occurred over 40 years ago.

Glenwood Springs PD

I have occasionally considered the damage inflicted in Florida upon Bundy’s second escape. I’m reminded of the three deaths that could have been prevented, and the three additional lives that would have continued unfettered if Colorado officials had kept better watch over their most volatile inmate.

Kathy Kleiner Rubin, CrimeCon 2019

Last year I asked Kathy Kleiner Rubin, one of Bundy’s Florida victims, if she blamed the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department for not keeping Bundy from escaping and, like the wise woman she became long ago, she doesn’t hold any ill will against them. Of course, in the end, Bundy was the only person responsible for his actions and perhaps we shouldn’t be so harsh on the authorities of the time. It’s reasonable to think that any of us might have been charmed by the consummate manipulator with the smile in his eyes, but nothing hidden within his soul.

I’m just chilling in front of the sheriff’s department in September of 2019.
The former jailhouse.

Video of the area

Something kooky: Around the corner from the sheriff’s department, you’ll find this interesting parking sign!

Ted Bundy’s Aspen

I recently visited the small town of Aspen in the mountains of Colorado in an attempt to document and capture the place where Ted Bundy made his first escape from law officials. At the time, he had been found guilty of his attempted kidnapping of Carol DaRonch in Utah and was facing trial on the Colorado death of Caryn Campbell. Upon locating the courthouse from where he jumped on June 7, 1977, I was struck by how majestic it seemed. The stenciled lettering on the doors to the courthouse are reminiscent of the scroll from the 19th century. It seemed to give legitimacy to the fact that the building is located in the state of Colorado, a state that still feels like it’s part of the wild west in the 1800’s. Though I don’t know much about architecture, I was advised by local historian, Matt, that the sandstone used on the building was common among most of the buildings in the area. He also pointed out that Lady Justice above the entrance was, unlike other statues of her, not blindfolded. She is also made entirely of silver, which also seems to be suited by her location in Colorado. We discussed Bundy’s escape from the top left windows on the second floor and Matt lamented that people didn’t try to restrain him after seeing him jump. I concurred, but noted Bundy would have fought valiantly if someone had grabbed him, much like he did when arrested both in Utah and Florida.
Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen, Colorado in 2019
Here is some video I took of the courthouse and some photos to give you an idea of how it looks. It is located in downtown Aspen and sits directly across from a stunning statue of St. Mary, a Catholic saint.

I love the lettering on the courthouse.
Lady Justice without her blindfold.
Pitkin County courthouse in 2019
I’m not a religious person, but this statue of Saint Mary is lovely. She watches over the Pitkin County courthouse.
The two top left windows are supposed to be where Bundy jumped.
Lady Justice

More footage

Ted Bundy: Did He Abduct Singer Debbie Harry? 

Debbie Harry is a sensational performer and has been part of the mainstream music scene for the past four decades. Her early songs with rock band Blondie, such as “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture,” hearken back to a time before serial killers were idolized and admired. There’s no question that she has experienced many strange situations as a member of the entertainment field, but does Debbie Harry’s claim that Ted Bundy attempted to kidnap her have any merit? Let’s find out.

First, let’s address the claim. The story is that in 1972 during the early hours of the morning, Harry was looking for a cab in the lower east side of New York City. She wasn’t having any success, but noticed a lone male driver in a white VW Bug trailing her. He beckoned to her to get in his car, telling her he would take her where she wanted to go. She considered it, noted she wasn’t likely to find a ride anytime soon, and ultimately slid into the passenger seat.

She instantly sensed she had made a mistake. The young driver was handsome, but he emitted a terrible odor. There was no interior door handle and the car windows were only cracked. She looked for a window crank to get some air, but much like the door handle, it was missing too. In desperation, she somehow managed to get her hand through the window and lower it, grabbing the door handle from the outside. As she tugged on the handle, the car took a sharp curve, thrusting her to the ground. Much to her relief, the vehicle drove away and she never saw the driver again.

Now let’s analyze what we know about Ted Bundy. Right from the start of our story, we have a geographical problem. Bundy wasn’t known to be in the New York City area, or on the east coast at all, during 1972. At that time, he was deeply engrossed in his work with the Seattle Republican Party, working on a re-election campaign for Governor Dan Evans. He was also working at the suicide hotline where he met crime writer, Ann Rule. To top it all off, Bundy had a summer job on a psychiatric ward, a requirement to obtain a psychology degree from the University of Washington. Though a highly mobile killer, Ted had neither the time nor the energy to make trans-national trips, especially without anyone around him noticing.

Secondly, details about the man’s car are obviously wrong. Both of Bundy’s VW Bugs were beige or tan. The interior was normal, though the passenger seat was occasionally moved into the back seat to provide room for his victims’ bodies (what he later referenced as “cargo”).

Bundy’s 1968 VW Bug when it was displayed in Washington D.C. in 2012.

My main gripe with Harry’s assertion is the claim that only realized Bundy was her abductor in 1989, after he had been executed.She happened to notice his picture in the newspaper and exclaimed that he was the driver of the white VW Bug. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and I don’t feel she could have possibly remembered her abductor’s face after seventeen years had passed. Though I don’t doubt Debbie Harry had a harrowing experience at the hands of a dangerous man, it’s highly implausible that the man in that VW Bug was Ted Bundy.

CrimeCon 2019: A Recap

Various photos I took of the French Quarter
Visiting several areas in the French Quarter

This year, CrimeCon took place in “The Big Easy” between June 7-June 9 and New Orleans was the perfect place to host the convention because it’s a mysterious city full of ghost stories and tales of murder. As many attendees discovered, an aura of other-worldiness permeated the air all around us well into the witching hours as we descended upon the Hilton Riverside hotel. Opening the conference was Golden State Killer investigator, Paul Holes. His presentation at CrimeCon in Nashville last year proved so popular that the convention committee invited him to kick-start this year’s event. Paul has a good stage presence and it’s not hard to imagine him working on a case. He welcomed us to New Orleans and reminded everyone to remember the victims of violent crimes as opposed to glorifying the criminals. He pointed out that during the first CrimeCon in 2017, he was still looking for the Golden State Killer. By 2018, Joseph DeAngelo had been identified using familial DNA and since then, over 50 cold cases had been solved using the same revolutionary method of identification. Paul told us he wanted more unidentified criminals to be unmasked and stressed the importance of laws allowing familial DNA to be used in police investigations. The crowd was utterly charmed by the handsome law enforcement agent and applauded vigorously as the session ended.

Paul Holes on stage at CrimeCon
The first session I attended was for fans of the Netflix documentary, “The Staircase.” David Rudolf, who defended author Michael Peterson accused of his wife’s murder, discussed the bad reputation of defense attorneys and said he wanted to find a way for people to view them in a more positive light. He talked about the documentary and the decision to allow a camera crew for follow his client and defense team. He gave them strict boundaries, including downloading the film every night to a server in Europe so the prosecution would have a harder time subpoenaing the video, if they chose to try. Then he asked the audience if we wanted to hear more about the “blow poke,” which if you remember, was a very controversial piece of evidence to show that Peterson bludgeoned Kathleen after pushing her down the stairs in their home. The audience replied with a loud “YES!” and Rudolf commented that he hadn’t even heard of a blow poke until this case came along. Getting serious, he said the blow poke wasn’t even considered a murder weapon until approximately two months before the trial began. Investigators found the blow poke in the Peterson’s yard and moved it to the garage where the defense team found it more than a year later. Rudolf said that he was appalled to discover that investigators searched Peterson’s house in 2002 without knowledge of the defense team. He ended the session stating he didn’t care if we thought Peterson was guilty (his murder verdict was overturned and changed to manslaughter in 2017), but that the system was broken because he never should have been found guilty of murder in the first place.

David Rudolf, discussing the blow poke in the Peterson case

David Rudolf, Michael Peterson’s attorney

Between sessions, I visited Podcast Row. This is by far my favorite part of CrimeCon and consists of many podcasters convening at separate tables, offering swag, conversation, and lots of selfies with their fans. The first face I saw this year was also the first face I saw last year, that of Mike “Morf” Morford. Morf is a Zodiac killer expert whose podcast, “Criminology,” is well worth a listen. Partnering with Mike Ferguson, of “True Crime All the Time” fame, they were lucky enough to have me write season 3 of their podcast about Ted Bundy. (I wrote the entire script covering 3 episodes.) I was thrilled to run into Mike “Gibby” Gibson and Mike Ferguson, who both present “True Crime All the Time”, and Mike Browne who hosts the Canadian podcast, “Dark Poutine.” His co-host, Scott, was also kind enough to grant me a photo, for which I know he was thrilled. I met the fabulous and very gracious Warbabyyy, host of “Murderous Minors,” whom I nicknamed “Ava Cherry” for her bleach blonde hair! Justin and Aaron from “Generation Why” were as friendly as ever and posed for more than one selfie with me. Podcast Row didn’t just include podcasts. There was a taser demonstration (I’ll never get that jarring taser sound out of my head), books and publishers, a K9 presentation, and merchandise to buy including t-shirts, silver handcuff necklaces, and wine glasses. Nancy Grace was on hand for pictures with her fans along with various meet and greets to meet some of your favorite writers and presenters. Depending on how things go, you may just see me on Podcast Row next!

Some of the amazing podcasters I met on Podcast Row and Mike Patty on the bottom left, grandfather of Libby German!

I was already enjoying being at CrimeCon, but to make things even more fantastic for me was that I met one of my heroes, Ted Bundy survivor, Kathy Kleiner Rubin. She thanked me for writing such a wonderful article about her (Scroll down on this blog to see my article about Kathy) & invited me to hang out with her. We went to several sessions and since she is a New Orleans resident, she was my tour guide. We saw an incredible drag show on Bourbon Street and ate some delicious cajun food. I am in love with alligator meat now!

Kathy and me hanging around town!

Kathy also co-hosted a CrimeCon session dedicated to Ann Rule. Investigator Sheryl McCollum started off the conversation about how Ann Rule affected her life and Leslie Rule, Ann’s daughter, told tales of Ann’s youth and how she met Ted Bundy when both volunteered for a suicide hotline. Kathy’s story was the most compelling part of the Ted Bundy legacy. She stood and very confidentally told her story of survival after being left for dead by at Florida State University’s Chi Omega sorority house. She was only twenty and had never even heard the name Ted Bundy. After Bundy murdered her sorority sisters, Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy, he came into the darkened room she shared with Karen Chandler armed with a piece of oak firewood, high on adrenaline. Kathy heard him stumble over a footlocker between their twin beds and became aware of his darkened frame leaning over her, his arm raised. She felt a “thud” on the right side of her face, but no initial pain. When her roommate stirred nearby, Bundy began hitting Karen with the firewood. “Bundy was good at killing people. Because he didn’t kill me, I was alive and making noise…he came back to my side to come and kill me.” After returning to attack Kathy again, carlights from the back parking lot lit up the small room and Bundy got “spooked,” running out of the room. “Now I felt the pain of being hit so hard in the face. I remember sitting up and rocking back and forth, screaming for someone to come help us. The next thing I remember, there was a police officer in my room, and I felt so safe.”

Kathy Kleiner tells her story to the crowd

Kathy suffered a broken jaw, broken in three places and had damage to her shoulder. Her jaw had been hit so hard that it was dangling from her face. Blood was everywhere in the room. She was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital to heal. Bark was pulled from her face, indicating that she had been beaten by the same oak log as her sorority sisters. After many weeks of recuperation and her jaw being reset, she finally made it home where she was informed that her attacker had been caught. Kathy was summoned by the Grand Jury to determine if Bundy would be tried in her case. “I looked at him and he looked at me. I stared him down because I had power now.” She felt he may have been looking at her in an attempt to intimidate her. Kathy admitted that “he had a cocky attitude” and she was relieved when he was charged by the state of Florida with three counts of attempted murder and two counts of murder. Kathy said she had been comforted by Leon County District Attorney Ken Katsaris saying that he “had been so kind to me.” Bravely facing the crowd of people, quietly riveted by her story, she ended with her personal mantra: “I don’t like the term victim, I’m actually a survivor. In my opinion, I’m a thriver.”
Kathy and me chilling with Warbabyyy on Podcast Row!!
Kathy being interviewed by the Oxygen Channel!
Kathy and I were personally invited to attend a presentation of the Natalie Wood investigation by one of the producers of 48 Hours, Ryan Smith. News reporter Erin Moriarty showed clips of Natalie Wood and introduced Natalie’s sister, Lana Wood to the stage. Lana reminded us that “Natalie Wood was one of the biggest film stars imaginable” and said “the Wagner/Wood love story was one of the great Hollywood love stories.” After a tumultuous marriage, Wood and Wagner divorced in April of 1962, but they remarried in July of 1972. Lana was both stunned and astounded when Natalie went back to Wagner after a decade apart. On November 28, 1981, Natalie, who was notoriously afraid of the water and was unable to swim, boarded Wagner’s yacht docked near Catalina Island for a night of drinking and relaxing. It later came to light that Natalie and Robert had a huge fight about where the boat should be docked overnight and by the next morning, Wood was missing. Her body was found floating in nearby waters, several hours after the fight. Her autopsy report indicated there were twenty-six bruises on her body. Some investigators speculated that “she looked like the victim of an assault.” Lana feared their relationship was violent, so she went by Wagner’s house and confronted him about the incident. She stated he told her, “It was an accident, you’ve gotta believe me.” She tried to speak to him on several occasions, but found herself no longer being allowed around Wagner’s family or Natalie’s daughters and claims Wagner blacklisted her from Hollywood. Lana made no secret that she suspected that Wood’s husband, Robert Wagner, knows more than he has said about her sister’s mysterious death. Moriarty asked Lana if she thought the case would be solved, but Lana didn’t think the case would ever lead to an arrest. When asked how she wanted her older sister remembered, she recalled that Natalie was “highly intelligent, very loving” and she hoped her sister would be proud that Lana is trying to find justice for her death.

Still picture of Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood

Lana Wood, Natalie’s sister, and Erin Moriarty on stage

Ryan Smith of 48 Hours and Kathy Kleiner

The final session I was attended was an update on the Delphi, Indiana murders. On February 13, 2017, best friends Abby Williams and Libby German were found dead after being dropped off to spend time on the Monan High Bridge Trail. A short while later, neither girl was answering her phone. After a search and rescue party descended in the area, their bodies were found not far from the drop-off point the next day. Police have generated a sketch of the killer based on eyewitnesses and a short video recorded on Abby’s phone. A panel including Libby German’s sister Kelsi and grandfather, Mike Patty, and Abby’s grandparents were on stage along with a law enforcement officer working the case. Mike Patty believes that someone knows the identity of the killer and needs to come forward to help the girls receive justice. “Don’t play investigator. We want your tips.” Police insisted that the public resist the urge to investigate the crime and to trust in the process. (Tips can be sent to abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com based on their Wikipedia page.) Commentary was made about the recently revealed new composite sketch of the “Bridge Guy” and how much younger the suspect appears to be. He was seen by more than one witness and is thought to have brownish-red hair and police stated he does not have blue eyes. Wrapping up the session, the panel wanted people to keep their eyes opened for any information that could help lead them to the killer of two bright, energetic young women who had so much potential.

Delphi families on stage

If you missed CrimeCon in New Orleans this year, don’t sweat it. Two upcoming CrimeCon events are being held in Chicago and Seattle later in 2019. Chicago is hosting CrimeCon: On the Run which promises one night of sessions covering the arc of a case to the investigation and interrogation. In Seattle, CrimeCon is offering a “Crowd Solve” event over the course of a weekend to dive into the real-life case of Nancy Moyer, missing since 2009. You can also start saving your money to attend CrimeCon in Orlando, Florida next year from May 1-3 at the World Center Mariott Hotel. Tickets go on sale on Monday, June 17th. Get them early to ensure you get the best rates and I hope I’ll see you in Orlando!

CRIMECON 2019: A Brief Look

CrimeCon begins on June 7th this year, and so the countdown has begun. This year the convention will take place in New Orleans and promises to be bigger than ever. Many famous faces and events have been planned for our entertainment, so much so, that it’s literally overwhelming! That said, two events I don’t want to miss are Friday’s 5:30 PM presentation titled “A Tribute to the Queen of True Crime: Ann Rule.” The hosts include Rule’s daughter, Leslie Rule and Ted Bundy survivor Kathy Kleiner Rubin. The event promises to take the audience on a journey through working with Ann on one of her books and hearing a riveting tale from Kathy about pulling through after being seriously injured in the Chi Omega attacks by Ted Bundy. At 6:45 PM, a meet and greet is being held for the same hosts and here is where I hope to get a hug from Kathy Kleiner Rubin. She was gracious enough to allow me to interview her for this blog and has promised me a big hug, so I’m holding her to it!

Kathy Kleiner Rubin: I’m coming for that hug!

Saturday, June 8th promises various sessions starting as early as 8:00 AM (if you’re an early riser!) including “Death Row Stories” presented by HLN and “The Use of Technology in Forensics Investigation.” I am very interested in the scientific side of criminal investigations, so I can definitely see myself at the latter session. Oxygen has a heavy presence at CrimeCon this year. Kelly Siegler will be talking about her program, “Cold Justice,” and will be available later for a meet and greet. Paul Holes, long-time investigator of California’s “Golden State Killer” will host a session called “The DNA of Murder” for Oxygen. You can also check out the Innocence Project session entitled “Frame: The Wrongful Conviction of Reginald Adams” and on Sunday, June 9th, gear up for Dr. Henry Lee to discuss “Concepts in Homicide Investigation.”

Kelly Seigler
Paul Holes

Something I really enjoyed at the Nashville CrimeCon event was Podcast Row. The main area of the hotel held several rows of tables with your favorite podcasters available for conversations, autographs, and selfies. Personally, that was probably my favorite area to visit. It’s great to rub elbows with some of the best online personalities in crime “radio” and it’s how I scored the scripting gig for the 3rd season of Criminology.

For more information about CrimeCon this year, stop by http://www.crimecon.com and watch for live tweets & some video I’ll post to the site and Twitter (@rosedysfunction) while I’m there. See you soon!

E. J. Hammon

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile: What the new Ted Bundy movie got right and wrong

Movie poster

Over the past two years, since crime fans were made aware that a new Ted Bundy movie was forthcoming, we have been waiting for it with bated breath. There was debate over whether Zac Efron had the acting chops to truly possess the mindset and mannerisms of Bundy or if his good looks would detract from the seriousness of the film. Readers of Liz Kloepfer’s book, “The Phantom Prince,” were ready to see just how close to the book the script came and whether the facts of the cases were portrayed correctly. Personally, I had certain expectations for the film, hoping to see a new side to the Bundy myth and for a light to be shone on his deeds once and for all.

Sadly, I was mostly disappointed. Most of the scenarios in the movie, though based on reality, were distorted to make the story more watchable and exciting. Characterizations of detectives and police officers were exaggerated to make Ted seem more sympathetic that he actually was. The majority of the murders and violence were glossed over and viewed only in hindsight. That isn’t to say that the movie got everything wrong. I also understand that some of the actions by individuals were supposed to have been seen from Bundy and Liz’s points of view. However, that wasn’t made truly obvious. I wasn’t completely disappointed by the movie, just underwhelmed.

Florida victims Lisa Levy & Margaret Bowman

I appreciated that they actually used the real names of his victims, survivors, and detectives on the storyline. Often, names are changed to protect the identity of certain players in a crime drama. Since all of the names in the movie were of people listed in public record, there was really no need to change them. I liked that some of the actual footage of news stories was used. It lent to more of a feel of the era in which these crimes occurred. Actual pictures of the victims helped lend a feeling of truth to the story-telling as well.

Ken Katsaris reading Bundy’s indictments before the press in Florida

What I didn’t like was the portrayal of Ken Katsaris, sheriff of Leon County, Florida, as a cowboy of sorts. Though responsible for noting and preserving the bite marks on Lisa Levy’s buttocks, he didn’t waltz into Ted’s cell with random people to take pictures of his teeth. Casts of his Ted’s teeth were taken against his will (under a warrant), the photographs and casts were taken by a qualified dentist in a dental chair. There are pictures of Ted having the procedure done. Despite his anger in his eyes, he wasn’t in any physical pain during the process. I was also disappointed that the final scene between Ted and Liz never happened. She didn’t visit him in Florida, though he called her various times from prison there. There is no evidence that he wrote “Hacksaw” on the visiting room window to anyone visiting him. This was merely a part of the script meant to ratchet up the drama. Finally, the timing of Carole Boone’s pregnancy was wrong. She didn’t give birth to their daughter Rose until October 1981, several months after Bundy was found guilty a second time. The movie shows only his first Florida trial and Carole was definitely not pregnant during that time.

In the dentist’s chair

In conclusion, though an exciting film, it is still mostly fiction, despite being drawn from Liz Kloepfer’s book. Director Joe Berlinger had the chance to dispel a great deal of Bundy myths in the making of his film, but he chose to romanticize him instead. Unfortunately, that makes it harder for writers and others in the media to present a true picture of a killer who was less charm than violence, less pretty boy than monster. Ironically, Berlinger directed the Netflix documentary about Bundy, “Confessions of a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” This film is actually very well done and factual and I would recommend it over “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” any day.