Dennis Couch was a homicide detective with the Salt Lake County sheriffs office when he was summoned to the Florida prison.
Bundy was to be executed January 24, 1989 in a Florida prison for the murders of two co-eds and a 12 year old girl. Utah law enforcement wanted confessions and more importantly locations of the young women who vanished and killed.
Fifteen years earlier, the bodies of Laurie Aime and Melissa Smith were found in the mountains. They had been beaten, raped and strangled. Three others Nancy Wilcox, Debby Kent and Nancy Baird vanished without a trace.
The week before Bundy’s execution, Couch got a telephone call from Bundy’s attorney.
“She said very curtly ‘you have 30 minutes’” recalled Couch. “(She said) ‘Do you want it or not?’”. I said yes, I’ll be there.”
It was a Sunday night at around 7:30 on the 22nds of January that Couch made his way inside the Florida prison. He was in a holding area waiting for Bundy.
“I could hear chains rattling like it must be Bundy coming down the hall,” said Couch.
He was taken into a room where Bundy was already sitting with head down.
“It was obvious that he was extremely tired and lethargic,” Couch said.
Bundy had been meeting with other detectives from Washington and Colorado to talk about the women he had killed there.
Couch hit the record button. The following is the conversation he had with Bundy.
Bundy: “What I’d like to do under the circumstances (takes breath) I’d just like to… let’s just get a map out.”
An FBI agent who who was also in the room took out a map of Utah and Bundy went back to 1974 when Debby Kent disappeared in Bountiful.
Bundy confessed to grabbing Kent and putting her in his Volkswagon.
Couch: “Was she killed right there at the school?”
Couch: “But you are responsible for her death?”
Thirty minutes later the two were at Bundy’s Salt Lake City apartment.
Couch: “Was she alive during that time period?”
Bundy: “Let see, during half of it.”
Kent died in Bundy’s apartment but he would never reveal details of her death.
Bundy: “That’s why it’s so much easier for me to try to locate the bodies than it is to talk about the actual thing. It’s so much more positive such as it could be.”
Kent’s body had never been found. But using the map Bundy steered Couch to Highway 89 near Thistle and Manti.
Bundy: “I was driving in the dark, late at night not very conscious of much of anything else. I can kind of remember, I’m trying to remember, remember little turns the road made.”
In his mind Bundy saw his Volkswagon pass the town of Fairview and head into the mountains.
Bundy: “Several miles, oh well this should help. There seems to be just on the outskirts of this town … an iron barrier. It’s a gate that swings across the roadway, looks like they closed off that road for some reason.”
Couch: “How deep was the grave?”
Bundy: “Approximately 3 feet … 2 to 3 feet maybe.”
Couch: “Did her clothes remain with her?”
By now the half hour with Bundy had turned into an hour.
“I was extremely frustrated. I knew Bundy wasn’t going to open up anymore,” said Couch.
Bundy: “My mind is tied in knots. I’m having a hard time.”
Couch still had four girls to cover; Melissa Smith, Laura Amie, Nancy Baird and Nancy Wilcox whom Bundy recalled snatching her near Holladay.
Bundy: “I don’t remember exactly what she was wearing. She was wearing casual clothes.”
Couch: “Were you able to have a conversation with her?”
Bundy: “Not really. Not much, nothing noteworthy. She was unsure that I was there and restrained and placed in the car and taken to the apartment.”
Couch: “At what point would she would have been killed?”
Bundy: “The next day, the next day.”
Couch said Bundy gazed at the map and remembered heading south with Wilcox’s body.
Bundy: “It’s dark and it’s late at night and you’re just making sure you’re obeying the speed limit because you know there’s probably some cop in that town who is going trying to make his quota.”
On the map, he recalled passing through Scipio, Fillmore and Beaver before pointing to the area near Capital Reef National Park.
Bundy: “I need better maps, that would help. It’d give me a clear picture of what it looks like.”
Couch showed Bundy the pictures of Nancy Baird, Melissa Smith and Laurie Amie.
Bundy: “I’m just having a hard time placing the names. It’s starting to get all mixed up. I don’t remember a thing. I don’t know who it was. It could be one of these.”
Bundy had no recollection of encountering Smith or Amie. But he denied killing Baird.
The interview with Bundy inside the Florida prison was now approaching an hour and a half. Couch knew Bundy was exhausted. But the detective also felt Bundy wanted to clear his conscience and perhaps reveal more information. It didn’t happen.
Bundy: “I’m not looking for anything. I understand now a lot of stuff about myself that I didn’t understand then. It makes me realize what was going on. The senselessness of it appalls me although I’m sure not so much as those who were so close to it.”
It was the closest Bundy ever came to offering an apology.
Bundy: “I think for the family the important thing is that you find the body.”
Using Bundy’s directions searchers later found one small kneecap bone belonging to a young woman believed to be Debby Kent.
Despite a search near the Capitol Reef National Park Nancy Wilcox’s remains were never found.
“It was probably the worst experience my life, of my career,” said Couch. “I think a lot about it. Especially the loved ones and the families. They never had closure.”
On the day Bundy was executed Couch got a call from the Florida warden. He was told Bundy confessed to another Utah murder. He said he killed 15-year old Susan Curtis who vanished while attending a youth conference at BYU. Bundy claimed he buried the body near Price but her remains were never found.
On January 24, 1989, Bundy’s evil journey through Washington, Idaho, Colorado and Utah came to an end.