Bundy is one of the nation’s most notorious serial killers who was executed in Florida in 1989. But Bundy also left a trial of death in Utah during 1973 and 1974.
“That particular time I was a sergeant over a five man crew that worked throughout the middle of the night,” recalls Bob Hayward.
41 years ago, he was Sgt. Bob Hayward of the Utah Highway Patrol made the most important stop of his life.
He pulled over a Volkswagon driving through a West Valley neighborhood without its lights on.
“This same Volkswagen that apparently went by me early took off in the dark with no lights,” said Hayward.
It became a high speed chase through the streets of West Valley before the driver finally pulled over.
“And that’s the first time anyone had seen Theodore Robert Bundy and his Volkswagen,” said Hayward.
It was 1974 and no one in law enforcement knew of Bundy.
Hayward certainly didn’t know the man he had stopped would later become known as one of the nation’s most infamous serial killers.
Bundy told Hayward he was a University of Utah law student and living in the avenues and became lost.
As Hayward checked his identification Bundy also claimed he had been to a drive in movie.
“And I said what’s playing, cause I’d been working out there all night,” said Hayward. “I’d know what was playing and he says the Towering Inferno which was wrong.”
Hayward called for backup and asked Bundy permission to look inside his Volkswagon.
“He said ‘sure go ahead there’s nothing in there,'” said Hayward. “The passenger seat in the right front of the Volkswagen was missing. I found pantyhose, holes cut in it, different stuff for burglary tools, a little crowbar and things that most people wouldn’t carry in a car like that.”
Hayward became suspicious after finding the items inside Bundy’s car.
“So I asked him about that and he says ‘oh that’s my tools of trade, I’m a two year law student and I use them in my classes,'” said Hayward.
He continued his search and came across some handcuffs.
“And he says that’s what he uses in his classes also,” said Hayward.
Hayward wrote Bundy a citation which he has kept at his home. He also booked Bundy into jail for avoiding arrest. But it was the burglary tools, the rope and the panty hose that Hayward found as odd.
“And he’s a two year law student at the University of Utah with thousands of beautiful girls up there and he’s out there at 3 o’clock in the morning, dressed in black with these tools and it didn’t make sense,” said Hayward. “It didn’t ring a bell with me.”
The next day Hayward called his brother Salt Lake County Sheriff Pete Hayward.
“I says ‘nothing adds up to what he’s talking’ and he’s lying through his teeth,” recalled Hayward telling his brother.
Detective Jerry Thompson was one of those assigned to look into the suspect Bundy.
“Everybody agreed that that’s not burglary tools,” said Thompson.
At the time, five teen-age girls had gone missing. Nancy Wilcox, Debby Kent and Nancy Baird vanished. The bodies of Melissa Smith and Laura Aime were found badly beaten, raped and strangled. 18-year old Carol Daronch was kidnapped and handcuffed in Murray. But she managed to escape from a stranger’s Volkswagon.
But Thompson was aware of something else.
“I was aware of some of the other state’s problems up in Seattle,” said Thompson.
In Washington state, police were baffled over the murders and disappearances of several teen-age girls. There was a composite of a man with fairly good looks who went by the name of “Ted” who drove a Volkswagon.
Thompson got a search warrant and took Bundy to his house in the avenues.
“I’d seen these gas receipts,” said Thompson. “I didn’t want to say too much to him but I looked through and asked him some questions about it and I took one of them.”
Thompson said Bundy was a neat freak something unusual for a college student. He found Bundy’s clothes carefully laid out. And then he spotted a pair of shoes.
“Because the shoes was a prominent thing in the Carol Daronch case,” said Thompson.
Daronch, the 18 year old kidnap victim told detectives the stranger had a pair of slick-shiney shoes.
Thompson pieced together the gas receipts and soon saw a trend.
“We basically could put him in every city where anyone of these girls was missing,” said Thompson. “I asked him have you ever been to Bountiful? He said ‘where’s Bountiful. I don’t know.'”
Thompson contacted police in Seattle and Colorado where 2 young women vanished.
Bundy was picked out of a lineup by Daronch. She also told them about specific tears on the backseat of the Volkswagon. Bundy was convicted of kidnapping Daronch.
Detectives didn’t have enough evidence to get murder charges against Bundy. But Thompsons search of the Bundy house helped with the murder charges in Colorado where he managed to escape twice.
“I told everybody this guy will not stop,” recalled Thompson.
Sure enough weeks after his escape, two co-eds at Florida State were brutally beaten and strangled. Two others were beaten but survived. Then, a 12 year old went missing. Her body was later found in a pig farm.
Bundy who had changed his name and identity was stopped on a routine traffic stop in a nearby Florida city.
He acted as his own attorney in the murder trials, was found guilty and nine years later in 1989 was executed. Thompson only wished it happened in Utah.
“If that would have happened some girls in crimes would still be alive,” he said.
41 years after making that traffic stop Hayward still calls that night with Bundy his best police work.
“That was the best stop I ever made,” he said. “Nothing quite this gigantic where he killed so many and was responsible for so many deaths and nobody could put a finger on him.”
But it also haunts him. During Bundy’s Florida trial Hayward was waiting to testify. One of the co-eds who survived Bundy’s brutal attacks walked up to him.
“And she says why didn’t you shoot him and I says I didn’t know who he was,” recalled Hayward.
But he also believed he saved a girl’s life that night in 1974 when he pulled Bundy over in West Valley.
“There’s no doubt in my mind in the condition and what he had there, the crowbar, the whole thing that that was his prey for the night,” said Hayward. “He was going in that house.”
There is one more detective who met Bundy face to face two nights before he was executed. The story continues tomorrow.