Rhonda Stapley was a 21-year-old Utah University student waiting for a bus when, on Oct. 11, 1974, a “cute” guy offered a ride in his Volkswagen Beetle.
That man was Ted Bundy, who would become one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Before he was executed in 1989, he confessed to at least 30 murders.
But to Stapley, who describes her life-long ordeal in her book I Survived Ted Bundy: The Attack, Escape & PTSD That Changed My Life, Bundy “was the boy next door. He had slightly curly dark brown hair, a nice complexion, and his smile was friendly and inviting.”
After driving a while, Bundy pulled into a parking space in a canyon where he turned off the engine and said, “Do you know what? I am going to kill you.”
Bundy’s hands went to Stapley’s throat, and he choked her until she passed out. When she awoke, she was lying on a nearby picnic table. There, Bundy caused her to pass out multiple times by either strangulation or by putting his hands over her mouth and nose, before rousing her again. After the fifth time, he raped her.
When she regained consciousness again, she saw Bundy by his car and she made her escape, eventually falling into a mountain stream which swept her away from her attacker.
Now 62, Stapley tells Who, “I would like people who have experienced trauma, even if it’s different from mine, to find the courage to talk and begin their own healing.”
For more on Stapley’s story of survival, pick up a copy of WHO on sale now.