When Ted Bundy broke out of jail and into Florida State University's Chi Omega sorority house in 1978, the outcome was horrific. Two women died and another two suffered severe injuries when Bundy beat them with a log from a wood pile outside. Kathy Kleiner, one of Bundy's surviving victims, remains vocal about her experience. Fascinated by serial killers, she's spent years voraciously consuming books and films about Bundy.
Though many of Bundy's surviving victims understandably aim to remain private about their pasts, Kleiner is eager to tell her story. From Chi Omega's reaction to the attacks to her deliberate move to make eye-contact with Bundy at his trial, Kleiner wants her side of the infamous night to be heard.
- Photo: Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes / Netflix
Bundy Broke Into Kleiner's Sorority House After Escaping Prison
By the time Bundy arrived in Tallahassee, FL, in January 1978, he had already killed nearly 30 women across the US and was on his second escape from prison. During his first escape, he leaped from a courthouse window in Aspen, CO; for his second, he left his cell in Glenwood Springs, CO, by crawling through a small hole in the ceiling. He made his way to Florida, where he rented a room near the Chi Omega sorority house of Florida State University.
A little before 3 am, Bundy grabbed a log from a stack of firewood outside of the sorority house and entered through a door with a broken padlock. He struck sorority members Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy, who both perished. He then moved on to Kleiner's room, which the student shared with roommate Karen Chandler.
When Bundy Entered Kleiner's Room, He Tripped And Woke Her Up
Kleiner saw Bundy before he attacked her. When he entered her room, Bundy tripped over a trunk placed between the beds of Kleiner and her roommate. She awoke and recalls seeing what she describes as a "black mass" raise a club above her head. Of the experience, Kleiner recalled to Rolling Stone:
The first time, it didn't hurt. It was pressure, like someone pressing on your arm. And then he hit me again. And I think that's where he hit me in the face and broke my jaw in three places, and I passed out. But that's what I remember the most: him lifting the club and bringing it down on me.
Kleiner's injuries were so intense that medics initially thought she had been shot.
Kleiner And Her Roommate Were Saved By Headlights Shining Into Their Bedroom Window
Kleiner's sorority sister Nita Neary arrived home late from a date. When she pulled up to the Chi Omega house with her boyfriend, the headlights from their car shone directly in Kleiner's bedroom. Bundy, thinking someone had spotted him, fled.
Neary provided the only eyewitness testimony at Bundy's trial, as she saw his profile outlined in the light. She also saw Kleiner's roommate Karen Chandler come out of her bedroom covered in blood and heard Kleiner moaning in pain behind her, calling for her pastor.
Sorority sister Melanie Nelson noted that at around 2:45 am, while leaving the bathroom, she noticed that someone had turned the lights off in the hall. She contemplated turning the light on so she could go to the kitchen and get a glass of water, but decided against it. Police later determined that Bundy was already in the house by that point and was likely the one who turned off the light.
Reportedly, Nelson felt convinced that if she had gone to get a glass of water, it would have scared Bundy away before the onslaught.
Police Took Kleiner Back To The Crime Scene, And She Was Shocked By The Amount Of Blood
Kleiner had felt proud of how well she and her mother had decorated her bedroom. She was shocked and saddened to see the amount of blood in her room, particularly across her bedspread, which she had carefully chosen.
After a stay in the hospital, police took Kleiner - whose jaw was still wired shut - back to her bedroom to see if Bundy stole anything. She described the scene to Rolling Stone:
There was blood splattered all over the wall. All over... And my green and white bedspread was covered. My beautiful bedspread I had just gotten a few weeks earlier, that my mom and I had spent so much time picking out. The blood was everywhere. Everywhere. On the walls, and everything. That really stays in my mind. I can see it right now.