Few people survived Ted Bundy to share their encounters firsthand. Bundy's horrifying crimes belied his charming demeanor; it was easy for him to gain the trust of strangers. Those who remember the infamous man recall his likability and attractiveness - qualities that stuck in their minds even years after he passed. Author Ann Rule wrote a book, The Stranger Beside Me, detailing her close friendship with Bundy. She never suspected him to be a monster.
Some Bundy survivors, like Rhonda Shipley, shared their harrowing experiences. Other people reportedly met Bundy on a whim. Their respective tales, however, are wholly haunting.
In 1974, a young man in a Volkswagen approached Rhonda Shipley and offered her a lift. She recalled the experience:
He looked like a college student, and he presented himself as a college student... And then he turned a way that didn't seem like the normal route to go to the university, and I asked him about that and he said, "I hope you don't mind, but I have a little errand to run up by the zoo," and so then we went up the canyon.
The canyon where the zoo is, it's up next to where the university is, so it wasn't really way out of his way. It still wasn't alarming or anything. It was fine to me that we took a little detour. It wasn't very far out of our way, and I'm thinking, "I'd still be home faster than if I'd took the bus."
We got to the zoo, and he kept on driving. I said, "I thought you were going to take me to the zoo?" Y'know, kinda joking with him.
And he said, "No, I said NEAR the zoo." He continued to drive up one canyon, and then into another, never stopping... And that's when the ride started to feel uncomfortable.
He stopped talking to me. All this time we'd been talking about school and campus, new buildings, road construction... the stuff that people who don't know each other well talk about. Light chatter... And then he starts slowing down as we go around corners... He's looking at side roads, turn-offs.
He pulls in finally to a picnic area that's kind of deserted. He pulls back into the trees a little way and stops the car and turns it off. And then he turned in his seat, so he was almost facing me, and leaned in really close. I thought he was going to kiss me. But instead, he said, "You know what? I'm going to kill you." And he put his hands on my throat and started squeezing and shaking me.
The last time I regained consciousness... the passenger door was open and the dome light was on. So I could see him, that was the only light in the whole canyon... I could see him standing over there, facing away from me, doing something in the backseat of the car.
I just jumped and ran in the other direction, into pitch-blackness. I just took a couple of steps because my pants had been pulled down around my ankles. So I tripped... and tumbled, but I fell into a mountain river that wasn't really deep, but it was really, really swift. There were boulders and bushes and tree limbs sticking out... the water swept me away from him, and it's probably what saved my life.
From Quora user Lisa Perry:
Ted Bundy. I was 17 and living in Seattle in 1974, and my boyfriend and I went to Lake Sammamish on one of the first beautiful days of the season. I was sunbathing on a towel near the building that housed the restrooms. My boyfriend, not a fan of just laying in the sun, was 50 yards away or so, leaning on his parked car, chatting up some other guys.
I noticed a man kept walking by me to use the drinking fountain. Each time he passed, he would stare a bit. I thought he was attractive enough but in a real dweeb kind of way. Finally he approached me and we started a conversation. He asked me if I wanted to go out in his canoe. I said no... [since] I was here with my boyfriend. He then asked if I would help him launch it into the water, that it was tucked behind some trees across the parking lot.
I said that I was completely not strong enough to help him with a canoe, but that my boyfriend could surely lend a hand. I got up and starting walking toward where my boyfriend was leaning against the car. Bundy followed me. At just about the same time that he said, "No, no, no, you can do it," I called out to my BF and said, "Hey this guy wants some help with his canoe."
My BF immediately felt the chill, and he told Bundy, in the rudest way I had ever heard him speak to anyone (which he has said had to do with his primal revulsion to the guy), to "get the hell away from her and from us." Bundy said, directly to me - and this is [the] iciest piece that stays with me most - "This is your lucky day." Of course, I didn't understand that for a long time.
That day he [slayed] two women that he picked up at the lake. Two. Both resembled me in stature, the way they wore their hair, etc.
In a 2018 interview with KIRO-TV, Sotria Kritsonis recalled an incident from 1972 when she was 22 years old. She claimed Ted Bundy pulled up to her in his VW to offer her a ride:
He goes, "I've come down Rainier Avenue, and that's a long way and there's no bus in sight. Would you like a ride?"
[I got into his car and] he just started yelling at me, "Why did you take this ride? Why did you even think about taking this ride? You're never going to make it to school... You're not making it. I told you that before." [Then] he goes, "Take your hat off."
And I said, "What do you mean, take my hat off... what for?"
I took my hat off and he saw that something was different about me. He goes, "Why did you cut your hair?"
From Redditor /u/relatedtowitches:
Back in 1969, my uncle attended [the] University of Washington with Ted Bundy. They were both psychology majors and had developed a friendship. My uncle Danny said that Ted seemed to be a relatively normal guy at the time. He used to be quite the ladies' man, apparently...
He told me how Bundy had an interest in binding women, particularly during sex. In fact, Bundy spoke with Danny about sex on many occasions. He used to tell him the types of horrific things he'd do to women. According to Bundy, the women were always consenting...
"He used to tell me about a little girl named Anne who had beautiful blue eyes and stunning blonde hair. He told me they were friends and she looked up to him. He claimed one day she vanished and he was devastated. Of course, now that I think about it, Ted probably killed her," he said, trying to hide his tears.
Uncle Danny's stories got more vivid, especially pertaining to Ted's sex life... But Ted felt it was never good enough.
"He asked me once, have you ever thought about [being intimate] with a corpse? But I laughed. I thought he was joking."
[And he also] told me how once him and Ted went to a party together. Ted ended up taking a girl home. When Danny asked how the date went, Ted didn't say anything. Instead, he stared at my uncle blankly.
The next day my uncle and Ted were driving around in his infamous Beetle. My uncle noticed how Ted's door handle was broken. He offered to fix it, but Ted declined. My uncle also smelled an awful stench coming from the car. When he asked Ted about the smell, he simply said that he'd ran over a raccoon and it got stuck in the frame of his car.
He'd also remembered Bundy looking at several different women on college campus. Bundy definitely had a type and uncle Danny caught up quickly. He preferred slim brunettes. In fact, he had set up Bundy with a fellow classmate.
Later on, he found out from the girl that Bundy was "a total freak." According to her, he came on a little too strong and she ran off. She never gave the details of exactly what happened between her and Bundy.
After Bundy graduated, he and my uncle still kept in touch. They'd write to one another. Ted would send very detailed letters to my uncle, most [were] about how upset he was with women and his family. He was very bitter.