Sorority house horror: Frenzied 3 am attack by Ted Bundy that left two girls dead and one with a broken jaw

The Chi Omega house attack on January 14, 1978, was one of the most brutal attacks in serial killer history


                            Sorority house horror: Frenzied 3 am attack by Ted Bundy that left two girls dead and one with a broken jaw
(Getty Images)
ADVERTISEMENT

After killing dozens of women in different cities of the US, Ted Bundy was arrested in 1975. A year later he was facing trial, and people of the country were feeling safe while survivors were excited at the prospect of their tormentor being sentenced. But their happiness soon faded when one of the most notorious serial killers of all time escaped. After his failed attempt in June 1977, Bundy successfully fled six months later in December, and became more dangerous and ruthless than ever. “Ted was no longer charming. He was looking at women to ravage and eat them. He would look at you, but not you, through you,” says crime writer Shirley Lynn Scott in part 2 of Reelz’s documentary 'Ted Bundy: The Survivors', which focuses on Bundy’s survivors.

ADVERTISEMENT

After traveling across a number of states, Bundy reached Tallahassee, Florida, where he tried to lure a woman at a local bar. But the woman listened to her instincts and brushed him off. The encounter with the woman at the bar left Bundy hunting for his prey more desperately than ever, and in that search, he arrived at the Chi Omega house at around 3 am on January 14, 1978, when one of the most brutal attacks in serial killer history happened. The fateful day was a weekend and most of the sorority sisters were out except for four women -- Kathy Kleiner Rubin, Margaret Bowman, Karen Chandler, and Lisa Levy -- when Bundy entered through the backdoor of the house.

ADVERTISEMENT

“For a couple of days, the lock was broken. Bundy watched someone going through the door and saw that it was not locked and waited. There was a pile of wood that was outside the door that we used for the fireplace. He picks up the log and walks slowly through the house and walks to Margaret's room. She was alone that weekend.  He attacked her, strangled her, and killed her. When he left, he put the sheets up to her neck to look like she was sleeping,” Kathy, one of Bundy’s survivors, says. After killing Margaret, Bundy went into Lisa's room, where she too was alone. He attacked and killed her - taking two lives within minutes.

ADVERTISEMENT

After killing both the women, Bundy entered Kathy’s room where she was sleeping with her roommate Karen. “What woke me up... between the beds with little trunks, we had our books on it and he didn't see it and tripped over it. And made a lot of noise, so now I am opening and trying to focus my eyes. Not knowing what I was looking at. And there was a dark shape, a dark figure that I couldn't make it out,” Kathy recalls in the documentary.

ADVERTISEMENT

The very next moment Bundy attacked Kathy with the log. “I saw his arm raised up and then it hit me. He brought it down and hit my face with such force that it shattered my jaw. It cut my cheek right open, you could see the inside of my mouth,” she says. The criminal then turned towards her roommate Karen, hit her and rendered her unconscious. According to the documentary, Bundy had no intention of leaving behind a survivor, so when he heard Kathy moaning in pain, he turned towards her to hit her again. But as luck was on her and her roommate’s side, a car light lit up the bedroom, making Bundy freeze and then run. “When the light showed into our room he left, I stayed there ball crunching because I thought he would come again. I thought he would back again and attack me, that’s when I was scared,” Kathy says.

After the attack, one of the sorority sisters found a blood-covered Karen standing in the hallway. “They came into the room, turned on the light and that’s when they saw me in my bed bloodied. They called 911. I was in and out of consciousness. I saw one officer and made me feel so safe because I was sure that person was not going to come back,” Kathy mentions.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, for Bundy, his hunting spree for the night had not ended as he stalked and attacked 21-year-old dancer Cheryl Thomas a few blocks away from the Chi Omega house. “It was like a shark strolling the sea looking for food,” Kevin Sullivan, author of ‘The Bundy Murders’, says. While Larry Simpson, former Florida state prosecutor, said of Thomas: “She lost many teeth. She lost hearing and one of her ears. She was really really hurt.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Kathleen McChesney, former King County Detective, says: “The outrage nationally about these cases was widespread. Once again you know you had young women who were victims, who were expected to be you know protected in their sorority house, protected by their school community and it did not happen. So parents and other students were very upset and concerned, and of course fearful.” Simpson adds: “All of a sudden everyone was locking their doors, everybody was worried about themselves.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The gory attack left investigators wondering how this could happen in a quiet college community, but they soon received answers to their questions when their colleagues in Washington and Colorado called them and gave every detail they had about their prime suspect, who had escaped from jail after assaulting and murdering several women. Florida investigators now feared the worst, they had a serial killer on the loose, and who had stooped so low after the sorority house massacre that he started targeting underage girls.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bundy’s last victim was 12-year-old girl Kimberly Diane Leach, a popular straight-A student at Lake City, Florida. On February 9, 1978, she was returning to class after retrieving the purse she had left behind in her room when the predator approached her, eventually luring her into his stolen car. He sexually assaulted Leach before slitting her throat with a knife. “His need for women became so overwhelming he can no longer be bothered with the rules. He has to go to schools to approach young very young girls, 12-year-old, 11-year-old, 14-year-olds. It's beyond inhumane, it's just monstrous. It’s so sick,” Scott explains.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Bundy’s evil deeds ended on February 15 the same year when a patrol officer detained him as he was driving a stolen Volkswagen. At Pensacola, Florida, he initially played cat and mouse with investigators, before giving his true identity. The news leaked out and soon the world got to know that Bundy was in Pensacola police custody. When investigators asked him about the Chi Omega incident, he reacted strangely. He appeared upset, even cheerful but did not give any info and explanation. They also asked him about Leach and in response they got a terrifying answer. “I cannot do that to you. The site is too horrible to look at. I am the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you will ever meet,” Bundy told investigators.

ADVERTISEMENT

But weeks later, Leach’s body was found. “I felt so bad for her and her family that it just ached inside,” Kathy says. In 1979, Bundy was facing trial for Lisa and Margaret’s murder, and the attempted murders of Kathy, Karen, and Cheryl. “When the defense asked me is this the man you saw in your room and I said no because I did not see his face that night and it sickened me. Our eyes kind of locked and I stared at him the whole time. The feeling of looking at him & not running away. That was my victory,” Kathy says.

Bundy was sentenced to death in the electric chair for the murders of Lisa and Margaret. Six months later, on January 21, 1980, in Orlando, Florida, Bundy faced a second trial for the murder of Leach. After being found guilty of kidnapping and murder, he was given a life sentence for kidnapping and sentenced to death in the electric chair for the murder of the girl. He was facing two death sentences and tried numerous times to appeal against them, but failed; and on January 24, 1989, his infamous saga ended when Bundy faced the electric chair. At 7:16 am he was pronounced dead.

Part 2 of 'Ted Bundy: The Survivors' titled 'Ending the Evil' will release on October 10 at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT.

ADVERTISEMENT