Two women who survived Ted Bundy’s last attacks are coming forward to share how the serial killer’s reign of terror continues to haunt them.
Karen Pryor and Cheryl Thomas appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” Tuesday and described escaping death.
Insider.com reported that in 1978, Bundy headed to Tallahassee, Fla., and attacked women in the Florida State University Chi Omega sorority house. He had been living in an apartment near the university under the pseudonym Chris Hagen.
According to the outlet, Bundy broke into Chi Omega while members were asleep. He beat and strangled Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy. He also beat Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner -- but somehow they survived.
In addition to the women in the Chi Omega house, Bundy also attacked Cheryl Thomas in her home that same night, just a few blocks away. The outlet shared that Bundy broke Thomas’ jaw and severed a nerve ending near her ear.
That same year, Bundy abducted Kimberly Leach at her junior high school. The strangled 12-year-old’s body was later found. He was arrested within a week of Leach’s murder after police stopped him over a stolen vehicle.
“I had a skull fracture,” Chandler, who now goes by Karen Pryor, told Dr. Oz. “Most of my bones were broken in my face, my jaw, my orbital bones, my nose. I had teeth knocked out, and my face was cut. Apparently, after he had attacked me, I reacted by trying to protect myself. So he broke my arm and crushed my finger.”
Thomas shared it was neighbors who saved her life.
“I had two neighbors next door to the duplex that I lived in and they hear something happening next door,” she explained. “They could hear it through the wall. So they called my house. We had landlines then and it rang and rang and rang and I didn’t answer. But during the ringing, they heard sort of running in the house.”
“He ran and shoved a big chair in front of the entrance door to my house and then he ran back through to climb through the kitchen windows,” Thomas continued. “So, they heard this coming on and I think I was moaning. … They called the police.”
Bundy was executed in 1989 at the age of 42. It is believed he'd killed at least 30 people.
This year, Bundy was the subject of a Netflix docuseries, titled “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” as well as the biopic “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Evil,” both by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger. The film starred Zac Efron as the murderer.
Pryor and Thomas told Dr. Oz they wanted to move on with their lives after the heinous attacks.
“I wanted my life back,” said Pryor. “I didn’t want my life to change. I was happy, I was about to graduate, and I wanted my life back. You weren’t going to take that away from me.”
“I have a lot of support from family, community, Tallahassee, the police department, the sheriffs,” said Thomas. “There were a lot of people that wanted me to succeed, and they were like hugging you all the time. If not in person, you knew that they had the power within them.”
Earlier this year, Bundy survivor Carol DaRonch told People magazine she participated in “Conversations with a Killer” to provide insight into Bundy's deranged mind. She said that while the media has become fascinated by Bundy’s good looks and charm over the years, she had a completely different impression of him.
“I thought he was kind of creepy,” she admitted. “I thought he was a lot older than he was.”
People magazine shared Bundy approached the then-18-year-old at a mall in Murray, Utah, while she was out shopping one night in November 1974. As with other targets, Bundy lured DaRonch to his Volkswagen. He claimed to be a police officer investigating a break-in of her own vehicle. DaRonch admitted she felt at ease when Bundy flashed his badge and agreed to join him for a ride to the police station.
DaRonch noted she smelled alcohol on his breath. Bundy would later say behind bars that he usually drank heavily before killing.
Once the pair were inside the Volkswagen, Bundy suggested DaRonch put her seatbelt on as they drove about a half-mile away from the mall. She declined. Soon after, he unsuccessfully tried to handcuff both of her wrists.
“He headed down a side street and then he suddenly pulled over up on the side of the curb up by an elementary school and that’s when I just started freaking out: ‘What are we doing?’” DaRonch recalled in the documentary. “And he grabbed my arm and he got one handcuff on one wrist and he didn’t get the other one on and the one was just dangling. I had never been so frightened in my entire life.”
“I thought, ‘My God, my parents are never going to know what happened to me,’” she recalled.
People shared that though Bundy had a crowbar and a gun, DaRonch was able to get out of the car. But DaRonch’s fight for her life didn’t end there.
“I was able to open the door on my side and get out, and he came out after me over the seat, and we just fought outside of the car,” DaRonch told the magazine.
By the side of the road, Bundy tried to bludgeon her into submission. The magazine said that's when Wilbur and Mary Walsh approached them in a car from the opposite direction.
DaRonch, still hysterical, made a break for the vehicle. Bundy’s pair of handcuffs still dangled from her wrist.
Later that same night, Bundy made 17-year-old Debra Kent his next victim.
DaRonch said that despite previous reports claiming she was tearful while testifying against Bundy, she felt the complete opposite.
“I was totally happy to do it,” said DaRonch. “I thought that the sentence he got [for kidnapping], the one to 15 years, I thought it wasn’t enough. I thought, ‘This monster tried to murder me, and he might be out in two years.’ I thought, ‘I will go and help them get a murder conviction and have him put away.’ So I never felt that I wouldn’t testify. I thought it was really important that I do.”
The publication noted that after being found guilty in Utah, Bundy was sent to Colorado to be tried for murdering 23-year-old Caryn Campbell. DaRonch pursued him to Aspen, where by that time, Bundy was acting as his own attorney, which allowed him to cross-examine DaRonch.
“He was so arrogant,” she recalled. “I just think he thought he was going to get away with everything.”
“My relationship with him was purely to make him pay for what he had done,” she added.
DaRonch said that while she became more cautious of strangers and less trusting, her life “continued normally.” She earned a degree in business management and lives together with her partner of more than 15 years in the same part of Utah, around Salt Lake City, where she was living with her parents when Bundy first approached her.
“I was able to detach myself from an event that could have ruined my life,” she said. “It may not be a reasonable solution for everyone, but it is how I have been able to move on.”
DaRonch said it was her 28-year-old son, Levi, who convinced her to participate in the Netflix series.
“Even reliving it now, I’m not entirely comfortable,” she said. “I enjoy my anonymity — when I have it. I also realize that it is an important story to tell, and if someone can benefit in a positive way from it, then that’s what I want.”
DaRonch said she loves living in Utah, where she enjoys the outdoors. And since “The Ted Bundy Tapes” premiered in late January, numerous people have approached her with positive comments.
“It is still hard for me to talk about his victims and their families,” she said. “Bundy destroyed a lot of lives, and I came so close.”