It’s a strange thing to remember that serial killers had full lives before, and often after, they began committing murders. They passed through the lives of as many people as you or I do, as many shop owners, bartenders, baristas, and cab drivers, who probably would never remember the interaction they had. But there are those who had more time with these people, enough that when the headlines broke, they knew exactly who the sinister face on the television belonged to. One such person has been speaking out for the first time, and has been called a friend of deceased serial killer Ted Bundy.
Marylynne Chino, a woman who lived in Seattle at the same time as Bundy, gave an interview recalling the time she spent with him as he was dating her best friend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, the woman who would ultimately help to get Bundy arrested. At the time, Elizabeth was working as a secretary at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
It was the fall of 1969 and Marylynne and Elizabeth walked into the Sandpiper Lounge, a local bar. “I’ve never forgotten this. I walked in, and across the room, I saw Ted for the first time. I will never forget the look on his face, it wasn’t evil but he was staring nursing a beer.”
Nothing about Ted was off-putting to either woman initially. “Ted was charismatic, he was nice,” Marylynne said. And of course, as everyone knows, Ted Bundy was handsome. It wouldn’t be until 1971 that he would kill his first (known) victim, but in 1969 he had attempted to kidnap a woman in Ocean City, NJ. It seems that these women stumbled upon Bundy right as he was transforming into the man he would become: one of the most brutal killers America has ever seen.
Elizabeth and Bundy began dating, and she eventually spent the night at his home. This is when she called up Marylynne to let her know about the strange things she had seen while there, and Marylynne’s opinion of this new man changed dramatically.
“There were women’s underwear there and the plaster of Paris,” is what Marylynne heard from Elizabeth. The plaster would be used to make the fake casts that Bundy used to elicit sympathy from his victims, luring them near his car by asking for help and then kidnapping them. Elizabeth said that when she questioned Bundy about the items, she was threatened.
“She said 'what is this?' And he said to her, ‘if you ever tell anyone this I’ll break your effing head.’” Marylynne stated. She also stated that Elizabeth decided to ignore this troubling behavior for the time being and continued to see Bundy, despite Marylynne’s concerns.
Elizabeth told police a similar story about the year before her and Ted split: “Ted went out a lot in the middle of the night. And I didn’t know where he went. Then he napped during the day. And I found things, things I couldn’t understand.” These items also included crutches, a meat cleaver, surgical gloves, and a sack full of women's clothing.
Marylynne recalled a time that Bundy offered her a ride, one she very much wanted to reject. “I didn’t want him to take me home but I live far enough away and she was there and she said I’ll take you home, and Ted jumped in, ‘oh no I’ll take her don’t worry.’”
Nothing happened to Marylynne on that drive, but she said it was the longest 30 minutes of her life. Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah’s law school in 1973. But Marylynne didn’t forget the troubling figure. “He goes to Salt Lake, and guess what, people start to disappear from Salt Lake.”
After several women were discovered missing in Washington State, they heard the description of the serial killer’s vehicle on the news and saw a composite sketch of a man they believed they recognized to be Bundy. They rushed to check with police. “We were flabbergasted ourselves because we knew him,” Marylynne said.
She continued: “We went to a pay phone and I called, (and asked police) now you’re sure it was bronze, yes we’re absolutely sure, and I said ‘thank you’ I went back to Liz and I said, ‘we have nothing to worry about, it’s a bronze Volkswagen.’” Of course, Bundy’s Beetle was actually tan, and this error may have kept him free longer than he would have been otherwise.
When they heard about more women disappearing from the Salt Lake City area, they knew they needed to let police know about Bundy. “I remember calling my dad and he said, and I never forgot it, I just don’t know, and this I what he said to me: 'Marylynne, if he did it once he’ll do it again,’ and that’s’ exactly what happened.”
Unfortunately, police were receiving around 500 tips daily, so Marylynne and Elizabeth’s tip didn’t stand out enough to make an arrest. Had police heeded the information that the women were presenting in 1974, the story of Ted Bundy would be very different, and many lives could have been saved.
Strangely, Elizabeth continued to date Bundy even after reporting him to police. Marylynne did not comment on this. The two remained in contact until Bundy was executed, and he apparently told her that he had stayed away from her purposefully "when he felt the power of his sickness building in him."
Marylynne knows that both she and Elizabeth could have very easily become one of Bundy’s at least 30 victims: “I’m lucky to be alive. Why not me? I don’t believe people who say he wouldn’t hurt people he knows. I don’t believe it. Why didn’t he hurt you? My honest answer, I think, I had more to do in this life that’s the only thing I can tell you.”