Post by Graveyardbride on Nov 8, 2013 16:57:12 GMT -5
Update: November 8, 1974: Encounter with Ted Bundy
On Friday, November 8, 1974, 18-year-old Carol DaRonch (above) left her parent’s home in Murray, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, and drove to the Fashion Place Shopping Mall, the sort of shopping center that was popping up across the United States with large department stores at the ends and small shops in between. She parked her maroon Camaro in the lot near Sears and, because it was beginning to sprinkle, swiftly made her way into the store. Sears wasn’t her intended destination and she was soon inside the mall with its cheerful orange and yellow tiles directing the flow of traffic around benches, sculptures and plants. She wandered past the shops, stopping occasionally to inspect clothing displayed in the windows.
Those who knew Carol described her as “sweet” and “shy,” but those seeing her for the first time, would have said, first and foremost, that she was beautiful. A truly striking young woman with a thick mane of rich brown hair, Carol had graduated high school the previous spring and taken a job with Mountain Bell. But this was only temporary until she found the right man and married, as was expected of all respectable Mormon women.
As she neared Auerbach’s, she met one of her cousins and the two chatted a while. Then she saw a book in the window of Walden’s Books and as she peered through the glass, a young man who appeared to be in his 20s approached. He was articulate, soft-spoken and well-dressed in a sports jacket and, to the best of her recollection, dark green pants. Carol was used to strange men introducing themselves and there was nothing alarming about the attractive gentleman with the wavy brown hair and thin moustache. “Excuse me,” he began. “Do you have a car parked in the Sears lot?” She admitted she did and in a businesslike manner, he inquired, “Would you tell me the license plate number.” She told him it was KAD 032. “A Sears customer reported spotting a prowler trying to break into your car with a piece of wire,” he informed her. “Would you come with me to see if anything has been stolen?”
The trusting, naïve young woman didn’t think to ask the stranger how he knew the car someone was attempting to break into was hers and the two were soon on their way to the parking lot. As they strolled beneath the bright lights toward Sears, the man told her his “partner” had “probably apprehended the suspect” and that perhaps she could identify him. The parking lot was much darker and finally, the girl grew somewhat suspicious and mustered the courage to ask if she could see his ID. Later, she admitted his patronizing laugh made her feel “kind of dumb,” and she didn’t press the issue. When they reached her Camaro, she unlocked the driver’s door, looked inside and confirmed nothing was missing and there didn’t appear to be any damages. When her companion requested she open the passenger door, she got up the nerve to ask, “What for?” and told him she knew what was in her car and everything was there. But he tried the door anyway and at this point, she saw something shiny in his pocket and realized he was carrying handcuffs. But he wasn’t finished with her and quickly guided her back into the mall, explaining, “My partner must have gone up toward Castleton’s.” But when they arrived at Castleton’s, he glanced around again and announced, “My partner must have taken him to the substation on the other side of the mall. We’d better go there and identify him.”
By this point, Carol was thinking this was turning into a wild goose chase, still, she followed him back into the mall as he guided her north toward the Broadway. They walked through Farrell’s ice-cream shop and outside where there was still a misty rain. By now, they were in the north parking lot and once again, the girl grew suspicious and asked, “What did you say your name was?” He told her he was “Officer Roseland” of the Murray police department as he led her past Skaggs Drugs and across 61st Street to a combination laundromat/dry cleaner, where he knocked at a door bearing the number “139.” When no one answered, he turned to her and in an exasperated tone explained, “They must have taken him to headquarters. I really think you should sign a complaint against this individual. I’ll drive you down there and you can sign the complaint.”
After walking approximately a hundred feet along 61st Street, they came to Officer Roseland’s vehicle, which turned out to be a light-colored, somewhat beat-up VW Bug and though it seemed to be clean inside, there was a noticeable tear in the top of the rear seat. Growing ever more leery, Carol insisted, “I’d like to see your ID, please.” The officer removed his wallet from his pocket, flashed a gold-colored badge and smiled sympathetically as he motioned toward the car. He opened the door for her, then went around the front, got in and asked that she fasten her seatbelt. “No, it makes me nervous,” she replied. “I don’t want to put it on.”
He quickly made a U-turn, driving east on 61st toward 3rd East. Carol, becoming increasingly unsettled, wondered why he hadn’t gone to State Street. Now that they were inside the car, she could smell alcohol on her companion’s breath and thought it was strange that a police officer would be drinking on duty. On 60th South, he accelerated and pulled over into the bus lane near McMillan School so quickly that the car jumped the curb as he brought it to a stop and cut the engine. “What are you doing?!” the now frightened young woman demanded.
Instantly, she realized what was happening and immediately opened the door and had one foot on the ground when Roseland grabbed her wrist and slapped a handcuff on it. Now terrified, she struggled frantically and as they pushed and shoved each other in the cramped interior of the VW, the man became so flustered that he latched both cuffs on her right arm. By this point, Carol’s screaming, kicking and scratching were proving too much for her assailant. According to Ms. DaRonch’s later testimony, at this point, he drew a pistol, pointed it at her head and threatened to shoot her, shouting, “If you don’t be quiet, I’m going to kill you!” But with a final lunge, she was out of the car and Roseland dropped the pistol as he attempted to hold onto her. In an instant, he had grabbed a crowbar and was on her again. Carol, however, grabbed it before he could hit her, after which he pinned her against the car and jerked wildly at the weapon to loosen her grasp. With a frenzied kick, the girl freed herself and ran as quickly as she could up the street, directly into the path of an oncoming car. She jerked open the passenger door and jumped onto Mary Walsh, an older lady who could see the girl was absolutely terrified. “You’re safe, child, you’re safe,” Mrs. Walsh soothed the teenager. “You’re all right.” Wilbur Walsh, her husband, who was driving, attempted to see what had caused the girl’s terror, but the street appeared to be empty. “On a night like that, because it was dark, very dark, we naturally got frightened,” Mrs. Walsh said later. “But when I saw the state this child was in, I realized it couldn’t be anything harmful to me. It was harmful to her. I have never seen a human being that frightened in my life. She was trembling and crying and weak like she was going to faint. She was just in a terrible state.” Still, the older woman was confused by the handcuffs swinging and clinking on Carol’s wrist and for a brief moment, wondered if the girl was escaping the police.
Finally, Carol became coherent enough to gasp, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it,” as she clawed at the cuffs. Mary Walsh asked what happened and Carol sobbed, “He was going to kill me if I didn’t stop screaming and be quiet or he would kill me!”
As Wilbur Walsh drove toward the Murray police station, Carol revealed bits and pieces of her horrifying experience – a battered VW, a long piece of iron or crowbar, a gun, a last-ditch struggle with a man who said he was a police officer. When they reached the station, Walsh was assisting the young victim inside when she collapsed and had to be carried to the desk. It was at this time that Mrs. Walsh realized the girl was wearing only one shoe. In an attempt to calm the hysterical young woman, the sergeant asked her to look through a book of mug shots. Another officer searched the area near McMillan School and found the missing shoe. The police removed the Gerocal-brand handcuffs and dusted them for prints, but Carol’s pulling and tearing at the cuffs had obliterated any fingerprints. Detective Joel Reit patiently questioned Ms. DaRonch about her ordeal, but she was so shaken her answers were muddled. Little did he know that as he questioned Carol, another girl, just 20 minutes away, was about to meet “Officer Roseland.”
Dean and Belva Kent of Bountiful, Utah, were about to attend a high school production of The Redhead. Dean had suffered a massive heart attack a few weeks previous and this would be his first outing following his recovery. Blair, their 10-year-old son, wasn’t going to the play and his parents dropped him off at the Rustic Roller Rink on their way to Viewmont High and Mrs. Kent arranged to pick him up after the event ended around 10:00 p.m. It was 7:45 when they pulled into the west parking lot and made their way into the auditorium.
At that time, Arla Jensem, Viewmont’s drama and French teacher, had just seated her husband and headed up the aisle toward the dressing rooms. Mrs. Jensem was an attractive 24-year-old woman who wore her long brown hair parted in the middle – a popular style in 1974. Later, a police officer described the teacher as a “real knockout.” When she got about halfway to the dressing rooms, she encountered a well-dressed man who appeared to be in his late 20s, a man she subsequently described as “very good-looking,” around 6-feet-tall and weighing around 180 pounds, with medium-length wavy brown hair and a moustache which drooped slightly over his lips. He was interesting enough that she made a note of his attire: a dark-colored sports jacket with lighter dress slacks and well-polished shoes. “Excuse me,” he said, stopping her in the aisle, “but could you come out to the parking lot and try and identify a car for me?” Mrs. Jensem explained she was busy but would try to find someone to help him. However, he persisted, explaining it would take only “a few seconds.” But she was in the middle of something and brushed past him. The man’s insistence bothered her.
Thirty minutes later, Mrs. Jensem had prepared her students and as the script did not call for another costume change until intermission, she intended to relax and watch the play. When she encountered the same man, she managed a weak smile and said, “Hi, did you find anybody yet?” He did not reply, but his eyes followed her as she briskly walked into the auditorium. When she made her third trip down the corridor just before the break, the gentleman requesting information about an unidentified car was still there and approached her. “Hey, you know you look really nice,” he remarked. She mumbled a thank you and he continued, “Are you sure you couldn’t help me out with this car? It’d only take a few seconds.”
“I’m in a hurry right now, but my husband might be able to help you,” she replied as he came closer, almost touching her and blocking her way. At this point, she resolutely moved to the side and hurried toward the dressing rooms.
Seventeen-year-old Debra Kent (above) and her parents were seated on the west side of the auditorium near the back. The play hadn’t started on time and Dean was worried about being late picking up Blair at the skating rink. “Deb got up and walked into the lobby during intermission to call our boy because the show was running late," Belva Kent remembered, “but they wouldn’t accept a call at the rink. They said it was too big of a hassle to page kids or get a message to them.” Debi chatted with friends during intermission, went to the ladies’ room and returned to her seat a few minutes later. An acquaintance, Tina Hatch, went to the restroom also, then stood near the back during the play’s second half. She saw the same man Mrs. Jensem had encountered in the hallway near the theater’s west exit. He was about 15 feet behind where the Kents were sitting, but he wasn’t standing still and watching the performance like everyone else, he was pacing back and forth. When Mrs. Jensem returned from backstage, she also noticed him. He did not stay long, though, exiting through the west door about halfway through the second act. By this time the drama teacher had decided there was something strange about the man, despite his good looks, and thought to herself, “What a creep.”
The play continued and Debi, who was a member of the drama club and had already watched the production numerous times, volunteered to drive to the rink to pick up Blair. “Be careful and hurry back, Deb,” her mother whispered as the perky teenager got up to leave. The girl left the darkened auditorium through the west door just as The Redhead was building to its finale.
As the final curtain approached, Arla Jensen, exhausted and relieved, slumped into an aisle seat on the back row. Suddenly, the man from the hall, his hair mussed and breathing heavily as though he had just engaged in some sort of strenuous activity, took a seat across from her. She later recalled that people in front of him turned around, annoyed by his labored breathing. Just as the curtain calls began around 10:30, the guy with the moustache left through the auditorium’s main doors.
The Redhead had lifted the Kents’ spirits considerably. In the lobby, they waited patiently for their children, the Rustic Roller Rink being some distance from the school. But by the time almost everyone had left the building, they began to get nervous and walked outside. “We waited quite some time,” Dean Kent later recalled, “and finally decided to walk to our friends’ house nearby. That’s when we noticed that our car was still in the west parking lot. It was midnight when we got to the police station.”
“And they thought we were crazy,” Belva interjected, “because we said our daughter’s gone. She had only been gone from 10 to 12. They didn’t see anything wrong with that. I said, ‘Well, she’s not that type of a girl and she went to pick her brother up and has not returned. Dean has just had a heart attack. We went out tonight for the first time because she wanted to see the play so bad. She would not leave us stranded in the condition he’s in.’ And the police finally said ‘Okay,’ but they didn’t really get on it until the next morning.”
When Dean and Belva Kent arrived at their home, Belva phoned the doctor to request medication for her husband, then commenced to check with Debi’s friends and acquaintances. Dean used the other telephone line – they had a separate number for their teenage children – but no one had seen their daughter since intermission. Several neighbors organized an informal search of the Bountiful area in the early morning hours of Saturday. Another neighbor awakened Viewmont’s principal, insisting he return to the school to see if anyone had “played a joke and locked her in a room.” Finally, it took a call from Dean Kent to his LDS (Ladder Day Saints) bishop (a friend of the Bountiful police chief’s) to convince the police to take Debi’s disappearance seriously.
During his final hours, Bundy pointed to a location near Capital Reef National Park on a road map and told investigators it was where he had buried both Debra Kent’s corpse and that of 16-year-old cheerleader Nancy Wilcox, who disappeared from Holliday, Utah, October 2, 1974. During a three-month search, authorities collected 10 bags of bones, but only one, a patella (knee cap), was human and it was given to the Kent family. Belva Kent kept what she believed was all that remained of her daughter in a box and was reluctant to allow authorities to borrow it for DNA testing in 2015, fearing it would be misplaced. But she acquiesced and indeed, the patella turned out to be Debi’s. Authorities returned the bone to the family along with an official death certificate.
Sources: Ted Bundy: The Killer Next Door by Steven Winn and David Merrill; The Deliberate Stranger by Richard W. Larsen; The Salt Lake Tribune; The Deseret News; Vern Anderson, Associated Press, December 27, 1989; Websleuths; The Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1989; Andrew Adams, KSL TV, March 11, 2019; and Personal Files.
See also “January 31, 1974: The Disappearance of Lynda Healy”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/1074/january-1974-disappearance-lynda-healy
“July 14, 1974: Murder on a Sunday Afternoon”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/4028/july-1974-murder-sunday-afternoon