'I Survived Ted Bundy' by Rhonda Stapley Apr 28, 2016 12:58:45 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Apr 28, 2016 12:58:45 GMT -5
I Survived Ted Bundy by Rhonda Stapley
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – For more than 40 years, Rhonda Stapley kept a dark secret: On Oct. 11, 1974, the University of Utah pharmacy student was waiting for a tardy bus following a dental appointment when she accepted a ride from a passing driver. The man, who said he was also a Utah student, didn't drive her home. He had an errand to run by the Hogle Zoo, he said, and then when he started to drive up the canyon, that's when Stapley began to become worried. When the man finally pulled over and parked his Volkswagen Bug, he leaned way over, as if he were going to kiss Stapley, but instead said: "I'm going to kill you." Instantly, he wrapped his hands around her throat and she lost consciousness.
She was brutally attacked and raped before her attacker left her for dead. Stapley seized the moment and fled, stumbling miles through the darkness down the canyon. When she reached her apartment, she was too ashamed to tell anyone what had happened, until news accounts made her realize her attacker was Ted Bundy. "I would have been the second victim in Utah, had anyone known about me," the 62-year-old Salt Lake City woman says now.
Bundy, the law school's most famous dropout, was executed in Florida Jan. 24, 1989, for the murder and rape of a 12-year-old girl. He was convicted in two bludgeoning deaths at Florida State University, known as the Chi Omega murders, but was considered a serial murderer, suspected of dozens of slayings in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Utah.
A couple years ago, Stapley says her memories were triggered by a difficult patch at work and she began counseling with a therapist, who coaxed out her long-buried secret. Stapley says she felt relief from her years-long guilt and shame after she recounted the attack. The therapist diagnosed her as having posttraumatic stress disorder.
Now she's written an account of her attack, I Survived Ted Bundy: The Attack, Escape and PTSD That Changed My Life, which was edited and published by Leslie Rule of the Seattle-area Galaxy-44 publishing company. The book was released Tuesday and Stapley launched it with an appearance on the Dr. Phil show. Stapley asked The Tribune to use her maiden name, which was the name she used to publish the book.
Rule is the daughter of author Ann Rule, who wrote a definitive true-crime book about Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me, published in 1980. Before Ann Rule's death last summer, the writer contributed a foreword for Stapley's book. "It is an absolute miracle that she escaped," says Leslie Rule. "And the fact that she was able to rise above it, graduate, become a pharmacist, raise a family and have a pretty good life."
Rule says over the years, she and her mother had received hundreds of emails and letters from women who thought they had encounters with Bundy. When she first read Stapley's account, Rule says she was "blown away." She adds,"It just had the ring of truth to it. We were so moved by what she had been through and the fact that she was such a survivor."
Before publishing the book, Leslie Rule checked out the contours of Stapley's story by comparing the timeline of the attack to the details in Bundy's FBI files and conferred with Stapley's psychiatrist.
As for Stapley, she knows she'll attract criticism for coming forward now, all these years later. Because she didn't report the attack, there's little corroborating evidence. She says she was terrified to appear on national television. But she adds that she wants to help others who have been sexually assaulted, or those who might not understand the effects and complications of PTSD. Her daughters and husband say they are proud of her. And she hopes her story of recovery will help others find the courage to tell their stories.
Source: Ellen Fagg West, The Salt Lake Tribune, April 27, 2016.