Ted Bundy's Missing Victims: Georgeann Hawkins and Julie Cunningham
Most people have heard about Ted Bundy, a murderer, rapist, and necrophiliac who preyed upon women during the 1970s. With the release of the 2019 film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” new interest has peaked as a new generation learns about Bundy’s numerous and grotesque crimes.
Bundy’s known victims are white, slender, and pretty young women with long brown hair, usually parted in the middle. He commonly used a ruse to get the women into his yellow Volkswagen Beetle, such as pretending his arm was in a sling or using crutches to feign needing help carrying books. As he used crutches to appear disabled, Bundy would get his victims to the small Volkswagen that he had modified by taking the passenger seat out. This enabled him to fit his victims in his car, on the floorboard, and travel without them being seen.
Once Bundy got the women close to his vehicle, he would disable them by hitting them on the head, then take them to a remote location where he would torture and murder them.
While his story is well known, it is not the same for his victims. We are left wondering how many women Bundy really did kill. We may never know for sure.
In 1975, Julie, 26, was strikingly beautiful, with dark, long, silky hair, parted in the middle. She was a young woman with dreams of settling down with a family.
Julie lived in a quaint apartment in the Apollo Park neighborhood in Vail, Colorado. Julie resided with a girlfriend and worked as a clerk in a sporting goods store. She was also a part-time ski instructor. Julie had grown tired of living in the “ski bum” atmosphere of Vail because she wanted to pursue true love and children. However, Julie didn’t have the best luck when it came to men.
Unlucky in Love
According to Whereabouts Still Unknown, right before Julie’s disappearance, she had just been dumped by a man who had asked her to go to Sun Valley with him for a vacation. When they arrived at the Broadmoor Resort, one of Colorado’s most iconic luxury hotels, Julie had high hopes for the relationship, but while there she found out he had no intention of having a long-term relationship with her. She left devastated.
In Ann Rule’s book Stranger Beside Me, she wrote:
“On the Saturday night of March 15, Julie didn’t have a date. She called her mother that evening, feeling a little better when she hung up just before nine. She decided to get out of her apartment, and, wearing blue jeans, a brown suede jacket, boots, and a ski cap, headed for a tavern a few blocks away. Her roommate was there. She could have a beer or two. There was always tomorrow.”
It has been questioned if Julie had met Bundy prior to the night she vanished. Back in 1975, a Vail newspaper reported that the evening of Julie’s disappearance, Julie had been seen by several people at a local bar with a man who she referred to as “Ted,” who had said he was an attorney.
By Bundy’s own accounts of that fateful evening on March 15, 1975, we know he used his typical guise to abduct Julie. According to Bundy’s confession tapes, he approached Julie as she walked down a road in town, and they exchanged pleasantries.
As Bundy crutched toward his car, he claims to have fumbled with his ski boots and asked Julie for help. “I told her that I needed a little help to get to my car, it was parked only a short distance down the road in the direction she was walking,” Bundy told investigators.
Vail Daily reported that when Bundy and Julie got to the car and when Julie was within reach, he knocked her unconscious with a crowbar, handcuffed her and stuffed her in the front trunk of the Volkswagen.
With Julie in his trunk, Bundy drove west on Interstate 70, exiting on a state road that he took toward a lake. He then took a turn onto an unpaved road he described as circular that was located north of Rifle, Colorado. The approximate location is thought to be a little over an hour away from where he kidnapped Julie in Vail.
There, in an area partially secluded by Juniper trees and surrounded by buttes, Bundy claims he yanked Julie out of the trunk, raped and strangled her to death. What happened in between the time he arrived at the desert location and the time he murdered her is what nightmares are made of.
Bundy was known to have kept his victims alive for hours while he tortured them.
According to the book The Bundy Murders by Keith Sullivan:
“Ted Bundy would kill Julie Cunningham shortly after arriving at this location. Her death, however, would come only after Bundy had sufficiently toyed with her. Having attacked her in the car, Bundy choked her until she passed out. He then had sex with her and deliberately left the passenger door open and waited for her to wake up. When she came to, she perceived the open door as a possible avenue of freedom (just as Bundy hoped she would) and immediately jumped out of the car and started running for the road. But there was no one around this isolated area for miles, and after letting her run and scream for a short distance, the very athletic law student chased her down and strangled her to death. Pulling the body under a juniper tree, he left the completely nude remains, gathered up her clothing and personal items and left the area. Having placed everything in a large trash bag, he tossed it into a dumpster somewhere down the road."
"Bundy admitted driving back to this spot all the way from Salt Lake City on two separate occasions. On his second trip, he buried the body (or what was left of it), he said.”
In a three-hour confession, Bundy detailed the murder of Julie to Vail police detective Matt Lindvall. He said he returned to the location a month later to bury Julie’s remains in a shallow grave only two to three feet deep. When Lindvall asked why he returned to the body, Bundy replied, “I don’t know why. I just sometimes do that.”
It is unknown what Bundy told investigators about his visits back to Julie’s body, but Bundy is known to return to his deceased victims and have sex with their bodies.
In February 2019, Commander Ryan Kenny of the Vail Police Department told Denver 7 News that new leads in the case continue to affect the family and community. “There have been several TV programs that have kind of resurfaced, and kind of dredged up what happened in the past and I think it’s kind of difficult for the victim’s families to go through this over and over again,” Kenny said. “And this area here, it did impact this area here quite a bit and it is quite a painful experience to go through again.”
The area where Julie’s murder is thought to have occurred has not been searched in over 40 years. “Our hopes were, as time went on, that someone in the back tree would run into – you know, some sign of her back there and that we could give the family some closure,” said Commander Kenny. “But up to this point, it has not happened.”
The entire story of Julie Cunningham’s abduction and murder may never be known, and one must rely on the “last hours” confession of a serial killer. However, Commander Kenny said police are “fairly confident” they know what happened to Julie.
“We hope to someday find her remains and that we can provide her a proper burial that she deserves,” said Commander Kenny. “This is not something that the Vail Police Department or Vail community will ever forget about and we remain vigilant to never let something like this happen again.”
Julie Cunningham is still listed as missing with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
On the evening of June 10, 1974, Georgeann Hawkins was on her way back to her sorority house and stopped by her boyfriend’s dormitory, only six houses down from her own. She talked to him through an open window and continued down an alley that was brightly lit toward her own dorm. She hurried as she had to cram for her Spanish final a few hours later.
Her roommate became worried when Georgeann did not return by 2:00 a.m. and called Georgeann’s boyfriend who said she had left at approximately 1:00 a.m. Police were notified and a search ensued. Because there had been other disappearances of young women, police conducted an extensive search of the school and area.
It was later learned that a campus housemother had heard a woman’s scream in the early morning hours of June 11, but she thought maybe students were playing a joke and went back to sleep. Georgeann was never seen again.
Georgeann, 18, was a student at the University of Washington in 1974 and a member of the on-campus sorority Kappa Alpha Theta.
In the Green Valley News, Georgeann’s mother Edie Hawkins describes her daughter as a wiggle worm who loved to talk and just couldn’t sit still. Edie called Georgeann the “Pied Piper” because people loved to be around her.
“She had quite the following, but she was not the kind of person who stuck to one group of cliques. She had friends among everybody, older than her and younger than her,” Edie said.
Georgeann attended Lake High School, was a cheerleader and was named Princess of Washington Daffodil Festival. The 81-year-old festival is still one of the biggest events in the state.
Georgeann was regularly in the newspapers, riding in parades, signing autographs at charity events. The highlight of her trips was the trip to the State Legislature, where Georgeann addressed lawmakers in spring 1973.
Georgeann lived on campus at the University of Washington. Her mom and dad paid for tuition, her room, and books while Georgeann worked a summer job to pay for everything else, Edie told a Green Valley News reporter.
Georgeann was studying television journalism. Edie said the Watergate hearings were going on that year, but she doesn’t think that is what made Georgeann decide to go into journalism. Georgeann loved the camera and being in the middle of the action.
“It’s obvious from the pictures that she was enjoying herself, Edie said of Georgeann’s freshman year. “And she enjoyed the sorority house.”
What happened to Georgeann that night in the summer of 1974 is only known by Ted Bundy’s own death-row confession tapes.
Prior to his execution, Bundy admitted to investigators that he used the crutches ruse to get Georgeann to carry a briefcase to his car. There, he hit her over the head with a crowbar he often kept hidden under his parked car, then handcuffed her.
Bundy placed Georgeann on the passenger side of his vehicle and sped away toward Lake Sammamish, approximately 20 miles away. Bundy said Georgeann woke up while he was driving, so he knocked her out again.
Bundy went on to tell Seattle Detective Robert Keppel that Georgeann was quite lucid in the car. “And she thought she had a Spanish test the next day, and she thought I had taken her to help tutor me for a Spanish test. It was kind of odd. An odd thing to say,” said Bundy.
Once at the location, Bundy claims he took Georgeann out of the car and knocked her unconscious, then strangled her with an old piece of rope. By sunrise, Ted packed up his car and drove east on Interstate 90, throwing everything out of his car, the briefcase, crutches, the ropes, Georgeann’s clothing, and shoes.
Trying to convince Keppel that he was telling the truth, Bundy told him personal information about Georgeann that only he would know. “She said everyone called her George,” Bundy told Keppel. “Or how about this; she used a safety pin because apparently her blue slacks were a bit too big.”
When Keppel asked Bundy why he returned to the scene, “Were you going back to that scene to commit sex acts?”
Bundy responded, “Well, I don’t wanna talk about that right now. We will talk about it someday, but I don’t have enough to give you background on that. I want us to work into that.”
Bundy proceeded to whisper to Keppel, “The Hawkins girl’s head was severed and taken up the road about twenty-five to fifty yards and buried in a location about ten yards west of the road on a rocky hillside. Did you hear that?”
Police were confident they knew what happened to Georgeann, but they just weren’t sure of the location. To date, Georgeann is still listed as missing.
At one point, Bundy told investigators that, in fact, Hawkins was located by police one mile east of an old railroad trestle just outside of Issaquah, a popular burial ground for Bundy where several other bodies had been located but the remains located have never been identified as Georgeann’s.
Ted Bundy was executed on January 24, 1989, and with him, many answers to longstanding mysteries.
Never the Same
Edie and her husband Warren, who died in 2003, gave no interviews to the media over the years.
“I was very, very angry and very bitter, and that was one of the reasons I didn’t want to talk,” Edie said referring to the media. “Not only that but angry, bitter and guilty – you think, what did I do that this . . . you know . . .”
Warren was always quiet and very protective of Edie. When Bundy was executed, friends of Georgeann’s held a memorial for her. Edie and Warren did not attend. She has not kept in touch with anyone from Georgeann’s life, putting up a protective barrier so to speak.
“I wanted it that way,” said Edie.
“I’ve never, ever, ever dwelt on how she died. I didn’t want to know how she died.”
Decades later, she read about the murder and Bundy’s taped confessions on the Internet and found it horrifying but she prefers not to remember Georgeann that way.
“I’ve thought about forgiving him, Edie told Green Valley News. “How could you forgive somebody who hurt your child? I’m not that gracious of an individual.
Edie prefers to leave it up to God. “Somebody said leave vengeance up to God, and that I am.”
© 2020 Kym L Pasqualini