Salt Lake County Sheriff Pete Hayward said detectives will travel to Florida to interview convicted serial killer Ted Bundy for information about his Utah victims before he is executed Jan. 24.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied an appeal to set aside Bundy's death sentence. Bundy, 42, was convicted of murdering 12-year-old Kimberly Leach in Lake City, Fla. He also received death sentences for the 1978 killings of two Florida State University sororitywomen.After the high court decision was handed down, Florida Gov. Bob Martinez signed a death warrant saying Bundy would be electrocuted at 7 a.m. Jan 24, according to Andrea Hillyer, assistant general counsel to the governor. This is Florida's fourth signed death warrant for Bundy, the second for the Leach murder. The warrant is good until Jan. 30.
"We certainly would like to see if there is any possibility of getting in to talk to Bundy to see if we might be able to locate the bodies," Hayward said Tuesday morning. "We hope that we might be able to talk to him."
Hayward said Bundy has the habit of talking about himself in the third-person, and detectives who have worked on the case over the years have come to better understand how his mind works.
Hayward said Florida officials have been cooperative in the past, but previous efforts were thwarted by Bundy. But the sheriff said Bundy might agree to a meeting if he thinks his appeals are exhausted.
Bundy, a former University of Utah law student, has been linked to 36 cases involving missing women or murdered women, in Utah, Colorado and Washington.
James Coleman Jr., Bundy's Washington, D.C., defense attorney, said he plans to file an appeal, first in state court, then federal court. "We've got seven days to try to convince a court that they ought to stay an execution," Coleman said.
"I certainly wouldn't predict that we are going to stop the execution, because with a seven-day warrant, the advantage is theirs."
Coleman said on high-profile cases with high-pressure deadlines involving seven-day death warrants such as Bundy's, constitutional claims can fall by the wayside when decisions are handed down in hours instead of the usual weeks. The danger is that such decisions are recorded and become precedents, while later it is assumed that all the legal issues were considered.
"Look at how quickly decisions are made. The decisions are written before the arguments, and that's a very scary thought in a democracy." Salt Lake County sheriff's officials believe Bundy was responsible for a rash of unsolved female disappearances in the fall of 1974: Nancy Wilcox, 16, Holladay; Melissa Smith, 17, Midvale; Laura Anna Aime, 17, Lehi; and Debra Kent, 17, Bountiful.
Also in question is whether Bundy was responsible for the disappearance of Nancy Baird, 23, Layton, who vanished July 4, 1975. Bundy was convicted of connection with the Nov. 8, 1974, kidnapping of Carol DaRonch from the Fashion Place Mall in Murray.
In the latest effort to commute his death sentence, Bundy's defense team argued in front of the nation's highest court that the former law student wasn't mentally competent when he was tried for the Leach murder. His defense attorneys say they plan to file another stay, if not in state courts, then in federal courts.
While law enforcement officials have been unable to conclusively prove that Bundy was responsible for the unsolved cases, relatives have long been counting on a final interview, in hopes that Bundy would reveal where he hid the bodies.
Debra Kent's mother, Belva Kent, has said that while police speculate, she knows Bundy is responable for kidnapping, sexually abusing and killing her daughter.
"About the only thing I can tell you is I'm glad," said Jerry Thompson, a detective for the Salt Lake County sheriff's office. "I hope it goes through."