Salt Lake Sheriff's Detective Dennis Couch will take 22 years of professional training into Sunday's scheduled interview with convicted killer Ted Bundy.
Couch hopes it will be enough to find the answers he has been seeking for 14 years, since he was first assigned to the case of Melissa Smith, 17, Midvale, who disappeared Oct. 18, 1974. Her body, beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted, was found nine days later in Summit Park. The battered and sexually abused body of Laura Anna Aime, 17, Lehi, who disappeared Oct. 31, 1974, was discovered nearly a month later in American Fork Canyon.Couch will also ask Bundy about Nancy Wilcox, 16, Holladay, who disappeared Oct. 2, 1974; Deborah Kent, 17, Bountiful, who disappeared Nov. 8, 1974; and Nancy Baird, 23, Layton, who disappeared July 4, 1975. The bodies of those three young women have never been found.
"I just hope we can get enough information after 14 years to find those three girls," Couch said.
Salt Lake police on Friday asked Couch to add the disappearance of Debbie Smith, 17, whose body was found near the Salt Lake International Airport April 1, 1976, to the list of questions for Bundy.
Speaking from his Starke, Fla., hotel room, Couch said he plans to handle the interview as he would for a normal homicide case, though the frenzy surrounding Bundy's scheduled date with the electric chair Tuesday makes the case transcend other unsolved murder cases. Couch said he has been ambushed by the press in Florida and has been unable to meet with the other law enforcement officials who have talked with Bundy.
Bundy talked Friday with Bill Hagmaier of the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit in Quantico, Va., and Robert Kepple of the Washington state attorney general's office. Bob Sexton, of the Colorado attorney general's office, has an interview scheduled Monday.
Bundy is suspected in some three dozen unsolved cases involving murders of young women or disappearances in Utah, Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
Bundy is on his fourth death warrant and the second for the murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Diane Leach, a seventh-grader who disappeared from her school in Lake City, Fla., on Feb. 9, 1978.
He also was sentenced to die - and twice spared - for the Jan. 15, 1978, bludgeoning murders of Lisa Levi, 21, and Margaret Bowman, 20, in the Chi Omega sorority house on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee.
Couch said it is baffling to think that in 14 years, the bodies of the three Utah women have never been found, despite the number of Utahns who hike and camp in nearby canyons and wilderness areas. Bundy wasn't a native of Utah and only lived here for a short time in the mid-1970s while he was attending the University of Utah. Only in the Kent kidnapping, in which the teenager was last seen at a Bountiful High drama performance where eyewitnesses also placed Bundy, have police had any evidence to connect Bundy with the disappearance.
In 1986, an aspen with the name "Ted Bundy" carved in its trunk was recovered from the mountains east of Fairview, Sanpete County, and homicide detectives interviewed a woman who said she saw Bundy in the summer of 1974 or 1975 at campground east of Fairview.