On his way to interview Ted Bundy in the Starke, Fla., prison Sunday, Salt Lake County sheriff's detective Dennis Couch was preparing to face one of history's most articulate, bright, cocky and manipulative criminals.
Instead, Couch - who had never met or talked with the killer before Sunday - encountered a "whipped and defeated man.""He was fatigued, exhausted, almost to the point of falling asleep at times," said Couch.
But Bundy - 36 hours before he was to be executed for the murder of a Lake City, Fla., girl - finally admitted that he kidnapped and murdered Nancy Wilcox, 16, Holladay, and Debra Kent, 17, Bountiful.
Bundy would not say how he killed them, said Couch.
Prison officials scheduled Couch to talk for only 30 minutes with Bundy. It was not nearly enough time to discuss a half dozen homicides that occurred more than a decade ago, but the detective was able to stretch the interview to 90 minutes, which Couch said was still far too little time to go into a lot of detail.
In addition to the confessions on the Wilcox and Kent cases, Bundy gave reason to believe he was responsible for the disappearance of two others.
And if last-minute statements Bundy made to prison officials Tuesday morning pan out, investigators may be looking for a third body, thereby solving a fifth case.
Still, Salt Lake County Sheriff Pete Hayward said there is still much detectives don't know about Bundy's murder-ous rampage. Hayward said he hopes an acquaintance or friend of Bundy's may come forward with more details.
"I don't think we have even scratched the surface with Bundy," Hayward told a news conference Tuesday. "Somewhere there is someone Bundy has told the whole story to."
Wilcox disappeared Oct. 2, 1974, after she ran away from home. A month later, on Nov. 8, Kent disappeared from the Viewmont High School parking lot. Their bodies have not been found.
Bundy drew maps for Couch and indicated on a Utah road map the area where authorities might find the Kent and Wilcox bodies. The maps and Bundy's statements will lead searchers to the Capitol Reef National Park/Boulder Mountain area in Garfield County and to Sanpete County, between Fairview and Mayfield. Hayward refused to be more specific about the locations, fearing someone might disturb the scenes.
On Wednesday, while two sheriff's investigators headed to the remote areas to check the snow conditions, Couch reviewed by phone a taped conversation Bundy had with a Florida Department of Corrections official 45 minutes before the execution. Bundy told the official that there are two other bodies, one in Colorado and one in Utah. Bundy could not name the Utah victim but indicated the body was near U.S. 6 between Price and Green River, Emery County.
Couch is trying to obtain the map that Bundy reportedly made of the location of the third body.
Couch said he's not even guessing who that third victim might be. There are anumber of unsolved disappearances of young Utah women in the early and mid-1970s. In fact, Bundy reportedly told Washington state authorities that he killed eight women in Utah.
Bundy is strongly suspected of killing Sue Curtis, 15, and Debbie Smith, 17, who disappeared in 1975 and 1976, respectively. Their bodies have not been recovered.
"As soon as the weather permits and ground conditions permit, we'll start searching," said Hayward. "We got a lot of people eager to get out there and look for them."
Bundy told Couch that he took the bodies in his car to mountainous areas and buried them under several layers of soil and rocks, the sheriff said > The two other murders that detectives are confident were committed by Bundy are those of Melissa Smith and Laura Anna Aime, both 17. But when asked about those, Bundy simply did not answer.
"He could not look me in the eye. He put his head in his hands and could not answer the question."
But because of Bundy's demeanor and because of other physical evidence detectives have on Bundy, the sheriff's office will likely close the Smith and Aime cases.
The bodies of Smith and Aime were recovered within weeks after the girls disappeared in the fall of 1974.> In addition to finding out where the bodies of Kent and Wilcox were, Couch was intent on getting Bundy to tell him where to find the body of yet another victim - Nancy Baird, 21, who vanished from a Davis County service station July 1, 1975.
Bundy, however, repeatedly denied having anything to do with the Baird case.> The interview with Bundy was one of the most frustrating interrogations that Couch said he has ever done. There was too little time and the killer was too exhausted to give details quickly.
Most surprising to Couch was that Bundy appeared remorseful. The killer broke down at one point during the interview and cried.