This is an installment of my ongoing “unconfirmed” case study series. All of these cases have been connected to Ted Bundy in some way, whether by active investigation or later speculation, but never officially linked to him. As they are all still unsolved, generally police will not release the case files. However, using newspaper archives and other works for reference, I have written the most exhaustive summary of each case as I can. I also include my own analysis based on my research and personal knowledge of Bundy’s timeline and modus operandi.
In the early morning hours of June 23, 1966, 20-year old roommates Lisa Wick and Lonnie Trumbull were brutally bludgeoned as they slept in their Queen Anne Hill, Seattle basement apartment. Originally from Portland, Oregon, both women were working as flight attendants for United Airlines at the time of the attack and had only been in the apartment for a month, with plans to move into another unit later that week. A third flight attendant roommate, Joyce Bowe, came home later that morning at around 9:30 a.m. As Bowe entered the apartment, she noticed that the front door was unlocked, which was unusual, and a light was still on. After getting no answer to her called-out greeting, she stumbled upon a horrific scene– both victims still in their beds, coagulated blood soaking into their pillows and spattering the walls. “I looked at Lonnie and didn’t believe my eyes,” Bowe said. “Then I started to wake Lisa and she was in the same state.” She ran upstairs screaming “my girl friends are killed, they’re bleeding!” to the apartment manager, who called the police. When police arrived, it was determined that both women had been repeatedly and viciously clubbed with a blunt object, though neither had been sexually assaulted.
An unconscious and critically injured Wick was taken to Harborview County Hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure on her brain caused by multiple depressed skull fractures. Doctors speculated that she only survived the attack because she wore hair rollers to bed, which may have cushioned her somewhat from the blows as they rained down upon her head. Sadly Trumbull was not so fortunate, and was pronounced dead on arrival.
An autopsy concluded that Trumbull had died at approximately midnight from a blow to the head she had received about an hour earlier. However, subsequent evidence led detectives to believe the attack may have occurred later in the night, possibly as late as 3 a.m., instead of before midnight. A United Airlines employee said he had called the apartment about a change in flight plans at about 11:45 p.m. and had spoken to Wick, who stated that she would relay the information to Trumbull later, as she was already asleep. Another call at 5:45 a.m. the next morning went unanswered. King County Deputy Sheriff Terry Allman came forward to say he was dating Trumbull, and had spent most of the day at her apartment on Wednesday the 22nd, leaving around 5:00 p.m. He talked with her again by phone that same evening around 10:00 p.m. This was the last known outside contact with Trumbull. A neighbor named George Stoss said he saw a car speed away from the apartment building at about 12:15 a.m. “He took off so fast that I wondered if he was going to make the turn,” Stoss said, and “at the same time [I] heard someone scream.” Another neighbor said she also heard a car; others heard nothing. However, this lead was discounted when Detective Lieutenant Frank Moore said the incident was “traced to a youth who had screamed facetiously as a friend drove off after dropping him at his residence.”
Investigators dusted the crime scene for fingerprints, finding numerous prints including a full hand-print to the left of the front door to the apartment, but would not say whether the prints belonged to the occupants or to a potential assailant. They noted that the apartment had not been ransacked, and there were no signs of any struggle or forced entry. Police believed the front door had either been left unlocked or the intruder had somehow managed to ‘slip’ the lock. Seattle Detective Sergeant Herb Arnold said a bloodstained piece of wood measuring 3 inches thick and 18-20 inches long, apparently taken from a nearby garage, was found in a vacant lot next door to the apartments and seemed the likely murder weapon. A girdle from one of the victims was found in the same lot, which police cautioned may have “only been used as a precaution against leaving fingerprints,” as well as the women’s on-duty flight bags (in other reports also described as ‘purses’) which had been thrown under a bush at the edge of the lot and contained only small change.
The next day, police developed a “vengeance motive” theory, saying they had no evidence the “vicious and sadistic” crime was committed by a “casual prowler,” but that there was a “strong possibility” that it was an act of vengeance by someone one or both of the victims knew. “We don’t have much to go on right now,” explained Seattle Police Captain Paul Lee. “The girls had been in Seattle for such a limited period of time, we don’t know whether it was an acquaintance or a prowler. But we are not ruling out other motives, such as robbery.” Captain Lee also stated that there was no evidence that the attack was sexually motivated: “the crime does not fit the normal pattern of a sexual psychopath.”
Police questioned “a 17-year-old youth” about the attack on Friday but released him after he passed a polygraph test. A Portland high school acquaintance of Trumbull’s also took and passed a polygraph test the following week and had a solid alibi. Four days after the murder, police had questioned nearly 100 friends, acquaintances, and neighbors, without any viable suspects emerging. Detectives said they were not discounting the “possibility that the assailant may have been a degenerate” who had committed a number of rapes in the Queen Anne Hill district, entering unlocked homes and “forc[ing] several housewives to submit.” However, according to police the rapist’s pattern did not indicate that he was “homicidal in nature” and he had been inactive for about four months preceding the crime.
On June 30th, a bartender named Homer Sims told police that two weeks earlier (or according to some reports, the day before the assault), a man “about 30 years old” was in his tavern about 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. asking directions. Sims said the man had a city map and asked another customer how to reach the 2400 block on 8th Avenue where Trumbull and Wick were attacked. The bartender said he was busy at the time and therefore didn’t get a good look at him. According to Lieutenant Moore, investigators were “not that excited about this lead,” but said “we’d like to talk to this man.”
By July 14th, Wick had recovered enough to tell detectives that she was awake when the intruder bludgeoned Trumbull and had caught a glimpse of him before he turned on her. She thought he had entered through the front door but wasn’t exactly sure how. According to Wick, the assailant was a white male, wearing dark clothes, about 30 years old, 5 feet 9 or 10 inches tall and weighed about 165 pounds. She also said he had thinning blond hair and a receding hairline. Seattle Police detectives took her statement and developed a composite sketch of the suspect from her description. She could not say whether she had ever seen the man before, however, she felt she could identify the man if she saw him again. Wick also stated that the lights were out when she was attacked and could not explain how she had seen such a detailed description of her assailant, but police stated that they were “satisfied that she knew what she was talking about” and did not wish to press her for further details at that time. A few days later, Wick was shown dozens of photos of potential suspects, including one of Richard Speck, who would later be convicted in the murders of eight student nurses in Chicago, but could not identify any of them as her attacker.
By early September, Lisa Wick had recovered enough to leave Seattle’s Providence Hospital where she had been transferred and went home to Portland, Oregon. She returned to work for United Airlines in October and married the following year. Joyce Bowe was her maid of honor, and several Seattle police investigators were guests at the wedding. Asked if she was still afraid, Wick replied “the fear that I have is not an ‘afraid’ fear. It’s just something that happened and that shouldn’t have happened.”
A month later, Seattle police interrogated a 28-year-old used car salesman held for allegedly raping an 8-year-old girl in Portland, Oregon. He had been out of the city at the time of the attack, supposedly in Montana, and had returned to Portland a day later. While investigating the unrelated rape accusation, officers found newspaper clippings related to the crime and a copy of the assailant’s composite sketch in the man’s possession. However, he passed a polygraph test and was subsequently cleared from suspicion.
A recently released Seattle PD undated follow-up report mention an unnamed “grocery store clerk where the victims bought groceries” referred to by a “friend of the victims” and “Lonnie’s sister tells about a grocery boy who tried to date her, but she snubbed him.” Apparently, this was in reference to a grocery store near the victims’ previous residence because the files also state: “’all grocery boys’ referred to were involved with the gals when they lived in the area of the Nettleton Apartments… we weren’t thinking about any local grocery connection.” The Nettleton Apartments were in downtown Seattle, not the Queen Anne District.
The same report states: “I still say Mike Boylan did it!!” There is no further information regarding this suspect in the available file. The only Michael Boylan listed as living in Seattle at that time was an Irish immigrant who worked as a port security guard and later as a policeman. He was married with three daughters, 35 years old at the time, and does have an associated address in the Queen Anne District about 15 minutes’ walking distance away from the victims’ apartment. However, I was unable to confirm a date for this address. By 1967 he had moved away from Seattle and was living in Bellevue, Washington. Boylan died in 2017.
Despite a $10,000 reward offered by United Airlines, national media attention, and hundreds of tips, eventually all leads were exhausted, and the case went cold.
A Bundy Connection?
Speculation linking Ted Bundy to the attacks came many years later. In his book The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer, Robert Keppel said: “as I got to know Ted better over time, Ted became a good suspect to me,” and noted similarities to the Chi Omega crime scene. Bundy victims Lisa Levy, Margaret Bowman, Karen Chandler, and Kathy Kleiner were all bludgeoned as they slept with a piece of wood (in that case, a piece of firewood) picked up from outside their sorority house. The modus operandi of the crime was also similar to Bundy’s earliest confirmed attacks on surviving victim Karen Sparks and murder victim Lynda Healy, who were savagely beaten while sleeping in their beds in Seattle basement apartments. However, when Keppel specifically asked about the case during Bundy’s “deathbed confessions” a few days before his execution, he adamantly denied involvement. In The Riverman Keppel noted that Seattle detectives’ favorite suspect at the time was the apartment owner’s son, since he committed suicide and had a newspaper article about the murder in his belongings.
Lisa Wick contacted Ann Rule in 1986, saying she could not read Rule’s book The Stranger Beside Me: “I try to pick it up and read it, but it is impossible. When my hand touches the cover, when I look at his eyes, I get sick to my stomach.” Rule claimed that Wick had seen Bundy’s eyes before in “her deepest forbidden memory,” and quoted her as saying: “I know that it was Ted Bundy who did that to us, but I can’t tell you how I know.”
Notably, in his death row conversations with journalists Steve Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, Bundy did mention a possible early assault on a woman with a piece of lumber, but the scenario he described was much different from the 1966 crime. In his third-person, pseudo-confession as recorded in Conversations with a Killer, Bundy said: “on one particular occasion, he saw a woman park her car and walk up to her door and fumble for her keys. He walked up behind her and struck her with a… a piece of wood he was carrying. And she fell down and began screaming, and he panicked and ran. What he had done terrified him.”
A commonly circulated misconception (repeated even by Keppel) purports that Bundy worked at the nearby Queen Anne Hill Safeway grocery store at the same time as the murder and assault. However, according to the Multiagency Investigative Report compiled by the FBI, he did not start working there until nearly two years later, on April 12, 1968. The Seattle police timeline list Bundy as working at Tacoma City Light in the summer of 1966, preparing to enroll in his first semester at the University of Washington after leaving the University of Puget Sound the previous semester. While not explicitly stated, it is a likely conclusion that he was also living at home with his parents in Tacoma. He was 19 years old at the time.
According to recently released Seattle police reports, the finger and palm prints left at the scene were checked against Bundy’s in January 1977 and did not match. Unfortunately many people, including a news photographer, were allowed into the crime scene and may have left fingerprints, which was common in 1966. In early 2018 it was reported that Washington investigators were re-examining evidence from the Trumbull-Wick attack for DNA and if found would attempt to match it to Bundy’s DNA, discovered as evidentiary blood samples seven years earlier in Florida. However, since then no new stories have emerged regarding the success of this venture.
Today the murder of Lonnie Trumbull and the near-deadly assault on Lisa Wick remains unsolved.
At first glance, linking Ted Bundy to this crime is tempting. The basic modus operandi of a home invasion bludgeoning certainly fits his earliest confirmed assault (Karen Sparks) and murder (Lynda Healy), as well as the Florida attacks on the Chi-Omega sorority sisters and Cheryl Thomas. And of course, Bundy was living in the Seattle area at the time. But beyond those similarities, any evidence of his involvement is non-existent, and the timing of the crime does not fit with what is known about Bundy’s development into a serial killer.
The most damning piece of circumstantial evidence, that Bundy worked as a stocker at the same Queen Anne Hill grocery store where the victims shopped, is demonstrably false, as he did not work there until nearly two full years later. While the MIR does not list an address for him during the summer of 1966, since he had a summer job at Tacoma City Light the most reasonable conclusion is that Bundy was living at home in Tacoma before starting the fall semester at the University of Washington. The Tacoma suburb is a good distance away from Queen Anne Hill, Seattle. Bundy had no prior known association with that district before 1968.
Bundy’s earliest known attacks occurred quite close to his residence in Seattle’s University District, usually just blocks away. This way he was able to stalk his victims, probably peeping into their windows and learning their routines. This was easy for him to do, as he was essentially their neighbor, and felt comfortable roaming about the neighborhood. In her interview with police, Liz Kloepfer’s friend Mary Lynn Chino said she had seen Bundy doing just that late at night. As he became more confident, he began to travel incrementally further away from his home base in search of victims. In Tallahassee as well, when Bundy reverted to his earlier “blitz attack” m. o., he stayed close to his residence at The Oaks, not straying further than a few blocks to find his victims. This is likely because, as when he was first starting out, he felt more comfortable staying close to home and in familiar surroundings. If Bundy was indeed living in Tacoma in the summer of 1966 and not frequenting the Queen Anne Hill district, it does not follow that he would have chosen that particular, unfamiliar location for what would have likely been his very first home invasion attack.
The early date of 1966 also doesn’t really fit with Bundy’s development as a killer. Bundy himself discussed this, describing to his psychiatrist Dr. Dorothy Lewis how his deviance began slowly, beginning with violent sexual fantasies, which incrementally increased to stalking and peeping, then attempted (but failed) half-baked assaults and kidnappings, likely due to a lack of experience on his part. It took several years of this ‘conditioning’ before he committed his first murder. During a teary phone call with his ex-girlfriend Liz Kloepfer after his 1978 arrest in Florida, a despondent and vulnerable Bundy indicated a similar personal history, saying “I’ve fought it for a long, long time … it got too strong. We just happened to be going together when it got under way.” As he began dating Liz in 1969, this timeline also jibes with what he told Dr. Lewis nearly a decade later in the days before his execution in 1989. For such an attack to be as ‘successful’ as it was (and I use that term only in the sense that it is still unsolved) seems to imply a level of criminal experience that Bundy almost certainly did not possess so early in his murderous evolution.
Then there is the obvious problem with the description and composite drawing Lisa Wick provided to police about her assailant; hardly any of it resembles Bundy, except the race, height, and weight. The murderer was described as having blond, thinning hair, a receding hairline, and aged about 30 years old. Bundy was over a decade younger, with thick, brown, wavy hair. The facial features in the composite drawing, at least in my mind, do not resemble a young Ted Bundy at all. While it’s certainly possible that Wick could have been mistaken on some points, as the light was likely quite poor and she probably did not get a very good look at the intruder, her description just seems too dramatically different to implicate Bundy. Wick herself does not address this contradiction in her later conversations with Ann Rule; instead The Stranger Beside Me implies that she retained no memory of the traumatic event at all.
The fact that neither Trumbull or Wick was sexually assaulted is also telling, in my mind. Violence featured heavily in Bundy’s sexual gratification, as he often emphasized in his final days when attempting to answer the ‘why’ question of what he did. Arguably, rape and the excitement or stimulation associated with the sexual aspect of murder were Bundy’s main motivations in committing his crimes. Nearly all of his assaults and murders involved some form of rape, whether ‘by proxy’ (using an object) or in the traditional sense of the term. In the few instances where he did not sexually assault his victims, it seems that circumstances and timing simply did not permit him to do so. At the Chi-Omega sorority house, his last attacks occurred on Kathy Kleiner and Karen Chandler, though neither were raped. This is almost certainly because, as Kleiner later described, the headlights of Nita Neary’s returning car illuminated their room and frightened him away. Although he had only been at the Chi-O house for about 15 minutes, he did manage to sexually assault Lisa Levy by proxy with a hairspray bottle, and sexually molested Margaret Bowman as well. Apparently unsatisfied, he then ran a few blocks away, breaking into Cheryl Thomas’ apartment to attack and attempt to rape her too, only to be frightened off again by her anxious neighbors’ frantic phone calls. When examining the pool of confirmed Bundy victims it seems to me that if he had the time and opportunity, he would always rape before killing, as that factored so heavily into his violent sexual fantasies. Yet in the case of Trumbull and Wick, despite having hours to spend with his victims before they were found at 9:30 the next morning, the killer did not even attempt to sexually molest the young women, who were both found fully clothed. This points to a perpetrator with a motivation that was not sexual in nature, perhaps one driven more by jealousy, hatred, vengeance, or rage. This also fits with the Seattle police’s original theory of the crime.
In his final confessions, Bundy repeatedly denied any assaults or murders, even any attempted ones, before 1969, when he claimed to have attempted (but failed) a kidnapping in Ocean City, New Jersey after planning but chickening out of a rape at a hotel in New York City. He claimed his first murder, possibly of a hitchhiker, did not occur until about 1972 or 1973. He also specifically denied any involvement in this case when asked. While Keppel obviously did not believe his repudiations and liked him for the crime, the detective has been notoriously wrong in his assertions before. He adamantly believed Bundy was responsible for the murders of Washington hitchhikers Kathy Devine, Carol Valenzuela, and Martha Morrison, young women who were all murdered at about the same time and in the same part of the country as Bundy. However, years later DNA evidence eventually linked those murders to two other serial killers operating in the Pacific Northwest region during that time period. Therefore, while I otherwise highly respect the renowned criminologist, I take Keppel’s Bundy hunches with a large grain of salt.
Without DNA evidence (it’s unclear if any even exists) in this case, and apparently no fingerprint match even after the advent of national criminal databases, it seems likely that the perpetrator either did not actually leave his fingerprints, did not go on to commit another crime, or died soon after 1966. None of the suspects discussed in the media or according to Keppel seem particularly likely to me. I was unable to find a likely candidate for the “apartment owner’s son” described but never named by Keppel in The Riverman. City property records list the apartment’s owner in 1966 as Richard D. Lee, a prominent builder in Seattle. While he did have a son, Richard D. Lee, Jr. was only 13 years old in 1966, and did not live on the property. I also checked the apartment managers at that time who did live there, but Virgil and Rubye Gohn had no children of public record. Therefore I am unsure who Keppel meant by “apartment owner’s son.” However, even if this story is accurate and I have been remiss in my research, having a clipping related to the crime does not seem too unusual, since due to the proximity he no doubt would have been following the media reports. While I do not know the circumstances of his suicide, this fact alone does not lead me to believe he was involved (although it would explain why no print match was ever found, if he died before committing another crime).
Although I do not put too much stock into the validity of passing polygraph tests and would be disinclined to clear a suspect because of one, the unnamed 28-year-old car salesman from Portland also seems an unlikely suspect, given that his alleged crime involved pedophilic sexual assault, entirely dissimilar to the Trumbull-Wick physical assault.
The suspect named Mike Boylan is interesting, as he generally seems to fit the physical witness description (besides having dark hair in photos, not blond as Wick described) and lived in the neighborhood at some point. I tried to find a date for the associated address obtained from a genealogy database but was unable, and he was unlisted in the 1966 Seattle phone book. I do not know why the police suspected Boylan, and the single released follow up report gives no indication. They must not have suspected him immediately after the attack, since he was employed as a security guard in 1961 and a police officer in 1967. Wouldn’t his finger prints have been on file because of his line of work? Then again, the finger prints may have never belonged to the perpetrator at all. According to his obituary, he quit police work in the 1970s for “health reasons” and from then on worked as a courtroom bailiff, living in Bellevue from 1967 until his death in 2017. I could find no indication that he ever had any problems with the law, or what if any connection he had to the case.
The unnamed “grocery boy” is a strange suspect since you’d think Wick would have been able to recognize him if she shopped at his workplace often enough for him to notice her. On the other hand, it’s also possible she simply never noticed him, or that Trumbull was his intended target. The fact that Wick could not identify her attacker despite apparently seeing his face seems to indicate that it was probably not someone she was familiar with socially at least. He may have been someone who saw the women at their work or at other establishments they frequented in the area, who followed them home, perhaps becoming romantically obsessed with one of them. Trumbull’s visit from her boyfriend that evening may have inspired a jealous rage. Or it could have been a simple home invasion burglary gone wrong, as indicated by the stolen bags, albeit the sheer ferocity of the attack makes this scenario less likely in my mind. It’s also possible that there was more to the story than was reported, such as a feud situation, a love triangle, a jealous ex-lover, an obsessed acquaintance who was good at passing polygraph tests, or even a hired hit, although this is all obviously just pure speculation.
So to the main point of this article- did Bundy murder Lonnie Trumbull and savagely beat Lisa Wick in Seattle in the summer of 1966? In my mind, I would have to say no; from my research the clues just don’t seem to point to Ted Bundy.
The stewardesses’ apartment building remains largely unchanged today. Photos courtesy of Redfin.