The Utah State Prison: Part I, 1976

This is the first installment of Ted Bundy’s Utah State Prison records, released to me after a year of denied appeals to the Utah Dept. of Corrections and a final, successful appeal to the Utah State Records Committee. This is the first time these records have ever been seen outside of the Utah Department of Corrections. These records document Bundy’s actions during the six months he spent in the Utah State Prison after his kidnapping conviction and sentencing in July, 1976. Notably, he planned an escape in October after learning that Colorado was planning to extradite him for the January 1975 murder of Caryn Campbell. The plan was thwarted and Bundy was transferred to Aspen in January, 1977.

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A Letter from Carole Ann Boone, 1977

A letter of love and encouragement from Ted’s ‘girlfriend’ and eventual wife, Carole Ann Boone, sent at some point in late 1977 prior to his second escape. Carole seems to be pleading with Ted not to attempt an escape as a “solution” to captivity. This letter was found in Bundy’s jail cell in Garfield Springs, Colorado after his second escape.

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Photos: The Things He Left Behind, 1977

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Eve, 1977, Ted Bundy escaped through a poorly welded light fixture opening in the ceiling of his cell at the Garfield County Jail, where he was being held during the Caryn Campbell murder trial. This was the second time he had escaped captivity in one year, and he had purposefully lost about 30 pounds in order to squeeze his frame through the 12″ x 12″ hole. He then crawled through the ceiling compartment, broke through the drywall in the jailer’s closet, stole some clothes, and simply walked through the jail’s front door into the snowy Colorado night. He would not be caught again until February 15, 1978 in Pensacola, Florida.

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Photos: Ted Bundy at the Utah State Prison, 1976

In late June 2019, I was perusing the finding aids at the Utah State Archives for Bundy research potential when I noticed a series titled Utah Department of Corrections, Inmate Services Prison Commitment Registers, series no. 80388. The records series included prison records and mugshots(!). My excitement at this potential discovery was quickly dashed however, as upon further investigation I discovered that the Archives did not have any Bundy prison records in its custody.

From my own current work in archives and records management, I surmised that if the records had not yet been transferred, they were probably still with their creator agency, or had been destroyed. In early July, I contacted the Department of Corrections on the off chance that they still had the prison records and mugshots from Bundy’s incarceration at the Utah State Prison in 1976. The Department’s records manager replied with the following photo scans attached to her email. I was in the grocery store at the time when I heard my phone ping, checked my email, and picked my jaw up off the ground.

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