This is my transcription of Ted Bundy’s confession to Salt Lake City Sheriff’s Detective Dennis Couch, dated January 22, 1989. Utah victim names mentioned in this confession include Nancy Wilcox, Debra Kent, Melissa Smith, Carol DaRonch, Laura Aime, and Nancy Baird. I attempted to transcribe this as accurately as possible, but I may have misspelled some names, and some of it was inaudible. The unknown female voice is probably that of Diana Weiner, Bundy’s civil attorney. At the end I include the maps of the areas Bundy described and aerial images of Fairview Canyon, where Debra Kent’s patella was found.
Dennis Couch: Today’s date is January 22, 1989. The time is approximately 7:30 PM. I’m at the Florida State Prison, going to interview Ted Bundy.
Ted Bundy: I want you to know, that uh… we’ll do what we can. And I think we can do something good. We can do something good.
DC: First of all I want to tell you I appreciate the time that you’ve given me, and another thing a good friend of mine and an old acquaintance of yours wanted me to tell you he’s thinking about you and [you’re in his prayers?]
TB: Sure. I remember, is he still at the prison?
DC: No, he’s got the county jail, and he’s up at the VA hospital. He married myself and my wife back in 76, and my wife died, and he buried her.
TB: Hmm. He’s a fine gentleman, I appreciated his work at the prison.
DC: Yeah, regardless of a person’s religious beliefs, he’s a heck of a man.
DC: But I’ve got 5 cases that we know of, that we’re concerned about. Three of them are missing girls. Would you feel more comfortable just talking, or would you like me to refresh your memory?
TB: No, what I’d like to do, I mean, under the circumstances… [sigh] I think we need… I’d just like to, let’s just get a map out.
DC: Unfortunately, I don’t have a map of Utah.
TB: Alright I think… guess what… let’s just see what we have.
DC: The best I can do…Ok, here we got [a map?] of Salt Lake City.
TB: Shit. I knew it…
DC: Not a good enough map huh?
TB: No… it’s just… everything looks the same. It used to be a problem back when I lived there. Dammit.
DC: Well there was Debi Kent up at Bountiful at the high school. Do you remember, did you go north or south or straight east from there?
TB: Well let’s… let’s try to…. that’s what I’m looking for here.
DC: Ok. Well Bountiful is just north of Salt Lake and south of Ogden here. Are there any particular landmarks that you recall, or?
TB: Well… alright first of all. You’ll have to forgive me, because I’m not thinking very clearly here, there’s a number of things we need to talk about, and we’re going to get down to business here. I understand, and it’s my preference, that you at least for the time being, more or less work in a statewide capacity you know, even though I’m sure you’re interested in everything that happened in Utah. But, I understand that you’ve sort of been associated with the Attorney General’s Office in some way for this.
DC: Well I’ve been informed, I talked to the AG today, and he’s informed me he’s empowered me to act on his behalf as a representative of the AG.
TB: Ok and I would like your findings here reported as soon as possible to him.
DC: You want me to report my findings to him?
TB: Well I can’t order you to do anything….
DC: No I’m saying you’d like me to do that… sure I’d grant that… in fact he asked me to.
TB: As soon as you can, let him know what’s going on.
TB: Now… I know… well I don’t know…
DC: If I can help you out. You remember where Carol DaRonch got away from you.
TB: Oh, I know where things are.
DC: I thought that might help you think through it.
TB: I know where all this stuff is, I’m pretty familiar with the map. To a point.
DC: I agree, you weren’t familiar with the area, and there are a few canyons…
TB: I think what we need is topographical stuff, for the high resolution, to give me a better feel for that.
[Bill Hagmaier]: Could not come up with one of those in Starke, they do not have them of Utah.
TB: I know, and that’s a problem. I want to be, for any number of reasons, I want to be as specific as I can be. What this is about is trying to locate the remains. We’re not talking about stuff thrown out of the windows, or stuff scattered across the ground. It’s things that should be there.
DC: Was it a burial?
[tape cuts out]
TB: …in some ways more deserved….
DC: How far do you think you had to drive from that school?
TB: It was somewhere between… let’s just… uh…
DC: Did you go back down through Salt Lake again?
TB: Oh yes yes.
DC: Oh did you? And you went further south? Past Provo?
DC: Were you on the interstate?
TB: Yes, on the interstate. We’re talking somewhere between Milburn and Manatee. Maybe Mayfield. That’s a big hunk. An awfully big hunk. You could spend several lifetimes looking for something there. I’m trying to narrow it down. I mean, it’s… somewhere… to the left of 89.
DC: You went down the highway as opposed to the freeway?
TB: Right. I don’t know what it looks like in the daytime, that’s another problem. Mountainous… area, to the east all the way down 89 from Thistle to Mayfield.
DC: So you went south of Provo down the freeway and then you jotted off onto 89 is that right? Did you follow 89 all the way down?
TB: No no…. there’s a standard… I think the most efficient way is if you’re going for instance to Price you just head down the freeway and there’s a turnoff for 50.
DC: Yeah I’ve traveled Price Canyon… it’s called Spanish Fork but it’s on the way to Price. But then you took the cutoff at Thistle?
TB: Exactly whether it was a cutoff, whatever was the most efficient way was during those days and it may well be different.
DC: No its the same way. There’s a cutoff at Thistle and then it goes south. How far south did you go from there?
TB: Look, again, jog over to Thistle and down 89 here, and that’s the $64,000 question…
DC: You’re stuck?
TB: No not necessarily but… we’re not… we don’t have a lot of detail to work with on this map.
DC: How far down do you think from that cutoff? How many towns you had to go through before you went up into the mountains?
TB: No, I think what we may have to do is work, with not so much time. I didn’t count towns, or miles, or look at my watch to see how long the time was, I was just driving, in the dark, late at night, and not very conscious of much of anything else, you know. I don’t know what was going on except for looking for a side road.
DC: Let me ask you another question before you lose your train of thought, we have reported to us that there was some carvings in trees… did you ever carve your name in a tree?
DC: Ok because I think there was one down in that area someone carved the name Ted Bundy and put a date on it… we think three or four of those trees, in different mountain areas. That wasn’t something you did?
TB: No, no.
DC: Ok, so we’re going south of Thistle, anything come to mind there that you can see on the map that would help us out?
TB: Not on the map. I would have to go on my recollection. I mean of, whatever, um, landmarks I saw.
DC: How about Nancy Wilcox. Are they all down in the same area?
TB: No. Let’s try to do one at a time. If I can’t do this one…
TB: Yeah, I was just hoping we’d have something… this will give us a start… but I was hoping that we’d have something to really clue me in, high degree of scale showing dirt roads, that would closely clue me in there. But anyway, we’re talking about a small town, how small I can’t tell you, how big. It certainly wasn’t Provo, but it was one of those small towns along here. It was late at night so the stoplights were turned off or at least blinking or something like that.
DC: They have those flashing amber lights?
TB: Yeah. How many of them there were, I don’t know. At some point…
DC: And then you went off into the mountains from that small town, the area of that small town?
TB: Turn left, right.
DC: How far away from that town would you have gone?
TB: Several miles. This should help. There seemed to be, just on the outskirts of this town, an iron barrier, a gate, that’s thrown across the roadway. Looked like it closed off that road for some reason.
DC: Like a cabin association, or something like that?
TB: Possibly. But it was still a paved road, it just looked like… it wasn’t closed, but it looked like it had been opened and closed.
DC: How far away from highway 89 would you say you ran into that?
TB: Well again just from the outskirts of this small town traveling up into the mountains east of there…
DC: In terms of time, can you estimate how far from Thistle you would have traveled?
TB: No. Absolutely not able to do that.
DC: So you couldn’t do it in terms of miles or time.
DC: Did you return back to Salt Lake the same night?
DC: Was she already dead?
DC: Was she killed right there at the school?
DC: But you are responsible for her death though right?
DC: Of course, Melissa Smith, we recovered her body. Did you not have time to bury her, or was it just not your intent to bury her?
TB: Can we just try… I want to focus on one at a time.
DC: Ok. Well I’m concerned about the 30 minutes too… is that firm, or what?…
TB: Well I’m just about ready to collapse. I know that’s the furthest thing from your mind. But I’ve got some mileage left in me tonight, and I want to give it my best… the one that’s most likely to produce something for somebody. And this is my clearest recollection. The one that I have the clearest recollection of, and that’s why I’m starting there.
DC: From the iron gate then, how far would you say you traveled from there?
TB: Ok, now, at that time, there was a big scene, just a short distance inside the iron gate, to the left.
DC: So somehow you were able to go through the gate?
TB: Yeah, the gate was open, or partially open. My recollection is it wasn’t all the way open or all the way closed. Just closed enough for it to be evident that it was there.
DC: Did you park your car and then carry her through there?
TB: No, it was big enough to drive through, I was driving a Volkswagen.
DC: It wasn’t that rough for driving your VW, I mean it wasn’t that mountainous?
TB: No, a short distance, a matter of yards, to the left, inside of that… and I hope that I’m recalling this clearly. There was a dirt road, that made a steep climb, a short, a steep ascent up a little incline, and wound up to the left. Wound around up and to the left into a wooded area. I’m not talking about a heavy forest, but you know the type of woodlands that you find in that area, a sort of clump of trees here, clump of trees there, a lot of open dirt, grassy stuff, you know that kind.
DC: Were you into the pines, or just kind of the quakies?
TB: Again the darkness limited my ability to perceive all of that. I mean I knew that kind of country that’s the reason I’m describing it to you. A more detailed description I don’t have. And I can kind of remember… I’m trying to remember… the number of little turns this road made and how far up it traveled.
DC: But you’re still able to drive it in the VW?
TB: Well it’s bumpy, it’s tough, it’s rocky.
DC: Is it a county type road, or is it just the kind you can get one car in?
TB: It’s the one car type, back road, that’s not good enough, four wheel type road, wagon wheel ruts, puddles, deep…. you know a VW is amazingly agile, even in country like that, and so it’s even with the deep holes and rocks and things, rocks are around quite a bit if you get up there. It’s a covered wagon type road if you will, a four wheel drive type of road, nothing fancy, something people would get into the back country on.
DC: How far past that iron gate would you say you traveled before you finally stopped?
TB: [sigh] Traveled very slowly. Bouncing around, you know. A mile to two miles at the outside. I know that’s a lot of ground, but then again, uh…
DC: It’s hard to tell when you’re going so slow.
TB: Yeah, it’s hard to tell, and to see it, is one thing, and to try to estimate it and describe it is another.
DC: Did you see any power lines, power poles, residences, cabins?
TB: There was… a certain point, I did pull off at the side of this road, let’s say, a mile, roughly. And to the left hand side, there were remnants of old barbed wire fence posts, and maybe shreds of barbed wire. It wasn’t an actual fence, it was the remnants of a fence and I noticed a couple of fence posts kind of bent down, bent askew, and I stumbled over a piece of barbed wire buried in the sandy soil here and there.
DC: Did you stop the car in the road itself?
TB: I believe I pulled off, you know, five feet or something.
DC: Now, then I assume you had a shovel and how far would you say you were?
TB: Approximately 20-30 feet off the road, let’s say 25.
DC: How deep was the grave?
TB: Approximately 3 feet. 2-3 feet maybe.
DC: Did her clothes remain with her?
DC: Did you discard those before or after you left her there?
TB: Trying to remember. I don’t clearly remember. I don’t have a specific recollection. I think what happened was, is that yes, they were cut up and deposited along the side of the roadway.
DC: On the way back home?
TB: Hmm. You know… It’s interesting you should say that. I was going to say something else, but… yeah as a matter of fact. On the way home back to SLC from this point, along highway 89 even down as far up as past Thistle.
DC: You cut em up into pretty small pieces?
TB: Yeah… a 3 inch square type.
DC: What was the means…. how was she killed?
TB: [sigh] This is harder stuff to talk about.
DC: Not the nice part.
TB: Well there are no nice parts. Hard to make judgments of quality here…It’s simply more difficult to discuss this.
DC: Did you use a weapon on her? Did you use, manually? Or…?
TB: Um… that’s why it’s so much easier for me to try to locate the body than it is to talk about the actual thing. Just so much more positive, as much as it can be.
DC: Where, um… if it didn’t take place at the schoolyard, did it take place in your car, or…
TB: No, the place where I lived.
DC: Oh you took her home?
DC: How many places did you live, I know you had a place up in the Avenues, is that the only place you ever lived in Salt Lake?
TB: Oh no, the Avenues…
DC: Up by the university…
TB: Right, right, the Avenues, the name eludes me. The name of that location didn’t ring a bell at first.
DC: Would it have been the residence which we searched?
DC: Well we can talk about that later…
TB: Yeah it was at the residence.
DC: So did you take her to your residence then down here all in the same night? Or did you keep her for a period of time?
TB: I did keep her there for a period of time. A couple, well,… a day, 24 hours.
DC: Ok. Was she alive during that time period?
TB: Well let’s see. During half of it. With reference to the things that went out the window, some of the larger items went out between Spanish Fork and Thistle. There’s an embankment there where the river comes down. I think there’s a railroad track in there somewhere too.
DC: Right, there’s been a big landslide, maybe you saw in the news, it was nationwide, a year or two back that whole side of the mountain slid down.
TB: I heard about it. Was that the area?
DC: Yeah that was right there at Thistle.
TB: Well this would’ve been down from it, it’s been a long time. I’m sure there would be nothing left to find, in terms of just stuff cast off the roadway. But I’m concerned about which one of these roads it is. Do you think that’s… I wonder, do you think that’s enough?
DC: It’s going to be very difficult.
TB: Is there any… don’t you have any access to maps? It’s going to be very difficult, if you don’t have maps.
DC: Well I’ll do my best to leave here and find a better map. If I can get some time to come back here tomorrow evening, if that’s possible.
TB: Tomorrow, there’s just nothing open at all. Uh… because what I’m talking about here are, in all likelihood, is remains that can’t be found. There’s no absolute certainty, but there was an attempt on my part for example to fill in part of the grave and a layer of heavy rocks over that and dirt over that to prevent the kind of animal destruction that can occur to something left…
DC: You were concerned about animals NOT getting to it?
TB: Yeah not getting to it, because well they could conceivably spread the remains around in such a way that they’d be found, as opposed to not being found.
DC: Was she in any way dismembered or was she buried whole, or?…
TB: Yes you should find all of it.
DC: Well then again I don’t mean to rush you but I’m concerned about getting everything in as much as I can. There are two other gals who are missing. Further up there was Nancy Baird who worked at a gas station, July 4th?
DC: That was in ’75, July 4th. Do you recall what type of place it was she was working at or where it was located, on which highway?
TB: No I didn’t have anything to do with that.
DC: Nancy Baird?
TB: No I don’t know anything about that disappearance. I…
DC: Nancy Wilcox lived in SLC on the east side. She had left home. Do you recall where you picked her up?
DC: What others did you take down highway 89?
TB: No one else.
DC: Was Nancy Wilcox on foot, or how did you run into her?
TB: Uh, she was on foot.
DC: Did she come peacefully with you, or did you have to take her by force at first, or how did that particular encounter occur?
TB: Oh, uh… [sigh].
DC: You haven’t slept for awhile have you?
TB: Well I just… You see, there’s just a lot of things going on besides what you want to talk to me about. And it creates a lot of pressure, and the lack of sleep and it all builds up. And it’s maybe hard to appreciate… and I’ve only talked to folks from Idaho today, and it’s hard to appreciate, I’m not using it as an excuse but it’s just the reality that when I talk about this kind of stuff it just drains me in a way that’s hard to describe. I mean haven’t thought about these kinda of things… to attempt to relive them vividly enough to describe them especially to the point of locating remains, it just… my mind is tied in knots right now. Everything together… I’m having a hard time thinking. I’m having a hard time. Let’s see if we can’t run through it, at least this one.
DC: Do you remember where approximately where you encountered Nancy Wilcox? Do you remember what she was wearing, what she looked like?
TB: [Sigh] I don’t remember exactly what she was wearing. She was wearing like, casual clothes. She wasn’t wearing a dress, she wasn’t dressed up in slacks or a dress. Jeans. Walking along the side of a road. Poorly lit area. Suburban. Years ago I probably knew the street name, but on the outside chance I could show you, you don’t happen to have a street map of Salt Lake?
DC: No. Do you recall where from the university, say?
TB: Oh it would have been south. Considerably south.
DC: East or west or?
TB: Oh excuse me, south. I get my directions all screwed up with that place. Is there a Salt Lake map here…
DC: Of course when you’re going south, the Wasatch Mountains are to the east. And there’s homes built up alongside of the valley—
TB: Oh it would’ve been south of the university. Some distance south.
DC: And you remember State Street, the main drag, that goes all the way through, was it east or west of that?
TB: Oh it was east, south and east.
DC: Considerably east?
TB: Well considerably east is up in the mountains, up in the benches. This wasn’t up in the benches. This is uh, south and east, by how much, is just a…. by suburban I mean, I don’t mean new suburban, it looked like older suburban. You know, houses been around for awhile, wasn’t a new development. There were no sidewalks per se, I think it was just sort of a side area. There were no storm sewers, curbs, anything like this.
DC: Were you able to have any conversation with her?
TB: Not really. (pause) Not much. Nothing noteworthy.
DC: Was she carrying a purse, do you recall?
TB: Don’t recall. Well, let me think. Well yeah, you know, you asked me that question about Debra Kent—
DC: About the purse?
TB: About what she was wearing and everything you need?
DC: Well you just indicated what you did with the clothing but you didn’t describe it though.
TB: Well, heh… ok. I would hope we get something that could be corroborated in a way that people are semi-convinced. I know people don’t think I’m making it up, but on the other hand, some people might say just for the sake of it that I was. [laughs] Do you follow me?
DC: Well absolutely. There’s too much with Debra for us to believe any differently though. The handcuff key that we found in the parking lot.
DC: So we know you’re not telling us a story there, we’ve got people who identified you being at the school that night too.
TB: Ok yeah well let’s get back to the one, the young lady we were talking about.
DC: Nancy Wilcox?
DC: So she was walking along the side of the road, and you approached her and took her against her will?
TB: Yeah that’s a good description. Yeah, basically. It was a fairly dark, particularly dark, stretch of road. It was a main roadway I mean, how do you describe it, but without any bullet streetlights. An old style, single bulb streetlight, ever three or four poles. So it was dark. And there was a, what looked like to be a small orchard. Very small, residential orchard between these two houses. And she was ushered into there, and restrained, and then placed in the car, and taken to the apartment.
DC: The park?
TB: The apartment.
DC: Oh, the apartment. And at what point would she have been killed? In the orchard, or at your apartment?
TB: The next day. The next day.
DC: Are we talking about the same apartment though?
DC: Do you recall anything unusual about her, anything that sticks out in your mind, as far as your… any scars, marks, or um… Obviously, did you know her name at that time?
TB: No, no I didn’t.
DC: Did she talk about, was she able to talk about anything prior to the assault? You say you didn’t have much of a conversation with her before.
DC: And where was she taken after the apartment?
TB: That’s what I’m trying to remember. That’s what I’m looking at, I need to look over this map. It’s unclear to me right now.
DC: Well if I can help you, province is the one that goes straight east out of Salt Lake, and that’s the main route to Park City, do you remember that one?
DC: And then of course, you go south to uh, you go to Point of the Mountain and you’ve got those small towns, Lehi, American Fork, and then Orem and then Provo.
DC: And north of course you’ve got Bountiful, Layton, other towns in that area as you go up to Ogden. Do you think it was, which direction do you think it was?
TB: Uh… south. My state of mind was not good then. I think I was… I know I was not very lucid, I was new to the area. I sort of I got lost going to where I was going and got lost coming back.
DC: Did you follow 89 again or did you—?
TB: No, I went south, but how far south. Which, I don’t, you know… It’s not as clear as it was…
DC: With Debra?
TB: [sigh- long pause] Yeah, the odd thing is, I remember contours. I remember ups and downs. And some other stuff. Uh…
DC: Well there’s a lot of ups and downs in that area.
TB: This is true. A lot of em.
DC: You went south but you don’t think you followed 89 that time?
TB: I sort of remember staying on the main drag, whatever that was. Not diverting at Spanish Fork, but continuing on, the main line, down, which is labeled as 91 here.
DC: This is quite an old map, because there should be a freeway, Interstate 15, that goes—
TB: Well this was some time ago itself, I don’t know when this was published.
DC: You know [??] it was a freeway though?
TB: Well yeah you know, in those times you’re right, it was a mixture, this is 1967 copyright. But at that time it was a blend of construction, of 2 lanes, 4 lanes, back and forth, [??] but a lot of it was two lane, then, and it appears on this map as well a lot of it was two lane.
DC: It was two lane when this map was published.
TB: Going south… time was not… you pass all these towns. You know how these little towns are. What would it be, Scipio, and Fillmore, and Meadow, and Kanosh, and everyone has those blinking orange lights and all the stores are dark. It’s late at night, and you’re just making sure you’re obeying the speed limit because you know there’s some cop in that town gonna try to make his quota with you. But anyway moving south… to Beaver… going, uh, west.
DC: Yeah, Beaver’s a three to four hour drive.
TB: Yeah that’s not out of the question. It could’ve been Cove Fork, which is also, down far enough and has a western component to it.
DC: That’s where Brigham Young used to have his summer home.
TB: What Cove Fork? Cove Fort?
DC: A little trivia there for you.
TB: How about that huh? Well you’re not– if you were married by Reverend Museman you’re not Mormon are you?
DC: No, no, no but I’ve…
TB: You can’t help but know all that.
DC: Been out there 23 years.
TB: More or less… you know, indoctrinated.
DC: Yeah, they’re trying. Museman’s fighting them off though.
TB: They’re always at your door though, I know that. [laughs] Knock knock knock. Freshly scrubbed faces. Good people, I mean, no question. They’re wonderful people. Absolutely the best. That’s what makes the place so nice. Even if you’re not of that persuasion.
DC: Exactly. So you think they’re down in Beaver or Cove Fort?
TB: Somewhere down in that area. Farther off the road than that.
DC: To the left or right?
TB: To the east, some distance.
DC: And there again, you just think it’s in that general, you couldn’t…
TB: I don’t know. Sorry. You’re catching me when you are.
DC: I’m just getting quite anxious myself.
TB: I hear you, I hear you. We’re all up against some deadlines. My mind’s not as nimble as it used to be right now. Seems to me, it was something that went up and over something like a pass, pretty steep climb.
DC: A dirt road, or a paved road?
TB: No, a paved road. Four lane. Could’ve been 4. Or 24. Goes up into the mountains. Does 70 cut through?
DC: Yeah 70’s at four lane. I mean, it is now.
TB: What was it back in 1974?
DC: Well I’d assume, probably a little bit of both. Yeah, 70 comes over and meets 15 now, and then… In fact that’s where they’re picking up all the cocaine traffickers, down on Interstate 70.
TB: Ha ha! Why, why there?
DC: I don’t know. The highway patrol for Utah is getting more cocaine than any other state, including Miami, or Florida. On that interstate. But anyway, you think it was a four lane, going east, paved road.
TB: Yeah. Up into the mountains. Pass.
DC: Did you follow that paved road quite a ways before you…
DC: See that eventually, you come go back into Price and can go back that way, if you follow 70 far enough. Did you make the circle, or?
TB: No. I think I came back the same way that I went down. I mean this was, late at night, 11, 12, 1 o’clock. New area, dark. Obviously. New area. So, anyway, more or less picking whatever was available, not looking for anything marked on a map as much as just looking for something that’s, uh…. a road suitably far off the beaten path. [pause] With some better maps, and knowing more about this 70, and description, a better description, or something, of this 24, might, I’m sure, would… as I remember…
DC: You’re speaking of this road here?
TB: Yeah, 24. And what you indicated was later 70. Was going to be 70.
DC: So it could be one of those two possibilities is what you’re saying.
DC: How far would you have traveled these do you suppose, on those paved roads?
TB: Oh… well into them. [Garbled- town names?] Huh. Could’ve been something like that. I want to find this place. I know it’s there. I mean, I know you could… well let’s get there and I can tell you. On whatever side it’s a mile to two miles down a grated dirt road, on the right hand side, about 50 feet in. All of these are estimates. I can’t be sure every time.
DC: But before you hit that dirt road, how far would you say you traveled east?
TB: I don’t know. I wasn’t looking for miles so much as I was trying to look for roads that appeared out of the dark alongside of this highway that looked like they went somewhere. And, uh… I remember one time, traveling, the reason I think it’s 25, I remember one time traveling– but well again it might be wrong, it could be this 4 thing, if 70 went through– traveling this road and going to Green River, that is the Colorado Green River, and now I remember seeing this road, what looked like was going off to the right.
DC: You mean you traveled again, at a later time, and you recall that place?
DC: And you were on your way to Green River?
DC: Was that on your way up to Colorado you mean?
DC: Miss Nancy, did you keep her approximately 24 hours at your place?
TB: Approximately. Yeah.
DC: Do you care to talk about cause of death there, how you caused her death?
TB: Well… it makes sense and it doesn’t.
DC: Was a weapon used?
TB: No. No… someday it might be important but I think that for the family it’s important that we find the body. That she died is unfortunate and real but uh, if we could find the body…
DC: Is there anything else then about where the body could be that you could tell me right now?
TB: Well… what did I tell you? I told you about the spot more or less.
DC: Yeah you weren’t sure about 70 or– again, what was this highway number? But you thought you went over that road again on your way to Green River.
TB: We need better maps. That would help. We need just a clearer picture of what it looks like. I don’t remember this Canyon Reef National Park but I don’t imagine it looks any different from the rest of it except its name. I’m gonna take a break. Excuse me.
[tape recorder turned off]
TB: This is uh, well, first of all, I know that you’re not a reporter and that your job is to be a detective, and I would trust that to a certain extent you’re not going to just run back to SLC and tell the press everything that I said… that you’re more interested in solving the case, and letting the families know without reawakening all the pain by putting details in the paper that would–
DC: Absolutely. That’s the first and foremost reason I’m here, for those three girls who are missing and—
TB: And some more.
DC: From Utah?
TB: Yeah. But, uh…it’s way too late, and I’ve taken way too long, to come this far, but it’s where I am now, and before it gets any later…
DC: You want to get it all out.
TB: Well that too, I need to get it all out, not just for you, but for these people here and for many people who aren’t here.
DC: And for yourself too.
Male Voice [Guard]: Is this what you want? Cold water?
TB: Right, thanks. But to the extent… and in the event that anybody, especially families, want to know…[voice breaks] I’m sorry. That doesn’t correct a thing, but… [whispers] I’m sorry. Not for me. I’m sorry.
DC: Well, by you saying that goes a long ways Ted.
TB: I-I’m not looking for anything. [crying]
DC: I know.
TB: I understand now a lot of stuff, about myself, that I didn’t understand then, and it makes me realize what was going on. It doesn’t make it any less serious, but it… the senselessness of it, it appalls me all over, I’m sure not as much as those who are so close to it. Just as appalling however is the fact that I was so insensitive to it. One of many things that kept me from talking for so many years, and it doesn’t excuse it, but uh… it’s too bad I wasn’t in a position to talk about this years ago. I still think though, that some good can come of this, especially at least in the case of the Kent girl. I hope that a serious attempt is mounted to find something.
DC: Well we got search and rescue on alert right now to try to do that, you know.
TB: Alright. Who does that, your sheriff’s office or something?
DC: Yes, Pete Hayward, he said to say hello, and wanted to know if you got his Christmas cards.
TB: I may have, I think I remember receiving one from him at one time. [chuckles] yeah…
DC: He was the captain, and now he’s the sheriff.
TB: Yeah…. Well I’m burned out and I’m sorry that I can’t give you more, especially on the second one, Wilcox. Let’s see. Cause I know that this is a good chance, maybe in some ways a better chance, at finding it– the remains of… the young girl. I would uh, what’s the scale? Let me look at this scale.
Unknown Male Voice: I could leave this with you, or would you not like it?
TB: Some of it, part of it. Not all of it, thanks. Ok. Try what I’d have to call on this map, the Notom Road, off Highway 24.
DC: You mean we’re following this road and we take the Notom Road? Is that it there?
TB: To the right.
DC: Is this it here?
TB: No, no. Right there. See how it comes out…goes back…
DC: Right here?
TB: If I could see the actual entrance way, from several of these roads, what happens is on this particular road, you sort of, you make a right hand turn off 24, go south for 100 feet or so, and then turn around, first to the right, then a larger bend around to the left, which is a swooping kind of bend… it seems to be the way this Notom Road looks although it could be one of these others. But it’s far enough in, I’d say it’s far enough along Highway 24 to make some sense.
DC: But your recollection was, that you went over that road again on the way to Colorado though is that right?
TB: Yeah. One time, during the daytime.
DC: How far off of 24 then?
TB: I would say, within two miles, between a mile and two miles. On the right hand side, up an embankment, about 50 feet. Well, that’s… your scale here says, uh…
DC: Well, I’m just putting a general vicinity type thing, on the right side…
TB: Well actually if you want to pinpoint it… I don’t know about Notom, I never ran across Notom. I bet you there’s probably, a uh, mailbox–
DC: That’s a new one on me too there.
TB: You might want to look something on that X, more like a mile or two miles, and I think on the scale, 5, that’s about 5 miles.
DC: Ok. Well, the clothing, did you discard kind of the same way as Debbi Kent then?
TB: Yeah… yes, I did.
DC: Well, you cut the clothing up on the way back to Salt Lake?
Female Voice [Diana Weiner]: turn it off
[tape cuts out]
TB: I’m not good for much more, for anybody. Not good right now.
Male Voice [Bill Hagmaier]: As I said, I’m not trying to complicate you at all.
TB: Oh, I know you’re not.
Male Voice [Bill Hagmaier]: Washington and Colorado are basically saying “are we going to get our turn?” And if everything is basically going to be put this close together then we’d rather have five minutes than nothing. And of course you’re working as hard as you can, and he’s working as hard as he can…
DC: Sure. Well ok we’ve done our best on those two haven’t we Ted? Or can we do any more at this point in time?
TB: No… Well, I wish we could do better and we could do better I think if we had…
DC: Better maps?
TB: Better maps, that’s important for the purposes certainly that I’m trying to accomplish.
DC: Can we go back to Nancy Baird, you indicated that…
TB: Nancy Baird… who’s that?
DC: She’s the girl from, uh, between Bountiful and Ogden.
TB: I’m not even sure… I don’t even know why I was assumed…(sighs) (chuckles) You said Nancy Wilcox I’m not sure I even know who you’re talking about. Wait a minute, I’m not trying to cop out on you here, I mean, I’m getting a little confused. All these… uh…
DC: Well Nancy Baird, uh…
TB: Well I didn’t even desc– did I describe—how did I describe Nancy Wilcox?
DC: Well you couldn’t describe her clothing…
TB: Right. Ok. I believe it was casual, like blue jeans.
Male Voice [Bill Hagmaier]: Do you have a recollection of her physical appearance at all?
TB: Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking… I want to make sure that I’m not getting names, just going for the name… uh, instead of also name the physical whatever… you see what I’m saying? Cause I didn’t know the girl’s name and I guess, I’m just reacting to publicity, somewhere along the line I heard the name Nancy Wilcox. Hell, I… I think… I hope what I said matches up. [??] …unless the state of it is not good [?]. Uh. I think I matched up the right name to the right incident because… only because I read about it sometime later in the paper and this was a long time later. [??] Cause nothing came out in the paper about it for some time as I recall in this particular case which I later would associate with Wilcox.
DC: There wasn’t that much publicity about it at the time.
Male Voice [Guard]: Mr. Couch, how much longer do you think you’re going to be?
TB: Well we’ve just about had it with what we can do–
DC: Five minutes. Just five or ten minutes.
TB: Uh…There’s more… I know there’s much more to these cases and more to the other ones. Let me try to finish this Wilcox thing. Maybe it’ll link it up a little bit better, because we want to make sure…that’s… there is, that particular girl I mentioned that is here somewhere. The name, you’ll find the name I’m sure if you find the remains. You should. I think it’s Wilcox because that’s just the name that attached to it some point later in time. That’s all I can do right now.
DC: Ok, tell me about Melissa Smith, just a short synopsis. She was last seen right here in the Fashion Place Mall where you picked up Carol DaRonch, that’s the last place she was seen.
DC: But you are responsible for Melissa Smith?
TB: Just a minute.
TB: [deep sigh] Yeah…what’s the question?
DC: Melissa Smith.
TB: Melissa Smith…
DC: Or Laura Aime, we can talk about either one, or both? With the time that we have here–
TB: I just… listen. I know what you’re doing. I know what you want. I know it. I understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
DC: What, is the recollection getting to you or are you just burned out?
TB: I’m just having a hard time placing… the names are starting to get all mixed up.
DC: How about pictures, would they help you?
TB: Pictures never look anything like they really do. You can try… I mean, pictures I’ve seen in the newspapers but then again they don’t look like anybody I ever had anything to do with. What do you have?
DC: Well that was Debra Kent. Nancy Baird. This is Nancy Wilcox. Melissa Smith. She was the chief of police’s daughter. And then Laura Aime. Laura Aime and Melissa were the ones that we did find. Do you remember where you left them?
TB: Who? Oh.
DC: Laura and Melissa.
TB: We’ll have to do this some other time.
Male Voice [Bill Hagmaier]: Just think about Melissa and Laura if you have time… I’m not going to take this too far but can you give a general location of where you left them? What he’s obviously trying to do is confirm the rest of it. If you can’t, you can’t, but I mean…
DC: How many in Utah are we talking about?
TB: I’m trying to count… did we talk about that?
DC: No, uh-uh. I mean, I mentioned a figure and you said it was more than that.
TB: Yeah, that’s right, it felt like it was more.
Male Voice [Bill Hagmaier]: What’s the number?
DC: Five. Well, I mentioned the fact that there was three missing, and he said there was more than that.
TB: Oh, yeah.
DC: How many more?
DC: Anything about those two you can tell me?
TB: [sighs] It was a teenage girl. I don’t remember her name, I don’t know who it was. It could have been one of these girls, I don’t know which one she was. No, I don’t think it was. I don’t know the name. [??] Damn.
DC: Would you like to talk to me again, do we have any more time between now and…
TB: Well, we, yeah, we need to talk again. If we have time. You need to get some better maps, if you can. And I need some sleep, my mind is just…
DC: Would you have Diana contact me again when we can arrange that?
TB: Yeah. She knows where you’re staying?
TB: Ok. Yep. We’ll work something out.
DC: Ok I appreciate the time tonight Ted.
TB: Yeah, uh.. I’m not bullshitting you. My mind… after a few of these my mind just seizes up. I really, it’s like.. I just can’t say anymore, in some way. But we will get to them. I hope. All of them.
DC: Ok, anything you me want to tell Padre Museman[?] or anybody back in Utah?
TB: Yeah well… Lubeck. You ever see him?
DC: Yeah, he’s a good man.
TB: Yeah, well say hello. Father Museman? Does he remember… does he remember me?
DC: Oh yeah. Yeah.
TB: Played himself in that movie once… what was that?
DC: Oh Gary Gilmore’s, uh… He was quite taken in by your intelligence though, and humor.
TB: Yeah, well, say hello. Please.
DC: Will do.
1989 aerial photos of the Fairview Canyon search area. Courtesy of the Bountiful Police Department.
Many thanks to Chris Mortensen for his financial contribution towards purchasing copies of these images.