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In 1974, Carol DaRonch narrowly escaped serial killer Ted Bundy. This is her story.

Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes dropped on Netflix this week, reigniting discussions and interest around infamous serial killer Ted Bundy.

The four-part docuseries brings viewers deeper into the mind of Bundy, through the use of exclusive never-before-heard interviews from the man known as “Jack the Ripper of the United States”.

Conversations with A Killer focuses on a man whose personality, good looks and social graces defied the serial killer stereotype, allowing him to hide in plain sight as he committed the brutal sex-crime murders of more than 30 women before being caught in 1978.

While he was on trial, Bundy actually received extraordinary adoration from American women, a fact which made his gruesome crimes even more haunting, and his name even more infamous.

And while there’s compelling information contained within this new Netflix offering, there’s a name that deserves our attention and interest so much more than that of Ted Bundy.

Carol DaRonch.

That is the name of one of the few women to survive an attack by Ted Bundy, the woman who became a critical witness in the case against him and who was largely responsible for putting the killer behind bars.

In The Ted Bundy Tapes, Carol recounts in great detail what unfolded on that horrific fall day in 1974 when she first came into contact with Bundy. It was in Salt Lake City, Utah, and despite the 18-year-old being aware of the recent string of abductions and killings in the area, she insisted she still felt safe there.

Safe enough to get into the car of Ted Bundy, who told her he was a police officer and lied to her by saying that someone had been trying to break into her car, before offering to drive her to the police station so she could make a complaint against the suspect.

It was during the car ride to the “station” that Carol began to sense that something was wrong. Bundy then pulled over near an elementary school and Carol started to panic when she noticed the passenger side door didn’t have a handle that she could reach. As she started to panic, Bundy pulled out a gun and threatened to kill her.

“He headed down a side street and then he suddenly pulled over up on the side of a curb up by an elementary school and that’s when I just started freaking out,” she said in The Ted Bundy Tapes. “And he grabbed my arm and he got one handcuff on one wrist and he didn’t get the other one on and the one was just dangling. I had never been so frightened in my entire life.

“I thought, ‘My God my parents are never going to know what happened to me’.”

But she was able to fight him off, stating in the series that she “just fought with all my life” — becoming one of Bundy’s few survivors and the first person to be able to identify him.

Just four hours later, Bundy went on to murder another woman in a fit of anger and rage.

The women in Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes are who we need to be talking about. Source: Netflix.
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Following her encounter with Bundy, Carol continued to live in fear for months before she received an interesting phone call.

Police had arrested a man who appeared to match the description she had given them of her attacker, and they requested that she come to the station to participate in a police line-up to see if she was able to accurately identify him as the man who had held a gun to her head.

Bundy had attempted to drastically alter his appearance, but Carol was still able to pinpoint him instantly.

Prosecutors later informed her that Bundy had been found with a gym bag filled with a mask, an ice pick and pantyhose, the handcuffs he'd used on her were also found in his car. That was the moment police were able to connect Bundy to the unsolved killings in Washington and Oregon.

Despite her bravery at facing and identifying the man who had tried to kill her, Carol received a lot of pushback from the public who believed she was wrong or lying about Bundy.

Adding to the many moments in history where women were not believed while speaking up against assault and violence, the public felt that Bundy, a newly converted Mormon and law student, could not be the killer Carol was claiming he was. They thought him too handsome, trustworthy and intelligent to match the description of what they thought a serial killer should look like.

Despite the public perception, Carol bravely testified in court, and Bundy was then sentenced to jail.

Four other survivors, Sotria Kritsonis, Rhonda Stapley, Kathy Kleiner, and Karen Chandler also lived to tell about their horrific encounters with Ted Bundy.

Bundy was executed in 1989 at the age of 42, he confessed to murdering between 30 and 37 women between 1974 and 1978; of these, 20 of his victims have been identified, along with five other survivors. The true number of his victims is still unknown.

Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes will no doubt aide in continuing to build the mythology and fame around murderer Ted Bundy, but his is not the name that should be stuck in your head after watching this documentary.

Instead, remember the women like Carol DaRonch, who are still bravely speaking up.

All four episodes of Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes are available to watch now on Netflix. 

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