Ted Bundy

How Rhonda Stapley escaped Ted Bundy’s murderous grasp

by Alan Duke, Reporter & 'Crime Stories With Nancy Grace' Co-host

Exclusive interview with a Bundy victim who managed to get away!

Rhonda Stapley kept her near-death encounter with serial killer Ted Bundy secret for decades, fearing the judgment that could come if she told how he kidnapped and raped her.

Stapley was a young Utah college student when she hitched a ride with the law student, who she thought was cute. But not long after she got into Bundy’s infamous Volkswagen Beetle, she noticed his strikingly dark eyes.

He detoured onto a mountain road, parking near a river where he coldly announced that he was going to kill her. Bundy repeatedly choked Stapley into unconsciousness while sexually assaulting her. It was only when she fell into the river and was swept away by the swift current that she escaped his murderous grasp.

Stapley decided during the hours-long walk home that she could never reveal to her family and friends what had happened. She expected her mother would withdraw her from school and her friends would never treat her the same. The painful secret led her to attempt suicide.

Guilt grew inside the pharmacy student when she realized Bundy had later kidnapped other women, killing several, after her ordeal. Those tragedies might have been prevented had they been warned about Bundy, she thought.

Stapley eventually found help though therapy, but she says writing a book about what happened to her was the biggest help. It’s called,  I Survived Ted Bundy: The Attack, Escape & PTSD That Changed My Life.

Stapley talks in depth about it with Nancy Grace in this “Crime Stories” episode.

[Feature Photo: AP]

Alan’s journalism career began as a way to pay for his plan to become a lawyer, but he soon realized being a courtroom reporter was a lot more fun than sitting at a defense table. Duke covered many of the nation’s most sensational crime stories over his 26 years at CNN. Duke’s closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat, much of his time was spent talking to cops, coroners and lawyers. His reporting on the investigation that followed Michael Jackson’s death — and two subsequent trials — included many revelations about the singer’s life and death.   Since leaving CNN in 2014, Duke has contributed to the Reelz Channel “Copycat Killers” documentary series. He is a co-founder and editor-in-chief for