With the release of a recent Netflix documentary and a 2019 Sundance film centered around Ted Bundy, this notorious serial killer has been in the media a lot lately. But it's important to note the heroes who helped bring this man to justice, including a Latter-day Saint highway Patrol Trooper, Robert Hayward. Learn more about Hayward and FBI agent Sam Cowley, two Latter-day Saints who helped bring three of the most notorious criminals to justice.
Here's how they did it:
1. Robert Hayward—Ted Bundy
Images from YouTube and people.com. Left: Robert Hayward Right: Ted Bundy
A wrong turn. That's what led Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Hayward to arrest Ted Bundy, a serial killer and rapist, and save the lives of Bundy's next would-be victims—teenage girls left alone in their home while their parents were on vacation.
Hayward was just finishing up paperwork inside his patrol car at around 3 a.m. on August 16, 1975, when he saw a tan Volkswagon drive by, according to an article from The Salt Lake Tribune. A few minutes later, Hayward heard a call for help over his police radio.
While responding to the call, Hayward made a wrong turn and ended up in front of his neighbor's house—with the tan Volkswagon now in the driveway. Hayward followed the Volkswagon as it took off to an abandoned gas station. At gunpoint, Hayward questioned the driver of the car, who initially told Hayward he had gotten lost after watching Towering Inferno at a drive-in, but Hayward knew that movie wasn't playing.
After searching Bundy's car, Hayward found pantyhose, a crowbar, a ski mask, an ice pick, and handcuffs. Hayward booked Bundy into the Salt Lake County Jail. From there, the Salt Lake County sheriff's investigators took over the case.
On March 1, 1976, Bundy was convicted of the kidnapping and assault of Carol DaRonch in Salt Lake City and sentenced to 15 years in prison. But soon Bundy became the suspect in a growing number of homicides spanning several states. While facing murder charges in Colorado, Bundy escaped custody twice before making his way to Florida and continuing his spree of murder, assault, and rape. On February 15, 1978, Bundy was once again apprehended and convicted of murder. Before he was executed in Florida in 1989, Bundy confessed to committing 30 homicides in seven states.
Had Hayward not made a wrong turn that night, it's quite possible Bundy could have evaded police for quite some time.
"I often wonder if the Lord sent me in that direction," Hayward told the Associated Press about the night he apprehended Bundy. "If I didn't get him that night and stop him, I don't know how many more he would have got."