Bundy: Lonnie Trumbull (Suspected)
For our next post, we jump forward nearly five years from Ann Marie Burr’s disappearance. This case is also quite different from Ann Marie’s in many ways. First, two young women were attacked at the same time. Second, the attack occurred in their home and they were not taken from the premises. And third, there was a survivor of the attack. So, is this case evidence of Ted Bundy slowly growing comfortable in his violence, or is he being blamed for someone else’s misdeeds simply because he is a sensational figure and nearby at the time? Let’s explore.
Who Was Lonnie?
There is very, very little information publicly available about Lonnie Trumbull online. We know that she was born in 1946 and she was 20 years old when her life was taken from her in 1966. We know that she had recently graduated from flight attendant school (though at the time, it was called “stewardess school.”) To get through training like that, someone would have to be social and at least somewhat outgoing. We know that Lonnie lived with two other flight attendants at the time of her murder. These sparse facts are all that remains of a life taken too soon. On June 23, 1966, Lonnie Trumbull and her roommate Lisa Wick were attacked in their apartment. Lisa made it out alive. Lonnie was not so lucky.
Sometime in the early hours of June 23, 1966, Lonnie Trumbull and Lisa Wick were beaten with a blunt object while they slept in their beds – the time is speculated to be around midnight, based on the last known contact with either of the women, and the fact that a neighbor saw a car speeding away from the apartment building at 12:15 AM. The scene lay undisturbed until Joyce, who had been away from the apartment for the night, returned home around 9:30 AM. She found the door unlocked and the lights left on, which made her hesitate outside the apartment door and call for her roommates. When she was met with only silence she entered the apartment and found the bloody scene.
Both Lonnie’s and Lisa’s pillows were drenched with blood and the walls near their heads were splattered as well. Understandably terrified, Joyce ran from the apartment and sought help from her landlord, who called the police to report the incident. Upon examination of the scene, Lisa was found to be alive – but barely. She was rushed to the hospital for critical care and ended up surviving. Lonnie, unfortunately, was dead on arrival. Lonnie’s autopsy and an examination on Lisa showed that neither woman had been sexually assaulted.
The investigation of the scene yielded a few clues. There were no signs of forced entry, so either the door had been left unlocked or the lock was flimsy enough to pick without leaving any evidence behind. There were several fingerprints and a full palm print that were left by the perpetrator. The murder weapon – a one and a half foot long piece of wood stained with blood – was found in a vacant lot nearby. It was found alongside a girdle that had belonged to one of the women, linking it to the scene. Besides this girdle, the women’s flight attendant bags were stashed near this vacant lot as well. Nothing else was apparently missing from the apartment, including expensive items. This effectively rules out robbery as a motive.
Police theorized that the perpetrator was someone one or both of the young women knew, based on the level of brutality. With this theory in mind, police began seeking out suspects. They questioned nearly a hundred people who knew Lonnie and Lisa, polygraphing more than a few. They followed tips to dead ends, had favorite suspects whose histories are lost to time. Suspects were cleared by alibi or by passing a polygraph. As Lisa recovered and her memory of the night came back to her, she worked with the police to make a composite sketch. The sketch resulted in no substantial leads. There’s only one suspect that came up during the investigation that seems plausible. The son of the apartment owner died by suicide shortly after the attack, and newspaper clippings regarding the attack in his belongings.
The Bundy Connection
Ted Bundy was not considered a suspect until Robert Keppel, a detective on the Bundy murder cases, began comparing the nuances of the crime scene with Bundy’s known crimes. Specifically, Keppel pointed out similarities to the Chi Omega Sorority attack that Bundy would perpetrate in 1978 – the victims in that case were also home sleeping and beaten with a blunt object. When Keppel pressed Bundy about the attack on Lisa and Lonnie, he denied he had been involve. In later years, Lisa Wick, the surviving victim from this attack, contacted Ann Rule, the author of the Stranger Beside Me. Lisa allegedly confided in Rule that the sight of Bundy’s eyes deeply disturbed her, and told Rule that she believed Bundy to have been her attacker.
Bundy was 19 years old at the time of the attack and living at his parents’ Tacoma home. Now, being 19 would perhaps have given him the physical strength to brutally attack two women, but I’m hesitant to assume a 19 year old would have the confidence and force to contain and control two women. Bundy’s finger and palm prints were also not a match to those found at the scene, having been tested in 1977 – but keep in mind that the scene was far from secure, and fingerprinting was not nearly as nuanced in the 1970s as it is now.
It’s possible that Ted Bundy was truly Lonnie Trumbull’s murderer and Lisa Wick’s attacker, but we are far from having enough evidence to definitively say that. The MO matches up with Bundy…but is also very common, unfortunately. Nothing about this investigation singles out Bundy, unfortunately. I think this boils down to what we discussed in the last post – the world feels a little safer when there is one sensational serial killer that was already caught, rather than so many people who killed once and are still out there because they were never caught. The bottom line on my thoughts: Could it have been Bundy? Sure. Do I think it was him based on the evidence? There isn’t enough provided for me to favor this theory over any others.
I could not find any information about what jurisdiction this case falls under. Based on what we know about the case, I have come up with one avenue that will allow you to reach out if you think you may know something that could spark movement and Lonnie and Lisa’s case. You can submit tips to Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound (which covers the greater Seattle area) by calling 800-222-8477. Lonnie and Lisa both deserve justice, and they have been waiting far too long.