Lead prosecutor in Bundy trial gives lecture at UWF

By Claudia Carlson

Staff Writer

 George R. Dekle Sr. discussed the investigation, prosecution and execution of the serial killer Ted Bundy on Wednesday. Photo by Claudia Carlson.

George R. Dekle Sr. discussed the investigation, prosecution and execution of the serial killer Ted Bundy on Wednesday.
Photo by Claudia Carlson.

On Wednesday, Feb. 10, the lead prosecutor in the Ted Bundy murder trial spoke at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts at the University of West Florida about the trial and his experience.  The audience nearly filled the 309-seat Music Hall.

George R. Dekle Sr. worked for the State Attorney’s Office of the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida, where he served as an assistant state attorney from 1975 through 2005. After he retired in 2006, he became a legal skills professor for the University of Florida.

UWF senior Maura Little, a communications major, was ready to hear about the Ted Bundy trial. “I’m in a newspaper reporting class this semester, and I am here because I think this case is a very interesting part of Pensacola history,” Little said.

Dekle used PowerPoint to take his audience on a journey 38 years in the past. In the presentation, he used a timeline to describe the events that transpired and led to the investigation, prosecution and execution of Ted Bundy.

Bundy escaped from jail twice before heading to Florida to be near the water and in warmer weather. He killed two young women at the Florida State University who were living in the Chi Omega sorority house.

“I was a student at FSU in 1978 when Bundy terrorized our campus,” said Jack Williams of Pensacola. “He had previously been seen at this local bar that I regularly went to, which is something I still have not been able to process. What Bundy did while at FSU was unimaginable and horrific.”

Bundy stole a white FSU van and headed to Jacksonville, where he attempted to kidnap 14-year-old Leslie Paramenter, but was unsuccessful when her brother interrupted their conversation. This led Bundy to Lake City where he abducted 12-year-old Kim Leach, who descriptively could have been Paramenter’s twin sister. Bundy raped and killed the girl, leaving her body in the Suwannee State Park under a makeshift covering. She was reported missing for seven weeks until her body was found by investigators.

Bundy then headed to Pensacola in a stolen orange Volkswagen. Pensacola police officer David Lee pulled Bundy over around 1 a.m. when a “wants and warrants” check showed the car was stolen. Bundy made for a difficult arrest, kicking Lee and running away. At the time, the Police Department did not know with whom they were dealing, due to Bundy giving them a false name. Bundy’s true identity finally came to light when the student, whose identity Bundy had been using, reported it.

Authorities started putting pieces together when they realized the white van Bundy stole from FSU had been left around the area the Volkswagen was stolen, and also where Leach was abducted.

The two vehicles were filled with evidence that helped prosecute Bundy. Once Leach’s body was finally located, the fibers found in the carpet of the white van and on Leach’s clothes made it an evidence gold mine. A blood stain in the carpet of the van also matched Leach’s blood type.

In 1979 Bundy was convicted guilty of his crimes and sentenced to death.

Dekle said his job was not done until he saw the case all the way through. “You don’t win the case until the defendant is led into the death chambers and is executed,” Dekle said. “It’s a long haul, not a pleasant path, but you must be invested in it the whole way through.”

Bundy admitted to murdering 30 young women from 1974 through 1978, but Dekle said he believes the number to be much higher.

The now-retired Pensacola police officer Lee was in the crowd, where he received a standing ovation for his work in arresting Bundy and potentially saving more lives here in Pensacola.