Several small bones found southeast of Price where serial killer Ted Bundy claimed to have buried one of his Utah victims came from animals, an investigation has determined.
Officials with the State Medical Examiner's Office and Carbon County Sheriff's Office have concluded that a number of vertebrae and rib bones found earlier this month are not human.Chief Medical Examiner Todd Grey confirmed Monday what Sheriff James Robertson said Nov. 18: The bones found Nov. 4 are indeed from animals, a dog or coyote, and smaller bones thought to be from a small bird or rodent, Grey said.
And while investigators said they have never speculated the remains could be those of Sue Curtis, a 15-year-old who disappeared in 1975 from a youth conference at Brigham Young University, the bones were discovered relatively close to where Bundy told Utah police he allegedly buried the girl, near U.S. 6 between Price and Green River, Emery County.
Hunters found the latest bones about 10 miles southeast of Price near Wellington in Carbon County. Authorities took the bones to a Price archaeologist, but he never got a chance to examine them, sheriff's Sgt. Dea Thayne said.
The bones were then shipped to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Salt Lake City for further examination last Friday, Grey said.
"I had one of my physicians and an investigator review them and have since certified them as animal," Grey said Monday.
Less than an hour before the noted serial killer's 1989 execution in Starke, Fla., Bundy provided Salt Lake County sheriff's detective Dennis Couch with details about two other bodies in Utah, including that of Curtis. In all, police say the infamous former University of Utah law student killed eight women in Utah from October 1974 to February 1976.
Marilyn Curtis, the victim's mother, said she felt authorities jumped the gun with the finding of the latest bones. She wasn't notified about the possible correlation until reporters called..
"My reaction that they're animal bones is that I think they should keep everything quiet until they know for sure," Curtis said Monday from Price. "I think this (investigation) has been handled very poorly, very unprofessionally."
But Curtis said she still believes her daughter is buried where Bundy told detectives.
"All I know is that that's what Bundy said. Why not believe him?" she said. "He reported just before he was ready to die, and he said she was the only one from BYU."
On Feb. 12, 1980, Bundy was sentenced to die for the kidnap-murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach of Lake City, Fla. He was also convicted of the murders of two Florida State University women, bludgeoned in their sleep at a Chi Omega sorority house.
Police say he may have been behind as many as 36 murders throughout the country. Bundy was put to death in the electric chair Jan. 24, 1989.
Shortly after the execution, Utah law enforcement officials conducted several searches for two other victims thought to have been buried in the Beehive State. Along with Curtis, police have searched for the remains of Debra Kent, 17, who disappeared from Viewmont High School in Bountiful Nov. 8. 1974; and Nancy Wilcox, also 17, who vanished from her Holladay neighborhood Oct. 2, 1974.
All searches have resulted in animal bones, except for a human patella, or kneecap, found in May 1989 along a milelong stretch of ravine in the foothills east of Fairview, Sanpete County.
The location is where officials think Kent may be buried, according to details described by Bundy before his death. But several dozen more bones found in the area belonged to animals, the medical examiner's office concluded.
Kent's family told the Associated Press in December 1989 they believe the central Utah location is where their daughter and sister is actually buried.
In other searches for the body of Wilcox in an area near Capitol Reef National Park in Wayne County, officials ended up with little more than animal bones after scouring a 10-acre-wide area seven years ago.
Authorities have still remained baffled, even after enlisting the help of two psychics in the search.