Runaways and sex workers have long been targets for serial killers, as they tend to make easy prey. Runaways are often overlooked because their families are unaware of their whereabouts, whereas many sex workers lack familial support or stability (per Sage Journals). These crimes have also been noted to have some levels of police indifference (via AETV). This enables a predator to pounce, their prey’s disappearance often going unnoticed until their bodies are discovered.
The serial killer duo known as the Sunset Strip Killers had a brief bout of notoriety in the summer of 1980, exploiting and killing the teenage runaways and sex workers they lured off of the notorious stretch of roadway in West Hollywood, California. The pair consisted of 32-year-old Navy veteran Doug Clark and his 37-year-old lover Carol Bundy, whose rampage ended the life of at least seven innocent people during a violent murder spree (per All That’s Interesting).
That summer, authorities made several grisly discoveries before Clark and Bundy were apprehended. Perhaps the most horrifying example happened on June 23, when police were alerted to a small pine box discovered in an alley off the strip. In it was the severed head of 20-year-old sex worker Exxie Wilson. The slain woman’s head had been carefully wrapped in a t-shirt that bore the words “Daddy’s Girl.” This violent act would later be attributed to the Sunset Strip Killers (via Los Angeles Magazine).
What would motivate a couple to commit such violence? What the investigators later learned marked the couple as some of the most disturbed killers in history.
Clark was a sexual sadist
Soon after Doug Clark met Carol Bundy in a local country bar, he moved into the apartment she shared with her two sons from a previous marriage. Los Angeles Magazine writes that soon after, Clark confessed to Bundy his most depraved sexual desires. Their first known act was to molest the 11-year-old daughter of a neighbor from their apartment complex. This vile crime was photographed by the couple. Unfortunately, Clark wasn’t satisfied with this lone endeavor. He told Bundy that his darkest fantasies included the worst kinds of sexual sadism. He longed to kill a woman while coupled in a sexual act together, a dark fantasy that would soon come to fruition.
What happened next is up for debate, as both Clark and Bundy have told conflicting stories. However, it’s commonly believed that Clark began cruising the Sunset Strip for potential victims, and he didn’t wait long to make his first move. He lured his first victim to her death, a teenage sex worker named Marnette Comer. Next, Clark killed stepsisters and teenage runaways Cynthia Chandler and Gina Marano. The young women had been hanging out on the Sunset Strip when approached by Clark. After he murdered them, he confessed his crimes to Bundy. But instead of alerting the police that her live-in boyfriend had just confessed to killing three women, she stayed. And then she became part of his act.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
They kept one victim’s head in their freezer
The New York Daily News reports that Doug Clark instructed Carol Bundy to purchase a pair of .25-caliber handguns for the couple to use while stalking women on the Strip. They set out together one evening, picking up a sex worker in what Clark had been marking as his hunting grounds. While she never pulled the trigger on any of the six victims, she was present during at least one murder.
When Clark murdered Exxie Wilson, he cleanly severed her head from her body and pleasured himself with it. He brought it home to show Bundy, who applied makeup to it and styled the hair. It was kept in the freezer in between Clark’s disgusting uses before being discarded in an alley. While Clark’s motive was for sexual gratification, Bundy was a participant for other reasons entirely. A trained hospital nurse, Bundy was an educated person. But her childhood was an abusive one, full of sexual and physical abuse. It’s surmised that she went along with Clark’s violent sexual desires so that she could be accepted by him — an acceptance she craved after the dissolution of her marriage.
But Clark’s hands were not clean either. While she didn’t pull the trigger and kill any of the six women that Clark would later be convicted of killing, she did commit a murder separate from her crimes with Clark.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.
Bundy killed a lover
Throughout her relationship with Doug Clark, Carol Bundy was having an on-and-off affair with the married manager of the apartment complex she lived in. The man, John “Jack” Murray, was a part-time country singer who performed at local bars. The New York Daily News tells us that Bundy became infatuated with Murray and tried to bribe him away from his wife. This led to her being evicted from the apartment, but Bundy continued to show up to catch Murray performing.
At some point, Bundy had a drunken conversation with Murray about what she and Clark had been doing. Indicating that he might tell authorities, Bundy panicked. She later convinced Murray to meet her at his van with the promise of sex. Instead of a good time, Murray was met with a bullet. She cut off Murray’s head, throwing it into a trash can. She left the body in his van, where the stench of decomposition led to its discovery days later. But Bundy eventually told co-workers that she killed Murray, which prompted her to turn herself in to the police.
Bundy was convicted of two murders and sentenced to life. She died in prison of a heart attack in 2003. Clark was sentenced to death for six murders, and he still sits on death row.