As a college student in 1974, Rhonda Stapley accepted a ride from a stranger, whom she says looked like a nicely dressed “college student.”
That stranger would turn out to be Ted Bundy, and Rhonda barely escaped with her life.
After a few wrong turns away from campus, Rhonda says Bundy pulled his tan Volkswagen into a parking space off the side of the road in a canyon, where he brutally attacked her and choked her until she passed out. When she awoke, Rhonda says she found herself on a picnic table about 30 feet away from the car.
“I woke up and he was slapping my face like they do in the movies when they want to wake somebody up from being drunk or something,” she recalls. “And then he pulled me off the picnic table and was slugging me in the stomach. I was doubled over on the ground and begging him to stop … I was begging for my life.”
Rhonda says Bundy continued to attack her while she was on the ground and then started to choke her until she passed out again.
“He sort of enjoyed just watching me die. He would do that over and over,” she says, speculating he cut off her air until she passed out five or six times. “I think it was a game.
“The last time as I was coming from unconsciousness to consciousness lying on the picnic table, he was slapping my face again, trying to wake me up again. He said, ‘Good girl, good girl. You don’t want to die yet. Don’t die on me yet, because you would miss the best part.’ And then he grabbed me by my boots at the end of the picnic table, pulled my pants down and raped me.”
Rhonda says after he raped her, Bundy choked her until she was unconscious again. When she came to, she was on the ground and saw that Bundy was near the vehicle, approximately 30 feet away.
“I didn’t really plan anything like a great escape, but adrenaline was running and I just jumped and ran,” Rhonda says. “I didn’t run very far because my pants were in a wad around my ankles. I tripped after one or two steps.”
It was at that moment where Rhonda says it was fate, luck or “intervention from above” that took over.
“I fell into a fast moving mountain river that swept me away from my attacker and probably saved my life,” she says.
This episode of Dr. Phil airs Tuesday. Watch more here.