Kathy Kleiner Rubin was one of the two women that survived Ted Bundy’s attack on Jan. 15, 1978, at Florida State University. Now, 41 years later, Kathy has told her story to Rolling Stone and she is completely open about her experiences. Her tell-all article was published by Rolling Stone in lieu of the release of the Netflix docu-series Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, and the trailer for the Zac Efron film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
Kathy, a South Florida native, was one of the four FSU women who was attacked by Ted Bundy in the Chi Omega sorority house. Luckily, she was one of the two survivors. At that point, Bundy had already attacked 20 women, with only two survivors. He had been convicted for the attempted kidnapping of Carol DaRonch and one count of murder but had escaped prison twice, one of those times being the year before he brought terror upon Florida State’s campus.
Bundy had taken a bus to Tallahassee on Jan. 8 and was staying in a nearby boarding house close to FSU’s campus under an alias. A week later, he made his way into the Chi Omega house by way of a faulty lock mechanism on a back door and grabbed some spare pieces of firewood from the backyard before beginning his repulsive attacks on the second floor. He first got into the room of Lisa Levy, 20, and Margaret Bowman, 21. He defiled the women, beat them unconscious with the firewood and sexually assaulted Lisa. This all took place next door to where an unsuspecting Kathy was sleeping along with her roommate, Karen Chandler. Both Lisa and Margaret were murdered during the attacks and the bite marks left on Lisa were actually the first physical evidence that linked Bundy to his crimes. This evidence later became the reason he was convicted for three counts of attempted first-degree murder on July 24, 1979.
Bundy then made his way into Kathy and Karen’s room around 3 a.m. “I remember the noise of the trip and something falling off the trunk, and that woke me up,” Kleiner told the magazine. She sustained traumatic injuries that changed the course of her life. “The first time, it didn’t hurt. It was pressure, like someone pressing on your arm. And then he hit me again. And I think that’s where he hit me in the face and broke my jaw in three places and I passed out. But that’s what I remember the most: him lifting the club and bringing it down on me.”
Both Kathy and Karen suffered broken jaws and devastating injuries such as a torn cheek and tongue bit almost in half. The girls were saved from further assault when headlights from a car bringing Nita Neary back home flooded the room, exposing Bundy and sending him running. Nita was the only witness to any Bundy attack. “I saw the light, it was like God’s light. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, something cleared the room,’” recalls Kathy.
Kathy spent months in South Miami healing but admits she felt isolated and alone. “I hadn’t been around any of my sorority sisters since the attack, and they’re all moving forward, and here I am stuck in a bubble. Me and Bundy, in a bubble.” She was then testifying against Bundy in this same city in 1979.
After months of doctor’s appointments, surgeries, recuperation and healing, Kathy returned to the place of the attack. She walked up to the Chi Omega house in 1980. “I expected to see the blood on the wall, and my dirty linens, bloody and crimson,” she says. “Nothing was the same. I took a deep breath, I turned around, and I was so glad I did it.”
She now lives in New Orleans with her husband, living the happiest lives they possibly can with their dogs and grandkids. She has refused to let the attack define her and has been on a nonstop path of healing and optimism. “It made me stronger, and it gave me more to live for, and it taught me nobody’s going to put me down.”