WARNING: This is a story about attempted abduction. Proceed with caution.
As the lead singer and face of one of the most famous bands of the past forty years, Deborah Harry has some fascinating stories, but none quite as wild as the time she claimed serial killer Ted Bundy tried to abduct her.
“I was trying to get a cab on the lower east side of the Village in New York, and it was kind of late,” Harry told a newspaper in 1989. “This was back in the early ’70s. I wasn’t even in a band then … I was trying to get across town to an after-hours club.
“A little white car pulls up, and the guy offers me a ride. So I just continued to try to flag a cab down. But he was very persistent, and he asked where I was going. It was only a couple of blocks away, and he said, ‘Well I’ll give you a ride.’
“I got in the car, and it was summertime and the windows were all rolled up except about an inch and a half at the top. So I was sitting there and he wasn’t really talking to me. Automatically, I sort of reached to roll down the window and I realised there was no door handle, no window crank, no nothing. The inside of the car was totally stripped out.”
Now, let’s pause.
As numerous reporters have pointed out, there is no record of Bundy being in NYC at any point throughout his killing career. His own tales of his movements change depending on who he is addressing, so while there are no reliable records of him being in New York prior to ’73 (when Harry joined her first band), he did admit to an attempted kidnapping in neighbouring New Jersey in 1969. So, who knows? It’s certainly not implausible.
Back to Harry’s story: “I got very nervous. I reached my arm out through the little crack and stretched down and opened the car from the outside. As soon as he saw that, he tried to turn the corner really fast, and I spun out of the car and landed in the middle of the street.”
Scary, but it was only after Harry realised who the guy was that she truly felt rattled by this incident.
“It was right after [Bundy’s] execution that I read about him. I hadn’t thought about that incident in years. The whole description of how he operated and what he looked like and the kind of car he drove and the time frame he was doing that in that area of the country fit exactly. I said, ‘My God, it was him. Truthfully, I hadn’t thought of the incident in 15 years. I’m one of the lucky ones.”
She retells this story in the 2012 biography Parallel Lines, adding: “The guy had a white shirt and he was very good looking. Then I realised this guy had the worst BO I have ever smelt. Then I looked over at the door to crank down the window and saw there was no door handle, no crank. I cast my eyes around and saw that the car had been gutted. There was nothing in there. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, so I stuck my arm out through the crack in the window and managed to open the door from the outside. I was so lucky.
“At the time I didn’t know anything about Ted Bundy. I just thought, ‘Thank God I got away from that asshole,’ and I just carried on — and years later, after he was executed, I got on a flight and picked up a Newsweek, and I’m reading this story, and it says ‘Modus Operandi’, and it describes how he looked, the inside of his cars, and the hair on the back of my neck once again went out, and I said, ‘Oh my God, that was Ted Bundy.’”
Regardless of whether it actually was Bundy — as has been disputed — or some other nutter, you’ve got to admit, it’s a great, terrifying story.