Ted Bundy Survivor Kathy Kleiner Reveals Details Of Her Life After The Attack - Exclusive Interview

This article contains descriptions of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Kathy Kleiner Rubin never dreamt that her life would be forever changed by an unspeakable nightmare. Kleiner was a student at Florida State University and was thrilled to be part of the Chi Omega sorority. On the night of January 15th, 1978, as she slept soundly across from her sorority sister, Karen Chandler, two of Kleiner's fellow sisters were being horrifically assaulted and murdered by serial killer Ted Bundy in the next room, who had managed to escape from a Colorado prison. 

After Bundy had finished the gruesome and tragic murders of Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman, he crept into Kleiner and Chandler's room. It was dark; Kleiner recalled Bundy bumping into a trunk on the floor, startling her awake. She describes seeing a "black mass" and remembers it lifting something that she thought could be a pipe over head (it was actually a log), striking her hard in the jaw. The figure turned to Chandler and did the same, then turned back to Kleiner, striking her again, causing unimaginable pain. 

Thankfully, Bundy did not have a chance to bludgeon either woman to death. Nita Neary, one of their sorority sisters, was getting dropped off by her boyfriend after a late-night date. The car headlights shone brightly into their bedroom, and Kleiner remembers thinking it was "God's light." Bundy panicked and ran, leaving Chandler and Kleiner bloody, disoriented, and in desperate need of help. Though both women were safe, their journey to recovery was just beginning. Kleiner's story is inspiring, and she detailed the events in an exclusive interview with Grunge.

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.

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).

Kathy Kleiner's feelings today

I am so excited for your book! How are you feeling about everything right now?

I'm fine. I'm enjoying telling my story. It actually heals me every time I tell it. I like motivating people to do better for themselves if they've been through trauma or they're going through it. If I can give any information or anything that makes them feel better, that's what it's all about.

Something that people don't understand about survivors is that there's a long road to survival. Yes, you survived Ted Bundy, but at that point when you woke up in the hospital, your journey was just starting. It was just beginning.

It was [starting the journey] for being attacked. I had been through trauma. Other than that, at 13, I was diagnosed with lupus, and then [at] 20, it was Bundy's attack. At 30, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. These are all things I've had to live with and go through, and Bundy helped me understand that I'm stronger than I think, and I can get through anything.

Beginning the healing process

I read all about what happened in the sorority house and I can't imagine what you went through, Kathy. Talking about it gives me chills. Does it still trigger you to talk about it?

No, not at all. Really. It's healthy for me. It helps to heal me and like I said, if I can help anyone by hearing my story, that's what I want to do.

What advice would you give to other survivors on how they can start their healing process?

Look forward and keep on going, regardless of if it's a trauma they went through or it's something they're still going through and understand it's not their fault. Whatever's happening, don't blame themselves for it. It's not their fault. Also, they're no longer victims after this is over and they can look forward. They're now survivors and they need to learn how to do that and to talk it out. The more I talk, the better I feel. It's hard for people to start talking about themselves or what they're going through, but keep talking. Talk to anyone that'll listen to you, because it steps you back a little bit from your trauma.

Writing the book and living life

Tell us about your book and why you decided to write it now.

I've been wanting to write it for years. It was the right time for me. It's the 45th anniversary of the attack in January, and I thought it was a good time to bring it out. It took me years to write, and it was an emotional roller coaster for my feelings, good and bad and everything in between. [As] I wrote the book, I named them, each of the women that Bundy attacked, and the girls that he took away from us so soon. I tell about each one of them and I give them a voice by saying what they wanted to do, what their goals were, and who they wanted to be.

Your roommate's name was Karen. Do you guys keep in touch?

No. Over the years, we've separated. She had her life, and I had my life.

Do you talk to anyone from the sorority?

No, not at all. To be fair, the night that [he] attacked, the sorority sisters went through a lot of trauma as well, and they wanted to walk away from being part of the sorority. It had [everything] to do with Bundy. They didn't contact me during the years, but they had their lives they were going through and what they wanted to do. I don't really blame them for that.

Ted Bundy's execution

You were actually present for Ted Bundy's execution, is that right?

I did not go. I was on the phone with Larry Simpson, who was the attorney general at the time, and he kept me on cue on when he was actually executed.

Did you get any feeling that you might be able to describe?

It's been so many years and he had so many stays of execution that I wasn't even sure this time it was going to take. It took over 10 years for him to be electrocuted after the verdict was passed down. I remember when it was happening and it was over, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa, and he had his arm around me and I started crying and crying and I was crying for the girls that died and for Margaret and Lisa who were killed, and that their lives didn't get 10 more years after his execution.

After I cried, I composed myself and I didn't cry for myself, because I knew I was going to be okay, so I composed myself, I looked at my husband and said, "I'm hungry. Let's go to breakfast." He said, "Okay. You want bagels?"

I was curious to know if Ted Bundy's daughter ever reached out to you or any of the other survivors?

No, that I know of. A lot of people processed this in different ways, and some people don't want to talk about it. A lot of people are scared to talk about it, unlike me. I'm out there, I want to tell my story of survival and, like I said, to help anyone that might need my words and to bring light and a voice to his victims.

How to survive

Something that I always think of is how I would react in a situation like that when I'm being attacked, because you're completely thrown off your guard. It's terrifying. I know it's been a long time, but can you give anyone any advice to handle a situation like that?

It happened so fast. It was seconds. It was minutes, but it felt like seconds. Like I said, they need to talk it out as much as they can, and they all have obstacles in their way, and they'll find it slow going, but don't go backwards. Don't look backwards. Look forward to whatever else is good, because there's good things out there. They may cry, they may hurt again, but you got to keep walking forward.

Where can people find your book?

It's going to be on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and pretty much any bookstore that they want to check out. If you pull up Amazon, there's a little short film about me, or a short snippet about who I'm and what I've done. The book has been really successful. It's the first day it's been out, and we've gotten lots of good reviews and everything, and I'm so stoked. It's so cool.

Kathy Kleiner's book, "A Light in the Dark: Surviving More than Ted Bundy," is now available online and in stores.

This interview has been edited for clarity.