The Spirit-Led Mistake That Helped One Member Capture Ted Bundy

ted bundy being escorted by a police officer

I have a slight obsession with true crime. It’s no secret. In fact, the first article I ever wrote here at Third Hour was about Ted Bundy! As I did my research for that story, I learned an incredible factoid. The police officer that put Bundy behind bars? He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Related: Ted Bundy and the Truth About His Church Membership

Wait, what?

You heard me right! Back in 1975, mass murderer, Ted Bundy, was finally arrested during a “routine” traffic stop in Salt Lake City, Utah. The officer responsible said he believed the Lord sent him in that direction and that the Holy Ghost prompted the route he took that evening. “It was the best stop I ever made in my 33-year career,” he said.

So, who was he?

Robert Hayward young serving in the Navy

His name was Officer Robert Hayward. He was a Utah Highway Patrol trooper and faithful member of the Church. Hayward was born in 1926 and raised in Salt Lake City. In 1944, he served in the Navy. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Utah Highway Patrol.

In 1992, Hayward was sealed in the Salt Lake City temple to his “eternal sweetheart,” Marian. Together, they had three daughters, eight grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren! According to his obituary, “His family was his life.”

Hayward was a Utah Highway Patrol trooper for 33 years. He retired as a captain. He lived an amazing life. In 2017, he passed away never having forgotten the experience of arresting Ted Bundy.

The Chase

Ted Bundy's beetle he drove during the chase

It was about 2:45 a.m. on August 16, 1975. Hayward’s shift was almost over. Suddenly, another officer on the radio called for some help a few blocks away. Hayward was excited to be of service and stepped on the gas.

However, for some reason that Hayward could never understand, he took a wrong turn. Along this accidental route was a Volkswagen. The infamous Bundy was behind the steering wheel. The bright lights of Hayward’s unmarked car must have spooked the criminal because Bundy took off as fast as he could.

In a video posted to YouTube, Hayward described turning on his police lights and undergoing a chase. For several minutes, Bundy drove as fast as possible through neighborhoods. The officer never gave up. He knew undoubtedly that something was off about this driver.

The Arrest

Finally, Bundy stopped at a gas station. He got out of his vehicle and began walking towards Hayward who had just pulled in behind him. After calling for backup, the officer asked Bundy if he could take a look through his car. Bundy obliged.

Hayward discovered pantyhose, handcuffs, a ski mask, and other “burglary tools.” Bundy said they were for his classes at law school. However, Hayward knew there was something wrong. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but the Spirit was whispering that he could not release this man.

Hayward decided to book Bundy with charges of evading a police officer. However, he made sure to tell other officers at the station to look deeper. By doing this, they were able to connect him with the kidnapping of Carol DaRonch. The rest is history.

The Spirit

As I watched Hayward tell the story and drive through the same neighborhoods from that night, one thing stuck out to me. Hayward drove past an old church building and mentioned how much he enjoyed helping build it many years ago.

Robert Hayward loved to serve his Heavenly Father. He was always trying to do the right thing. Because of this, I am sure he had the Spirit with him on that early August morning.

Turning a Wrong Into a Right

Utah Highway Patrol trooper Robert Hayward

Making that wrong turn ended up saving countless lives. Hayward may have thought it was a mistake at first, but he was exactly where he needed to be. I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason. Heavenly Father has a way of turning wrongs into rights.

You never know where a prompting could take you. Captain Robert Hayward taught me that we should follow even the littlest ones. They can make the biggest difference.

Related: Seek Spiritual Strength by Following the Promptings of the Holy Ghost

Watch Robert Hayward tell his whole story in this video!

Brooklyn Gittins is an enthusiastic member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has written for food and lifestyle blogs but is currently sharpening her skills as a writing intern for Third Hour. She enjoys spending time with her husband, petting dogs, and eating buttered noodles.