Honoring the victims:
- Glinda Sodemann, 19, Fairbanks, Alaska (August 29, 1979)
- Doris Oehring, 11, North Pole, Alaska (June 13, 1980)
- Marlene Peters, 21, Tanana, Alaska (January 31, 1981)
- Wendy Wilson, 16, Eielson, Alaska (March 5, 1981)
- Lori King, 18, Fairbanks, Alaska (May 16, 1981)
- Cassandra Goodwin, 22, Henrietta, Texas (never admitted to homicide)
On June 13, 1980, 11-year-old Doris Oehring went missing from North Pole, Alaska; they found her bike in the ditch. Luckily, a witness saw a blue vehicle near the area where the bicycle was found and helped the police create a composite sketch; but no leads were generated. To make matters worse, this was the second known abduction in less than a year. Eight months earlier, on August 29, 1979, a boy hunting in the woods found the decomposing body of 19-year-old Glinda Sodemann; she had been strangled and shot. Nine months after Doris Oehring mysteriously went missing; 16-year-old Wendy Wilson disappeared; her friend last saw her talking to a man in a white truck. Wendy’s body was found three days later; she had been strangled and shot in the head as well. Police wondered if there was more than one predator. As the police scrambled to find leads, another body of a woman turned up dead near Eielson Air Force Base. The victim was identified as 21-year-old Marlene Peters; Marlene was strangled and shot in the head too.
The police were panicking because of the number of murders in one location, and then a fifth woman vanished. Troopers teamed up with military and civilian search teams to find the missing and then one day while soldiers were out hunting, they found the body of Lori King; she too was strangled and shot in the head. Unable to calculate the next move of the serial killer, state troopers tried another tactic. They staked out the killer’s dumping grounds within a 10 mile radius of Eielson AFB. And then the killings stopped. And then in November 1982, troopers received a call from Henrietta, Texas informing them a woman had been murdered in the same fashion as their suspected serial killer. Police worked with the military to see if they couldn’t narrow down the suspects based on who owned a blue car or white pick-up truck. And finally, the police came up with a name: Thomas Richard Bunday was a TSgt in the Air Force who transferred to Sheppard AFB shortly after the murder of the fifth victim in Alaska.
Alaska investigators learned Bunday owned a blue car and a white truck, and he was on the Air Force’s radar list because there were several complaints made about his inappropriate sexual remarks to women in the workplace. Alaska investigators also learned Bunday served in the military for fifteen years and was a married, father of two. On March 7, 1983, Alaska investigators talked to Bunday for three hours about everything but the murders and they did this for several days hoping he would confess; but he refused to talk. Bunday didn’t deny the crimes; but refused to confess. After a week of interrogation, the troopers obtained a search warrant to search Bunday’s property. They found a lot of incriminating evidence that directly tied him to the crime in Alaska but had to obtain an arrest warrant from Alaska. Alaska Troopers had no power to arrest outside of Alaska. The Governor offered a private leer jet to bring Bunday back to Alaska. The arrest was the next day but he failed to show up as promised.
Unfortunately, Thomas Bunday slipped past surveillance on his motorcycle. Instead of meeting with the Alaska investigators again, Bunday instead killed himself. Police learned Bunday died by suicide after he crossed the center line and slammed into a truck at a 100 mph. Police were really hoping they would get more information from him before he died. They wanted to know where Doris’ body was so they could give the family closure. In August 1986, three years after Bunday died, Doris’ skull was found in a remote section of Eielson Air Force Base. It was later learned that Bunday’s job in the Air Force most likely allowed him to view his dump sites via surveillance cameras and relive his sadistic behavior. Bunday was most likely watching investigators at the crime scene. Alaska state investigators are convinced that Thomas Richard Bunday was responsible for the five murders in Alaska. And they believe Bunday denied the murder in Texas to avoid the death penalty before opting instead to kill himself on March 15, 1983.
“From 1979 to 1981, Thomas Richard Bunday, a technical sergeant who was stationed at the Eilson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, murdered four women and an 11-year-old girl. With the help of a psychological profile provided by the FBI and a description from an eyewitness, the authorities were eventually able to close in on Bunday. By the time police identified Bunday as their prime suspect, however, he had already been transferred to another base near Wichita Falls, Texas.
When officials from Alaska traveled to Texas to interview Bunday, he admitted to the killings, but the officers didn’t have the jurisdiction to arrest him. The police from Alaska scrambled to get a warrant, and when they went to apprehend Bunday, his wife informed the officials that he had taken off on his motorcycle. Tragically, the officers learned that on March 16, 1983, just hours after they’d obtained an arrest warrant, Bunday drove his motorcycle into the path of an oncoming truck, ending his life.”
Learn more at Ranker.
The tiny town of North Pole, Alaska is a quiet, safe haven best known for Santa Claus. But when the bodies of young women begin turning up one by one, investigators slowly piece together the clues and discover the unlikeliest of killers. -North Pole Slay Ride, Ice Cold Killers (S1,E4)
Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $3.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict. Download the ID Go app or purchase ID True Crime Files & binge away.
Thomas Richard Bunday | Murderpedia
Bunday A Suspect in Murder Cases (1983)
Murder suspect killed in crash (1983)
Man Confesses to Five Slayings
Serial Killer: Thomas Richard Bunday | Bonnies Blog of Crime
Murder at 40 Below: True Crime Stories from Alaska by Tom Brennan (excerpt)
Murder at 40 Below: True Crime Stories from Alaska by Tom Brennan (Amazon)
10 Ice Cold Killers From Alaska That Will Make You Fear The Last Frontier
Ice Cold Killers: North Pole Slay Ride | Vimeo
North Pole Slay Ride | Ice Cold Killers | Investigation Discovery (S1,E4)
North Pole Slay Ride | Ice Cold Killers | Investigation Discovery (website)
North Pole Slay Ride | Ice Cold Killers | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Ice Cold Killers Premiered ‘North Pole Slay Ride’ on ID: Five Women Found Murdered Near Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska (January 1, 2013)