The man who brutally murdered a Wichita State University coed in 1977 died in a Colorado prison last month – just short of the slaying’s 40th anniversary.
Leonard L. Bell was given a life sentence for the May 15, 1977, stabbing death of 19-year-old Julie Ladd. Ladd, a freshman at WSU, encountered Bell in the basement of her dormitory at about 1:30 a.m. after she went down to do her laundry that day.
Prosecutors at the time said she interrupted him as he was trying to steal money from the coin-operated machines.
He stabbed her to death with a boning knife when she fought his rape attempts, according to The Eagle’s news archives. Afterward, he sexually assaulted her dead body, prosecutors contended at his trial and sentencing.
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The killing, which stunned the city, went unsolved for seven years. By then, Bell was already serving a life term in Colorado for murdering a woman there in 1981.
A Sedgwick County judge handed Bell a similar sentence for Ladd’s slaying and ordered it be served consecutively to the Colorado case.
At the time of his April 17 death, 62-year-old Bell hadn’t yet begun serving the life term he received for stabbing Ladd, Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Todd Fertig said.
The 40th anniversary of her murder was Monday.