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.
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.