Last week’s crime concerned a budding serial killer who supposedly left a message in lipstick begging police to catch him. The press dubbed him the “Lipstick Killer.” This week, we meet Doug Clark, who became infamous as the “Sunset Slayer.” But he didn’t act alone.
Doug Clark was the son of Franklin Clark, a Naval Intelligence officer. Because of his father’s employment, the family moved a lot during Doug’s boyhood. The elder Clark left the Navy in 1958, but the family continued moving around the world. Doug later claimed to have lived in 47 different countries.
Young Doug attended an exclusive school in Switzerland and Culver Military Academy in Indiana. After graduating from Culver, Clark joined the U.S. Air Force. His postings included bases in Colorado and Ohio.
When he finished his stint in the Air Force, Clark drifted around, landing in the Los Angeles area. He worked sporadically, often as a mechanic or a boiler operator. He abruptly quit a job with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. His subsequent employment at a Jergens soap factory ended with his firing because of chronic absences.
Doug Clark Meets Carol Bundy
Clark liked hanging out in a North Hollywood bar called Little Nashville. It was in that bar that he met Carol Bundy in 1980. Bundy had three failed marriages behind her when Clark latched onto her. Before long, Clark moved in with her.
Not long after moving in with Bundy, Clark began bringing prostitutes home to the apartment they shared for threesomes. From there, he degenerated into taking pornographic pictures of an 11-year-old girl who lived near the couple before escalating into pedophilia.
In June 1980, Clark came home one night and told Bundy about two young women he picked up on the Sunset Strip. They were stepsisters (and runaways) Cynthia Chandler and Gina Marano. After forcing them to perform sex acts with him, he shot them and dumped their bodies along the Ventura Freeway. Bundy phoned the police. She admitted she knew about the murders but refused to give any clue to Clark’s identity. Instead of turning him in, she became his accomplice.
Doug Clark Keeps Killing
Twelve days after he killed the first two women, Clark struck again. He lured two prostitutes, Karen Jones and Exxie Wilson, into his car, where he fatally shot them. He removed Wilson’s head, then dumped the bodies in plain sight again. Clark took the head home and stored it in the refrigerator. Two days later, he and Bundy put the head in a box and left it in an alleyway.
Three days after the couple disposed of Wilson’s head, another body was found in some woods in the San Fernando Valley. Police identified the victim as Marnette Comer, a runaway who had been killed three weeks earlier. That made her Clark’s first known victim.
Another body of an unknown young woman was found on August 26, 1980, but never identified. Police attributed this victim also to the serial killer the media had begun calling the Sunset Slayer.
Doug Clark and Carol Bundy Face Justice
One of the headline acts at Little Nashville was an Australian country singer named Jack Murray. Despite Murray being married, he and Bundy had been lovers, and she still attended his shows at the bar. After a performance one night in August 1980, a tipsy Bundy told Murray about her murder spree with Doug Clark. Her confession appalled Murray as it would any normal person, and he intimated he might call the police.
Murray’s reaction threw Bundy into a panic. She lured him into his van after a show one night with the promise of sex. Instead, she shot and stabbed him to death, then decapitated him.
Bundy had never been the most stable person. The psychological pressure of participating in murders grew too much for her to bear. She confessed to killing Murray to her coworkers, and they called the police. Her and Clark’s arrests quickly followed.
Prosecutors charged Bundy with two murders and Clark with six. During the trial, he acted as his own defense counsel (always a bad idea!). His defense strategy was to place all the blame on Bundy, but the jury didn’t buy it. He was sentenced to death in 1983.
Bundy pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain and drew a sentence of 52 years to life.
Carol Bundy died in prison from heart failure on December 9, 2003, at age 61.
Doug Clark has spent forty years on California’s death row. He’s still there (2023), waiting for a date with the executioner that will probably never come.
You can read more about the Sunset Slayer killings in Louise Farr’s 1992 book, The Sunset Murders. The crimes are also the subject of Doug Clark and Carol Bundy: The Horrific True Story Behind the Sunset Strip Slayers, a book in the Real Crime by Real Killers series.
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