Forty years ago today, Edie Hawkins got the news – her daughter was missing.
It would be 15 years before it was confirmed, but Hawkins says she knew almost immediately that 18-year-old Georgann was dead.
Days before he was executed in January 1989, serial killer Ted Bundy recounted in taped interviews how he killed the University of Washington freshman. It was one of 30 homicides in seven states tied to Bundy, and the one Bundy talked about the most. Law officials believe the toll is much higher.
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The sun pours into Edie Hawkins’ living room in Green Valley. It’s a large home, bright and well-appointed. She and her husband, Warren, had the house built nearly 30 years ago when they retired here from Washington state.
Hawkins has a strong voice, and is direct and to the point, traits that served her well in her job working in urban renewal. A few details have faded over the decades, but not much.
She gestures toward a pile of school awards, sympathy cards and a thick scrapbook on the coffee table.
“That’s it,” she says. “That’s all I have left of my daughter.”
The items have been stored in a chest. She says she hasn’t looked at them in 30 years.
Edie Hawkins sits in a chair, looking two decades younger than her 93 years, and quietly asks, “What did you want to know about her?”
Georgann Hawkins was a wiggle worm, and it’s well-documented in report cards that grade-school teachers sent home to her mom and dad. The little girl couldn’t sit still and she loved to talk.
“I used to wait for the report card that didn’t have a note in it,” Edie says with a laugh. “There weren’t many of them.”
It all fed into the young lady Georgann Hawkins was becoming, the one Edie called “the Pied Piper” because people loved to be around her.
“She had quite a following but she was not the kind of person who stuck to one group or clique. She had friends among everybody, older than her and younger than her,” she says with a touch of pride.
“She was a very self-confident little girl … she wasn’t vain, she wasn’t arrogant and she wasn’t snooty. That’s why kids liked her.”
Georgann — friends called her George — was in the Brownies, learned to swim early and found success in the pool. Tucked in a small box of her belongings is an AAU swimming medal.
“She swam competitively for quite a while until she found out about boys, then that was about it,” Edie says with a grin.
A meticulous scrapbook details what would be the biggest year in the short but full life of Georgann Hawkins.
In 1972-73, the 17-year-old Lakes High School senior was named to the royal court of the Washington Daffodil Festival. To this day, the 81-year-old festival is one of the biggest events in the state.
Georgann made the newspapers regularly as the princesses traveled the state attending concerts, meeting children, riding in parades and signing autographs at charity events. A highlight was a trip to the state Legislature, where Georgann addressed lawmakers in spring 1973.
“She learned a tremendous amount about life and people and everything through that,” Edie says. “It was a wonderful experience.”
The Pied Piper worked her magic across the state, looking as comfortable modeling funky '70s fashions for the camera as she did talking to elected officials and business owners.
But Georgann, a beautiful young woman with long, brown hair and an easy smile, had more mountains to climb. In just a few months, she was headed to college.
University of Washington
Georgann’s sister, Patti — five years older — attended Central Washington, two or three hours away. Edie wanted her youngest daughter closer and suggested the University of Washington in Seattle, about 30 miles from their home in Tacoma.
Mom and Dad paid tuition, books, room and board; Georgann worked all summer to pay for everything else — mainly pizza and fun, Edie says. Georgann joined a sorority and jumped into her freshman year with the same enthusiasm that marked her life.
The Watergate hearings opened in May that year, but Edie doesn’t think that motivated Georgann to study TV journalism. She liked the idea of being in front of the camera, she said, in the middle of the action.
“It’s obvious from the pictures that she was enjoying herself,” Edie says of Georgann’s freshman year. “And she enjoyed being at the sorority house.”
Photos show Georgann at college parties, dance formals and Kappa Alpha Theta events. She’d found a boyfriend and was doing well in her classes. She lamented in phone calls to her mom that she’d put on weight, but Edie could hear it in her voice — her daughter was in her element. She was happy.
Edie Hawkins can’t recall the last time she spoke to her daughter, but says Georgann came home from school in May. A few days later, Georgann sent her mom flowers for Mother's Day.
Edie hesitates a moment then says with a laugh, “And she charged them to my account at the florist!”
She smiles at the memory.
In the early hours of June 11, 1974, Georgann Hawkins was headed back to her sorority house to cram for her Spanish final hours later. She stopped at her boyfriend’s dorm and talked to him through an open window for a few minutes before continuing down a brightly lit alley. She never made it to the sorority.
“I got a telephone call from her sorority sisters asking if she were at home because she hadn’t come home that night,” Edie says. “I said no. That’s when I knew she was missing.”
Edie's contact with the police was brief. Georgann was doing well in her classes, had healthy relationships and no reason to run away.
The father of a sorority sister was a newsman, which pushed the story onto the front pages of newspapers and the top of TV broadcasts more quickly, Edie says.
Georgann’s was the sixth disappearance in the region since Jan. 1 — five in Washington. Edie and her husband quickly learned that police agencies didn’t share much information and there were no databases like today.
“They weren’t even putting things together,” Edie says. Her husband went to several police departments asking whether the missing women were linked somehow.
“It took them quite a while before they got to the point where they thought there was a connection,” she says.
But in her heart, she already knew.
“Almost from the beginning,” Edie says. “It was obvious, they’d been killing young girls just like her.”
Through the rest of 1974, at least seven more women went missing in four states, all with the same characteristics: Young, pretty, long hair parted in the middle, many approached by a handsome man with a fake cast on his leg or arm, a sympathetic figure.
The killings would continue into 1978. Ted Bundy had 30 known victims, but officials say the actual victim count could be as high as 100.
Edie Hawkins and her husband, who died in 2003, gave no interviews and backed away from the case. It’s how they survived.
“I was very, very angry and very bitter, and that was one of the reasons I didn’t want to talk,” she says. “Not only that, but angry, bitter and guilty — you think, what did I do that this ... you know…”
She said Warren was protective and quiet.
“I did not see everything that was printed,” she says. “Of course, he never talked to me about it… It was easier to think of other things.”
Edie, an Episcopalian, says Georgann’s death shook her faith; she stopped going to church for a time.
“All you can do is feed me pap,” she recalls telling a priest shortly after Georgann went missing. “It doesn’t help. It does not help.”
“But then one day I looked at my husband and I said I think we better go back to church, and we did.”
Slowly, and on her own, she has worked her way through anger and bitterness.
When Bundy confessed to several murders, and spoke at length about Georgann, Edie — who moved to Green Valley 10 years after the murder — heard the news from a friend in Washington.
She thinks Bundy confessed in an attempt to keep himself out of the electric chair — maybe he would be spared if detectives thought he could provide information on dozens of unsolved cases.
The ploy didn’t work; Bundy was executed Jan. 24, 1989, in Florida, the state where he committed his last murder. Hundreds of people cheered as his body was removed from the prison. He was cremated and his ashes spread in Washington.
Days after Bundy was executed — and motivated by Bundy’s confession naming her — friends held a memorial for Georgann Hawkins at the high school where she graduated nearly 16 years earlier.
Edie and Warren Hawkins didn’t attend.
“My feeling at the time was, ‘What was it for,’ you know? It wasn’t going to help me any.”
She hasn’t kept in touch with anybody from Georgann’s life.
“I wanted it that way,” she says.
Most of the sympathy cards were tossed, and there was no shrine to her daughter. But she did find comfort in notes that mentioned specifically about how Georgann had touched the lives of so many people. She kept those.
Over the years, Edie turned down People magazine and authors writing books about Bundy. She didn’t like the idea of anybody profiting from the case. Other than one sentence in an AP story after Bundy was executed, Hawkins has not given an interview.
“I’ve never, ever, ever dwelt on how she died. I didn’t want to know how she died.”
Details she read on the Internet decades after the murder have been troubling, but that’s not how she remembers her daughter. Georgann Hawkins was more than a victim.
Technically, the case remains open, Seattle police said.
Edie looks at the coffee table piled with memories from a short but vibrant life and almost seems to wonder aloud why they’ve been packed away for 30 years.
“It just brought back a lot, it really did,” she says. “It brought her closer.”
As for Bundy, Edie Hawkins pauses as she contemplates how her family name will forever be tied to his.
“I haven’t thought about forgiving him,” she says. “How could you forgive somebody who hurts your child? I’m not that gracious an individual.”
“Somebody said leave vengeance up to God, and that I am.”
Dan Shearer | 547-9770