Donna Gail Manson

Manson, circa 1974; Ted Bundy in the 1980s

  • Missing Since 03/12/1974
  • Missing From Olympia, Washington
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 06/09/1954 (65)
  • Age 19 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'0, 100 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A red, orange and green striped shirt, blue or green slacks, a fuzzy black full-length coat, an oval-shaped brown agate ring, and a Bulova Caravell wristwatch.
  • Medical Conditions Manson was depressed at the time of her disappearance and may have been suicidal.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes.

Details of Disappearance

Manson was a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington in 1974. She has never been heard from again. She was not reported as a missing person for six days, as she often hitchhiked to nearby locales and could disappear for several days at a time without notice. Friends initially believed Manson had decided to travel without sharing her plans beforehand.

Serial killer Ted Bundy confessed to Manson's murder before his 1989 execution. A photo of Bundy is posted with this case summary. He claimed that her partial skeleton had been recovered by authorities on March 3, 1975 at Taylor Mountain, Washington, but had not been identified. Bundy's statement has never been confirmed.

Two fishermen discovered a human skull while walking near Highway 7 southwest of Eatonville, Washington on August 29, 1978. The area is near the foothills of Mount Rainer. Searchers also located additional bones, hair and clothing near the scene. A multi-colored shirt was among the discoveries; it was similar in style to the shirt Manson wore on the day of her 1974 disappearance.

Authorities apparently believed the Eatonville skeleton was placed at the scene after 1974. Pierce County, Washington officials did not compare Manson's records to those of the unidentified victim, although a King County, Washington investigator inquired about the possibility during the late 1970s. X-rays and additional records for the victim disappeared from Pierce County sometime afterwards. It is unclear what happened to the documents.

A forensic dentist employed by law enforcement officials ruled out seven missing persons as potential matches for the Eatonville remains in 1978. Manson remained the only possible match with the victim, although the skeleton was destroyed afterwards. Two sets of Pierce County's unidentified remains were taken to a landfill in Tacoma, Washington and another skeleton was misplaced at an undetermined location during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The accidents occurred during routine purges of the sheriff's office property room.

Manson's case was revived for a short time in the 1990s after the details about the lost remains and documents were revealed. No additional evidence regarding her case was uncovered.

Authorities believe that Manson was a victim of Bundy, along with  Nancy Baird, Ann Marie Burr, Lynette Culver, Julie Cunningham, Susan Curtis, Georgeann Hawkins, Vicki Hollar, Rita Jolly, Denise Oliverson, Nancy Wilcox, and other girls and young women. They remain listed as missing persons and have never been recovered.

Investigating Agency

  • Thurston County Sheriff's Office 360-786-5500

Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 4, 2016; picture added, clothing/jewelry description updated.