Classmates remember a friend 40 years after her murder

LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) - Kimberly Leach was only 12 years old when she was snatched and murdered by Ted Bundy back in 1978.

Kimberly's classmates from back then say the killer's name needs to fade away, but they want Kimberly's spirit to keep flying.

"If you were sad, she was the kind of girl that would cheer you up,” Lisa Little, Kimberly Leach’s best friend at the time, said.

Lisa Little and her Lake City Junior High classmates are remembering the laughs they shared with their friend Kimberly Leach.

"We would get a little bored from going to the church a lot and they would be singing and everybody would be clapping and she and I would be clapping off beat on purpose."

Back in 1978, her friends say Kimberly was a 12 year old angel with big eyes that were like windows to her soul.

"She friended everyone and she was everyone's best friend,” Ruby Bedenbaugh, a friend said.

On February 9th 1978, Kimberly disappeared from what was Lake City Junior High School.

"Our lives changed that day. A lot of us lost our childhood that day and our community lost its childhood."

She was getting her purse back from her homeroom.

"I stood at the stairs waiting for her and she didn't show up,” Little said.

They knew something was horribly wrong.

The Valentine's Dance was just around the corner and Kimberly already had a beautiful pink dress picked out to wear.

“That was the last time we ever saw her was that morning,” Little said.

Police found her body on April 7th, a day before Little's birthday.

“She was the sweetest soul that was stolen from us forty years ago and she needs to be remembered and the monster needs to be forgotten,” Bedenbaugh said.

The memories haven't faded for Kimberly's classmates.

Now, the class of '83 often meets for reunions, remembering the smile that touched the entire community.

"I have a daughter that's named Kimberly Dianne after her and I'm not the only one. Other classmates did the same thing. There's probably more Kimberlys in our community as a legacy to Kimberly and her kindness."

Little also says because of Kimberly's death, a buddy system was adopted by the school.

She says it's also the reason why she and her classmates continue to teach the children in the community about stranger danger.