Let us get to know the story of a young handsome man who looks human but isn’t.
Ted Bundy was a charming young man. He was intelligent, articulate and handsome. A young man on a fast track to success. Yet, during a grisly killing spree that spanned for 5 years, Ted Bundy slaughtered more than thirty-five women. After nearly 10 years on death row, Bundy was scheduled to die for the murder of Kimberly Leach, a 12-year-old girl.
He had also admitted to killing more than thirty others in a grisly bloodbath that took him through Washington state, Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Colorado. Since his original capture in 1976, Bundy had become a media sensation. America was mesmerized by the former boy scout, college graduate and law student who was a shining star in Washington State Politics. Once Bundy was arrested, he taunted the system, he escaped twice from Colorado prisons while awaiting murder trials there.
What did the police decipher about Ted Bundy?
Police believed that Bundy’s killing spree had begun in 1974 when he was 28 years old, studying law and living adjacent to the University of Washington in Seattle. He was a very good looking man and at that time nobody could guess that this clean-cut and good looking young man was about to begin a series of rapes, tortures, murders and dismemberments that would shock the world. After midnight on January 4th, 1974, Ted Bundy stood outside the basement bedroom window of Joanie Lenz, an 18-year-old student at the University of Washington.
He entered her room through a door that was accessible from outside. While she slept, he savagely bludgeoned her with a crowbar. The next morning Joanie Lenz was found dead surrounded by a pool of blood. Another victim of his was Lind Ann Healy. She was a senior at the University of Washington. After she was killed, her scattered body parts and the decapitated skull weren’t found by the police for many years. Those who tried to understand his crimes often thought, how did such a charming young man commit such unspeakable crimes against people he didn’t even know. Yet somehow, Bundy, like other serial killers was able to keep his murderous rage secret to his friends, family and colleagues.
He seemed very well adjusted. Appearances can deceive and Ted Bundy was a master of deception. His rampage took the lives of at least thirty-five young women. When he got arrested in 1976, one of the most steadfast people in his defence was his mother, Louise Bundy. She continued to believe in her son until his execution in 1989.
Bundy’s Childhood Trauma:
Many experts believe that the seeds of Bundy’s rage were planted in his childhood. He was a child who was born out of wedlock. Soon after his birth, Louise took him back to Philadelphia where his maternal grandparents lived. That was the beginning of a tragic charade. As he grew, he was told that his grandparents were his mother and father and that Louise was his elder sister. From an early age, Ted sensed that he was living a lie.
Moreover, there were problems at home, Louise’s mother had a history of clinical depression and her father was known to be an extremely violent and frightening individual. As he grew into a young man, the confusion over his relationship with his mother weighed on him. Even at the age of three, there were signs that he was not a well-adjusted child. His mother was so concerned that she moved with Ted to live near her uncle Jack and his family. She also wanted to leave control of her father. In the later years, Ted said that it was devastating to leave Sam, the man he thought was his father.
One evening Louise met a hospital cook named John Bundy. Louise married him a year later and her son finally got the name that he would carry through life, Theodore Robert Bundy. If there was no connection at home, there was even less at school. His junior and high school friends described him as very shy. He suffered from stuttering and he did not date at all. There was a secret side to Ted Bundy that was already emerging. He considered himself above the law.
By the time he was fifteen, he had become an expert at shoplifting. His relationship with women also changed for the worse. He had started to sneak at night to peep into the windows of young girls. Significantly, there had always been suspicions that at the age of fifteen was when Ted Bundy became a killer.
Ted knew a girl named Anne Marrie Bird, who took piano lessons from his great uncle, Jack. She was eight years old when Ted was fifteen. On August 31st 1961, Anne Marrie’s parents found her missing from her bedroom. The search team could not find anything. At that time none had suspected that Ted might have been responsible for Anne Marrie’s death. In the mid-1960s, Ted was a student at the Woodrow Wilson High School in Tacoma, Washington. Although he was smart, good looking and friendly, he was a bit awkward with his fellow students, especially with the girls.
Ted Bundy’s first love triggered the killer in him
In 1967, as part of the façade, Bundy transferred to the University of Asian Studies Program, where he studied Chinese. He began fabricating a new personality. If the old Ted was shy and withdrawn, the new Ted was witty, cool and self-assured. His deception was about to pay off when at the University, Bundy met Stephanie Brooks.
He was particularly attracted to her shoulder-length hair which she wore parted in the middle. She was wealthy, sophisticated and worldly. She was everything that he wished he was. He was in love with her. But to her, he was only a mere college sweetheart with whom she saw no future. He was obsessed with her. However, one day Stephanie told him that their relationship was over. Ted was devastated. With his world unravelling, he dropped out of school and decided to visit his relatives back in Philadelphia. His visit had a purpose. He had to find the answer to the question that had always bothered him.
Who was he? After checking records in Philadelphia, he travelled to Vermont. There, in the city hall, he learnt something he had always suspected. The lady he always thought of as his sister was his biological mother. With all the revelations about his roots and the break up with the love of his life, he was badly shaken.
People who researched Ted Bundy felt that it was then when he decided to take revenge on the women, who he felt had destroyed his life. With an icy resolve, he returned to the University of Washington. He took a room nearby and began studying Psychology. He excelled in all his classes and seemed rejuvenated with a new purpose. Whatever demon raged inside of him, Bundy kept them well hidden. As far as anyone knew, Bundy’s life seemed to be changing for the better when he met Elizabeth Kendall, a young divorcee in 1969. They began a friendship which then turned into a romantic relationship.
His relationship with Elizabeth seemed to work wonders for him. But underneath, he was seething and plotting revenge. The first on his list was Stephanie Brooks. He was secretly talking to her to make her fall in love with him again so that he could hurt her the same way she did. To enhance his image he became active in local politics working on the governor’s re-election campaign. Bundy’s first girlfriend Stephanie still inhabited his thoughts and his plans even in the year 1972.
On a business trip to San Francisco, he met her and the new Ted Bundy swept her off her feet. She even agreed to marry him but as soon as she agreed to marry him, he dumped her. Two days later, on January 4th 1974, Ted Bundy began a five-year rampage of killing that would horrify the nation. Most of his thirty-five victims had one thing in common. They all resembled Stephanie Brooks.
Just a few days after severing his relationship with Stephanie, his reign of terror started. Over the next six months, eight women disappeared from college campuses in Washington, Oregon and Utah. Even Elizabeth had no idea about who Ted Bundy was. From February through June, Karol Valenzuela, Nancy Wilcox, Donna Manson, Susan Rancourt, Brenda Ball and Roberta Parks, all disappeared.
Ted Bundy becomes a monster:
After his capture, Bundy divulged the perverse methods he used to stalk his victims. He preyed upon their kindness by pretending to be injured. That’s how he captured Ann Hawkins. He walked with crutches and dropped his books and asked her to help pick up the books. When she bent over to put his books into his car, he hit her with a tire iron and pushed her inside his car.
Bundy usually drove his victims into the deep woods surrounding Seattle. After he was through, he would discard them deep in the forest. To the Psychiatric experts who studied him, Bundy was unique, straddling two different categories of serial killers. He was both a sexually sadistic serial killer and was also a necrophiliac serial killer. The common characteristics were perversion, lack of conscience and a willingness to sacrifice other’s lives for one’s sexual pleasure. After at least eight murders Ted was becoming an expert at killing.
In July 1974, his addiction led him to take two women in one day. One of the two was Janice Ott. She disappeared from the beach. His next prey was a girl named Denise Naslund. She walked to the restroom at the lake Sammamish with her dog. Her dog returned but she didn’t. After the disappearances of Janice and Denise, a witness came forward who had seen Bundy at Lake Sammamish that afternoon. A composite sketch of the man was circulated. The police received tips and compiled a list of potential suspects named Ted. Bundy’s name was among them.
Between 1973 and 1974, Bundy had been working for the King County Law and Justice planning office. There he was preparing a study on rapists and their victims. He was also secretly studying the procedure the police were using to catch him. By October 1974, five more bodies were found. But most of them had decomposed or were just scattered bones.
Bundy had left no clue behind and he was long gone. Two months earlier he had been accepted by the Utah University School of Law. However, he could not stop himself from killing. Though his outward mask still projected charm and sincerity, the killer underneath it was about to be revealed. Bundy was soon to be identified when one of his victims escaped.
By early November 1974, Ted Bundy had murdered at least eleven women in Washington, Oregon and two more in Utah, where he was then living. At the same time, he was studying law at Utah university. But Bundy was about to make his first mistake. On November 8, he posed as an off duty policeman and tried to abduct 19-year-old Carol DaRonch from a shopping centre.
He told her that somebody broke into her car and offered to help. Inside the car, he tried to handcuff her. Carol fought back and with the handcuff still on her wrists, she jumped out of the car and escaped. But the police weren’t sure who her attacker could be because Bundy was a master of disguise.
Ted Bundy’s trials, interviews and escapes:
Bundy’s luck was about to change. On the morning of August 15, Bundy’s car was stopped by a police officer in Utah. As he was driving erratically, his car was searched. The police found a bag in his car. In that bag were a crowbar, handcuffs, ski mask and many such things that he used for abducting and killing his victims. Bundy was immediately arrested on suspicion of burglary.
They also found gas receipts and maps that later linked Bundy to the sights of the abductions in Colorado and more importantly in a police line up Carol DaRonch identified Bundy as the man who had attacked her.
Then on February 23rd 1976, Bundy went on trial for her attempted kidnapping. As the trial began, Bundy sat in the courtroom, totally convinced that he would be found innocent. But on the stand, Carol DaRonch told of her ordeal and pointed out Bundy as her assailant. He was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
While he was incarcerated, investigators linked him to the murder of Karen Campbell in Colorado. But nothing fazed Ted Bundy. He was even being featured as the lead story on the evening news. In a news channel interview, he was asked if he had ever harmed anyone physically. In his response, he said “No. Again, not in the context of the things you are speaking of”. In April of 1977, he was transferred to Colorado to await trial. There, Bundy fired his lawyers and was granted permission to defend himself in the upcoming case. However, two months later, after casing out the court’s law library, he jumped out of a two-story window and escaped.
Though captured six days later, he wouldn’t stay locked up for long. On new year’s eve 1977, Ted Bundy shimmied through an air duct of the Colorado jail and walked to freedom. Ted Bundy had made a spectacular prison escape and had made his way to Florida. After this incident, he was on the FBI’s most-wanted list.
He changed his name, grew a beard and spent his time walking the Florida State University campus in Tallahassee. Sometime after midnight after January 15, 1978, just two weeks after his escape from jail, Bundy entered the back door of the University’s Chi Omega sorority house. As his victims slept, Bundy crept from room to room, killing Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman. He almost killed their roommates Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner. He wasn’t finished there. Less than a mile away, he broke into the apartment of Sheryl Thomas. Though he had savagely beaten her and left her to die, she survived luckily. She was the fifth woman that Bundy had attacked that night.
Ted Bundy’s death:
However, Bundy’s reign of terror was about to end. On February 15th 1978, a patrolman pulled over a Volkswagen Bug that had been reported stolen. Ted tried to flee on foot but he was arrested and identified. Over the following months, investigators in Florida gathered evidence that tied Bundy to Kimberly Leach’s murder and the murders and assaults at the sorority house. His first trial began in Florida on July 7, 1979. Bundy acted as his defence attorney in the Chi Omega murders. But it was all in vain.
Two weeks later he was found guilty and sentenced to death for the murders of Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman. In January 1980, Bundy went to trial for the murder of Kimberly Leach. Again he was found guilty and sentenced to death. Bundy’s date of execution was scheduled for January of 1989. Outside the jail, the crowd were waiting for the eagerly awaited news of his demise and chanted slogans like “Burn Bundy Burn”.On the 24th of January, 1989, at 7:16 AM, an anonymous executioner pushed the button. 2000 volts surged through Bundy’s body and within 60 seconds, one of the worst serial killers of all time was pronounced dead.
Movies/documentaries on Ted Bundy: A lot of documentaries and movies were made in the past few years, capturing all the stories of Ted Bundy’s dreadful murder. Not only that, in some of the documentaries Elizabeth, his long term girlfriend after Stephanie Brooks, spoke about her and her daughter’s relationship with Ted. Even Netflix launched a documentary on Ted Bundy, where all his taped conversations are shown in the form of a tv series.