1975 Utah mug shot
|Birth name:||Theodore Robert Cowell|
|Also known as:||Chris Hagen, Richard Burton, Officer Roseland, Rolf Miller|
|Born:||November 24, 1946
Burlington, Vermont, United States
|Died:||January 24, 1989 (aged 42)
|Cause of death:||Execution by electric chair|
|Number of victims:||26–35+|
|Span of killings:||1973 or 1974 – 1978|
|State(s):||Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Florida|
|Date apprehended:||August 16, 1975; escaped December 30, 1977; re-apprehended February 15, 1978|
Theodore Robert "Ted" Bundy, born Theodore Robert Cowell (November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989), was an American serial killer active between 1973 and 1978. He twice escaped from county jails before his final apprehension in February 1978. After more than a decade of vigorous denials, he eventually confessed to over 30 murders, although the actual total of victims remains unknown. Estimates range from 26 to over 100, the general estimate being 35. Typically, Bundy would bludgeon his victims, then strangle them to death. He also engaged in rape and necrophilia. Bundy was executed by electric chair for his last murder by the state of Florida in 1989.
Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell at the Elizabeth Lund Home For Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont, to Eleanor Louise Cowell. While the identity of his father is unknown, Bundy's birth certificate lists a "Lloyd Marshall" (b. 1916), although Bundy's mother would later tell of being seduced by a war veteran named "Jack Worthington". However, Bundy's family did not believe this story, and expressed suspicion about Louise's violent, abusive father, Samuel Cowell. Whatever the truth of Bundy's parentage, to avoid social stigma, Bundy's maternal grandparents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell, claimed him as their son. He grew up believing that his mother was his older sister. Bundy biographers Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth wrote that he learned Louise was actually his mother while he was in high school. True crime writer Ann Rule, who knew Bundy personally, believes it was around 1969, shortly after a traumatic breakup with his college girlfriend.
For the first few years of his life, Bundy and his mother lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1950, while he still believed she was his sister, they moved to live with relatives in Tacoma, Washington. Here, Louise had her son's surname changed from Cowell to Nelson. In 1951, one year after their move, Louise Cowell met Johnny Culpepper Bundy at an adult singles night held at Tacoma's First Methodist Church. In May that year, the couple were married, and soon after Johnny Bundy adopted Ted, legally changing his last name to "Bundy".
Johnny and Louise Bundy had more children, whom the young Bundy spent much of his time babysitting. Johnny Bundy tried to include his high school aged stepson in camping trips and other father-son activities, but the boy remained emotionally detached from his stepfather. Bundy was a good student at Woodrow Wilson High School, in Tacoma. Bundy later would claim he was active in a local Methodist church even serving as vice-president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. He was involved with a local troop of the Boy Scouts of America.
Socially, Bundy remained shy and introverted throughout his high school and early college years. He would say later that he "hit a wall" in high school and that he was unable to understand social behavior, stunting his social development. He maintained a facade of social activity, but he had no natural sense of how to get along with other people, saying: "I didn't know what made things tick. I didn't know what made people want to be friends. I didn't know what made people attractive to one another. I didn't know what underlay social interactions."
Years later on Florida's death row, Bundy would describe a part of himself that, from a young age, was fascinated by images of sex and violence. In early prison interviews, Bundy called this part of himself "the entity". As a teen, Bundy would look through libraries for detective magazines and books on crime, focusing on sources that described sexual violence and featured pictures of dead bodies and violent sexuality. Before he left high school, Bundy was a compulsive thief and a shoplifter. To support his love of skiing, Bundy stole skis and equipment and forged ski-lift tickets. He was arrested twice as a juvenile, but these records were later expunged.
In 1965, Bundy graduated from Woodrow Wilson High. Awarded a scholarship by the University of Puget Sound (UPS), he began that fall taking courses in psychology and Oriental studies. After two semesters at UPS, he decided to transfer to Seattle's University of Washington (UW).
While he was a university student, Bundy worked as a grocery bagger and shelf-stocker at a Seattle Safeway store on Queen Anne Hill, as well as other odd jobs. At this time Bundy did not hold any one job for longer than a few months, and though he was never caught stealing while at work he had been regarded with some suspicion by employers. As part of his course of studies in psychology, he would later work as a night-shift volunteer at Seattle's Suicide Hot Line, a suicide crisis center that served the greater Seattle metropolitan and suburban areas. He met and worked alongside former Seattle policewoman and then-fledgling crime writer Ann Rule, who would later write one of the definitive biographies of Bundy and his crimes, The Stranger Beside Me.
He began a relationship with fellow university student "Stephanie Brooks" (a pseudonym) who he met while enrolled at UW in 1967. She ended the relationship after her 1968 graduation and returned to her family home in California. She was fed up with what she described as Bundy's immaturity and lack of ambition. Thrown into a deep depression by the breakup, Bundy dropped out of college and travelled east. Rule states that, around this time, Bundy decided to visit his birthplace, Burlington, Vermont. There he visited the local records clerk and finally uncovered the truth about his parentage.
After his discovery, Bundy became a more focused and dominant person. Back home in Washington by 1968, he managed the Seattle office of Nelson Rockefeller's Presidential campaign and attended the 1968 Republican convention in Miami, Florida as a Rockefeller supporter. He re-enrolled at UW, this time with a major in psychology. Bundy became an honors student and was well liked by his professors. In 1969, he started dating Elizabeth Kloepfer, a divorced secretary with a daughter, who fell deeply in love with him. They would continue dating for more than six years, until he went to prison for kidnapping in 1976.
Bundy graduated in 1972 from UW with a degree in psychology. Soon afterward, he again went to work for the state Republican Party, which included a close relationship with Gov. Daniel J. Evans. During the campaign, Bundy followed Evans' Democratic opponent around the state, tape recording his speeches and reporting back to Evans personally. A minor scandal later followed when the Democrats found out about Bundy, who had been posing as a college student. In the fall of 1973, Bundy enrolled in the law school at the University of Puget Sound, but he did poorly. He began skipping classes, and finally dropped out in spring 1974 at the same time young women began to disappear in the Pacific Northwest.
While on a business trip to California in the summer of 1973, Bundy came back into the life of his ex-girlfriend "Stephanie Brooks" with a new look and attitude; this time as a serious, dedicated professional who had been accepted to law school. Bundy continued to date Kloepfer as well, and neither woman was aware the other existed. Bundy courted Brooks throughout the rest of the year, and she accepted his marriage proposal. Two weeks later, however, shortly after New Year's 1974, he unceremoniously dumped her, refusing to return her phone calls. A few weeks after this breakup, Bundy began a murderous rampage in Washington state.
There is no definitive agreement on when and where Bundy began killing people. Ann Rule and former King County detective Robert D. Keppel, who investigated the 1974 Washington murders, believe Bundy may have started killing as far back as his early teens. Ann Marie Burr, an eight-year-old girl from Tacoma, vanished from her home in 1961, when Bundy was 14 years old. Bundy always denied killing her. The day before his execution, Bundy told his lawyer that he made his first attempt to kidnap a woman in 1969, and implied that he committed his first actual murder sometime in 1972. A psychiatrist who interviewed him said Bundy claimed to have killed two women while staying with family in Philadelphia in 1969. At one point in his death-row confessions with Keppel, Bundy said he committed his first murder in 1972. In 1973, one of Bundy's friends saw a pair of handcuffs in the back of Bundy's Volkswagen. He was for many years a suspect in the December 1973 murder of Kathy Devine in Washington state, but DNA analysis led to William Cosden's arrest and conviction for that crime in 2002. Bundy's earliest known, identified murders were committed in 1974, when he was 27.
Shortly after midnight on January 4, 1974, Bundy entered the basement bedroom of 18-year-old "Joni Lenz" (a pseudonym), a dancer and student at UW. Bundy bludgeoned her with a metal rod from her bed frame while she slept and sexually assaulted her with a speculum. Lenz was found the next morning by her roommates lying in a pool of her own blood. She was in a coma for ten days, but she survived the attack. Bundy's next victim was Lynda Ann Healy, another UW student (and his cousin's roommate). In the early morning of February 1, 1974, Bundy broke into Healy's room, knocked her unconscious, dressed her in jeans and a shirt, wrapped her in a bed sheet, and carried her away.
Young female college students began disappearing at a rate of roughly one per month. On March 12, 1974, in Olympia, Bundy kidnapped and murdered Donna Gail Manson, a 19-year-old student at The Evergreen State College. On April 17, 1974, Susan Rancourt disappeared from the campus of Central Washington State College (now Central Washington University) in Ellensburg. Later, two different CWSC students would recount meeting a man with his arm in a sling—one that night, one three nights earlier—who asked for their help to carry a load of books to his Volkswagen Beetle. Next was Kathy Parks, last seen on the campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, on May 6, 1974. Brenda Ball, the first victim who wasn't a college student, was never seen again after leaving The Flame Tavern in Burien on June 1, 1974. Bundy then murdered Georgeann Hawkins, a student at UW and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, an on-campus sorority. In the early morning of June 11, 1974, she walked through an alley from her boyfriend's dormitory residence to her sorority house. She was never seen again. Witnesses later reported seeing a man with a leg cast struggling to carry a briefcase in the area that night. One student reported that the man had asked for her help in carrying the briefcase to his car, a Beetle.
Bundy's Washington killing spree culminated on July 14, 1974, with the daytime abduction of Janice Ott and Denise Naslund from Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. That day, eight different people told the police about the handsome young man with his left arm in a sling who called himself "Ted". Five of them were women who "Ted" asked for help unloading a sailboat from his Beetle. One of them went with "Ted" as far as his car, where there was no sailboat, before declining to accompany him any further. Three more witnesses testified to seeing him approach Ott with the story about the sailboat and to seeing her walk away from the beach in his company. She was never seen alive again. Naslund disappeared without a trace four hours later.
King County detectives now had a description both of the suspect and his car. Some witnesses told investigators that the "Ted" they encountered spoke with a clipped, British-like accent. Soon, fliers were up all over the Seattle area. After seeing the police sketch and description of the Lake Sammamish suspect in both of the local newspapers and on television news reports, Bundy's girlfriend, one of his psychology professors at UW, and former co-worker Ann Rule all reported him as a possible suspect. The police, receiving up to 200 tips per day, did not pay any special attention to a tip about a clean-cut law student.
The fragmented remains of Ott and Naslund were discovered on September 7, 1974, off Interstate 90 near Issaquah, one mile from the park. Found along with the women's remains was an extra femur bone and vertebrae, which Bundy would identify as that of Georgeann Hawkins shortly before his execution. Between March 1 and March 3, 1975, the skulls and jawbones of Healy, Rancourt, Parks and Ball were found on Taylor Mountain just east of Issaquah. Years later, Bundy claimed that he had also dumped Donna Manson's body there, but no trace of her was ever found.
That autumn, Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah law school. On Sept. 2, while on the way, he picked up a hitchhiker in Idaho, raped her and strangled her to death; her identity remains unknown and no body was ever found. Nancy Wilcox disappeared from Holladay, Utah, on October 2, 1974. Wilcox was last seen riding in a Volkswagen Beetle. On October 18, 1974, Bundy murdered Melissa Smith, the 17-year-old daughter of Midvale police chief Louis Smith; Bundy raped, sodomized and strangled her. Her body was found nine days later. Postmortem examination indicated that she had been kept alive for at least five days after she disappeared. Next was Laura Aime, also 17, who disappeared when she left a Halloween party in Lehi, Utah, on October 31, 1974; her naked, beaten and strangled corpse was found nearly a month later by hikers on Thanksgiving Day, on the banks of a river in American Fork Canyon.
In Murray, Utah, on November 8, 1974, Carol DaRonch narrowly escaped Ted Bundy with her life. Claiming to be "Officer Roseland" of the Murray Police Department, Bundy approached DaRonch at Fashion Place Mall, told her someone had tried to break into her car, and asked her to accompany him to the police station. She got into his car but refused his instruction to buckle her seat belt. They drove for a short time before Bundy suddenly pulled to the shoulder and attempted to handcuff DaRonch. During their struggle, Bundy fastened each handcuff to the same wrist. Bundy pulled out his crowbar, but DaRonch caught it in the air just before it struck her skull. She then managed to get the car door open and tumbled out onto the highway, escaping from her would-be killer.
About an hour later, a strange man showed up at Viewmont High School in Bountiful, Utah, nineteen miles away from Murray. The Viewmont High drama club was putting on a play in the auditorium. The strange man approached the drama teacher and then a student, asking both to come out to the parking lot to identify a car. Both declined. The drama teacher saw him again shortly before the end of the play, this time breathing hard, with his hair mussed and his shirt untucked. Another student saw the man lurking in the rear of the auditorium. Debby Kent, a 17-year-old Viewmont High student, left the play at intermission to go and pick up her brother, and was never seen again. Later, investigators found a small key in the parking lot outside Viewmont High. It unlocked the handcuffs taken off Carol DaRonch.
In 1975, while still attending law school at the University of Utah, Bundy shifted his crimes to Colorado. On January 12, 1975, Caryn Campbell disappeared from the Wildwood Inn at Snowmass, Colorado, where she had been vacationing with her fiancé and his children. She vanished somewhere in a span of 50 feet between the elevator doors and her room. Her body was found on February 17, 1975. Next, Vail ski instructor Julie Cunningham disappeared on March 15, 1975, and Denise Oliverson in Grand Junction on April 6, 1975. While in prison, Bundy confessed to Colorado investigators that he used crutches to approach Cunningham, after asking her to help him carry some ski boots to his car. At the car, Bundy clubbed her with his crowbar and immobilized her with handcuffs, later strangling her in a crime highly similar to the Hawkins murder.
Lynette Culver, a 12-year-old girl, went missing on May 6, 1975. In a crime similar to the later murder of Kimberly Leach, Bundy lured her from her junior high school in Pocatello, Idaho, took her to a Holiday Inn where Bundy had a room, raped her and drowned her. Back in Utah, Susan Curtis vanished from the campus of Brigham Young University on June 28, 1975. (Bundy confessed to the Curtis murder minutes before his execution.) The bodies of Wilcox, Kent, Cunningham, Culver, Curtis and Oliverson have never been recovered.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, investigators were attempting to prioritize their enormous list of suspects. They used computers to cross-check different likely lists of suspects (classmates of Lynda Healy, owners of Volkswagens, etc) against each other, and then identify suspects who turned up on more than one list. "Theodore Robert Bundy" was one of 25 people who turned up on four separate lists, and his case file was next on the "To Be Investigated" pile when the call came from Utah of an arrest.
Bundy was arrested for the first time on August 16, 1975, in Granger, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, for failure to stop for a police officer. A search of his car revealed a ski mask, another mask made from pantyhose, a crowbar, handcuffs, trash bags, a coil of rope, an icepick, and other items that were thought by the police to be burglary tools. Bundy remained calm during questioning, explaining that he needed the mask for skiing and had found the handcuffs in a dumpster. Utah detective Jerry Thompson connected Bundy and his Volkswagen to the DaRonch kidnapping and the missing girls, and searched his apartment. The search uncovered a guide to Colorado ski resorts, with a check mark by the Wildwood Inn where Caryn Campbell had disappeared, and a brochure advertising the Viewmont High School play in Bountiful from where Debby Kent had disappeared. After searching his apartment, the police brought Bundy in for a lineup before DaRonch and the Bountiful witnesses. They identified him as "Officer Roseland" and as the man lurking about the night Debby Kent disappeared. Following a week-long trial, Bundy was convicted of DaRonch's kidnapping on March 1, 1976, and was sentenced to 15 years in Utah State Prison. Colorado authorities were pursuing murder charges, however, and Bundy was extradited there to stand trial.
On June 7, 1977, in preparation for a hearing in the Caryn Campbell murder trial, Bundy was taken to the Pitkin County courthouse in Aspen. During a court recess, he was allowed to visit the courthouse's law library, where he jumped out of the building from a second-story window and escaped, spraining his right ankle during the jump. In the minutes following his escape, Bundy at first ran and then strolled casually through the small town toward Aspen Mountain. He made it all the way to the top of Aspen Mountain without being detected, where he rested for two days in an abandoned hunting cabin. But afterwards, he lost his sense of direction and wandered around the mountain, missing two trails that led down off the mountain to his intended destination, the town of Crested Butte. At one point he talked his way out of danger after coming face-to-face with a gun-toting citizen who was one of the searchers scouring Aspen Mountain for Ted Bundy. On June 13, 1977, Bundy stole a car he found on the mountain. He drove back into Aspen and could have gotten away, but two police deputies noticed the Cadillac with dimmed headlights weaving in and out of its lane and pulled Bundy over. They recognized him and took him back to jail. Bundy had been on the lam for six days.
He was back in custody, but Bundy worked on a new escape plan. He was being held in the Glenwood Springs, Colorado, jail while he awaited trial. He had acquired a hacksaw blade and $500 in cash; he later claimed the blade came from another prison inmate. Over two weeks, he sawed through the welds fixing a small metal plate in the ceiling and, after dieting to lose weight, was able to fit through the hole and access the crawl space above. An informant in the prison told officers that he had heard Bundy moving around the ceiling during the nights before his escape, but the matter was not investigated. When Bundy's Aspen trial judge ruled on December 23, 1977, that the Caryn Campbell murder trial would start on January 9, 1978, and changed the venue to Colorado Springs, Bundy realized that he had to make his escape before he was transferred out of the Glenwood Springs jail. On the night of December 30, 1977, Bundy dressed warmly and packed books and files under his blanket to make it appear as though he was sleeping. He wriggled through the hole and up into the crawlspace. Bundy crawled over to a spot directly above the jailer's linen closet — the jailer and his wife were out for the evening — dropped down into the jailer's apartment, and walked out the door.
Bundy was free, but he was on foot in the middle of a bitterly cold, snowy Colorado night. He stole a broken-down MG, but it stalled in the mountains. Bundy was stuck on the side of Interstate 70 in the middle of the night in a blizzard, but another driver gave him a ride into Vail. From there he caught a bus to Denver and boarded the TWA 8:55 a.m. flight to Chicago. The Glenwood Springs jail officers did not notice Bundy was gone until noon on December 31, 1977, 17 hours after his escape, by which time Bundy was already in Chicago.
Following his arrival in Chicago, Bundy then caught an Amtrak train to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he got a room at the YMCA. On January 2, 1978, he went to an Ann Arbor bar and watched the University of Washington Huskies, the team of his alma mater, beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. He later stole a car in Ann Arbor, which he abandoned in Atlanta, Georgia before boarding a bus for Tallahassee, Florida, where he arrived on January 8. There, he rented a room at a boarding house under the alias of "Chris Hagen" and committed numerous petty crimes including shoplifting, purse snatching, and auto theft. He grew a mustache and drew a fake mole on his right cheek when he went out, but aside from that, he made no real attempt at a disguise. Bundy tried to find work at a construction site, but when the personnel officer asked Bundy for his driver's license for identification, Bundy walked away. This was his only attempt at job hunting.
One week after Bundy's arrival in Tallahassee, at approximately 3 a.m. on January 15, Bundy entered the Florida State University Chi Omega sorority house and killed two sleeping women, Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman. Bludgeoning and strangling them both, he also sexually assaulted Levy. Bundy then moved from Levy's and Bowman's rooms to bludgeon and severely injure two other Chi Omegas, roommates Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner. The entire episode took no more than half an hour. After leaving the Chi Omega house, Bundy broke into another home a few blocks away, clubbing and severely injuring Florida State University student Cheryl Thomas.
On February 8, Bundy traveled to Jacksonville. He approached a fourteen-year-old girl named Leslie Parmenter in a K-Mart parking lot, pretending to be "Richard Burton, Fire Department", but left hurriedly when her older brother arrived. He moved on to Lake City, Florida. The next day he abducted 12-year-old Kimberly Leach from the grounds of Lake City Junior High School. Bundy raped and murdered Leach, throwing her body under a small pig shed. On February 12, he stole yet another Volkswagen Beetle and left Tallahassee for good, heading west across the Florida panhandle. On February 15, shortly after 1 a.m., Bundy was stopped by Pensacola police officer David Lee. When the officer called in a check of the license plate, the vehicle came up as stolen. Bundy then fought with the officer before he was finally subdued. As Lee took the unknown suspect to jail, Bundy said "I wish you had killed me." The Florida Department of Law Enforcement made a positive fingerprint identification early the next day. He was immediately transported to Tallahassee, where he was later charged with the Chi Omega murders.
After a change of venue to Miami, Bundy went to trial for the Chi Omega murders in June 1979, with Dade County Circuit Court Judge Edward D. Cowart presiding. Despite having five court-appointed lawyers, he insisted on acting as his own attorney and even cross-examined witnesses, including the police officer who had discovered Margaret Bowman's body. He was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Larry Simpson.
Two pieces of evidence proved crucial. First, Chi Omega member Nita Neary, getting back to the house very late after a date, saw Bundy as he left, and identified him in court. Second, during his homicidal frenzy, Bundy bit Lisa Levy in her left buttock, leaving obvious bite marks. Police took plaster casts of Bundy's teeth and a forensics expert matched them to the photographs of Levy's wound. Bundy was convicted on all counts and sentenced to death for the murders of Levy and Bowman.
Bundy was tried in a second, separate proceeding at the Old Orange County Courthouse for the Kimberly Leach murder in January 1980. On February 7, 1980, he was again convicted on all counts, principally due to fibers found in his van that matched Leach's clothing and an eyewitness that saw him leading Leach away from the school, and sentenced to death. During the Kimberly Leach trial, on February 9, 1980, Bundy took advantage of an old law still on the books in the state of Florida that allowed a "declaration" in court to constitute a legal marriage. Bundy proposed to former coworker Carole Ann Boone, who had moved to Florida to be near Bundy, in the courtroom while questioning her on the stand. She readily accepted and Bundy announced to the courtroom that they were married. Following numerous conjugal visits between Bundy and his new wife, Boone gave birth to a daughter in October 1982. However, in 1986 Boone moved back to Washington and never returned to Florida. The current whereabouts of Boone and her daughter are unknown.
While awaiting execution in Starke Prison, Bundy was housed in the cell next to fellow serial killer Ottis Toole, whom police believe is the murderer of Adam Walsh. FBI profiler Robert K. Ressler met with him there as part of his work interviewing serial killers, but found Bundy uncooperative and manipulative, willing to speak only in the third person, and only in hypothetical terms. Writing in 1992, Ressler said of Bundy that "This guy was an animal, and it amazed me that the media seemed unable to understand that."
However, during the same period, Bundy was often visited by Special Agent William Hagmaier of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Sciences Unit. Bundy would come to confide in Hagmaier, going so far as to call him his best friend. Eventually, Bundy confessed to Hagmaier many details of the murders that had until then been unknown or unconfirmed. In October 1984, Bundy contacted former King County homicide detective Bob Keppel and offered to assist in the ongoing search for the Green River Killer by providing his own insights and analysis. Keppel and Green River Task Force detective Dave Reichert traveled to Florida's death row to interview Bundy. Both detectives later stated that these interviews were of little actual help in the investigation; they provided far greater insight into Bundy's own mind, however, and were primarily pursued in the hope of learning the details of unsolved murders which Bundy was suspected of committing.
Bundy contacted Keppel again in 1988. At that point, his appeals were exhausted. Bundy had beaten previous death warrants for March 4, 1986, July 2, 1986, and November 18, 1986. With execution imminent, Bundy confessed to eight official unsolved murders in Washington State for which he was the prime suspect. Bundy told Keppel that there were actually five bodies left on Taylor Mountain, not four as they had originally thought. Bundy confessed in detail to the murder of Georgeann Hawkins, describing how he lured her to his car, clubbed her with a tire iron that he had stashed on the ground under his car, drove away with her in the car with him, and later raped and strangled her. After the interview, Keppel reported that he had been shocked in speaking with Bundy, and that he was the kind of man who was "born to kill." Keppel stated:
"He described the Issaquah crime scene [where Janice Ott, Denise Naslund, and Georgeann Hawkins had been left], and it was almost like he was just there. Like he was seeing everything. He was infatuated with the idea because he spent so much time there. He is just totally consumed with murder all the time."
Bundy also confessed to murders in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. Bundy had hoped he could use the revelations and partial confessions to get another stay of execution or possibly commute his sentence to life imprisonment. At one point, a legal advocate working for Bundy asked many of the families of the victims to fax letters to Florida Governor Robert Martinez and ask for mercy for Bundy in order to find out where the remains of their loved ones were. All of the families refused. Keppel and others reported that Bundy gave scant detail about his crimes during his confessions, and promised to reveal more and other body dump sites if he were given "more time." The ploy failed and Bundy was executed on schedule.
The night before he was executed, Bundy granted a taped interview to Dr. James Dobson, psychologist and founder of the Christian evangelical organization Focus on the Family. During the interview, Bundy made repeated, previously unclaimed statements regarding pornographic "root" of his crimes. Bundy stated that while pornography did not cause him to commit murder, the consumption of violent pornography helped "shape and mold" his violence into "behavior too terrible to describe." He alleged that he felt that violence in the media, "particularly sexualized violence," sent boys "down the road to being Ted Bundys." In the same interview, Bundy stated:
"You are going to kill me, and that will protect society from me. But out there are many, many more people who are addicted to pornography, and you are doing nothing about that."
At 7:06 a.m. local time on January 24, 1989, he was strapped into "Old Sparky", the electric chair at Florida State Prison in Starke, Florida. His last words were, "I'd like you to give my love to my family and friends." Two thousand volts then coursed through his body for less than two minutes. He was pronounced dead at 7:16 a.m.; at the confirmation of his execution, several hundred people gathered outside the prison cheered.
Bundy had a fairly consistent modus operandi. He would approach a potential victim in a public place, even in daylight or in a crowd, as when he abducted Ott and Naslund at Lake Sammamish or when he kidnapped Leach from her school. Bundy had various ways of gaining a victim's trust. Sometimes, he would feign injury, wearing his arm in a sling or wearing a fake cast, as in the murders of Hawkins, Rancourt, Ott, Naslund, and Cunningham. At other times Bundy would impersonate an authority figure. He pretended to be a policeman when approaching Carol DaRonch, and a fireman to Leslie Parmenter.
Bundy had a remarkable advantage in that his facial features were attractive, yet not especially memorable. In later years, he would often be described as chameleon-like, able to look totally different by making only minor adjustments to his appearance, e.g., growing a beard or changing his hairstyle.
All of Bundy's victims were white females and most were of middle class background. Almost all were between the ages of 15 and 25. Many were college students. In her book, Rule notes that most of Bundy's victims had long straight hair parted in the middle—just like Stephanie Brooks, the woman to whom Bundy was engaged in 1973. Rule speculates that Bundy's resentment towards his first girlfriend was a motivating factor in his string of murders. However, in a 1980 interview, Bundy dismissed this hypothesis: "[t]hey...just fit the general criteria of being young and attractive...Too many people have bought this crap that all the girls were similar — hair about the same color, parted in the middle...but if you look at it, almost everything was dissimilar...physically, they were almost all different."
After luring a victim to his car, Bundy would hit her in the head with a crowbar he had placed underneath his Volkswagen or hidden inside it. Every recovered skull, except for that of Kimberly Leach, showed signs of blunt force trauma. Every recovered body, except for that of Leach, showed signs of strangulation. Many of Bundy's victims were transported a considerable distance from where they disappeared, as in the case of Kathy Parks, who he drove more than 260 miles from Oregon to Washington. Bundy often would drink alcohol prior to finding a victim; Carol DaRonch testified to smelling alcohol on his breath.
Hagmaier stated that Bundy considered himself to be an amateur and impulsive killer in his early years, and then moved into what he considered to be his "prime" or "predator" phase. Bundy stated that this phase began around the time of the Lynda Healy murder, when he began seeking victims he considered to be equal to his skill as a murderer.
On death row, Bundy admitted to decapitating at least a dozen of his victims with a hacksaw. He kept the severed heads later found on Taylor Mountain (Rancourt, Parks, Ball, Healy) in his room or apartment for some time before finally disposing of them. He confessed to cremating Donna Manson's head in his girlfriend's fireplace. Some of the skulls of Bundy's victims were found with the front teeth broken out. Bundy also confessed to visiting his victims' bodies over and over again at the Taylor Mountain body dump site. He stated that he would lie with them for hours, applying makeup to their corpses and having sex with their decomposing bodies until putrefaction forced him to abandon the remains. Not long before his death, Bundy admitted to returning to the corpse of Georgeann Hawkins for purposes of necrophilia.
Bundy confessed to keeping other souvenirs of his crimes. The Utah police who searched Bundy's apartment in 1975 missed a collection of photographs that Bundy had hidden in the utility room, photos that Bundy destroyed when he returned home after being released on bail. His girlfriend Elizabeth once found a bag in his room filled with women's clothing.
When Bundy was confronted by law enforcement officers who stated that they believed the number of individuals he had murdered was 36, Bundy told them that they should "add one digit to that, and you'll have it." Rule speculated that this meant Bundy might have killed over 100 women. Speaking to his lawyer Polly Nelson in 1988, however, Bundy dismissed the 100+ victims speculation and said that the more common estimate of approximately 35 victims was accurate.
In December 1987, Bundy was examined for seven hours by Dorothy Otnow Lewis, a professor from New York University Medical Center. Lewis diagnosed Bundy as a manic depressive whose crimes usually occurred during his depressive episodes. To Lewis, Bundy described his childhood, especially his relationship with his maternal grandparents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell. According to Bundy, grandfather Samuel Cowell was a deacon in his church. Along with the already established description of his grandfather as a tyrannical bully, Bundy described him as a bigot who hated blacks, Italians, Catholics, and Jews. He further stated that his grandfather tortured animals, beating the family dog and swinging neighborhood cats by their tails. He also told Lewis how his grandfather kept a large collection of pornography in his greenhouse where, according to relatives, Bundy and a cousin would sneak to look at it for hours. Family members expressed skepticism over Louise's "Jack Worthington" story of Bundy's parentage and noted that Samuel Cowell once flew into a violent rage when the subject of the boy's father came up. Bundy described his grandmother as a timid and obedient wife, who was sporadically taken to hospitals to undergo shock treatment for depression. Toward the end of her life, Bundy said, she became agoraphobic.
Louise Bundy's younger sister Julia recalled a disturbing incident with her young nephew. After lying down in the Cowells' home for a nap, Julia woke to find herself surrounded by knives from the Cowell kitchen. Three-year-old Ted was standing by the bed, smiling at her.
Most researchers believe Bundy's late insistence upon pornography as a contributing factor in his crimes was another attempt at manipulation; a vain hope of forestalling his execution by feeding James Dobson's own agenda regarding pornography and telling him what he wanted to hear. In the Dobson interview before his execution, Bundy said that violent pornography played a major role in his sex crimes. According to Bundy, as a young boy he found "outside the home again, in the local grocery store, in a local drug store, the soft core pornography that people called soft core...And from time to time we would come across pornographic books of a harder nature...." Bundy said, "It happened in stages, gradually. My experience with pornography generally, but with pornography that deals on a violent level with sexuality, is once you become addicted to it — and I look at this as a kind of addiction like other kinds of addiction — I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Until you reach a point where the pornography only goes so far, you reach that jumping off point where you begin to wonder if maybe actually doing it would give that which is beyond just reading it or looking at it."
In a letter written shortly before his escape from the Glenwood Springs jail, Bundy said "I have known people who...radiate vulnerability. Their facial expressions say 'I am afraid of you.' These people invite abuse... By expecting to be hurt, do they subtly encourage it?" In a 1980 interview, speaking of a serial killer's justification of his actions, Bundy said "So what's one less? What's one less person on the face of the planet?" When Florida detectives asked Bundy to tell them where he had left Kimberly Leach's body for her family's solace, Bundy allegedly said, "But I'm the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you'll ever meet."
Below is a chronological list of Ted Bundy's known victims. Bundy never made a comprehensive confession of his crimes and his true total is not known, but before his execution, he confessed to Hagmaier to having committed 30 murders, only 20 of which were identified. All the women listed were murdered, unless otherwise noted.
Bundy is a suspect in the murder of Carol Valenzuela, who disappeared from Vancouver, Washington, on August 2, 1974. Her remains were discovered two months later south of Olympia, Washington, along with those of an unidentified female.
Bundy is a suspect in the murder of Melanie Suzanne "Suzy" Cooley, who disappeared April 15, 1975, after leaving Nederland High School in Nederland, Colorado. Her bludgeoned and strangled corpse was discovered by road maintenance workers on May 2, 1975, in nearby Coal Creek Canyon. Gas receipts place Bundy in nearby Golden, the day of the Cooley abduction. The Jefferson County, Colorado, Sheriff's Office has classified the Melanie Cooley murder as a cold case.
Ted Bundy was born in 1946 in Vermont, USA. He lived with his mother and grandfather when he was a child. Bundy and his mother moved to Washington where she married a man named John. As a child in Washington, Bundy was a good student and went to church often, yet he found it hard to make friends and he began stealing. As a young man Bundy became involved in politics and proposed to a woman that he had dated in high school. He left her a few days later and then went on the begin his murders. The people that Bundy would murder were much like this lady: young, white skinned (Caucasian) and with long dark hair parted in the middle.
Bundy's first known murders were in 1974 with his first known violent attack on January 4 when he crept into the room of an 18 year old girl called Joni Lenz and beat her with a crowbar while she was asleep. He then sexually assaulted (raped) her with a metal rod that he took from the bed. She was found the next morning in a pool of blood. She was not killed but would remain in a coma (a permanent sleep) and suffered brain damage (damage to the brain that stop the body from working properly). A few weeks later on January 31 Bundy broke into another womans basement and beat her over the head. He then dressed her, wrapped her in blankets and carried her away. She was found a year later in Seattle, Washington with no head. In between this time and June, 1974 he killed 8 more women in Washington. In June he kidnapped Janice Ott and Denise Naslund from a park near Seattle. These attacks, unlike the attacks before, were in 'broad daylight'; infront of other people.
In Autumn, Bundy moved to Utah to begin studying law at a college there. He began killing again in October. Bundy kidnapped and killed three girls in October of 1974, one of them was the daughter of a police officer. On November 8, Bundy told a girl that he was a police officer and he told her to get in his car. She did, believing he really was a police officer. He then tried to handcuff her but she would not let him and she jumped out of the car and escaped. Bundy was angry that she had got away and so a few hours later he kidnapped another girl and killed her. Her body was never found. Bundy was still living in Utah in 1975 and was still attending law school but he began only killing people in Colorado. Bundy kidnapped and killed four women from Colorado and one more from Utah in the first half of 1975 (January to June).
On August 16, 1975, Bundy was arrested for not stopping his car when ordered to by a police officer. When they searched his car they found a ski mask, a crowbar, handcuffs, trash bags and other items that they thought he must have been using to rob houses. The police then noticed that his car was the car the girl who escaped had told them about. Bundy was sentenced on March 1, 1976, to fifteen years in prison for kidnapping her. Bundy escaped from the police twice in 1977 before he could be sentenced for the murders he had committed. By early 1978 he had made his way to Florida where he killed two more women and injured three others. After that he murdered a 12 year old girl called Kimberley Leach. She was the last girl murdered by Bundy as he was stopped by a police officer on February 15, 1978.
Bundy went on trial on June 25 to July 31 for the murders he had committed. He was sentenced to death by the electric chair. In the time he was in prison and waiting to be executed he helped the police investigate other murders and in 1988 he admitted to having killed 8 more women than he was tried for. Bundy was executed on January 24, 1989. He was 42 years old.