He was attractive, smart, and had a future in politics. He was also one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history. Ted Bundy screamed his innocence until his death in the electric chair became imminent, then he tried to use his victims one more time – to keep himself alive. His plan failed and the world got a glimpse of the true evil inside him.
Theodore Robert Cowell:
Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell to Louise Cowell on November 24, 1946, at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. After eight weeks at the home Louise returned to her parents’ house in Philadelphia to raise her new son. For the first several years of his life Ted thought his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister. In 1951 Louise and Ted moved to Tacoma, Washington and Louise married Johnnie Bundy, a military cook.
Bundy’s Teenage Years:
Despite his parental circumstances and meager surroundings Bundy was well behaved and grew into an attractive teen who was generally liked and who performed well in school. After high school he entered the University of Puget Sound and continued to do well academically, but felt uncomfortable around his fellow peers who were predominantly wealthy. In his sophomore year Bundy transferred to the University of Washington to escape the uncomfortable feeling of his financial inadequacy.
Throughout his years at high school Bundy suffered from acute shyness that resulted in his appearing socially awkward. This affliction followed him to college and although Bundy had friends he never blended comfortably into doing much of the social activities others were doing. He rarely dated and kept to himself. But in 1967 Bundy met the woman of his dreams. She was pretty, wealthy, and sophisticated. They both shared a skill and passion for skiing and spent many weekends on the ski slopes.
Bundy’s First Love:
Ted fell in love with his new girlfriend and tried hard to impress her to the point of grossly exaggerating his own accomplishments. He tried to gain her approval with a summer scholarship to Stamford that he won although his time there was less than impressive. By 1968 she decided Bundy lacked any real future and was not husband material. She ended the relationship and broke Bundy’s heart and his obsession toward her haunted him for years.
Depression and Whispered Rumors:
Bundy suffered extreme depression over the break up and dropped out of school. It was during this time that he learned the truth that his sister was his mother and his parents were his grandparents. Bundy was also getting a whispered reputation by those close to him for being a petty thief. It was during this phase of his life that his shyness was replaced with false bravado and he returned in college, excelled in his major, and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Bundy became involved with another woman, Elizabeth Kendall (the pseudonym she used when she wrote “The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy”) who was a divorcee with a young daughter. She fell deeply in love with Bundy and despite her suspicions that Bundy was seeing other women her devotion toward him continued. Bundy was not receptive to the idea of marriage, but allowed the relationship to continue even after reuniting with his first love who was attracted to the new confident, Ted Bundy.
A New Ted Bundy:
Bundy worked on the re-election campaign of Washington’s Republican Governor Dan Evans. Evans was elected and he appointed Bundy to the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Committee. Bundy’s political future seemed secure, when in 1973 he became assistant to Ross Davis, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. It was a good time in Bundy’s life. He had a girlfriend, his old girlfriend was once again in love with him, and his footing in the political arena was strong.
A Man Named “Ted”:
In 1974 young women began vanishing from college campuses around Washington and Oregon. Lynda Ann Healy, a 21-year-old radio announcer, was among those who were missing. In July 1974 two women were approached at a Seattle state park by an attractive man who introduced himself as Ted. He asked them to help him with his sailboat but they refused. Later that day two other women were seen going off with him and were never seen alive again.
Bundy Moves to Utah:
In the fall of 1974 Bundy enrolled in law school at the University of Utah and he moved to Salt Lake City. In November Carol DaRonch was attacked at a Utah mall by a man dressed as a police officer, but she managed to escape. She provided police with a description of the man, the VW he was driving, and a sample of his blood that got on her jacket during their struggle. Within a few hours after DaRonch was attacked, 17-year-old Debbie Kent disappeared.
A Grave Yard of Bones: Around this time hikers discovered a grave yard of bones in a Washington forest, later identified as belonging to missing women from both Washington and Utah. Investigators from both states communicated together and came up with a profile and composite sketch of the man named “Ted” who approached women for help, sometimes appearing helpless with a cast on his arm or crutches. They also had the description of his tan VW and his blood type which was type-O.
Profiles: Authorities compared the similarities of the women disappearing. They were all white, thin, and single and had long hair that was parted in the middle. They also vanished during the evening hours. The bodies of the dead women found in Utah had all been hit with a blunt object to the head, raped and sodomized. Authorities knew they were dealing with a serial killer who had the capability to travel from state to state.
Murders in Colorado: On January 12, 1975, Caryn Campbell vanished from a ski resort in Colorado while on vacation with her fiance and his two children. A month later Caryn’s nude body was found lying a short distance from the road. An examination of her remains determined she had received violent blows to her skull. Over the next few months five more women were found dead in Colorado with similar contusions to their head, possibly a result of being hit with a crowbar.
Ted Bundy’s First Arrest:
In August 1975 police attempted to stop Bundy for a driving violation. He aroused suspicion when he tried to get away by turning his car lights off and speeding through stop signs. When he was finally stopped his VW was searched and police found handcuffs, an ice pick, crowbar, pantyhose with eye holes cut out along with other questionable items. They also saw that the front seat on the passenger side of his car was missing. Police arrested Ted Bundy on suspicion of burglary.
Bundy is Charged With Kidnapping:
Police compared the things found in Bundyâ€™s car to those DaRonch described seeing in her attackerâ€™s car. The handcuffs that had been placed around one of her wrists were the same make as those in Bundyâ€™s possession. Once DaRonch picked Bundy out of a line-up the police felt they had enough evidence to charge him with attempted kidnapping. The authorities also felt confident they had the person responsible for the tri-state murder spree that had gone on for more than a year.
Bundy is Charged With the Murder of Campbell:
Bundy went to trial for attempted kidnapping DaRonch in February 1976 and after waiving his right to a jury trial he was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison. During this time police were investigating links to Bundy and the Colorado murders. According to his credit card statements he was in the area where several women vanished in early 1975. In October 1976 Bundy was charged for the murder of Caryn Campbell.
Bundy was extradited from the Utah prison to Colorado for the trial. Serving as his own lawyer allowed him to appear in court without leg irons plus gave him an opportunity to move freely from the courtroom to the law library inside the courthouse. In an interview, while in the role as his own attorney, Bundy said, “More than ever, I am convinced of my own innocence.” In June 1977 during a pre-trial hearing he escaped by jumping out of the law library window. He was captured a week later.
The Second Escape:
On December 30 Bundy escaped from prison and made his way to Tallahassee, Florida where he rented an apartment near Florida State University under the name Chris Hagen. College life was something Bundy was familiar with and one he enjoyed. He managed to buy food and pay his way at local college bars with stolen credit cards. When bored he would duck into lecture halls and listen to the speakers. It was just a matter of time before the monster inside Bundy would resurface.
The Soroity House Murders:
On Saturday, January 14, Bundy broke into Florida State University’s Chi Omega sorority house and bludgeoned and strangled to death two women, raping one of them and brutally biting her on her buttocks and one nipple. He beat two others over the head with a log. They survived which investigators attribute to fello roommate Nita Neary, who came home and interrupted Bundy before he was able to kill the other two victims.
An Eye Witness:
Nita Neary came home around 3 a.m. and noticed the front door to the house was ajar. As she entered she heard hurried footsteps above going toward the stairway. She hid in a doorway and watched as a man wearing a blue cap and carrying a log left the house. Upstairs she found her roommates. Two were dead, two others severely wounded. That same night another woman was attacked and the police found a mask on her floor identical to one found later in Bundyâ€™s car.
Bundy Gets Arrested Again:
On February 9, 1978, Bundy killed again. This time it was 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, who he kidnapped then mutilated. Within a week of the disappearance of Kimberly, Bundy was arrested in Pensacola for driving a stolen vehicle. Investigators had eyewitnesses who identified Bundy at the dorm and at Kimberly’s school. They also had physical evidence that linked him to the three murders, including a mold of the bite marks found on in the flesh of the sorority house victim.
The Plea Bargain:
Bundy, still thinking he could beat a guilty verdict, turned down a plea bargain whereby he would plead guilty to killing the two sorority women and Kimberly LaFouche in exchange for three 25-year sentences.
The End of Ted Bundy:
Bundy went on trial in Florida on June 25, 1979 for the murders of the sorority women. The trial was televised and Bundy played up to the media when on occasion he acted as his own attorney. Bundy was found guilty on both murder charges and given two death sentences by means of the electric chair.
On January 7, 1980, Bundy went on trial for killing Kimberly Leach. This time he allowed his attorney’s to represent him. They decided on an insanity plea, the only defense possible with the amount of evidence the state had against him.
Bundy’s behavior was much different during this trial than the previous one. He displayed fits of anger, slouched in his chair, and his collegiate look was sometimes replaced with a haunting glare. Bundy was found guilty and received a third death sentence.
During the sentencing phase, Bundy surprised everyone by calling Carol Boone as a character witness and marrying her while she was on the witness stand. Boone was convinced of Bundy’s innocence. She later gave birth to Bundy’s child, a little girl who Bundy adored. In time Boone divorced Bundy after realizing he was guilty of the horrific crimes.
After endless appeals Bundy’s last stay of execution was on January 17, 1989. Prior to being put to death Bundy gave the details of more than fifty women he had murdered to Washington State Attorney General’s chief investigator, Dr. Bob Keppel. He also confessed to keeping the heads of some of his victims at his home plus to engaging in necrophilia with some of his victims. In his final interview he blamed his exposure to pornography at an impressionable age as being the stimulant behind his murderous obsessions.
Many directly involved with Bundy believed he murdered at least 100 women.
The electrocution of Ted Bundy went as scheduled amid a carnival like atmosphere outside the prison. On January 24, 1989, Theodore Bundy died at around 7:13 a.m. as crowds outside cheered his death.