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Forget Netflix’s Glamorizing Of A Serial Killer In “The Ted Bundy Tapes”—Dr. Thomas Horn & Donna Howell’s “REDEEMED UNREDEEMABLE” TELLS THE SHOCKING TRUE STORY

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Ann Rule, a crime journalist and part-time volunteer for the Seattle Crisis Hotline, was waiting for her fellow crisis-hotline operator to arrive at his desk next to hers. The two made a fantastic team, and she didn’t think she could have handpicked a more suitable man to work with at this tiresome and weary job. She liked him. Everyone did.

His reputation was that of an upright man who would listen, watch, and respond to those in need around him. When a thief snatched a purse from a woman and took off with it, he had chased him down, seeing that the purse and all its contents were returned to the woman. For this, he had received a commendation from the Seattle Police Department.[i] When a three-year-old girl whom nobody else was watching began to drown in a lake on the north end of Seattle, he had jumped in and saved her like a hero.[ii] When he had moved in with an older couple, one of whom was ill, he paid his rent faithfully and asked for nothing in return as he cared for both of them, kept up the house maintenance and repairs, did their chores, and tended their garden.[iii] And of course, when it came to his lady friend, he always remembered special occasions, sending flowers to both her and her daughter from a previous marriage—a little girl he was just as devoted to as any biological father could hope to be.[iv] People were always grateful and impressed by his character, but they were no longer surprised when he set another distinguished, yet humble, example for all others around him to live by.

That was just Ted.

Ted Bundy.

The perfect citizen.

Arriving for his shift at the desk next to Ann Rule’s, he got straight to his duties, lifting the receiver from the ringing telephone and listening to the distraught voices on the other end. His voice was calm, gentle, encouraging, and never rushed. Those answering the hotline never knew when what initially seemed like a nonemergency phone call—older women wishing to remember the good old days of Seattle city, people who were sick and miserable, or regretful men and women who had once again had too much to drink—could turn into a suicide or violence call. The phone counselors had to expect the unexpected, be ready for anything, care about every person who called in, and hold an elevated level of patience and tenderness despite what could sometimes be extreme panic.

When an occasional suicide call did come in, Ann Rule and Ted Bundy had developed wordless ways of communicating with each other to flag the emergency. Thus, while the one stayed on the line with the caller, who was often showing signs of an overdose, the other would get in touch with emergency personnel. Even with the most modern technology in 1971, it took about an hour to trace a call. The minutes Rule and Bundy spent waiting for help to reach the caller were intense, charged with a sense of panic until they heard the audible evidence of the break-in on the other end. That was when a paramedic would retrieve the phone from the caller’s hand and let Rule and Bundy know the person still had a heartbeat and was being taken to an emergency room. Thanks to Bundy and his kindness, warmth, and understanding for callers in distress, many lives were saved.

Rule considered herself lucky to have a friend with such a moral core as Bundy.[v] They would be friends for years to come…

Ann Rule and Ted Bundy

Four years later, after the brutal and bloody murders and disappearances of many young and beautiful college girls in Washington, Rule took a second and third glance at the composite sketch of a suspect on the wall of the police station. The man was dangerous and roaming free, prowling for innocent blood like a vulture diving down to take living prey. The wanted man had reportedly been knocking out young girls with a blow to the head and then shoving them into the trunk or the passenger’s side of his Volkswagen Bug.

As Rule studied the drawing tacked to the bulletin board, she couldn’t ignore its likeness to her gentleman friend and coworker. She reviewed the facts: The killer called himself “Ted,” which was probably a fake name. He drove a car, which, to her knowledge, Bundy did not have. Certainly, this crazed lunatic who was reported to have a British accent could not be the up-and-coming, southern-drawl psychology/law student and governor’s assistant Ted that Rule knew. No doubt about that. The very thought of that dramatic and outlandish comparison was the most ridiculous Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde assumption anyone could make of pure-hearted Bundy.

But, as a crime journalist, her brain was always connecting the dots and ruling out the obvious only by official means. So, she reluctantly placed a call—just to put her mind at ease.

When Seattle Homicide Detective Dick Reed picked up on the other end, Rule explained that the reason behind her call was pretty much nothing, but she wanted to know if Reed could run a check through the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if her friend owned a car.

“His name is Ted Bundy. B-u-n-d-y.”[vi]

She waited patiently for a response.

Then it came.

“Theodore Robert Bundy. 4123 12th Avenue N.E. Would you believe a 1968 bronze Volkswagen Bug?”[vii]

Mr. Hyde was no longer far-fetched.

Victims of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

In each of us there are two natures. If this primitive duality of man—good and evil—can be housed in separate identities, life will be relieved of all that is unbearable. It is the curse of mankind that these polar twins should be constantly struggling.—Dr. Jekyll, from the opening scene of Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical[viii]

In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The tale that piqued the interest of readers worldwide for well over a century to come was of a scientist who wishes to separate good from evil within the heart of man via scientific dabbling, with the intention to eventually rid the world of all immorality. The scientist, Dr. Jekyll, a kind and gentle man, uses himself as the guinea pig on which the experiments will be performed. As the experiments go awry, from within Jekyll rises an unexpected evil that, over time, emerges as a separate identity: Edward Hyde. This evil personality commits every act of evil imaginable, marauding, raping, pillaging, murdering, and terrorizing the residents of London. Jekyll remains unaware in the beginning that the crimes committed are by his own alternate personality while he is in his altered state. Eventually, as Jekyll begins to run out of the ingredients for the potions and tonics, evil completely dominates good, and Jekyll surrenders to becoming Hyde permanently.

Today, more than one hundred and twenty years later, the tale is still popular, being told more often than many world classics. It has been adapted into at least eleven stage plays and musicals, thirty-two films, two radio theatricals, six television shows and/or series, five famous songs and/or albums, and twenty-three spoofs/parodies—plus, it has been mentioned in other works of fiction at least fifteen times.[ix]

Success of this magnitude speaks of more than just a public interest in a good story. There is a reason so many people stop what they are doing in their crazy-busy lives and pause for a while in front of the television or stage to experience yet another rendition of the classic saga.

In the case of Jekyll and Hyde, the beast lurking within is a scientific anomaly, of sorts, as the quote above suggests, “housed” in a separate identity. Dr. Jekyll, an otherwise good and pure-hearted man who likely had no such murderous evil on the inside to begin with, loses “executive control” over his body and his mind, only to regain it later, not knowing what events took place while he had temporarily blacked out (much like a chemically induced version of the Dissociative Identity Disorder [DID] discussed in the Sean Sellers case study).

Today, Dr. Jekyll would likely land himself a diagnosis of clinically insane or DID (depending on the details of the case, his childhood, and the psychology experts’ consideration for the intentional chemical tampering that led to the induction of said other personality), and the killer would be considered dangerous, but to the courts and the public, he probably would not be found guilty of his wrongs, assuming he had a good attorney with “innocent by reason of insanity” in mind for his defense.

But, obviously, this story did not actually happen. Dr. Jekyll was not a real man, and yet there is an underlying psychological fascination that continues to follow him around with such attention that it is as if he were real. Why is that? Is there something about the story that leads us to tune into it over and over again, hoping that this time the scientist will break new ground and ride off into the sunset with the girl (in some renditions)? Or, does the fascination have more to do with the fact that every person who has ever lived (except for Christ, Himself) has both good and evil within, and the two natures are always fighting for dominance? Does this plot intrigue because it points to the fact that each of us has something in common with Dr. Jekyll, therefore we understand his plight simply because we’re human? Could it be that people are lured to the story by the concept that these two contradictory sides could effectively be separated, allowing the bad nature to indulge without consequence during the night and the good nature to engage in kind deeds and earn its warm fuzzies during the day?

These thoughts sound preposterous when simplified to this degree, but, if we’re all being honest, we have probably all felt this way at one point or another. The desire to sin without consequence, though varying from one individual to the next and from one extreme category of sin to the next, exists within us all. The battle of good versus evil rages in every person, and temptation can be anything: lust, greed, vanity, gluttony, laziness, rage, envy, pride, etc. They are all sin, and they are all “deadly.”[x] If we didn’t, in our humanity, feel the desire to do something bad, temptation wouldn’t exist.

To struggle is to be human.

This is our Jekyll versus Hyde.

This was Ted Bundy.

As discussed previously [in the book Redeemed Unredeemable] regarding serial killer Aileen Wournos and “Pickaxe Killer” Karla Faye Tucker, when a visual adaptation of a murderer’s story is brought before public scrutiny from the cutthroat’s perspective, the acceptance of one’s evil acts is delivered far differently to an audience of entertainment than to an audience of that day’s cold, journalistic, news-channel headlines. Clearly, the Jekyll and Hyde story is not in every way an adaptation of Bundy’s life, and this comparison should not be taken to suggest that. But, the Jekyll/Hyde story has often been used as a basis of comparison to people much like him, people who lead two, dramatically “separate” lives.

When Bundy was Jekyll, he was very Jekyll. Everyone loved that man and had the highest expectations of what he could accomplish. As far as most people knew, until his sudden and unexpected arrest, he had been on his way to becoming the next president! He was the ideal student, classmate, citizen, babysitter, caregiver, and guy next door.

Yet when Bundy was Hyde, he was very Hyde. He plotted out his steps carefully, snatched the victims away—sometimes in a crowd in the middle of a sunny day at the park by luring them away and other times by grabbing them in a dark alley at night—and killed them without ever feeling shame.

Ted Bundy came as close to being a literal personification of Jekyll and Hyde as anyone ever has been, but Bundy was real. His Hyde took pleasure in unleashing his rage and lust, just like the classic character, but there is one crucial difference: Jekyll invited the beast haphazardly, having only set out to improve the nature of mankind. His effort simply spiraled desperately out of control. Dr. Jekyll never had full control over himself in order to fix what he’d done or discontinue the evil as a result of chemistry (and in some adaptations, alchemy). Bundy invited the beast knowingly. He fully intended to feed his Hyde, completely aware of what this other personality within him was capable of doing. Bundy could have gotten help or stopped his evil…but he chose not to. That brings to mind what the apostle Paul had to say about the inner conflict caused by his own, competing natures:

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that I do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:14–17, KJV)

For academic comparison, let us look at this same verse, quoted from the KJV above, and here as translated in the New Living Translation:

The law is good, then. The trouble is not with the law but within me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master. I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. (Romans 7:14–17, NLT)

Our actions always involve making choices, and unbelievable strength is often required to make the right ones. Bundy is a famous example of a person who shows a great lack of willpower associated with a lust for blood that normal people can’t even comprehend. And, just like the character from the classic tale, Bundy had everyone fooled, with a kind and gentle man appearing on the outside as an exoskeleton covering the wicked demons within. The theme of his story, other than serial murder, is the unbelievable tale of a man living two lives that produce opposite fruits that cannot in any conceivable way originate from the same person. Likewise, Bundy’s good fruit could never occupy the same space as his bad fruit, and everyone who knew him (and many who didn’t) said as much, which was why it seemed impossible for Bundy to be guilty of the terrible crimes the investigators said he had done.

But he was guilty. He very much was.

The Deathbed Conversion of Jekyll

To this author’s knowledge, there hasn’t yet been an adaptation of the Jekyll/Hyde story that relates a conversion to Christ. However, almost every modern version features a moment at the end when the true Dr. Jekyll steps away from the beast’s control for one final moment, unveiling himself long enough to leave those he loves with a memory of the man who sought their forgiveness and deliverance from his own evil. Although this is a secularized portrayal of redemption, the idea of a spiritual and literal escape from one’s oppressive and dominant internal tyrant is clear. And in Jekyll’s case, his “I’m so sorry, I never meant to turn into this, I love you all, forgive me” moment is celebrated.

Can people—whether serving an animal they awakened in themselves because they were swept away by something bigger than themselves, or they chose to selfishly feed the animal, no matter the cost to those around them—be saved in the final hour?

Not only was the thief on the cross next to Jesus forgiven in his final hour, but his conversion has been celebrated as an illustration of how God extends grace. It is not seen as a shameful, last-minute, cash-in story like the explanation so many have tried to peg onto more modern examples of deathbed conversions.

Karen Edmisten, author of Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line, dove into this question, addressing the unfairness of the concept, and transparently revealing the thoughts many of us seem to have at one point or another. To quote from the profound first chapter of her book:

Deathbed conversions sound suspiciously like loopholes, like unfair, unaccounted for, last-minute ducks inside the pearly gates.…

The thought of a deathbed conversion inspires a host of reactions, usually strong ones. Some people relish the idea of last-minute U-turns. They’re heartened by these conversion stories or know someone who knew someone who experienced finish-line contrition. They love to hear about others’ spiritual treks, and sigh with satisfaction that lost sheep have been found. After all, an honest-to-goodness deathbed conversion offers everything good storytelling demands: drama, pathos and sin, despair, chaos, confusion, love, enlightenment, and, finally, redemption.

On the other hand, there is the Smirk-and-Snort Contingent. Such skeptics don’t believe that genuine conversion occurs late in life. They don’t believe people can authentically change, or they suspect duplicitous, mercenary motives. Some chafe at the unfairness factor. Why should the rest of us kill ourselves being “good” all our lives when those lifelong slackers get a final-hour free ticket into heaven? Who let them cut in line anyway?

Living one’s entire life without God, though, is hardly a free ticket. A true deathbed convert doesn’t rub his hands together at the final hour, snickering, “Hey, I pulled a fast one on the Big Guy!” Rather, he sees the tragedy of a wasted lifetime, the pain of his prolonged denial, and the foolishness of his stubborn Non Serviam. The only glee is the relief and gratitude that God’s mercy is offered and poured out to us until the final and bitter end [whether or not we think we have earned it or deserve it].

Because we can never know what is happening in another person’s heart and mind, we don’t have an inkling who is quietly seeking God, or how long they may have been doing so.… We can’t see for certain when or how someone has begun inching toward Him. We can size up a person’s outward actions: we know what is objectively sinful or intrinsically evil. But there’s a reason that the Church never definitively answers the question, “Who is in hell?” While the Church does, through the process of canonization, highlight examples of holiness for the faithful to emulate, [it] never makes a pronouncement about who has been damned. That’s because we can’t know the state of another person’s soul.…

Oscar Wilde…said, “One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead.” Real life—our interior, mental, emotional, and spiritual processes—is at the heart of conversion…[xi]

The end of Bundy’s life generated a huge public reaction, and not for his proclamations of Christian convictions, which from the masses received little more than a scoff and a smirk. In his final days, Bundy spent so much of his time trying to figure out how to prolong his life and delay the execution by electric chair by claiming his innocence that very little documentation exists of his conversion story. That was never the focus of the media’s attention.

Artist drawing of Bundy in “Old Sparky”


James Dobson interviewing Ted Bundy

The event that sent overnight and worldwide attention to this sinner’s claims of having entered into the body of Christ was when Dr. James Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family Ministries and author of a great number of best-selling books in the Christian market) agreed to jump on a plane with a camera crew and grant Bundy’s request to give a final interview just hours before his date with “Old Sparky” (Florida’s electric chair). The purpose of this interview, according to Bundy (who ignored hundreds of requests from other members of the media for a final interview), was not to give a Christian testimony of a changed man, but to, before the world, finally admit that he was guilty of the crimes for which he had been convicted (since he had been claiming innocence until that day) to try to take full responsibility for the murders and issue a profound warning to the country…

Did Dr. Jekyll unveil himself from beneath the beast’s control for one final moment?

The Hyde Side

What you are about to read is not the compelling story of a man who made some mistakes, lived the rest of his life trying to right his wrongs, and brought the beauty of a dynamic ministry out of the ashes of a prison cell. You are not about to read the story of a criminal who found forgiveness from those whose lives he damaged. There is no stage in this case study upon which any reasonable person would want to defend the bad guy as one who had been given little other chance in this world but to become a cold-blooded killer. On the contrary, in the end, this man was alone, unforgiven by the world, having become one of the most hated serial killers in history. He died as he lived: lonely, scared, tragic, and grasping. He rejected most interventions that might have contributed to his life taking a morally upright turn, he embraced and fed a polluted and defiled appetite, and then he spent the rest of his life trying to duck out of the punishment he earned. He fooled people with many different masks, took advantage of people in the worst of ways, and, when it was time to head to the electric chair as the consequence of having conducted such madness, he went like a child to the paddle: fighting against the guards and having to be physically dragged to the straps.

Bundy was, by no exaggeration, incredibly foul and corrupt in the later days that he walked free. To say anything other than the truth where that is concerned would show nothing less than bias or imbalance in a work like this. He was a living, breathing, unbelievable, nightmarish monstrosity.

Some of the details of his murders are too disturbing to be included here; we will hit the surface-level facts about his crimes and skip the graphic particulars.

When his Hyde side emerged, by Bundy’s invitation, to plunder the streets, he did so in at least six states. He took the lives of many defenseless and innocent females, most of whom were college students. These women were, in the years before their deaths, prom queens, cheerleaders, musicians, vocalists, artists, karate students, and public service volunteers. Almost all were brunettes who wore their hair long and parted in the middle. Most were slender, athletic, and absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful at the time of their deaths. They were girls with happiness and joy, heartache and troubles. They laughed and cried. They had families. They had been young women (several were underage) who were taken at the peak of their education with nothing but pure, untapped potential ahead. They lived and loved and thrived—and those who hadn’t yet wouldn’t be given the chance to.

Bundy killed them all.

In an exclusive interview with Ann Rule’s daughter, Leslie Rule, our publishing team (Dr. Thomas Horn and Donna Howell) asked about those delicate days when she and her mother were watching young girls disappear around them. At the time, Leslie wore her hair the same as those who fell prey to Bundy, and she was pretty enough to turn heads, which put her in the same class as the ideal victim. She gave us the following insight:

Few teenagers think about their safety, and I was no exception. I was just like the thousands of other girls walking around with long hair parted in the middle. That was the style then, and at least 90 percent of girls wore their hair that way in the 1970s.

I was no more a target than any other female. I’ve always had a strong sixth sense, and if I got a feeling I shouldn’t walk down a particular street, I wouldn’t. I have felt that just a few times in my life, and I always pay attention to it.[xii]

Unfortunately, many other girls did not. Usually, Bundy’s victims’ deaths were caused by head trauma, and some, but not all, of the victims were found at the crime scene with physical evidence of a lust-driven motive. A small number of the women were found right away (usually in their beds), most of them were not found until long after the murders, and some of them were never found at all.

To this day, nobody knows the final body count, and some believe Bundy started murdering even before his earliest confirmed case. He’s not around to talk facts anymore, so all we can do in this case study is document the memory of those who have been confirmed as victims of Bundy’s disgracefully contemptible and despicable crimes:

  • Karen Sparks (often referred to as “Joni Lenz”; aged 18 at the time); survived
  • Lynda Ann Healy (aged 21)
  • Donna Gail Manson (aged 19)
  • Susan Elaine Rancourt (aged 18)
  • Roberta Kathleen Parks (aged 22)
  • Brenda Carol Ball (aged 22)
  • Georgann (often spelled “Georgeann”) Hawkins (aged 18)
  • Janice Ann Ott (aged 23)
  • Denise Marie Naslund (aged 19)
  • Nancy Wilcox (aged 16)
  • Melissa Anne Smith (aged 17)
  • Laura Ann Aime (aged 17)
  • Carol DaRonch (aged 18 at the time); survived
  • Debra Kent (aged 17)
  • Caryn Campbell (aged 23)
  • Julie Cunningham (aged 26)
  • Denise Oliverson (aged 25)
  • Lynette Culver (aged 12)
  • Susan Curtis (aged 15)
  • Margaret Bowman (aged 21)
  • Lisa Levy (aged 20)
  • Karen Chandler (aged 21 at the time); survived
  • Kathy Kleiner (aged 21 at the time); survived
  • Cheryl Thomas (aged 21 at the time); survived
  • Kimberly Diane Leach (aged 12)

Man or monster?

He was both.

The Beast within the Boy

From the onset of his life, Bundy would face certain deception. Lies followed him around his whole childhood. His very identity was a mystery kept from him until he sought out the shocking truth after forming suspicions of his own. This would prove an unsettling development in his more sensitive days to come. From birth, a strain would be ever-pressing.

On November 24, 1946, he was born in a home for unwed mothers. For the first several months of his life, he had no home, and was passed around the facility, receiving institutional care, but having no opportunity for developing closeness with a consistent, affectionate mother figure. According to Rule, “The nurturing, cuddling and the bonding, so necessary to an infant’s well-being, was put on hold.”[xiii] When he was brought to his first home as Theodore Robert Cowell, he was immediately exposed to an aggressively controlling, loud, and explosive, dictatorial household.

A Perfectly “Normal” Childhood

Samuel Cowell, the man young Bundy would call his father in his earliest years, was a very unstable man—tense, unpredictable, touchy, hotheaded, short-tempered, and addicted to pornography, a large collection of which he kept in the greenhouse. He “was known to be an extremely violent and frightening individual…a man with a maniacal temper who read pornography, [and] who tossed his daughters down the stairs if they slept too late.”[xiv] He was also “known to sadistically spin cats by their tails,”[xv] and was referred to as “a tyrannical bully and a bigot who hated blacks, Italians, Catholics, and Jews, [who] beat his wife and the family dog.”[xvi]

Eleanor Cowell, the woman Bundy would call his mother, was chronically affected by severe bouts of “psychotic depression”[xvii] and panic attacks, and she even sought to treat this unrelenting disorder with electroshock therapy.[xviii] (She also suffered from agoraphobia, the intense fear of open spaces.[xix])

In his toddler years, Bundy came to know these people as his parents. But something told him they weren’t his real mother and father, and there was always a mystery that bothered him, even in his earliest of years, that solidified itself intensely within him as a deficiency, a need of belonging. His older sister, Louise, was very kind and treated him with love and affection, befriending him in the less-than-stable atmosphere, but, despite her friendship, what he adopted in his psyche as the “norm” was anything but normal.

Life continued, and Bundy turned two, then three…and before his fourth birthday, he was showing extremely concerning signs in his behavior, alerting those around him that he “was not a well-adjusted child.”[xx] A famously documented event covers the day that his fifteen-year-old aunt was taking a nap and awoke to see her nephew smiling at her while she slept. Every knife from the kitchen cutlery drawer had been arranged in a circle around her body on the bed, blades turned in toward her. She had not been injured but waking to find knives all around her and a motionless, silent toddler grinning was enough to cause her heart to pound.[xxi] (This happened several times.[xxii])

Sister Louise stepped in and removed herself and Bundy from the harmful home situation, taking him to the courthouse and legally changing his last name to “Nelson”[xxiii] just before relocating to Tacoma, Washington, near her uncle, Jack. Bundy was devastated by the move, but since he was only a toddler, he was unable to understand or question why he was being taken away from Sam, his father figure.[xxiv]

Louise Cowell and her little brother, now “Ted Nelson,” began a new life in Washington. For Louise, it was a breath of fresh air where her father couldn’t oppress and her mother couldn’t depress. But for Bundy, it was nothing less than the loss of his parents at just three years old.

Louise and Bundy began attending First Methodist Church, where he went to Sunday school (he would continue to attend this church throughout high school[xxv]). He didn’t specifically dislike the religious instruction, but he retained almost nothing of what he learned about God as a child; his memories centered more on being socially odd and introverted at church. While Louise went to work as a secretary for the Council of Churches, she frequently attended church functions and social events. At one of these events she met a man named Johnnie Culpepper Bundy, a hospital cook she had much in common with. The two hit it off, had a short courtship, and married the following year. When Louise took the last name of Bundy for herself, it was given to little Ted also.[xxvi] Bundy was almost five when he watched his sister walk happily down the aisle to the man she would spend the rest of her life with. Bundy would never again be placed in the care of Sam and Eleanor Cowell.

Young Ted was active in his Methodist Sunday School

Not surprisingly, after all this change and lack of permanence in his very young life, Bundy withdrew into himself, as many children in this situation do. His best friend quickly became the radio as he started to live a kid’s social life vicariously through personalities over broadcasts, as he would later share:

[I]n my younger years I depended a lot on the radio.… As a kid, I would listen for hours and hours to the Lone Ranger, Big John and Sparky, and all that stuff.… I’d get under the covers and listen as long as I could every night.

Bundy went on to explain some highlights in his radio interests, including a particular talk show in which callers would interact with the hosts. Bundy was happily by himself for hours at a time, listening to people share, debate, discuss, visit, and live pieces of their lives on the air:

And as people would be calling in to speak their minds, I would formulate questions as if they were talking to me.… And I realized, even then, that a lot of the affection I had for programs of that type came not because of their content, but because it was people talking! And I was eavesdropping on their conversations.[xxvii]

Tacoma proved to be an area riddled with bars, lusty, adult-themed live shows, and stores that carried enough pornographic materials to suit every wandering mind amidst the lonely soldier groups passing through from Fort Lewis.[xxviii] Although there is much circumstantial, eyewitness, and common-sense evidence that Bundy’s fascination with pretty, naked women began around three or four years old with a cousin of his (Bruce) back at the greenhouse where Sam Cowell kept his stash,[xxix] many speculate that it wasn’t until after the newlyweds and Bundy settled into their new lives as a family in Tacoma that Bundy, now approaching six, began his infamous garbage-can and trash-barrel pilfering in a feverish search for naughty magazines.[xxx]

With a radio as a social existence, it is not hard to make the connection that dirty pictures would fill in as a fantasy/romance existence.

Often, the argument against the idea that Bundy would have been influenced by Sam’s porn at such a young age (between one and three) or magazines he found when he was closer to the age of six or seven is that he wouldn’t even know what he was looking at or what the images implied. How could a three-year-old or six-year-old boy gaze upon a nude woman’s body with the same reaction as a full-grown man who has needs and desires? This is a valid argument. Sure. And it’s probably very true that he wouldn’t have fully comprehended what his eyes were taking in, depending on when he was initially exposed. But a vast amount of research behind the concepts of toddler psychological imprinting suggests that even if he was completely unaffected by what he saw at the time in any kind of sexual way, the images would have stuck with him and provided an eroticism for him to recall and compare to as he grew. This could easily have desensitized him to the point that he would have proceeded without bashfulness when his arousal patterns matured to the point of connecting visual stimulation to the changes within his body. And, of course, when one kind of pornography is no longer exciting, a new kind must take its place for those who would feed their carnal and human nature, and it doesn’t take rocket science to see that “pretty ladies in lacy underwear” can easily evolve into a craving to see more of the body in even lewder poses. When that no longer satisfies the hungry nature of the beast within the individual willing to continuously feed it, and he has seen all there is to be bared, the next step in the world of pornography is usually a craving to see images of a very aggressive, violent, dark, and disturbing nature. A boy predisposed to preferring isolation, imagination, and solitude over a social life, and who likely viewed pornography with the same casual curiosity as he might have viewed potty-training charts, is likely to arrive at a pretty extreme endgame. There is every earthly reason to believe that Eleanor Cowell and Louise Bundy were unaware when Bundy began looking at pictures with a deeper understanding and interest—and Sam probably wouldn’t have cared if he had known.

Another argument that surfaces constantly throughout research of Bundy is that the claims (from both him and others who knew him) that he would have been looking at these darker forms of violent pornography must be false, merely because “that kind of porn did not exist back then.” This is easily debunked; “that kind” of pornography did exist, and for years prior to Bundy’s childhood and teens, in the ’50s and ’60s. (Although we are about to review a sinister category of the pornographic industry involving such things as binding, gagging, and torture, that does not mean these are the kind of activities Bundy partook of with his victims; as per the confirmed list of victims, little to no evidence suggests an exact parallel between what he did to those girls and the pictures he claimed he was addicted to viewing. However, because of the numbers of people who assume he would have had no access to these materials, and because of the warning that he left the world as he exited from it, this list is relevant to his case.)

The earliest form of bondage-related reading material that was considered “pornography” was called “bondage covers” and involved “damsels in distress” being kidnapped and then rescued at the last minute by some cunning detective, all shown in drawings or paintings rather than photos in magazines as early as 1910.[xxxi] (Note that these materials didn’t show much of the human body; they featured mostly women with clothing falling off their bodies in a struggle, and often their nudity was strategically obscured from view by something in the foreground. But, because the plots were thin and the women were almost always bound and gagged, with their clothing coming off—therefore creating reading material with the sole purpose of exploiting a woman’s nude body in close proximity to violence—these “bondage covers” were considered one of the very first forms of hard-core pornography. Additionally, though the early forms of violent pornography pale in comparison to the graphic and explicit nature of what is accessible today, that does not necessarily mean the materials weren’t powerfully effective in stirring arousal for those who were seeking this brand of psychological stimulant. Before our country was desensitized to the idea that nudity would appear in magazines, forms of early pornography—even images with certain sections of the person’s body obscured from view—carried a taboo that would certainly instigate a similar physiological reaction.) These magazines would, by 1937, start to publish actual photographs of women who posed for the roles of the damsels,[xxxii] only a few years after the development of comic books called “weird menace pulps” and “shudder pulps,” which “generally featured stories in which the hero was pitted against sadistic villains, with graphic scenes of torture and brutality [against women].”[xxxiii] The increase in this category of artistic sadism, depicting women in literal torture scenarios, did eventually cause such a stir that, by 1938, other popular voices, such as those within the American Mercury magazine, acted against the phenomenon, saying, “This month, as every month, the 1,508,000 copies of terror magazines…will be sold throughout the nation…. They will contain enough illustrated sex perversion to give Krafft-Ebing the unholy jitters.”[xxxiv] (Krafft-Ebing was an Austro-German clinical-forensics psychiatrist with specialization in deviant sexual patterns of behavior; he wrote the famous and groundbreaking study Psychopathia Sexualis [“Sexual Psychopathy”].)

Despite this attack from wholesome voices against perversion, in 1946, Bizarre Magazine brought forth artistic depictions of women wearing black leather and frequently appearing topless. These women were shown spanking and whipping other women, often tying up unwilling participants in painful-looking positions and dressing them in chains and weird, clenching metal devices as well as impossibly tight corsets. (The difference between the “shudder pulps” and “weird menace pulps” and this more forgivable kind of imagery in Bizarre Magazine was the condition of the torture. Blood was gone, satanic sacrifices were gone, and, for the most part, weapons were gone. But the idea of women in uncomfortable or painful bondage easily remained. Also remaining was the leftover circulation of the torture fad from the 1930s, which, like the “Tijuana bibles” of the 1920s depicting pornographic cartoons, found their way into distribution “under the table,” sold to anyone with a wink, a smile, or a password.[xxxv])

The way was easily paved for other fetish magazines (also called “detective magazines,” which appear in Bundy literature often, even though “detective magazines” can also refer to innocent magazines of the true crime genre) such as Exotique. Both of these magazines began, early on, publishing almost-nude photographs of real women wearing disturbing costumes looking either afraid or domineering, victimized, or sadistic. It was a quick transition from that over a short period of years to the fully nude, full-color counterpart. By the mid-1950s through the ’60s (despite wars waged against this kind of literature that caused some decrease in circulation, only to rebound later with a vengeance), it was not uncommon to enter an adult store where there was “that section in the back” that everyone pretended not to know about. (By the 1970s, these magazines were available by mail order.[xxxvi]) One of the earliest studies of pornography and its influence on society was written in 1967, and “concluded that such [fetish] magazines provide a catharsis for those whose sexual needs are otherwise unsatisfied: [the author of the study] identified rubberwear magazines as the most popular at the time.”[xxxvii]

“Rubberwear” fetishes as early as 1967? “Torture porn” as early as the 1930s?

Anyway, you get the idea. To say Bundy could not have had access to “that kind” of pornography in his childhood and teen years is not at all accurate, but it is continuously assumed in discussion. Since Bundy’s first documented/confirmed victim was in January of 1974, opportunities for someone to collect and keep this kind of imagery and fantasize over it prior to murder were boundless, and, as is usually the way in these tales of sadistic hunger, imagery is rarely enough when the “real thing” is obtainable by those who crave it and feed their minds with that kind of pollution. And why would any young person like Bundy feel the temptation to feed his mind with such things? Surely it had nothing to do with early exposure to a combination of pornography and violence…

(Perhaps you have heard that, at one point, Bundy did admit that he chose not to read detective magazines. In a conversation with Rule, he basically said he couldn’t fathom why anyone would read such rubbish.[xxxviii] People often point to this conversation as proof that these materials were not a factor for him, by his own admission. But most people don’t pay attention to when and why he might have said this. Because this claim of his was given prior to any of his confessions, and during the trials wherein he was trying to prove his innocence of crimes related to this category of imagery, is it surprising that he would claim no association with these materials? Furthermore, Bundy scarcely ever told the truth, earning himself the reputation of being an excessive liar, so it’s a wonder so many people take his word for it when he exonerates himself of having anything to do with shameful magazines.)

So much for all the “bad seed” theories that point to a “normal” kid with a “normal” childhood who “for no apparent reason” grew up with violence toward women on his mind.

(Note: Many have written articles that point to Bundy’s youth and include very uneducated statements about how, during his childhood, he had “some” troubles, but was overall normal and didn’t have any unusual levels of instability. Perhaps the writers of these articles say this because Bundy, himself, was never physically harmed that we know of, or perhaps they say this because of some of the statements that materialized in Bundy’s final interview with Dobson [more on this later]. Yet, it should be observed that regardless of whether a journalist considers living with a man who throws his daughters down the stairs, beats dogs, swings cats by their tails, perhaps beats his wife, and leaves pornographic magazines around as “normal,” evidently, Bundy didn’t feel that it was “basically normal” when he decided to place knives around sleeping family members and then watch them wake up in fear, at the age when many children are still in diapers and learning motor skills. Or, perhaps worse, Bundy did think that it was normal living arrangements, and this was how he chose to partake in that “normalcy.” Either way, if this kind of atmosphere is, as some claim, normal and stable, this author is abundantly grateful that his childhood was abnormal by comparison. Most probable is that many Bundy-haters out there hold understandable anger against him for the heinousness of his crimes, and they choose to direct their anger into writing articles that exploit his bad side, spending less time trying to understand the trigger behind his later Hyde side, and therefore incorrectly reporting that his childhood was “normal.” From the beginning, his early years were anything but that. Additionally, studies now show that Reactive Attachment Disorder can begin to affect infants immediately after birth when they are left in certain kinds of care, such as the institutional care Bundy had been placed in for the first several months of his life at the home for unwed mothers. The disorder can even be diagnosed as early as the age of one year, especially within children whose living arrangements are upsetting.[xxxix] This “complex psychiatric illness”[xl] is a “rare but serious condition in which infants and young children don’t establish healthy bonds with parents or caregivers,”[xli] and “is characterized by serious problems in emotional attachments to others.”[xlii] Much of the current medical and scientific research on early infant and child development didn’t exist when Bundy was a child, so his strange behaviors wouldn’t have raised the red flags that our more modern and learned world would now notice. And, supposing that Bundy had been brought before a psychiatric professional at the time, the diagnostics and treatment in the medical field in 1950 greatly lacked effective ways to reach children as individuals, during an era when the majority of American culture perpetuated the notion that children who act out simply need firmer punishment. A true, “digging-deeper” mentality in the psychiatric practice to reach the roots of the behavior of problematic children has only increased a great deal in recent years. Problems can now be more acutely dealt with, as we read about in the Sean Sellers’ case study, but today’s medical knowledge wouldn’t help a child who was born in 1946. Lastly, current medical analysis tools flag actions that might have, in 1950, seemed relatively harmless. An unusually withdrawn child who arranged knives around a sleeping relative might have been seen in the middle of the century, by both professionals and parents alike, as a quiet child who likes to play silly jokes. Today, however, overly quiet children who play psychological games with knives while grinning raise every alarm in the medical industry. There is no way of knowing what diagnosis would have come from young Bundy’s trip to any kind of help center. Help was never sought.)

The Odd Bundy Out

The years passed in a blur of estranged social hindrance. Bundy wouldn’t let go of the idea that, despite his sister’s concerns, he had been born a Cowell, and with the Cowells was where he belonged. According to a University of Washington professor of psychiatry, Ronald E. Smith, Bundy didn’t really respect Johnnie Bundy, the newly given father figure, because he “didn’t have a high enough station in life.”[xliii] As stated earlier, Bundy had been only four when his sister had married, and he quickly developed less-than-ideal opinions about a person’s worth based on where the person ranked. As it would be revealed in later years, a person’s status was everything. Bundy set his sights on being more like his uncle, Jack, who had become a well established and cultured professor of music at the University of Puget Sound. Professor Smith went on to say, “It was very important for him [Bundy] to be someone special, to be recognized in some way.”[xliv] Bundy had lofty goals: Come what may, he was going to achieve a name for himself. Someday, there would be a celebration with the name “Ted Bundy” right in the middle…

The longer he nurtured those thoughts and ambitions, the more his place in the Bundy family felt odd and mismatched. Something, or someone, wasn’t right.

One just learning about this portion of Bundy’s life might naturally assume that his life with Johnnie and Louise Bundy had been troubled, that he would openly rebel against his sister or say things such as, “I don’t have to listen to you! You’re not my mother!” Oddly, though, as far as that can be researched, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Quite the contrary, actually: When Louise and Johnnie expanded their family by four children (two boys and two girls) over the next several years, Bundy became the natural babysitter. By the time he was fifteen, his sister and her husband had purchased a home, and all seven of them lived together. Bundy had no social life, and was known at school for being very shy and quiet. Between his personality and always having to look after his younger siblings, he never allowed himself to have plans or date, and yet he did not complain or lash out.[xlv] (It is interesting to note that, although Bundy was frequently involved in daily family gatherings, it’s not merely by documentation or testimony that one can tell what an odd fit he was. The photos taken around the time that his siblings were joining the family and he was heavily involved in babysitting tell a story all their own. Even when he is smiling and no one is intentionally excluding him, Bundy’s expressions are surreally distant. Everyone else, including Louise, smiles for the pictures, carefree and happy, but there’s always that awkward teenager who doesn’t quite fit, standing slightly farther away from the rest of family. His smile, or lack of one, always taunts the viewer with mystery and untold secrets. If pictures could speak, those taken during this period of Bundy’s life would have a lot to say.)

Over time, Bundy was a silent mystery to everyone around him. He continued to draw farther and farther away from the world, family, and friends at school, engaging in only mundane conversation and attempting and then immediately dropping sports of any kind. He developed a stutter and kept every secret to himself. When he started to suspect that there was more to his origin story than his mother, father, or sister were telling him, he was far too voiceless to ask, so he made notes and kept them, also, to himself. In later years, after Bundy found his voice, he would say of this period, “It was not so much that there were significant events [in his childhood or teen years that caused this estrangement], but the lack of things that took place was significant. The omission of important developments. I felt that I had developed intellectually but not socially.”[xlvi] Many times, he received invitations to birthday parties or other events, and he desperately wanted to accept them and socialize, but he always declined, claiming to be too serious a student to attend such parties. He was his own worst enemy, always putting another brick on the wall he was building between himself and the world. At times, he was bullied, but as far as treatment from his peers, he landed somewhere between “popular” and “outcast.”

Mild, meek, well-mannered, easy to get along with on the outside; confused and stunted on the inside. Before long, Bundy’s secret life would incorporate more than hidden magazines. Bundy could rise above the law, and nobody would ever have to know.

Before even his sixteenth birthday, Bundy had become a proficient shoplifter, and was named as a suspect in two burglaries.[xlvii] Smith explained this development: “Grandiose narcissism. The ability to outwit the police. The ability to, you know, flaunt authority. The ability to shoplift. All of these things helped confer on him this sort of narcissistic sense of specialness and entitlement.”[xlviii] These actions gave Bundy a tremendous feeling of power, and his secret life soon escalated to involve sneaking from window to window late in the evening, peering in at young girls from his school who were undressing for the night…[xlix]

In high school, his popularity increased as his teen features grew more masculine. He had the attention of girls who wished he would show an interest in dating, and the attention of the guys who wished he would start dating some girl just so he would be taken “off the market” as the object of so many of the girls’ fascination. But Bundy was still a few years away from connecting to anyone.

About this time, his interest in politics was ignited. In his senior year of high school, he volunteered in local political races, and discovered it was a passion. He understood law as he had never understood anything before. Because of an academic scholarship from the University of Puget Sound, where his uncle taught, he attended that college for a time,[l] but he wouldn’t be there long. The enormous campus and crowds of other students only reminded him of how small, unimportant, and anonymous he was. Behaving in a way that carried on that insignificance was all he knew how to do with the familiar faces of his past all around him. He needed a change of pace—he need to emerge from behind the wall he had built.

Ashes, Ashes, the Wall Falls Down

Between 1966 and 1967, Bundy had a radical makeover.

As long as anyone had known him, he had been a shy, stuttering, lonely, strange boy who seemed happy and sad at the same time on any given day. Nobody had ever understood him, and he had never let anyone in. Determined to present a different Ted Bundy to the world around him, as status and impression were becoming what life all was about, Bundy developed a new personality and started a new life far different from the one that had been led by the cautious little boy with the hidden magazines.

An A&E documentary on Bundy’s life refers to his new personality launch as just another pretense: “As part of the façade, Bundy transferred to the University of Washington [Seattle].… He also began fabricating a new personality. If the old Bundy was shy and withdrawn, the new Bundy would be witty, cool, and self-assured. His deception was about to pay off.”[li]

With his new college and new faces to impress, Bundy balled up his courage and walked, with his chin up, into campus. The “quiet” thing hadn’t worked out, and although it had helped him earn good grades as a serious student, his life had never been fun—and it had always been lonely. The façade of the saintly son had swallowed him whole. This next façade would be the one to bind to, as it would bring him success and happiness. He was sure of this.

Right away, he met the girl of his dreams. Stephanie Brooks. Brunette. Hair parted in the middle and shoulder length. Gorgeous enough to be a model, but smart, wealthy, and confident, too. She was everything he had ever wanted, and the new Bundy was willing to get to know someone…maybe even let her in. This girl broke the mold. Bundy fell head over heels in love with her; the very sight of her down the hallway between classes made him sigh.

He began shuffling his life to accommodate being with her. They took a skiing trip together, and he found himself staring at her in awe on the drive back home.[lii] She held his hand, and his heart would skip a beat, and at their first kiss, he knew he wanted to be with her forever. As he later recalled: “It was at once sublime and overpowering.… The first touch of hands, the first kiss, the first night together.”[liii] Brooks was Bundy’s first love and first sexual relationship.[liv] He had exposed all of his vulnerabilities to be with her. Although he kept some public image up for the rest of the world to see, Brooks was different. Bundy let her in, and let himself love.

The couple dated for a full year, one that would go down in history as the biggest turning point in Bundy’s life, for better…and then for worse.

Brooks had been raised in a dramatically different household than Bundy’s. Her parents were from California, well-to-do, and prestigious. The example that had been set before her allowed for nothing less than having a boyfriend who was a perfect fit for that society: someone who would promise high-class success and maturity beyond his years, a hard-working and successful businessman with a plan in one hand and a fortune in the other. (It is also safe to assume, based on interviews and stories regarding her approach to the relationship, that even though she returned Bundy’s love, she wasn’t as obsessively seriously as he was.)

Bundy, a part of another world, was paying for his schooling at the university by working in low-income jobs.[lv] Unlike some who had always known what avenue their lives would go, Bundy, around the age of twenty, was unsure of his future. He had taken some classes in this interest over here, and a few classes in another subject over there. Music, Chinese, politics, psychology…so many interests, all of them conflicting. His plan wasn’t solid enough to help him hold on to Brooks’ affection.

Eventually, Brooks broke up with Bundy because she was convinced that he was “foundering, that he had no real plans or real prospects for the future.”[lvi] (According to an article on, Brooks was “frustrated by what she described as Bundy’s immaturity and lack of ambition.”[lvii])

Bundy was crushed.

The first time he had allowed someone in, exposed his heart, torn off his mask, and shown her the person left standing, she had walked away casually, unimpressed by the still-adolescent child who remained underneath the handsome, young exterior. The pain the breakup caused would stick with Bundy for a very, very long time.

He had brought his wall down and had taken a life-altering risk, and now, he had nothing but ashes to show for it. The beast that had been in the boy was stirring.

Loving someone that way had been a bad move, and he would never do it again.

The Monster within the Man

Lost and hurting, Bundy dropped out of college and traveled back home to visit his relatives, wandering aimlessly, meandering around, looking for distractions. Rejected, friendless, alone: It was a world that he had created. Nothing had ever seemed real in his childhood, when he had been that quiet little boy with a heart full of secrets. Something was always off kilter. And his new personality had worked on a social level, but it had been empty as well, attracting people who were looking for superficial things.

Yet, now, back with family for a short period, a nagging ache for truth that he had suppressed throughout his whole life finally rose with a vigor that could no longer be ignored. His childhood had been strange, yes, but it had been so partially for a specific reason he never wanted to face. Deep in the darkest recesses of his mind, a truth was lurking about who he really was, who he had really been on the day of his birth. Buried under layers upon layers of awkward silences, whispered conversations, sideways glances, and gaudy innuendos was a suspicion. It was a thought that Bundy had suppressed, like a choking lump in his throat that he would repeatedly swallow back down, refusing to expel it for fear that the truth would be more than he could handle.

But now, after Brooks…he had to know.

How could he have been so stupid to let someone see behind his mask when he, himself, suspected his own identity was fraudulent?

A Lifetime of Lies, and the Lie of a Lifetime

Bundy traveled to the Burlington, Vermont, city hall, received assistance in locating his birth records, and cracked open the file.


The word was literally stamped across the front of his birth certificate.[lviii]

There’s that word again: “Illegitimate.” Invalid. Fake. Counterfeit. Inferior. Phony. Misborn.

A mistake…

At least now he knew for sure what he had been suspecting for so many years. His parents, Sam and Eleanor Cowell, were never his parents, and his sister, Louise, was never his “sister.”

Of course, he had been aware of how much he and his sister had looked alike, just like mother and son, one might say—not to mention that he had so many times pondered the legalities behind a “sister” taking a “brother” away from his parents or his “sister” having her “brother’s” name changed in the courts. Only a true mother would have been legally able to pull that off.

He couldn’t remember when or how he had begun to suspect it, but somewhere deep inside, he had known for some time: Bundy’s “big sister” Louise was his real mother, and Sam and Eleanor were his grandparents.

Memories of his “sister” doing her hair, making dinner, or pouring a cup of coffee would now hold new meaning as he realized he had always been observing the woman whose womb he had been nestled into for nine months. Moments when he had watched her bouncing another of her babies on her knee or holding her other offspring when they cried would ring with a different, more piercing pitch now that he knew that it was her maternal touch and not Eleanor’s that he should have had in infancy. Having seen Louise interact with the children she had conceived with Johnnie Bundy now caused a sting and encouraged him to question how she could flaunt her motherliness and affection to the other offspring yet still call her firstborn son a “brother.”

Why had she lied? Why had they all lied? Everyone had been in on the ruse! They had all agreed to go along with this fabrication as if he weren’t man enough to hear the truth, or as if he were the brunt of some casual, collective, locker-room, towel-snap joke in the family. Why was that necessary? Had Louise been so ashamed of the baby in her belly so long ago that she couldn’t bear to call him her own when he was born? Perhaps, as a young girl, pregnant, scared, and panicked, she would have felt it was best for him if she’d lied…but now? Was she still so ashamed of him that she couldn’t claim him as her own?

But would Bundy really want that? Did he even want to look at Louise like a mother? Would he want her reaching out to touch him the way a mother would touch her son? Something about the whole thing seemed unfathomably uncomfortable and almost bordered on bizarrely incestuous. It had been Louise’s belly, now he knew for sure, that he had grown in as a result of her womanly acts with another man, and it had been her womanly body that had delivered—

It was getting weirder and weirder and weirder. There was such a vast difference between a strong hunch and solid knowledge. His “sister” was his mother and his “mother” was his grandma and his father was…

Who was his father?

The world would never know for certain. Suspicions were ugly.

In later years, once the supposedly seducing service-veteran/sailor father’s name, “Jack Worthington,”[lix] had been proven to have never actually existed in the navy or marine archives, relatives of Bundy would come forward with suggestions that Bundy’s biological father was the abusive Sam Cowell, Louise’s natural father and Bundy’s natural grandfather. Bundy’s “family members would express open doubts about [Louise’s] story [of the seducing sailor], directing a defense psychiatrist’s attention to Louise’s violent, possibly deranged, father, Samuel Cowell.”[lx] “However, when Ted’s cousin John once asked granddad about Bundy’s paternity, the response was volcanic.… [He] became enraged and apparently he acted like a madman. He was wild. He was furious.”[lxi]

Despite how, in some settings (while he was still claiming his innocence), Bundy would act fairly nonchalant or forgiving about the deception and rumors of his own grandfather being his own biological father, those who knew him best (and those who had been brought in late in his case for psychological evaluations) understood that “this late discovery had a rather serious impact on him.”[lxii] According to close friend Ann Rule, Bundy “was so intense and disturbed when he said he never really knew who he was, or whom he belonged to.”[lxiii]

(Interesting fact: This exact scenario happened to Jack Nicholson, the Hollywood actor so famous for portraying insane or psychotic personalities in his movies.[lxiv] When he found out that his sister was really his mother and that his mother was really his grandmother, he was shocked, but neither of the women was still alive for him to confront. Also interesting to note was that Nicholson’s acting took a dark twist about the time he discovered the truth; he went from being cast as drama or comedy leads to weirdoes, crazies, and axe murderers. But, Jack Nicholson did not kill people when he found out his sister was really his mother. He just made his living pretending to kill people.)

Bundy never told Louise that he knew.

The wall had been rebuilt, and the mask was back on.


Every day

people live their own sweet way

Like to add a coat of paint

and be what they ain’t!

That’s how their little game is played

livin’ out the masquerade.…

Who’d want to trade?

But there’s one thing I know, an’ I know it for sure:

This disease that they’ve got has got no ready cure.

An’ I’m certain life is terribly hard

when yer life’s a façade.—Street people, from the song “Façade,” Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical[lxv]

Fake, masked people are lonely people. Even when they are given precisely what they want and all the power they are after, it’s never enough. Those rewards do not satisfy. Not really. Not deeply. It’s like giving a starving man a single leaf of lettuce for a meal. It feeds, and might even sustain life for a bit, but it still doesn’t fill emptiness. Life, for those plugged into a shell-like reality that they have manipulated for themselves, is hard. It’s hungry. It craves real meat. Those with masks on are not loved for who or what they truly are, because nobody knows who or what they truly are. They have done it to themselves—with their own dishonesty, yes, but it is miserable and lonely lives they lead.

The façade that Bundy adopted to inflate his presence to those around him just prior to meeting Brooks had worked better than anything he had tried before. When he had lost her, and then uncovered the bitter truth of his illegitimacy, he fed his hunger with an unparalleled determination to prove himself to a world that had birthed something hopeless, something unimpressive, something that wouldn’t ever amount to anything.

To prove himself to her.

His mask meshed well with politics.

As Bundy would later relate:

Politics gave me the opportunity to be close to people.… To be socially involved with them…as a consequence of working with them. You get very close. You drink each night—and people sleep with each other. It’s a sort of built-in social life. Which I never had.

In my younger years, I was, as I’ve said before, socially unskilled.… In politics you can move between the various strata of society. You can talk and mingle with people to whom otherwise you would have absolutely no access.[lxvi]

With newfound focus, Bundy placed himself in the path of every opportunity for success. After returning back to Seattle after the breakup, he became a volunteer for the Seattle Crisis Hotline (where he met Ann Rule) and, as mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, saved a lot of lives, talked many troubled callers down from suicide, and soothed many weary souls. He saved a drowning toddler and was heralded a hero. He chased down a purse-snatcher and received a lot of local attention as an upstanding citizen. He enrolled once again at the University of Washington, where he became an honor student and received many recommendation letters from professors who spoke of Bundy with the highest regard. Bundy also found himself a pretty girlfriend and stayed many nights with her, acting as a father figure to her daughter, a young girl from a previous marriage. He hobnobbed, he shook hands, he saved lives, he smiled, he posed for the cameras, he volunteered for good causes, he laughed, and he lived.

Yeah… Yeah, maybe this could be Ted Bundy. His self-reinvention was, once again, producing results, and this time, he was proving himself.

While this was all going on, Bundy was taking classes about criminal justice, criminal psychology, deviant personalities, deviant development,[lxvii] law, and forensics (although most of his law-related classes would come later, in Utah). Whether he had intended for this education to perpetuate his own killer instincts or to temper them, or if the schooling was an interest regardless of whom he would soon become, that much is anyone’s guess. By the time he received his degree (“With Distinction”[lxviii]) in psychology in 1973, he was fervently applying to the University of Utah so he could obtain a law degree.

Bundy worked for Daniel Evans re-election campaign

Joining the re-election campaign for Washington Governor Daniel Evans, Bundy used his collegiate connections and student appearance to pose as an undergraduate and scout Evans’ competition, attending the speeches of former governor, Evans’ opponent, Albert Rosellini. Bundy would bring his notes back to Evans’ side of the campaign for study. These sneaky acts were not at all underhanded, however. They were merely political, all part of the game, and they showed his adeptness for succeeding in the big leagues.

After Evans was re-elected, the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, Ross Davis, brought Bundy on staff as an assistant. Through more letters of recommendation and more reputable acts associated with law, Bundy was accepted into the University of Utah, with a declared law major. His position with Davis for the Republican Party took him to several states for job-related travel.

Even though things had ended romantically between Bundy and Brooks, the two had maintained some contact. Bundy had put his heart and soul into becoming the man Brooks would have wanted, and now, his job made it necessary for him to make a stop in California, where she lived. Despite his relationship with a girl back home, he couldn’t stop himself from contacting Brooks. He simply had to see her again, to show her his new mask. To see if she thought this one looked nicer on him.

She was impressed.

He was proven.

Bundy and Brooks began a secret relationship. Bundy continued to live his many lives for a while: a serious student to some, a smart and aggressive political ballplayer to others, a sensitive listener to Rule and the callers at the hotline, a jovial and smiling lover to his sweetheart back home, a father to his girlfriend’s daughter, and a caretaker and sweet young man for his elderly couple landlords. Not a soul knew who he really was, but everyone who came into contact with him saw nothing but a man who was sincere. Whatever mask he was wearing in front of the observer was worn well, and never questioned. (Testimonies and character witnesses for years to come would swear that, until just before his dying day, there was no way…simply no way…that Bundy had been capable of what investigators had charged.)

To Brooks, Bundy was a man who was going places: He was a real stud with a plan and a future…and a wedding ring.

He proposed. Brooks accepted. Nobody knew.

Revenge at the Proving Grounds

While Bundy continued to dote on his sweetheart and her daughter in Seattle, he continued to maintain an engagement with Brooks, who was still living in California. Neither of his flattered females knew about the other.

But what he was plotting for Brooks was never really a marriage, so his big secret wouldn’t have to be kept long.

Again and again, Bundy swept Brooks off of her feet, offering her dreams and fulfilling her expectations. When she had put him down years before, when she had hurt his pride, he had been listening. Every word that she had said about his immaturity, his lack of experience, or his insufficient plans was gently coming back to flaunt his success in her face. He had shown her up, proven her wrong, and now he would have his revenge.

For so long, he had plotted to have her attention and her heart so that he could reject her as painfully as a woman could be rejected—as painfully as he had been rejected. So, when he felt the timing was right, at the absolute height of Brooks’ love for him and excitement about their future together, Bundy let her go…with as much immaturity and pettiness as he had just spent the last several years proving he didn’t have. His strategy involved instantly turning all of their remaining meetings during what was to be her final trip to see him into excuses to mystify her with his sudden aloofness. When they copulated, he was cold and uninterested. When Brooks flew back to California after a strange visit with the abruptly uncaring Bundy on January 2, 1974, she was terribly hurt and confused. She went to a counselor and poured out her heart, unable to understand why Bundy had so unexpectedly changed toward her, acting as if he couldn’t wait for her to leave. At her counselor’s suggestion, she wrote him a letter demanding some answers. Bundy never answered the letter and didn’t return any of her phone calls.

Ted Bundy with Stephanie Brooks

In mid-February, Brooks called Bundy’s residence at the elderly couple’s home and, by chance, he answered. Brooks immediately began questioning him and sharing her anger with him over being dropped from his life without warning or explanation. But before she could finish pouring out her hurt, Bundy interrupted her. He said, coldly and simply, “Stephanie, I have no idea what you mean.”[lxix]

Brooks heard a click, and the line went dead.

She never heard from Bundy again.

Elsewhere, young girls who looked just like her started to disappear, one by one by one.

Murders, Arrests, Escapes, and Trial

My God! What’s this?

Something is happening I can’t explain!

Something inside me, a breathtaking pain!

Devours and consumes me, and drives me insane!

Suddenly, uncontrolled! Something is taking hold!

Suddenly, agony! Filling me! Killing me!

Suddenly, out of breath! What is this? Is this death?

Suddenly, look at me! Can it be?

Who is this creature…that…I…see?

Free…—Dr. Jekyll, from the transformation scene when Dr. Jekyll first becomes Mr. Hyde in Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical[lxx]

During the next four years, Bundy killed many young girls. They all looked like Stephanie Brooks, and some so much that, seen from a distance, they could have easily been her twin. As mentioned at the beginning of this case study, some were found immediately, some were found a long time after they had been murdered, and some have never been found.

Bundy sometimes chose his victims on impulse; they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, most of his kills were people he stalked, finding out where they lived, watching their movements, keeping up with their travels, memorizing their schedules, and noting when they would be home in their beds or in a dark alleyway between two tall buildings. Some of the girls were abducted only seconds between the time they had seen another person and the time they entered their homes or sorority houses: There one second, gone the next. Some of the girls left a crowd of people to go with Bundy, and they never came back. Bundy sometimes grabbed the girls from the shadows. Other times, he impersonated a policeman or other member of law enforcement. And, sometimes, he showed up with a smile and an arm or leg in a cast (or with crutches) pretending to need assistance with something he couldn’t do alone because of his “physical ailment.”

His modus operandi cleverly switched patterns so often that he proved difficult to track or predict. And due to all those classes on law, deviant minds, and the criminal justice system, he had learned a few tips on how to cover his tracks. And with the help of all those classes on psychology, he was excellent at putting on a harmless face…

Most of the time.

The Chameleon and the Famous Photo

In addition to being in many places at once and knowing far too many things about far too many women at once, Bundy continued to put on different faces all the time. Often referred to in documentaries and literature as “the chameleon,” his appearance was always changing, which meant that the descriptions in eyewitness accounts and survivors’ testimonies and the composite sketches would never exactly portray his likeness. Observe the many faces of Mr. Bundy:

But the transformations involved more than just a haircut and a shave; Bundy had a very odd ability to literally change the appearance of his face by using flashes of differing expressions to look like different people entirely, usually under the influence of emotional provocation.

Generally speaking, everyone saw the same smiling, savvy, suave, dedicated, and sincere-looking Bundy face when he knew the public was watching. As a basis of comparison, here is the happy, “trial” Bundy face[lxxi]:

That is, Bundy kept this “happy face” on until his arrests and trials put him under pressure, and then something, or someone, else would surface, usually only for a split second. This phenomenon is nothing new, actually. It has been studied by myriad groups, each offering its own explanation of the phenomenon, and it is endearingly referred to in online discussions as “the psychopathic stare.” (Demon possession is often one explanation that religious groups offer to explain how people, usually murderous criminals, rapidly switch in and out of expressions that make them appear not to be themselves.) Not necessarily limited to those who are eventually labeled as “psychopaths,” this ability to startle someone with a flash of the eyes or scare someone deeply with a mere glance tends to pop up frequently in studies of psychopathic individuals.

This author witnessed this startling change for himself regarding Bundy. From photo to photo and from filmed interview to filmed interview (except for his last one; more about that later), he frequently seems the cool cat, and then flash! Something under the surface, something carnal and hostile and menacing, shows for just the briefest moment, when he looks like someone else completely. But in the blink of an eye, that persona is gone, and Bundy’s back to his self-assured, you-got-the-wrong-guy act.

When researching the phenomenon of the psychopathic stare, the following picture is one of the most famous examples of an appearance that offers a truly transparent flicker of the killer within the man. (Just next to Bundy’s photo in popularity are several psychopathic-stare photos of Charles Manson and the one of Susan Atkins shown in her case study.) Note that the picture of Bundy was snapped while he was waving at the press, who had come with cameras to attend the reading of his indictment. (The full picture, including the wave of his arm, can easily be found online.) The camera snapped the image one second after Bundy said, “I’ll plead ‘not guilty’ right now.” A frame-by-frame playback of the original press video (clip available on YouTube[lxxii]) clearly shows that Bundy’s overall behavior and countenance during his indictment reading are awkward and defensive, and, in some moments, are even childish or demure—but not psychotic. The Ted Bundy in the video just seems like a goofball, some relatively normal guy who might be embarrassed to hear his name falsely associated with such charges, but he doesn’t appear to be capable of murder. This photo,[lxxiii] captured and made famous before computer-imagery tampering would have been a possibility, doesn’t even appear as if it came from that clip, until we compare the photo to the film and look at his hairstyle, the people behind him, the angles, etc. Observe the intensity of his expression:

What surfaced in the second that the camera went off? Even if someone looking at this image for the first time didn’t find it frightening (because by itself, it’s not frightening), the viewer would have to admit that, in this frame, Bundy looks like a different guy than he was one second before and one second after the photo was taken. Did Bundy’s victims see this Bundy face just after being swept off their feet by the other Bundy face? Might they have had some kind of warning flash?

Lucy: “For a moment I thought it was somebody else.”

Mr. Hyde: “For a moment, it almost was.”—Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical[lxxiv]

They did—at least sometimes, based on survivors’ testimonies. After Bundy’s arrest, many stories emerged from other women, would-be victims who had barely escaped. They were able to describe details about Bundy that were remarkably consistent with some of his lesser-known behavioral traits that only investigators knew about. Many of the women described a moment when Bundy’s eyes had told them they were goners (always his eyes; so, so often there were stories about the “Bundy eyes”). Several of these stories had taken place in casual settings as well, and never even came close to ending in murder, giving the women no reason to talk about the event…unless Bundy’s eyes or his expressions were penetrating enough by itself to cause concern.

Right before the murders of the Chi Omega House sorority girls of Florida State University in Tallahassee, Bundy was at the campus disco joint, Sherrod’s. A young woman there named Mary Ann Piccano, who had never seen Bundy before, reported later that he had stared at her for a while. She said she had noticed that he was handsome. Well before Bundy approached Piccano with a drink, she said she felt terrified of him because of the way “his eyes bore into her.”[lxxv] He asked her to dance, and she agreed, rationalizing away her nervousness, since she had never seen him and her fear was probably unnecessary paranoia. Sherrod’s was the kind of place where students often danced with others they didn’t know; it was a social norm. As Piccano walked away with Bundy, she whispered to her friend that she thought she was heading onto the dance floor with an ex-convict. Whether or not she meant it as a joke,[lxxvi] that comment would later be used against Bundy in court. During their time together on the dance floor, Bundy behaved like a perfect gentleman and gave Piccano no further reason to be suspicious of him, but when she returned to her table, she was trembling and felt grateful to be alive. —All this because of a gut feeling…“something about the eyes, the face.”

Even Bundy’s own relative, his great-aunt, had a similar experience. According to a book written by one of Bundy’s defense attorneys, he “seemed to turn into another, unrecognizable person…[Bundy’s great-aunt] suddenly, inexplicably found herself afraid of her favorite nephew as they waited together at a dusk-darkened train station. He had turned into a stranger.”[lxxvii] As Leslie Rule said in her exclusive interview with our staff (Tom Horn and Donna Howell), “I was not afraid of Ted, but something about him felt wrong. I was only fourteen and couldn’t put my finger on what it was about him that bothered me. Ted would not meet my eyes, and he ducked his head when he was introduced to us.”[lxxviii]

Ann Rule had a friendly little dog that loved everyone it met; it was a pleasant animal to have around. She sometimes brought it to work with her. Rule describes Bundy during those days as a close friend who seemed empathetic and safe. Certainly, if she didn’t fear Bundy, and nobody else at the time (1971) feared Bundy, the loving dog would have had no reason to dislike Bundy. But, every time Bundy bent over the desk at the crisis hotline center with Rule, the dog’s hackles would rise and she would growl at him.[lxxix] Had Bundy given Rule’s dog the psychotic Bundy face? What about the dog who was mysteriously going crazy and throwing a fit when a potential victim claimed that Bundy appeared at her door pretending to be a police officer?[lxxx] What about the fact that, when a woman was mysteriously murdered in a hotel while Bundy was visiting that city, the dog catcher’s records say that a man named “Bundy” had been bitten by a dog that week?[lxxxi] Did those dogs get the psychotic, Bundy-face treatment or sense something else about Bundy that was a little left field?

Ann Rule’s daughter, Leslie, seems to believe this is possible. She shared the following words of advice for our readers:

I’d like to warn women to be careful. Look alert when you are walking. My mom always says that predators look for victims who are distracted and not paying attention.

Steer clear of bushes, where someone could hide and jump out at you. Check the backseat of your car before you get in.

And if you can give a dog a good home, please do! There are tens of thousands of good dogs put to sleep, because there are not enough homes. Rescue one of these dogs, and she [or he] just might rescue you. Predators tend to avoid homes where there are dogs.[lxxxii]

In any case, be it demon possession, a phenomenon of psychopathology, something weird Bundy was doing with his face, or a natural intensity that some people are born with, this author makes no specific claim. These facial expressions, these “eyes,” this inability to hide an internal monster, something hungry that oddly revealed itself in traces and glimmers, would not only be a psychopathic oddity for which Bundy would forever be remembered, but it would also play a role in his coming trial.

(Note again that, because of the brutality of this case, the overwhelming number of trial details and events, and the exhaustive coverage available all over the country, should the reader wish to become extensively educated on all things Bundy, we are going to speed through the following section.)

You Can’t Keep a Good Man Confined

On August 16, 1975, in Granger, Utah (near the University of Utah Law School in Salt Lake City, where Bundy was now a student), Captain “Pete” Hayward, a trusted local cop, was making his rounds in a neighborhood. When a Volkswagen Bug was seen creeping around suspiciously at 2:30 in the morning, it drew concern. The VW Bug was a very common vehicle at the time, but the cop knew the area; since he knew that nobody on the street owned that car and since it was an unusual time of day, he turned on his bright lights to get the license plate numbers. The Bug instantly turned its lights out and sped off. (This same thing happened with the same kind of vehicle in the same era as the David Berkowitz case [also covered in Redeemed Unredeemable with an exclusive interview between Tom Horn and David Berkowitz]; the two events are not in any way related. Berkowitz’s case was a year later in New York. Several satanic underground theorists linked many serial killers together in coincidences like these and, although some of this research has pointed to some clever potential associations, the personalities behind the production of this book believe these things to be coincidental.)

Howard tailed the mysterious vehicle as it ran through two stop signs and then pulled into an abandoned gas station. The officer eased into the lot as well and got out of his patrol car. A young man emerged from the VW and claimed he was lost. Howard commented about the driver’s willingness to ignore two stop signs, requested the driver’s identification, and asked what he was doing in the area. Theodore Bundy, as the driver’s license read, responded that he had seen a late-night showing of The Towering Inferno at the drive-in and had gotten lost on the way home. Howard had passed the drive-in earlier that evening and knew Bundy’s excuse was bogus, as that movie had not been playing there.

Howard suddenly noticed something very out of the ordinary: The passenger-side seat was missing from Bundy’s car. Upon further inspection, the officer uncovered a bag with some odd items: a ski mask, a second mask fashioned from pantyhose, a crowbar, handcuffs, trash bags, a coil of rope, an ice pick, gloves, a flashlight, and strange strips of cloth.

Bundy was arrested for evading an officer, and on suspicion of burglary.

Investigators had made several connections regarding the make and model of the vehicle and its similarities to one that had been reported as near the sites of recent abductions. In addition, they were putting other factors together as well: Ann Rule had called the station connecting Bundy’s likeness to a composite sketch of the person suspected of the recent crimes. Daughter Leslie remembers this moment:

After two young women disappeared from Lake Sammamish State Park, there was a big spread in the newspaper about the suspect and the missing girls. Witnesses had overheard him introduce himself to one of the victims. He said his name was “Ted,” but most people assumed that that was not his real name. My mother thought that the composite sketch in the paper looked like her friend, Ted. I remember that the resemblance really troubled my mom. My sister told her that [she] was crazy, and that it couldn’t possibly be her friend Ted. At that time, mother already had a contract to write a book about the girls disappearing around Seattle. What are the odds that the suspect would turn out to be her friend? I have a very vivid picture of my mom standing there, the newspaper wide open as she stared at it with a wrinkled brow.[lxxxiii]

Several other concerning flags were naturally raised by Bundy possessing what appeared to be burglary tools. Further, there had been a phone call from his girlfriend at the time about Bundy’s worrisome behaviors.

A search of Bundy’s apartment turned up some maps and pamphlets linking him to a ski resort and a school play where two girls had been reported missing, but investigators found no evidence hard enough to hold him. He was released on his own recognizance but was placed under twenty-four-hour surveillance. This was the first time he weaseled out of containment…

His girlfriend went to the police and told them about countless other peculiar details. Bundy had been keeping items she didn’t understand, such as various kinds of weapons and the same kinds of medical supplies (crutches, plasters, etc.) that would make him fit the profile of the man who had reportedly been approaching people pretending to be injured. Bundy had threatened to break her neck when she accused him of stealing some valuables, and she could not explain where he had been on any of the nights when girls had gone missing. In the heat of the increasing suspicion, Bundy sold his car to a teenager. However, the police impounded it and searched it for evidence; the investigation turned up hairs that matched samples taken from some of the missing girls. One of the girls who had barely escaped Bundy’s attack picked him immediately from a lineup, identifying him as the man impersonating a cop who had tried to kidnap and kill her a year before.

Now investigators had enough to charge Bundy with aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. He claimed innocence, and bail was set at $15,000. Bundy’s parents paid the bail, and he had once again weaseled out (again under surveillance)…

On February23, 1976, Bundy faced trial for his kidnapping charge. On March 1, he was found guilty of aggravated kidnapping and assault, and was sentenced to one to fifteen years prison. About seven months later, he was discovered creeping around in the bushes of the prison yard “carrying an ‘escape kit’—road maps, airline schedules, and a social security card—and spent several weeks in solitary confinement.”[lxxxiv] That month, after enough evidence had been stacked against him, he was charged with murder by the state of Colorado and transferred to Aspen. Having above-average knowledge of law as a result of his schooling, he elected to represent himself in trial as his own defense attorney, maintaining his innocence, and the judge therefore gave him the special privilege of being able to wander unshackled in the law library. Standing out of the immediate view of his escorts, he jumped out of a second-story window, sprained his ankle upon landing, and hobbled down the city sidewalks to nearby woods to temporary freedom. This was the third time he was able to weasel out of facing the music…

Bundy was lost in the woods for six days, which he spent breaking into cabins and trailers to steal food, clothing, and a rifle. He was unable to put much distance behind him, however; all he accomplished was to keep turning furious circles and limping around on an increasingly painful ankle out in the middle of the confounded trees. He stole a car and started driving but began falling asleep at the wheel. Two officers who observed his erratic driving and pulled him over recognized him immediately and recaptured him. He was just a couple of blocks away from where he had escaped.

Back in prison, Bundy obtained a hacksaw (he never said from whom) and whittled away at a crawlspace in the ceiling of his cell for months, until an opening finally gave way. When it did, having lost a lot of weight for his escape plan, Bundy slinked up into the space and started inching through the ceilings, taking months to discover which path led where in the facility. Finally, when the prison operations had been reduced to a skeletal staff for Christmas weekend in 1977, Bundy again slipped into the ceilings. This time, he made his way out of the crawlspace, dropping down into the apartment of the chief jailor (who was out on a Christmas date with his wife), and exiting into the street. He stole a car, and, after the car broke down, he hitched a ride to town, where he took a bus to Denver…where he took a flight to Chicago…where he took a train to Michigan…where he stole another car and drove to Atlanta…where he took a bus to Tallahassee, Florida. (No chance of travel like that ever happening again, with today’s security measures…) This would be the last time he weaseled. After his next arrest, Bundy would never see freedom again. But he would continue to claim he was innocent.

Once in Tallassee, Bundy stayed put. He adopted an alias: Chris Hagen. With this new identity and the ability to look like different people, his plan, initially, was to clean up his act and refrain from further criminal activity. He kept a low profile at his new location from January 8 to January 15 of 1978—just one week. Then he slipped into the Chi Omega Sorority House and, as silent as a shadow, snuck up on and bludgeoned four coeds in less than fifteen minutes, easily within earshot of more than thirty people who said they never heard a thing. Then Bundy immediately traveled eight blocks away, where he broke into another house and bludgeoned another young girl. Of his five victims that night, two died (Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy) and three survived with terrible injuries. The next victim Bundy abducted from a junior high school a few weeks later. This girl, Kimberly Leach, Bundy’s final victim, did not survive.

Four days after murdering Leach, Bundy was spotted driving a stolen Volkswagen Bug. When an officer attempted to arrest Bundy for the auto theft, Bundy kicked the officer’s legs out from under him and ran. Shots were fired by the officer, nobody was hit, and Bundy was eventually wrestled into submission.

The officer was unaware that he had just arrested the murderer of dozens of young girls. He took Bundy into custody for the stolen vehicle charge and, as he was driving back to the station, he heard Bundy say that he’d wished the officer would have just killed him.

Don’t Miss Tonight’s Showing of You Got the Wrong Guy!

Ted Bundy was a lot of things, but just as much as anything else, he was a player to a fault when the cameras were pointed at him. He did more than just defend himself (until the very end, he acted as his own defense, despite the on-again, off-again, on-again game he forced public defense attorneys to play while he took first chair, then second chair, then first chair again, claiming one day to like a guy and the next day complaining about his incompetence, on and on and on). He liked to play lawyer. It was partly about convincing juries that he wasn’t guilty of the mounting charges that slowly attached themselves to his case, certainly. But it was also about getting to be the big man on campus, give the suave, wink-and-gun treatment to the naïve Bundy fans who paraded their pretty faces and long hair (parted in the middle) into the courtroom every day. (This group of young women was made up of witnesses, court reporters, deputies, detectives, and even survivors of the attacks [who were not awake to see their attacker]! But surely, this guy couldn’t be guilty, so they had to giggle and whisper like, well, girls, every time he flashed them the “trial” Bundy face. Most of them looked just like many of the girls who had gone missing.)

We can see that Bundy was not the innocent, charming, sophisticated knight in legal armor he was pretending to be. But he was far worse than just “guilty” in the courts. In the face of murder charges and nightmarish allegations of crimes that he knew very well he had committed, he made a mockery of his victims’ deaths by playing like he was some jovial celebrity, with the whole world his stage. He pretended to be enraged by the injustice of the accusations against him, and often threatened to stomp out of the courtroom rather than sit down, shut up, and calmly maintain his innocence. If “innocence” was how he was going to play his cards, the least he could have done in his deception was show some respect to those who remained alive but were heartbroken by the hurt he had caused. Instead of taking the trial of the deaths of young, violated girls seriously, he continued to flatter the giggling female “audience” just behind him with—zing!—a smile here and—pow!—a chuckle there. He was like some flamboyant entertainer who had been cast as the role of a serious defendant who decided to turn the production into a comedy and roll with it to see how it turned out. It wasn’t just his trial, it was his performance. And by choosing to handle himself that way, he did a great disservice to those girls he killed, and to their families.

Shame on him.

The worst part of his performance was his disturbing, cross-examination tap dance with Ray Crew, a Florida State University police officer who had been one of the first responders to the Chi Omega House crime scene. Law enforcement had been called in because of a panicked and garbled phone call from the dorm’s house mother, and the officers had believed they were heading to the site to see what damage had been done between two girls fighting about a boyfriend or something.[lxxxv] However, when the officers arrived at the scene to find two girls injured and two others dead, they were tragically affected by what they saw.

In the courtroom, Bundy set out to make Crew look like an inexperienced fool who had inadvertently tampered with the evidence. Bundy (who was still claiming that he had nothing to do with any of the murders, and who had never left a fingerprint at the scene of any crimes) was concocting an oh-so-brilliant scheme. In his cross-examination of Crew, Bundy planned to take the jury step by step through Crew’s discovery of the bodies, questioning the officer about every diminutive element, every movement he made, and everything he saw, in the hopes of exposing a moment when Crew had corrupted the crime scene. But a couple of events happened that caused Bundy’s plan to backfire.

To begin with, the miniscule scrutiny and itemization of the bloody mess Bundy had left behind at the Chi Omega House—and that he was forcing Crew to recount—caused the jury to hear of the brutality on such a detailed level that they were all terribly disturbed. In addition to distressing jury members with the graphic description of the frightening scene itself, Bundy compelled Crew to relive an event so personally unsettling that his emotional delivery of the testimony greatly bothered everyone present.

Ted Bundy representing his defense during trial

Yet, that wasn’t it…not by itself, anyway. There was a pivotal moment in Bundy’s interview of Crew that many sources have had a hard time explaining. Movies made about the famous murderer have portrayed a scene wherein an otherwise cocky Bundy suddenly starts to stare at Crew with an unusual expression and encourages the officer to speak of every detail, while the Bundy character responds to the details with a visible, sick gratification. It’s as if to suggest that the jury saw a flash of the real Bundy as he psychologically devoured the scene as a pleasant memory.

Did the inner monster flash an inappropriate Bundy face in the real-life trial? Did he drop his mask for a split second to reveal the face of the psychopath?

According to later interviews with Crew, something was indeed very twisted and bizarre about Bundy during that cross-examination. In an article by WCTV:

He says he felt Bundy was reliving the crime as he testified. The former FSU Police Officer says it was unnerving.

“I got the feeling I was feeding his obsession with the whole thing,” says Crew.[lxxxvi]

The minute Bundy had no further questions for Crew, everyone in the courtroom was aware that change was on the wind. At least for the time being, Bundy’s flirting, peanut-gallery group didn’t even look at him.[lxxxvii] Bundy’s public defenders would never again allow him to cross-examine during his trial; they knew that this little charade had been “a mistake.”[lxxxviii]

Another source relates it this way:

On the day that the prosecution saturated the jurors with the blood and gore of the crimes, Bundy cross-examined Officer Ray Crew. Slowly and always eliciting detail, Ted led Crew back through the awful night, searing the crimes’ bloody aftermath into the jurors’ minds. Ted made sure everyone had an enduring impression of the brutal handiwork.

These appearances as his own attorney grew less frequent as the trial wore on. Ted continued to join each bench conference with Judge Cowart and he did not lose his zest for courtroom spectacle. But he was beginning to buckle.[lxxxix]

Bundy attempted to show his innocence during trial with his casual exterior, probably assuming that a guilty man would be solemn or scared and an innocent man would act slapdash and far removed from the crimes he was being accused of. And perhaps that strategy was working, up to a point. But there’s no doubt about it: When Bundy interrogated Crew that day, the real Bundy eclipsed the cavalier, counterfeit Bundy, and the jury found him guilty.

There had never been enough evidence to officially charge Bundy with any of his earlier murders. In the end, he was only ever formally charged and tried for the murders at the Chi Omega Sorority House and for the murder of Kimberly Leach weeks later. Despite Bundy’s impeccable ability to cover his tracks, an eyewitness had seen him leaving the sorority house. That report, along with forensic odontologist Dr. Richard Souviron’s testimony about Bundy’s dental identification in the question of a bite mark found on a victim’s body, eventually placed Bundy at the scene of the Chi Omega crime. That murder conviction, along with eyewitness testimonies and clothing fiber analysis evidence, eventually rendered a guilty verdict in the trial of Kimberly Leach.

Although he was a strong suspect in many other murders, these three murders (Bowman, Levy, and Leach) would be the only murders the courts would ever convict Ted Bundy of.

Louise Bundy attended the sentencing, and “tearfully pleaded for her son’s life.”[xc] Her pleas were not enough to save him.

He was sentenced to die by electric chair.

The Last Word

The concluding near-decade of Bundy’s life on death row is remembered as his final, constant struggle to prove everyone wrong. Bundy continued to perform his “I didn’t do it” song and dance until his very last appeals and attempted stays of execution were rejected for the last time.

Then, suddenly and without warning, the world saw the newest, and last, Bundy.

Confessions of a Psychopath

Bundy had played his last card. With no tricks up his sleeve and no way to reverse the sentence, within just days and hours just before his execution, he opened his mouth and excreted the blackest, vilest accounts of murder, giving investigators exactly what they had sought for more than ten years. Then Bundy continued to fill them in on elements of his case—with details beyond anything they had ever expected to hear. Bundy was an even darker character than they had imagined. (Note that, although he had hinted at confessions, making suggestions about “how a killer might do something” and the like well before this time, this was his first official confession.)

It has been documented in several books, at least two of which this author has read and cited from in this case study, that Bundy lived out his final days without almost a wink of sleep. Some of his confession recordings, in Rule’s opinion (she knew his voice and mannerisms), were a stream of words uttered in unbelievable exhaustion by a very weary man at the end of his rope, finally willing to let the families of his victims know that the girls who had come up missing were never coming home. This author has listened to the tapes. Bundy frequently says that certain details are too hard for him to talk about when he is asked for specifics. Oddly, some details he does share are incredibly unsettling, while others, the subjects he feels he can’t talk about, are tame by comparison.

As he tells of the murders, at one point, the question is raised as to why he is now talking. According to Bundy, if his words are understood correctly, he wanted to fully exonerate his family from having anything to do with any of it. This close to the scheduled end of his life, with very little sleep and the reality of his situation weighing on him greatly, there are sometimes moments when his fear is evident. His stutter, a habit that he had kicked in his youth, found its way back into his dialogue on the tapes here and there. Sometimes he sounds like he’s managing alright, with his intelligence intact, telling his story as if he were just a very tired person at the end of a long day talking about a clothing special at the nearest department store. Other times, sporadically, Bundy’s voice drops into a darkness, a weariness, a tormented place, and it sounds as if he’s struggling to get his demented memories out into the open air.

There are a few, chilling moments when Bundy is afraid that some of the officers nearby will hear what he has to say, so he leans in to speak discreetly to his interviewer. These moments catch the listener off guard, because his voice jerks suddenly from being a reasonable volume at a reasonable distance away to a slow, harsh whisper only inches away from the recorder, as he reveals additional, graphic, blood-curdling details of his barbaric crimes. It’s surreal, like a voice from beyond the grave rapidly flying to just behind your ear to whisper the angrier and more assaulting threats to humankind’s mortal fragility.

In hindsight, it’s obvious from every angle that Bundy made an enormous mistake by claiming to be innocent for as long as he did. Psychoanalysis today is much more sophisticated than it was in Bundy’s day, and his state of mind is still undergoing constant review in the psychiatric field. There’s no telling whether our tools of medicine will ever allow a definite diagnosis of his mental illnesses or personality disorders, especially now that he’s no longer alive to analyze in person. Had he admitted what he had done and been honest at any point in his case, a Pandora’s box of possibilities would have been opened, resulting in…who knows what could have been the outcome back then? Insanity plea bargains? Commutation? Successful appeals? Not to mention the advances that science might have made if allowed unrestricted access to analyze Bundy’s psychological processing. But Bundy refused to allow anyone to think that any part of him was broken.

We do know that, according to the facts compiled then, and according to the sciences we had then and up to now, Bundy was an official psychopath: a man who knew the rules, was sane enough to know that it was wrong to break them and had zero empathy for those he killed. (See the Jeffrey Dahmer case study following for insight on brainwave activity associated to empathy.) Based on what we know about psychopaths in regards to secular medicines and sciences, psychopaths are not, and cannot be, redeemable creatures, because they are not capable of being sorry or feeling guilty. And if someone is not capable of being sorry, if he is not remorseful, then he cannot be truly capable of repentance. Repentance is a necessary element in the process of redemption. Right? (First of all, that’s a very crude assimilation, and not all psych science points to that breakdown. But many times, people take the opinions of professionals in the field to mean that precisely.)

So, when Bundy came forward at the end of his life with both confessions of murder and claims of Christ on his lips, the world scoffed. People claimed that he was only confessing his crimes in an effort to manipulate the legal system into giving him a stay of execution—and there is probably some truth to the idea that he would start to confess to gain more time before his execution. (Note, however, that even after the Supreme Court denied his final appeal only hours before his death, and even after the prison staff had shaved his head and prepared his body for execution just before collecting him to walk the hall a final time—and with therefore assumedly no ulterior motive but to confess his sin in a situation where there is no earthly reversal of his death only minutes away—he gave his last confession. Make of that what you will.)

But as far as whether Bundy was capable of sincerity upon his approach to the Lord Jesus Christ, well, that question has simply come up too many times for this book—a book focused on the subject of redemption potentially extending to the otherwise unredeemable—to skirt. Certainly, we don’t know for sure if Bundy, specifically, was sincere, as we have said repeatedly throughout this work that we are not making any solid statements about another person’s sincere commitment to Christ, and we are not about to change that now. But the question of whether he or any other diagnosed psychopath was or is capable of sincerity is something this book must now briefly address.

To begin, let us point to the fact that over a decade before his date with death, Bundy had begun telling his close acquaintances that he had been reading the Bible, and the words in it had comforted him and brought him peace. Sometimes those moments resulted in something poetic. As he shared with Rule:

Sleep comes on slowly

Read the words of the wholly [sic]

The scriptures bring peace

They talk of release

They bring us to God

In here that seems odd

But His gift is so clear

I find that He’s near

Mercy and redemption

Without an exception

He puts me at ease

Jailer, do what you please

No harm can befall me

When the Savior does call me.[xci]

Many who heard that Bundy had given his life to the Lord just before he died would not know that in the place called prison, that suffocating and redundant place, the place both physically and psychologically suppressing, he had been reading the Bible and talking about a personal relationship with Christ for some time before the end. But for many, none of this would matter or be taken seriously as long as the debate raged on.

The fact is that a diagnosis, though incredibly beneficial in helping one understand a person, is given by another finite human being. The science is not always exact, and in many cases (including Bundy), the diagnosis begins as one analysis, morphs into another, and lands at a completely different conclusion entirely, sometimes continuing to adjust to modern medicine years after the person has passed on and his or her condition is studied with more insight into the depths of the human brain. Bundy had a reputation for having confused professionals in the field from the first analysis and forward,[xcii] and he was even originally diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder. At another time, he was diagnosed as bipolar[xciii]—and he is still the subject of much study. To believe without question the diagnosis of a psychiatric professional is to overlook the obvious contributing factor of human error. This is especially true in cases where the diagnoses jump all over the place, pointing to one human mind that is more of a mystery even to professionals than anything a label can be placed upon. And with this practice ever evolving, what we know about the human mind today greatly trumps what we thought of the mind a hundred years ago; what we will know a century from now will evermore dilute our strongest diagnoses today. (Imagine how much differently Sean Sellers’ life might have turned out today, when so much more is known about his disorder than in the late ’80s and early ’90s.) And lastly, to believe wholeheartedly in science or psychiatric practice of any kind is to limit God…no?

The Legendary Dobson Interview

With only days left to live, Bundy turned down hundreds of requests for media interviews, refusing to see anyone except for those he would trust to handle his taped confessions and Dr. James Dobson.

The media had a heyday with the interview Dobson conducted with Bundy. Rumors instantaneously generated headlines, many of them reporting lies as if they were fact.

Many believe, and incorrectly so, that Dobson was looking to profit from Bundy’s situation. Articles with headlines like “Minister Cashes in on Bundy”[xciv] were shameless in broadcasting their uninformed claims. Others believed, again incorrectly so, that Dobson was jumping up and down outside Bundy’s cell, begging for the chance to be the elect, final interviewer.

In fact, Bundy had reached out to Dobson through his ministry back in December of 1986, more than two years before the interview was filmed. Bundy, without directly admitting to any crimes or implicating himself in any way, had told Dobson that there would come a day when he would have things to confess, and that when that day came, he would also have statements to make about pornography and its effect on his life. Concerned that any other press or media interviewer would misrepresent his confession and warning or edit his interview to mean something other than what it meant, he told Dobson that he had nobody else he could trust. When he asked if Dobson would be willing to come to Florida, Dobson agreed, and between that day and the day of the interview, Dobson corresponded with Bundy by mail, discussing the harm of pornography with him while he waited for the interview invitation Bundy had told him to expect.[xcv] This shows two things: 1) Bundy had been thinking about his confessions for a long time before he finally talked, despite claims that he decided to come forward at the last minute and confess solely for the purpose of trying to stay his execution; and 2) Bundy had been thinking far in advance about a warning he wanted to leave with the world about pornography, despite claims that pornography was just the next impulsively chosen spectacle card he wanted to play for attention.

In addition, Dobson and Bundy signed a legal agreement stipulating that any money made from the sale of the video through Dobson’s ministry would go first to the reimbursement of costs for the video to be recorded and produced, and then to the fight against violent pornography.[xcvi] So, despite Dobson asking for twenty-five-dollar donations for each video, he never had a plan for “cashing in” on anything; nor was there ever a plan stating that Bundy would be paid for an interview.

Watching Dobson’s interview of Bundy is like night and day compared with watching Bundy in court. The trial Bundy face had been cool, collected, confident, flirtatious. The final interview Bundy face was, after several minutes, erratic, stumbling, jumpy, and restless. It was as if all of Bundy’s masks had been used up, and his very last one was cracking. It’s clear on the video that Bundy is trying to hold himself together, but it’s also obvious that he’s scared out of his mind. He pauses a lot. Sometimes, his eyes dart around, and at other times they are completely and unusually closed—even while he’s talking. He says “uh” constantly, and his overall presence is comparatively irregular. (A person talking to either Bundy for the first time might not notice anything specifically unusual. But a person evaluating the difference between the man in this final interview and the man from prior footage would easily pick up on the idea that he or she is watching a frightened grown man in the Dobson tape.)

When one knows the back story of the circumstances leading up to the interview, it is a lot easier to hold the opinion that there was nothing fake about it.

Bundy was scared.

When, after the interview, Dobson was asked, “So you feel [that] it was, in fact, the last honest statements of a condemned man?” Dobson said: “Listen to the man’s voice. Look into his eyes, and draw your own conclusions. I think it’s obvious.”[xcvii]

The interview started with Dr. Dobson reiterating that, within only a few hours, Ted Bundy would be executed. What, Dr. Dobson wanted to know, was on Bundy’s mind?

Go Tell My Story

Bundy’s answer was that he sometimes felt at peace about the execution and at other times he felt no peace at all.

Dobson asked Bundy to state for the record, with cameras rolling, that he was, in fact, guilty of killing many young women. Bundy confirmed that it was true. Dobson then asked for Bundy to go back to the beginning and share with the viewers how it all had gone wrong. It was about this point in the interview that Bundy didn’t quite seem like his old, poised self as he shared that professionals, as well as he, himself, had been trying to answer that question, and that it remained a question.

Dobson asked Bundy to confirm that he had been raised in a good home, a Christian home, without any abuse, and Bundy did so. (Note that Bundy, himself, may not have ever been directly abused in any physical way, but a phenomenal amount of psychological and emotional abuse in his early developmental years has been confirmed repeatedly in his case, both by psychiatric analysis and evaluation, and also by testimonies of his then-living relatives. To many, Bundy only absolved his family, his sister-mother, and even violent Sam Cowell from having any responsibility for his developing into a bad person. When compared to the alternative answer of blaming them for his problems, this was certainly the more prudent and appreciated answer; however, this answer often leads people to think he came from a “normal” home—which is not at all true, as already discussed.) From there, he told what he could remember of his story.

At twelve, Bundy had begun acquiring soft-core pornography from the local grocery stores and other local businesses (remember, he was a master shoplifter, so he didn’t have to be of age to “buy” anything), and, while exploring his neighborhood, he had discovered that he could get hold of additional pornography while digging through others’ trash. These discarded publications, as he would find out, contained pictures of a much harder and more graphic nature.[xcviii]

Dobson asked Bundy to explain how these materials had caused Bundy to become corrupted. At this moment in the interview, Bundy abruptly and firmly stopped the discussion to make a significant proclamation:

Okay, before we go any further, I think, uh, it’s important to me that people believe what I’m saying, to tell you that I’m not blaming pornography. I’m not saying that it caused me to go out and do certain things. I take full responsibility for…all the things that I’ve done. That’s not the question here. The question, and, and, or, the issue here, is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and, and shape [these] kinds of violent behavior.[xcix]

Continuing his story, after making sure that Dobson understood that he was not looking for a scapegoat for his crimes, Bundy began to explain that as he was putting these images into his mind (it wasn’t the soft-core, but the violent pornography now), it slowly and gradually became an addiction. And, like with any addiction, he grew hungrier and hungrier for the next, “more potent, more explicit, more graphic”[c] materials—just like a drug.

For the next couple of minutes, Bundy struggled to explain how the addiction grew into an appetite for more than just pictures and film. Seeing that he was having difficulty, Dobson cut in and asked Bundy if he remembered what precisely it was that “pushed” him “over that edge.” Bundy once again stopped the interview to reiterate his earlier proclamation: “Again, when you say ‘pushed,’ I—I know what you’re saying, but I don’t wanna confer…that I was some kind of, of helpless kind of victim,”[ci] and he then went over the point that it was an influential kind of material that he was messing with. (This video is sarcastically referred to all over the Internet as Bundy’s “porn made me do it” interview. This author wonders if the people who refer to it as that have even listened to what he said when he, on more than one occasion, loudly and clearly stated the opposite.)

Dobson said that he understood, and Bundy continued.

The destructive energy that built up while he was simultaneously looking at the images and drowning his moral inhibitions in alcohol, he said, eventually corroded his mind until he had given himself over to the hunger completely. He openly acknowledged that there are plenty of people who would testify that they have given in to the temptation to view pornography, and yet they didn’t go out and hurt anybody. He stated that he knew that this was true, and offered that he did not know why porn had impacted him more than others.

Dobson asked what Bundy had felt, emotionally, after his first murder. With great difficulty, and after reminding Dobson that even years later it was still so very hard to talk about, he explained that it was like emerging from a horrific trance, like a kind of animalistic possession had taken over. He said he had awakened the next day with the terrible memory of it all, which was sickening, initially. Then, as time passed (not as slowly as one might think) after the first murder, life returned to some kind of regular pattern wherein his daily thoughts were not compulsively owned by the memory of what he had done. There was a dark, secret “segment” of his life that he disconcertingly compartmentalized as he continued to go on living and killing.

Finally, after much more disturbing conversation between Dobson and Bundy, the death row inmate was given his opportunity to bring home the warning for which he had begged Dobson to provide a platform: This man, Bundy, was not alone in his perversion, and from behind bars, he had a chance to see that for himself. He said of these people:

We are your sons, and we are your husbands.… Pornography can reach out and snatch a kid out of any house today.… There is no protection against the kinds of influences that are loose in a society that tolerates—[at this moment he choked up and stopped talking until Dobson helped bring the focus back]… I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me, and without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography, without question, without exception, deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction to pornography. There’s no question about it. The FBI’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornography.[cii]

Dobson asked Bundy what his life might have been like if he had never become entangled with pornography. Bundy answered that it would have been a different life, void of the kind of crime he had committed; of this he was certain. There was a sadness to him, a look as if to say, “What a waste.” Then, the question that was on everyone’s mind, the question that everyone wanted to hear Dobson ask, was finally uttered: Was Ted Bundy sorry? Did he carry remorse for his crimes?

With God’s assistance, “Yes. Absolutely.”[ciii]

Bundy, only just maintaining his composure, explained that even if those he had harmed could not believe his repentance, he hoped they at least believed him when he said that there were people just like him out there feeding their minds with the dirt and filth that society and the media allow in magazines and television.[civ]

Bundy said he knew he would likely never be forgiven by those he had caused so much grief, and that he did not deserve their forgiveness. Dobson asked if Bundy believed he did deserve execution.

BUNDY: That’s a good question and I’ll answer it very honestly. I don’t want to die.… I deserve certainly the most extreme punishment society has…and I believe society deserves to be protected from me.…

DOBSON: You told me last night…that you have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and [you] are a follower and a believer in Him. Do you draw strength from that as you approach these final hours?

BUNDY: Uh, I do. I can’t say that being in the Valley of the Shadow of Death is something that I’ve become all that accustomed to and that I’m strong and that nothing’s bothering me.… It gets kinda lonely. And yet, I have to remind myself that every one of us will go through this someday.… This is just an experience that we all share. Here I am.[cv]

Later, Dobson would say that the experience led him to believe that Bundy was a “frightened, broken man” who was “deeply remorseful.”[cvi]

Life Is But a Vapor

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14)

At around three o’clock in the afternoon, Monday, January 23, 1989, Dobson bid Bundy farewell. Within the next couple of hours, Bundy wrote his last will, requesting that his body be cremated and scattered over the Washington Cascade Mountains.[cvii]

A little while before midnight, Bundy took communion with crackers and a Coke alongside another man who had become a spiritual advisor, his prison minister friend, Jack Tanner.[cviii] Just after this, Bundy was contacted by his defense team and told that the Supreme Court had rejected his final appeal. Bundy was shaken by the news.

At 2:12 in the morning on Tuesday, January 24, 1989, Bundy spoke to his mother over the phone for the very last time. Louise’s final words to Bundy were, “You will always be my precious son.”[cix]

At 4:47, Bundy refused his last meal, drinking only water.[cx]

Between 5:00 and 6:00 that morning, he appeared subdued during the preparations. His head was shaved, his body was showered, and a conducting gel was placed on his scalp.[cxi]

Between 6:00 and 6:57, Bundy recorded his final victim confession.[cxii]

At 7:00, Bundy had to be physically pulled into the execution chamber, as he dug his feet into the floor of the outer room in resistance. He continued to fight against the guards as they dragged him, trembling and shaking his head in fear, the whole way from the door to the electric chair.[cxiii]

Ted Bundy’s last words, while he was being strapped into Old Sparky, were, “I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”[cxiv]

At 7:06, the executioner received the signal to activate the chair, and did so immediately. Volts of electricity passed through Bundy’s body for one minute. When the execution was over, Bundy was still. Smoke rose from his body,[cxv] and his spirit rose with it. Gone in a puff of smoke…

In a vapor.

He left without peace. He left without forgiveness from those he had hurt. He left without closure. He left this world as a hated man.

Ted Bundy, serial killer of young women, perpetrator of children’s nightmares, was gone.

When the prison staff gave the signal to the thousands of people gathered outside the prison fence, an uproarious celebration ensued, involving chanting and cheers, voices singing about electric death, fireworks shooting up into the sky and bursting into an array of bright colors, news anchors shouting above the honking horns, and cameras flashing and filming all over the place.

It was an ironic and historic moment in memory of the man who had always wanted to be celebrated.

Ted Bundy left behind one of the most chilling legacies of evil this world has ever seen. He left behind one of the most famous stories of conversion to Christianity this world has ever seen. The contrast of those two extremes in one man would perpetuate the study of his psychological profile for decades and probably longer, using that profile as a famous basis of comparison for so many lessons this world still has, and may always have, to learn about his mind.

And the world has continued to ask, ever so skeptically: Was Ted Bundy capable of being redeemed? Was God big enough to save him?

If so, it was never because Bundy was amazing. It was because God is.


Redeemed Unredeemable


[i] Ann Rule, The Stranger Beside Me (Planet Ann Rule e-book Kindle edition: Seattle, WA, 2012; originally published by W. W. Norton & Company, 1980), Kindle Locations 921–922.

[ii] Ibid., 922–924.

[iii] Ibid., 870–872; 1225–1226.

[iv] Ibid., 913–914.

[v] Please note that the relationship between Ann Rule and Ted Bundy was always purely platonic. Romantic feelings were never shared between either of them, despite many rumors suggesting otherwise. This is stated repeatedly throughout Rule’s book, and is ignored repeatedly throughout historical media and literature.

[vi] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 2243.

[vii] Ibid., 2244–2245.

[viii] Spoken by the character of Dr. Jekyll, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, music by Frank Wildhorn, book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Steve Cuden, premiered at the Alley Theater in Houston Texas in May of 1990; based on the book Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This quote was taken from the 1994 pre-Broadway audio CD recording: The Complete Work: Jekyll & Hyde: The Gothic Musical Thriller, featuring Anthony Warlow as Jekyll/Hyde, Linda Eder as Lucy, and Carolee Carmello as Lisa, track 03, “Prologue,” 0:09–0:33.

[ix] “Adaptations of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, last modified March 25, 2014, last accessed April 24, 2014,

[x] “Seven deadly sins,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, last modified April 22, 2014, last accessed April 24, 2014,

[xi] Karen Edmisten, Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor Inc.: Huntington, IN, 2013), Kindle pages 11–12.

[xii] Leslie Rule, in an exclusive interview with Donna Howell on August 10, 2014.

[xiii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 8870.

[xiv] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, A&E Home Video Studio, DVD, 2002, 10:01–10:18.

[xv] Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy ( e-book Kindle edition, 2012; New American Library, a division of Penguin Putnam USA Inc./Signet Books, 1989) Kindle Locations 6047–6048.

[xvi] “Ted Bundy,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, last modified April 30, 2013,

[xvii] Michaud and Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness, 6067.

[xviii] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, 9:50–10:00.

[xix] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 8857–8858.

[xx] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, 10:19–10:30.

[xxi] Ibid., 10:25–10:45; Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 8881–8886.

[xxii] Michaud and Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness, 6034.

[xxiii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 711–713.

[xxiv] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, 10:57–11:04.

[xxv] Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer: The Death Row Interviews ( e-book Kindle edition, 2000; originally published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Putnam USA Inc./Signet Books, 1990), Kindle page 6.

[xxvi] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, 11:05–11:26.

[xxvii] Michaud and Aynesworth, Conversations with a Killer, 7–8.

[xxviii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 718–719.

[xxix] Michaud and Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness, 6048–6049.

[xxx] Michaud and Aynesworth, Conversations with a Killer, 8.

[xxxi] “Bondage cover,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, last modified April 26, 2014, last accessed May 1, 2014,

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] “Weird menace,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, last modified March 12, 2014, last accessed May 1, 2014,

[xxxiv] Bruce Henry, The American Mercury, April 1938; as quoted in Robert Kenneth Jones, The Shudder Pulps: A History of the Weird Menace Magazines of the 1930s (New American Library, 1978), 138–139.

[xxxv] “Tijuana bibles,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, last modified April 27, 2014, last accessed May 1, 2014,

[xxxvi] “Bondage cover,” Wikipedia,

[xxxvii] “Fetish magazine,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, last modified April 24, 2014, last accessed May 1, 2014,

[xxxviii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 9414–9422.

[xxxix] “Reactive Attachment Disorder,” American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, No. 85, March 2011, last accessed April 30, 2014,

[xl] Ibid.

[xli] “Diseases and Conditions: ‘Reactive Attachment Disorder’ Definition,” Mayo Clinic, July 6, 2011, last accessed May 1, 2014,

[xlii] “Reactive Attachment Disorder,” American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,

[xliii] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, 11:30–11:39.

[xliv] Ibid., 11:56–12:02.

[xlv] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 725–727.

[xlvi] G. Michaud and Aynesworth, Conversations with a Killer, 9; emphasis in original.

[xlvii] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, 12:45–13:02.

[xlviii] Ibid., 13:00–13:22.

[xlix] Ibid., 13:23–13:33.

[l] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 761–762.

[li] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, 15:45–16:12.

[lii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 782–783.

[liii] Ibid., 785–786.

[liv] “Ted Bundy,” A&E Television Networks: Biography, 16:40–16:48.

[lv] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 790–791.

[lvi] Ibid., 819–820.

[lvii] “Ted Bundy,” Wikipedia,

[lviii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 846.

[lix] Also note that the birth certificate actually said the father was a “Lloyd Marshall” of the Air Force, but Louise stuck to her story about the seducing sailor named “Jack Worthington.” It’s likely that nobody will ever know without any doubt who this man truly was.

[lx] Michaud and Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness, 943–944.

[lxi] Ibid., 6055–6056.

[lxii] Rachael Bell, Ted Bundy, true crime biography report,, “A Time of Change” page,

[lxiii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 8880–8881.

[lxiv] “You Don’t Know, Jack,” Snopes, last updated June 9, 2013, last accessed May 2, 2014,

[lxv] Sung by the extra characters on the streets of London, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, Wildhorn, Bricusse, and Cuden. This quote was taken from the 1994 pre-Broadway audio CD recording: The Complete Work: Jekyll & Hyde: The Gothic Musical Thriller, Warlow, Eder, and Carmello, track 03, “Façade,” 0:41– 1:24.

[lxvi] Michaud and Aynesworth, Conversations with a Killer, 11–12.

[lxvii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 880–883.

[lxviii] Ibid., 1170–1171.

[lxix] Ibid., 1307–1308.

[lxx] Sung by the character of Dr. Jekyll, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, Wildhorn, Bricusse, and Cuden. This quote was taken from the 1994 pre-Broadway audio CD recording: The Complete Work: Jekyll & Hyde: The Gothic Musical Thriller, Warlow, Eder, and Carmello, track 14, “Transformation,” 2:53–4:12.

[lxxi] In accordance with the provisions of Section 257.35(6), Florida Statutes, “Any use or reproduction of material deposited with the Florida Photographic Collection shall be allowed pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (1)(b) and subsection (4), provided that appropriate credit for its use is given.” Photo courtesy of State Archives of Florida.

[lxxii] “Ted Bundy Evil Look at Reporters,” YouTube video, 0:42–0:46, posted by Theo Bundy, uploaded March 25, 2013, last accessed May 3, 2014,

[lxxiii] In accordance with the provisions of Section 257.35(6), Florida Statutes, “Any use or reproduction of material deposited with the Florida Photographic Collection shall be allowed pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (1)(b) and subsection (4), provided that appropriate credit for its use is given.” Photo courtesy of State Archives of Florida.

[lxxiv] An exchange between the characters of Lucy and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, Wildhorn, Bricusse, and Cuden. This quote was taken from the 2001 live-audience DVD recording: Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, directed by Don Roy King, featuring David Hasselhoff as Jekyll/Hyde, Coleen Sexton as Lucy, and Andrea Rivette as Emma, DVD title 2, chapter 16, 1:36:52–1:37:00.

[lxxv] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 5207.

[lxxvi] Ibid., 7210–7213.

[lxxvii] Polly Nelson, Defending the Devil: My Story as Ted Bundy’s Last Lawyer (William Morrow: New York, NY, 1994), 154.

[lxxviii] Leslie Rule, in an exclusive interview with Donna Howell on August 10, 2014.

[lxxix] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 506–509.

[lxxx] Ibid., 293–305.

[lxxxi] Ibid., 7914–7915.

[lxxxii] Leslie Rule, in an exclusive interview with Donna Howell on August 10, 2014; emphasis added.

[lxxxiii] Ibid.

[lxxxiv] “Ted Bundy,” Wikipedia,

[lxxxv] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 5254–5255.

[lxxxvi] Art Myers, “The Ted Bundy Murders,” January 28, 2011, WCTV, last accessed May 4, 2014,

[lxxxvii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 6881.

[lxxxviii] Ibid., 7072–7074.

[lxxxix] Michaud and Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness, 5139–5143.

[xc] Bell, Ted Bundy, “The First Trial” page,

[xci] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 3167–3173.

[xcii] Ibid., 182.

[xciii] Ibid., 184–185.

[xciv] “Fatal Addiction: Ted Bundy’s Final Interview with Dr. James Dobson [1989],” YouTube video, 7:05–7:12, posted by theodorerobertcowellnelsonbundy, uploaded January 8, 2014, last accessed May 5, 2014,

[xcv] Ibid., 8:15–9:03.

[xcvi] Ibid., 7:18–8:00.

[xcvii] Ibid., 11:41–11:57; emphasis placed where emphasis was spoken verbally in the original.

[xcviii] Ibid., 15:28–16:19.

[xcix] Ibid., 17:04–17:37; emphasis placed where emphasis was spoken verbally in the original.

[c] Ibid., 18:53–18:56.

[ci] Ibid., 20:37–21:04.

[cii] Ibid., 28:16–30:39; emphasis placed where emphasis was spoken verbally in the original.

[ciii] Ibid., 32:25–32:29.

[civ] Ibid., 33:06–33:52.

[cv] Ibid., 38:10–41:23.

[cvi] Ibid., 10:30–10:43.

[cvii] Michaud and Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness, 6266–6269.

[cviii] Ibid., 6274–6275.

[cix] Louise Boyle, “Ted Bundy’s Mother Dies Aged 88 Following Long Illness After a Lifetime Spent Defending Her Serial Killer Son,” January 9, 2013, DailyMail UK, last accessed May 6, 2014,

[cx] Michaud and Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness, 6288–6289.

[cxi] Ibid., 6292–6293.

[cxii] Ibid., 6297–6299.

[cxiii] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 425–427.

[cxiv] Charles Montaldo, “Any Last Words?: The Last Words Spoken by Ted Bundy Before Being Executed,”, last accessed May 6, 2014,

[cxv] Rule, The Stranger Beside Me, 447–448.

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