Well, settle in because Ted Bundy killed like, a lot of people.
Theodore Robert Bundy was a serial killer who kidnapped, raped and murdered at least 30 women between 1974 and 1978, though many believe that his victim count is much higher.
Besides the ridiculous amount of women he killed, Bundy is most known for his handsome, charismatic demeanor that allowed him not only access to his female victims, but also the favor of people in law enforcement. But beyond his exterior good looks, he was a monster.
Bundy would impersonate authority figures or the disabled to approach his victims before knocking them unconscious to rape and strangle them. He'd often return to the crime and perform sex acts on their corpses. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims, and kept their heads in his apartment.
Bundy was also a master escapist. In 1975, he was jailed for aggravated kidnapping and assault, and while he was in jail, police began suspecting him of a much longer list of crimes. He escaped, twice, and killed more women before he was arrested for the last time in 1978. He was executed on January 24, 1989.
PRE-SERIAL KILLER ERA BUNDY
Ted Bundy was born to Eleanor Louise Cowell on November 24, 1946 to an unwed mother. Though his birth certificate assigns his father as an Air Force veteran, it has never been confirmed. (I can't imagine anyone is itching to claim paternity to a serial killer)
Until he was 3, Bundy lived with his grandparents in Philadelphia. They raised him as their son to avoid their daughter feeling the shame of raising a child out of wedlock. Bundy, himself, was told that his mother was his older sister. Once Bundy found out that his older sister was actually his mother, he resented her for it, and for not knowing who his father was.
Bundy claims he respected and clung to his grandfather, though he told others that he was a tyrannical bully who hated minorities, beat his wife and dog, and abused neighborhood cats. His grandmother was described as timid and obedient, afraid to leave the house.
In 1950, Louise, Bundy's mom/fake older sister, changed her name and left Philadelphia with Bundy to live with her cousins in Washington. There, Louise met Johnny Culpepper Bundy at a church single's night. They married later that year and he formally adopted young Ted. They had 4 children of their own, and though the parents tried to include him in their family activities, he remained distant.
Bundy was much more interested in sex than family activities, specifically sex related to death. He would pick through the trash looking for images of naked women, and would look through magazines, crime novels and documentaries to find stories that involved sexual violence that showed images of dead or maimed bodies. He would drink alcohol and walk through the neighborhood trying to find women undressing.
Some of his classmates described high school Ted was well known and well liked, just kind of in the middle of the popularity scale. However, Bundy said he had no natural sense of how to be friends with people or what would make someone want to be friends. He competed in downhill skiing during this time, as well.
He was arrested twice on suspicion of burglary and auto theft, but customary in Washington, the charges were expunged when he turned 18.
He graduated high school in 1965 and attended The University of Puget Sound for a year before hearing to the University of Washington to study Chinese (fun fact!) He began dating a woman in 1967 who is most commonly referred to as Stephanie Brooks, but goes by several different pseudonyms as one does when they date a serial killer. He dropped out of school in 1968 and began working at a few different jobs.
Eventually, Stephanie broke up with him because she said he was immature and had no ambition. He was devastated and did some traveling after the heartbreak, attending Temple University back in Philadelphia for a semester. This was in 1969, which is when his former coworker and current true crime author who wrote about him, Ann Rule, believes he learned of his parentage.
In the fall, he moved back to Washington and began dating a Utah divorcee named Elizabeth Kloepfer, who worked at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
By mid-1970, Bundy was turning his life around. He re-enrolled at UW as a psychology major, receiving excellent grades and regards from his professors. He started working at Seattle's Suicide Hotline Crisis Center, where he met the aforementioned Ann Rule, who thought he was a really kind and empathetic guy.
He graduated in 1972 and began working on Daniel J. Evans' Governor reelection campaign, posing as a college student. Through some further political work, he eventually got into 2 law schools based on recommendations from professors and politicians he had worked with.
In 1973, Bundy traveled to California for some Republican Party business, where he rekindled his relationship with Stephanie. She was so surprised at his professional transformation and believed he was on the cusp of a successful career. He continued dating Elizabeth at this time, as well.
In the fall, Bundy was prepared to start law school and continued his relationship with Stephanie. They talked of marriage, even calling her his fiancee. But in January of 1974, he completely broke off all contact. A full on ghost. Stephanie finally got ahold of him and asked why he had just ended their relationship with no explanation. He said, "Stephanie, I have no idea what you mean," and hung up. He essentially planned the entire rekindled romance just so he could prove she'd marry him, and then left her high and dry as revenge for their breakup years before.
Around the same time, Bundy began skipping law school classes, and young women began disappearing.
It is not entirely clear why Bundy began killing women, or exactly when the idea started forming in his head. Given that his official body count will never be known, it is also not known when he started killing women. He claimed he killed 2 women in Atlantic City in 1969, but also claimed his first kill was in 1971 in Seattle.
Though some believe he was killing as early as a teenager, his earliest documented murders were in 1974 when he was 27.
On January 4, 1974, Bundy entered the basement apartment of an 18-year-old UW dancer and student, bludgeoned her with a metal rod, sexually assaulted her with the metal rod, and left. She survived, but with permanent physical and mental injuries. On February 1, Bundy broke into another basement apartment, this time of Lynda Ann Healy, a UW student who did morning weather broadcasts, and beat her before carrying her away.
It will bring no one a single ounce of joy or even fascination to read through every single one of his murders, so I will try to give you the cliff-notes without leaving out the gruesome, terrible stuff that you probably clicked on this article to get.
In Washington, in 1974, women were going missing an about 1 per month. He was spotted a few times, wearing an arm sling asking for help carrying books to his Volkswagen Beetle, but never identified. All of the women were attractive, white, and had long brown hair parted down the middle. Women were vanishing on the regular, and the police were growing concerned.
The women were being raped, strangled, and often revisited. Sometimes, he would stay the night with them, or revisit their corpses multiple times before they decomposed. Once he even went and picked up an earring and shoe of one of his victims during the investigation, completely unnoticed. During this time, he was working as the Assistant Director of Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Commission, even writing a pamphlet on rape prevention. At another job after that one, he met and dated one Carole Ann Boone.
The murders had taken place in both Washington and Oregon, and they culminated on July 14 when Bundy abducted 2 women on a crowded beach in broad daylight. Witnesses described an attractive man with his arm in a sling, even calling himself Ted and using his own car. At this point, police had enough descriptions to post flyers and images of his face.
Elizabeth Kloepfer, Ann Rule, an employee of a previous job, and a previous professor all saw his image and car and reported him as a possible suspect, but the police were receiving hundreds of tips a day and didn't want to waste time on a clean-cut law student with no criminal record.
With police gaining on him, he moved to a new law school in Salt Lake City, leaving Elizabeth behind in Seattle, but maintaining their relationship. He did poorly in law school, realizing he wasn't as smart as the other law students.
When he moved, so did the murders. A strangled still-unidentified hiker on September 2, 1974. A 16-year-old girl he buried, who was never found, on October 2. A 17-year-old leaving a pizza parlor, found 9 days later. Another 17-year-old leaving a cafe. The latter 2 women were found naked, beaten, raped, sodomized, and strangled. Bundy claimed he shampooed their hair and put on makeup after he killed them.
On November 8, another 17-year-old girl went missing after leaving a school theater production. He was spotted, but not identified. When Elizabeth learned that women were going missing in his new city, she called the police again, and while he was added to a list of suspicious people, he was not arrested due to no evidence.
Bundy started killing in Utah and Colorado in 1975. He killed a registered nurse who's nude body was found a month later, killed by blunt force trauma. He killed a ski instructor who was walking from her apartment to a dinner date with a friend. He killed a women while she was biking over to her parents home. He killed a Brigham Young University student, the last he confessed to before being executed.
In Washington, investigators were confused by the murder spree that ended out of nowhere. When they realized they continued elsewhere, they did some detective work and determined Ted as the top of their suspect pool.
He was arrested on August 16, 1975. While he was under surveillance, police interviewed Carole Ann who said there were some items in their home that she didn't understand, like crutches, a meat cleaver, surgical gloves, and a sack of women's clothing. Bundy was identified in a lineup on October 2, 1975 and other witnesses identified him as the man at the high school theater. So he's in jail.
But on June 7, 1977 during trial, Bundy did not have to wear cuffs as he was his own attorney. When he went to the law library to "research his case", he jumped out of an open window and ran. However, he was caught after 6 days. Though the prosecution had a weak case against him and he may have been acquitted if he stayed put, he planned another escape.
Using blueprints of the jail and losing 35 pounds, he was able to wriggle into the crawl space in the jail to escape. Once again, he escaped, on December 30, 1977. He stole a car and drove, reaching Chicago by the time the jail realized he was gone.
He went to Florida where he continued his spree. He attacked multiple women in the Chi Omega Sorority house at FSU and strangled them, beat them, tore off one of their nipples, and sexually assaulted them. 3 of them survived, but 2 women did not.
On February 8, he abducted a 12-year-old when she ran to grab a forgotten purse from her teacher. She was found 7 weeks later, raped with her throat slit.
On February 12, he was pulled over when an officer noted his car was stolen. The officer and Bundy fought, but ultimately, he subdued and arrested Bundy. At the time, he had no idea that he had arrested one of the most wanted people in the United States.
TRIAL AND EXECUTION
Bundy stood trial for only a handful of his murders in June of 1979. He handled most of his own defense, effectively sabotaging the case. Though he had seriously considered a plea deal, he ultimately couldn't face the whole world and admit he was guilty.
During one phase of the trial, Bundy took advantage of a Florida law that says that declaring marriage declaration in court constituted as a legal marriage. When he was questioning Carole Ann Boone, who, despite knowing who he was, moved to Florida to be near him, he proposed marriage to her and she accepted, and thus they were legally married.
On February 10, 1980, he was sentenced to death. A lot more crazy shit happened during the trial, and he was on trial multiple different times for various murders in different states, but this is getting too long already. He was executed on January 24, 1989.
In October 1981, Boone gave birth to a Bundy's daughter. Inmates were known to bribe guards to allow them alone time with their female visitors.
Bundy would ultimately confess to many more murders than the ones he was convicted for killing between his conviction and execution. Not only that, but he divulged the grisly details of many of them. It is all very disgusting and terrible and he never showed any remorse for his actions. Boone had, somehow, believed he was innocent the entire time and felt betrayed when he began confessing to the murders.
Though it is believed that he killed 30 people based on his confessions, only 20 have been identified. Further, many believe he killed as many as 100 different women.
February 1, 1974: Lynda Ann Healy, 21
March 12, 1974: Donna Gail Manson, 19
April 17, 1974: Susan Elaine Rancourt, 18
May 6, 1974: Roberta Kathleen Parks, 22
June 1, 1974: Brenda Carol Ball, 22
June 11, 1974: Georgann Hawkins, 18
July 14, 1974: Janice Ann Ott, 23
July 14, 1974: Denise Marie Naslund, 19
October 2, 1974: Nancy Wilcox, 16
October 18, 1974: Melissa Anne Smith, 17
October 31, 1974: Laura Ann Aime, 17
November 8, 1974: Debra Jean Kent, 17
January 12, 1975: Caryn Eileen Campbell, 23
March 15, 1975: Julie Cunningham, 26
April 6, 1975: Denise Lynn Oliverson, 25
May 6, 1975: Lunette Dawn Culver, 12
June 28, 1975: Susan Curtis, 15
January 15, 1978: Margaret Elizabeth Bowman, 21
January 15, 1978: Lisa Levy, 20
February 9, 1978: Kimberly Dianne Leach, 12
However, Bundy had many more victims. There are many other murders that have been assumed to be attributed to him, but beyond those who died, he left other victims in his wake. Women who survived a near death experience, who will live with serious mental and physical disabilities because of him. They are his victims, too.
Now, Ted Bundy is dead (thank God). In one of the various documentaries about Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (based on the description the judge in the Bundy trial used to describe him), his relationship with Elizabeth Kloepfer took center stage. (She also wrote a book about their relationship).
She remained in contact with him, and actually in a relationship with him, until 1980. Her last conversation with him was right before he was executed. When she ended their relationship, she removed herself from public life, trying to live in some sense of normalcy after being in love with a serial killer.
Carole Ann Boone believed in him all the way up until 3 weeks before his execution when he started confessing to murders left and right. She was shocked, divorced him, and moved away, rejecting his phone call on the day of his death. She changed her name and started anew. She died in January 2018. There is no confirmed information about their daughter, Rosa.
Ted Bundy was an absolute monster who's good looks and charmed allowed him to skirt the law, get close to women who couldn't believe he would do such a thing, and terrorize women for years. (Also, he's not that attractive. You're not exactly putting him in a line up of 10s when saying he's the most attractive serial killer, to be fair.)
Anyway - Ted Bundy is a reminder that serial killers, and generally dangerous people, aren't always wearing ski masks or are creepy loners who look like people you should avoid. Sometimes, they are nice looking men who seem completely harmless. Ted Bundy is a reminder that you must be cautious around everyone, not just people who look stereotypically dangerous.
I actually hate writing about serial killers as opposed to more obscure, mysterious disappearances or one-off murders because what can I tell you that you don't already know? In the 16,000 characters I wrote, I barely even scratched the surface of Ted Bundy. So, if you are more interested, there are like 11 hundred documentaries, books, articles, podcasts and more on Ted Bundy. But I still appreciate you reading this piece, here.
Rot in hell, Ted Bundy... and that's my official statement!