Ted Bundy Drawings
True Crime Artwork
Ted Bundy Drawings
In late-August 1986, five sketches were delivered from the Florida State Prison. Known as the Ted Bundy Drawings, this artwork was allegedly drawn by incarcerated serial killer Ted Bundy, and depicted not sketches of his victims, or crimes, but rather a series of images that utilized metaphors and allusions, most likely as a possible window into his psyche.
Earlier in April 1986, shortly after a new execution date was announced for July 2nd, Ted Bundy finally confessed to FBI special agent Bill Hagmaier and his lawyer Polly Nelson what they believed were the full range of his crimes, including details of what he did to some of his victims after their deaths.
Despite his confessions, these five sketches offer no explanation for his sickening crimes, but do share some common characteristics, such as intense eyes, expressive mouths, and an ever present phallic symbol. Each impresses a disconnected sense, as the images are presented with only mininal background, if any at all.
There is also a feeling of incompleteness, derived from the artist’s refusal to draw feet. They are hidden behind objects, dropped off the edge of the image, overlaid by another image, or simply omitted altogether. This may be due to a experimental concept the artist is expressing in his work or may simply be the result of a personal quirk.
It is well-known Bundy was fascinated by feet, having spoken about this several times in his death row interviews, and perhaps having a foot fetish and lacking sufficient confidence in his artistic ability to do a just rendering of them, Bundy, if he were the artist, would likely have avoided drawing feet.
Ted Bundy Drawings – “Me”
With a muscular build, strong angular features and sharply centre-parted hair, this sketch of a stylishly dressed man likely represents the facade Bundy presented to others, his outward self. It may even represent the idealized self-image toward which he aspired, a professional.
Bundy presented a front to almost everyone who knew him, and appeared charming, intelligent, polite, personable, ambitious and charismatic. He was courteous to those women in his life, and prove quite popular with women he worked with. Even his male co-workers looked up to him as someone they could aspire to be.
The figure in the sketch is mostly realistic, with relatively ordinary features, except for the deep part in the hair. It is possible this symbolizes a division within the self. Whether or not, it is the masculine counterpart of the centre-parted shoulder-length hairstyle shared by many of the women he murdered, a characteristic shared by almost all of these victims.
Ted Bundy Drawings – “Entity”
Beneath the masquerade presented in the previous sketch lies Bundy’s “entity,” which he used to metaphorically describe his darkside, filled with rage. Instead of the centre-parted hair seen in the first image, this figure wears a two-horned helmet, continuing the theme of division.
This was the real Ted Bundy, a manipulative, compulsive liar, sexual psychopath and necrophile who was a devious sexual deviant fascinated by sadomasochism and bondage, as well as pornography. This “disordered self,” and the “malignancy” as he once described it, found gratification in the thoughts and later acts of sexual violence.
The depiction of the wielded axe is reminiscent of the oak club Bundy used in Tallahassee, and may allude to the dismemberment of some of his victims. Bundy would decapitate some victims, keeping their heads for a number of days to act out his fantasies. The image is certainly suggestive of the word “violence.”
Ted Bundy Drawings – “Handcuffs”
At an intellectual level, any attempt to understand his refusal to directly discuss any aspect of his case that might bear on his guilt, would prove complex. However, this sketch alludes to the dilemma in which Bundy found himself regarding his unknown victims… “my hands are tied”
From his arrest in Pensacola until his execution, he had wanted to confess his deepest darkest crimes, but not at the cost of his life. Under threat of death, there was no way to discuss these other victims while his appeals were intact but, if he waited until his appeals ran out, there would be little precious time for talk. Thus the fate of the families of these victims became inexorably tied to his own.
This sketch differs from the others in that the head looks to its right rather than its left, the usually intense eyes are covered by sunglasses, providing something to hide behind, and the hair is not parted in the centre, while the usually full-lipped mouth is tightly closed, an attitude reflected in the button-down collar.
Ted Bundy Drawings – “Bigfish”
Unlike its companion sketches, this one, in 1986, seemed to lack any apparent relevance to Bundy, other than the fact that he was attracted to water. It wasn’t until 1989, when an account of the fisherman story was published, that its symbolism could be fully understood.
The fish in this sketch is not hooked. There is no line to its mouth and it appears to be a big one. But more significantly one that has gotten away. Using this same metaphor he used in his 1985 story, the image represents a deeper level of his psyche, this secret “underwater” place. Bundy would allude to Hagmaier sometime in 1985 that he could help in catching other serial killers.
“You’re like a fisherman who fishes for years and catches a small fish… Sometimes a medium fish. [You] get lucky and get a big fish. But you know there’s a real big fish under there that always gets away. You and your group are going to get a lot of serial killers and they’re going to help you. But with the real good ones, the only way you’re going to know what goes on under the water is to go under the water. The fisherman drowns going underwater. But I can take you there without drowning. If I trust you, and if I decide.”
There is also a “fish out of water” allusion that is cleverly ambiguous. Although certainly applicable to Ted Bundy, who has been described as a “shadow man,” living in a world that was not made for him, it could also be taken as a metaphor for Bundy himself, who would prove to be a very big fish.
Ted Bundy Drawings – “Freedom”
The last drawing was one of the most expressive, with vivid and symbolic imagery that contained a deeper meaning. Numerous incomplete parts are juxtaposed with one another, blended together, and enveloped by the woman’s hair which unexpectedly rejoins to form a blunt point.
At the bottom of the sword handle can be seen the Entity’s helmet acting as the pommel. The woman, with one breast showing, is glancing out toward the right, while the hooded figure is reaching out towards the left, away from and even broaching the bounds of this image to or toward something else unseen.
The woman could be viewed as an allegory for Bundy’s own victims, with her hair parted in the middle, she represents his ideal victim of choice. The skull underneath the woman could signify Bundy’s fascination with death, while the sword, drawn close to the face of the woman could act as a symbol of his violent tendencies towards females.
The resulting sexual imagery is quite obvious and blatant, suggestive of death, violence and the degradation of women in general. What exactly, if any, message Bundy was trying to express might never be fully understood, and there could be many differing interpretations of the context of this particular drawing.