"I'm the most cold blooded son of a bitch you'll ever meet"
One of the most infamous of serial killers, Ted Bundy has become synonymous with serial murder and the aberrant psychology that compels men and women into becoming notorious killers. Bundy was a promising law student who attempted to ingratiate himself with Washington’s political elite, however his dark inclinations and violent fantasies prevented him from realising his true potential.
He soon began stalking female college students on campus grounds, and by 1974 several young and attractive women were reported missing throughout Washington state and Utah. Bundy was suspected of involvement by his girlfriend, who reported her fears to detectives, but many would never have imagined the clean cut law student could be involved in such heinous crimes.
By 1975, he attempted to kidnap a potential victim who escaped, providing investigators with their first solid lead on the rapist and murderer who brazenly called himself “Ted”. Bundy would eventually be caught and sentenced to prison, from where he would escape and travel to Florida where he attacked several sorority girls, leaving two dead.
His last murder would secure his death sentence and he spent several years on death row prior to his execution in 1989. Before his death he would confess to his involvement in the murders of over thirty young women and girls making him one of the most notorious and prolific serial killers of the 20th century.
Ted Bundy - The Early Years (1946-1968)
Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell on 24 November 1946 to Eleanor Louise Cowell, who gave birth to the boy at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. The identity of Ted’s parentage would prove to be a contentious issue, and his paternity was clouded in mystery. Because his mother was unwed, he spent the first three years of his life living with his grandparents to avoid the stigma associated with birth outside wedlock.
As he grew older, the young Ted was told his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister and this deception was also told to friends and other family members. When he was older, Ted discovered the truth and the experience had a profound affect on him, and manifested into resentment towards his mother for never discussing his real father with him.
By 1951, his mother Louise met Johnny Culpepper Bundy, who worked as a hospital cook and they married the following year. The couple eventually conceived four children together and Ted was formally adopted by Johnny Bundy, taking his surname as his own, despite his dislike of his step-father who he referred to ask “not very bright” and his limited financial income. During his formative years, Bundy was considered shy and withdrawn by his friends and family, but displayed none of the characteristics that would define his adulthood.
The family was dominated by his grandfather, Samuel Cowell, who was described as a tyrannical bully who would react violently towards others, abusing even the family pet. Ted, however idolised his grandfather whom he respected and held in high regard, despite his abusive tendencies towards his family. Ted was considered somewhat popular at school, but would later claim to prefer his own solitary company which he attributed to his inability to understand and form interpersonal relationships.
Upon his graduation in 1965, Bundy spent a year at the University of Puget Sound before transferring to the University of Washington in 1966 to study Chinese. It was there he became romantically involved with Diane Edwards, a fellow classmate at the University. Edwards was from a prominent family from California, and was everything Bundy aspired to be, confident, self-assured and successful in all that she did.
By early 1968 he had dropped out of college and was worked in several minimum-wage jobs before volunteering in Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential campaign to further his own political aspirations. Around this time in March 1968, Diane Edwards ended their relationship, citing her frustration at Bundy’s immaturity and lack of ambition. He was devastated by this rejection, and it would be a focal point of his later obsession with women who resembled his first love interest.
After a brief fling with a woman named Cathy Swindler in April 1968, Bundy travelled to Colorado and then Arkansas and Philadelphia to visit relatives. He returned to Washington in the fall of 1969 and it was then that he met Elizabeth Kloepfer. On Friday, September 26, 1969, 23-year-old Ted went to the Sandpiper tavern, a college beer joint with some friends where he saw 24-year-old Liz Kloepfer across the crowded dance floor.
When he drank a sufficient amount of beer to pluck up the courage, he asked her to dance and when she demurred, saying she couldn’t, he asked her friend who accepted. He later saw her on the dance floor and commented amusingly, “you really can’t dance, can you?”. Liz found Ted handsome and charming, and he accompanied her home that night and they slept together. It was the start of a tumultuous relationship, one that was characterised by Bundy’s deceptive personality contrasted against Liz’s trusting nature.
Throughout early 1973, Ted had been in sporadic contact with his ex Diane Edwards, who’s rejection of their relationship had caused him to re-evaluate his prospects in life. He had cleaned up his image, became more self-assured and was confident in his education. In July 1973 he flew to San Francisco to visit her. She was clearly impressed with his transformation and they renewed their relationship, which he kept secret from Liz.
During that Autumn, Liz found a bag of women’s clothing in his apartment. On another occasion she came across a container of plaster which unbeknown to her, Ted had stolen from his job with Ped-line. She also found a pair of crutches but said she was too embarrassed to say anything to him. One day they were out shopping and he spotted a purse snatcher and ran after the suspect and held him down until the police arrived.
He was mentioned in the Seattle Times for his heroism. It was the first, but wouldn’t be the last time Ted Bundy was mentioned in the newspapers. By September 2, 1973, Ted had proposed to Diane and they became engaged, all whilst maintaining an unsteady relationship with Liz.
The Washington and Oregon Murders (1974)
Ted Bundy re-applied to the University of Utah in December 1973, and spent the New Year with Diane Edwards who came to visit him for several days before flying back home to California on January 2, 1974. Despite finally rekindling his long-sought relationship with Diane, he was finding it increasingly difficult to keep it secret from Liz. By the new year, Ted was working as assistant director of the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Commission and had written a pamphlet advising women on rape prevention.
But it would be around January 1974 when women started to disappear in Washington state. On January 4, 1974, 18-year-old student Karen Sparks was found by her friend in her bed, covered in blood. She had been viciously attacked and beaten about the head. As her roommate removed the bed covers she saw even more horrific injuries, a bed rod had been torn from the headboard and rammed into her vagina. She was taken to the hospital where she would remain in a coma for several months. Although she recovered, she suffered from permanent brain damage as a result of the assault.
He would later speculate about her murder to detectives, revealing details in a third person perspective that she was battered unconscious and then carried to his car. He then drove to Taylor Mountain, which was 20 miles east of Seattle and there made her remove her pyjamas and raped her. She was then bludgeoned to death and her body partially buried and left for scavengers. He would go into his phase of remorse and self-loathing over what he had done, but it only last a few weeks.
On February 4, 1974, an unidentified male called the emergency service number 911 telling the operator, “Listen, and listen carefully. The person who attacked that girl on 8th last month and the person who took Linda Healy are one and the same. He was outside both houses. He was seen.” When the operator questioned the caller’s identity, the man replied, “No way are ou going to get my name” and promptly hung up.
Several days later on March 12, 1974, 19-year-old Donna Manson left her dorm room at Evergreen State College around 7:00pm to walk to a jazz concert on campus. When she failed to return she wasn’t immediately reported as missing, due to her tendency of taking off on a whim for several days at a time.
She was last seen wearing a blue slacks, a red, orange and green striped top and a black maxi-coat, as well as a Bulova wristwatch and an oval brown agate ring. She was never seen alive again. On that day, Bundy’s dated law school notes indicated he did not attend class that day. Prior to this his attendance was regular, however his his absence was becoming more sporadic throughout March and by April he had stopped attending altogether.
In his later confessions Ted Bundy would speculate on meeting Donna Manson at a local tavern and said the two went back her house, drank alcohol and had consensual sex before he murdered her. He would admit to bludgeoning her with a crowbar, strangling her and then having sex with her corpse. She was then decapitated and her body was dumped at the Taylor Mountain site, where most of his victims remains would later be found. Manson was reported missing by her friends on March 18, six days after her disappearance.
The following month another young woman would disappear without trace, this time in Corvallis, Oregon. At 10:00pm, 20-year-old Roberta Parks decided to walk to another dorm hall to have coffee with friends on May 6, but never arrived. Along the way she came across Ted Bundy using his handicapped ruse to get her to help him. There were no witnesses to her abduction, and no-one reported seeing anything out of the ordinary the evening she vanished.
Corvallis is 250 miles south of Seattle, and that day Bundy cashed two cheques for a total of $20, which would be more than sufficient to cover the cost of the 500 mile round trip. It was during this period that Ted’s credit card receipts reveal he did a large amount of driving, far more than a cash-strapped student who’s carpooling responsibilities should have restricted his travelling to the 60 mile round trip from Seattle to Tacoma each week.
It was during May 1974 when Ted’s girlfriend Liz first noticed the crutches in his room. Ted told her they belonged to Ernst Rogers, the landlord who rented the room to Ted. Because he needed a summer job, Ted drove down to Olympia and secured work at Washington State Department of Emergency Services. He was paid $722 a month for working five days a week, and overtime if required.
In the early morning hours of June 1, Bundy came across 22-year-old Brenda Ball at the Flame Tavern in Burien. Ball had told friends she was going there to find a ride to Sun Lakes, asking one of the musicians around 02:00am at closing time, but he was unable to help. She was last seen talking to a young man with his arm in a sling, who turned out to be Bundy using his usual abduction technique.
She wasn’t reported missing until 19 days after her disappearance, when he friends realised she hadn’t made it to Sun City. In his later confessions, he admitted to bludgeoning Ball with a crowbar, before handcuffing her and placing her body in his Volkswagen and taking her to his apartment.
The next day Ted attended Liz’s daughters baptism which took place at 5:00pm, and afterwards he slept at Liz’s house until 11:00pm. She later told police he told her he was very tired and slept on her rug that evening. On June 5, Bundy removed Ball’s body from his apartment and dumped her remains at Taylor Mountain.
Bundy said the killer met Georgann at around 01:30am, just outside her dorm and using his handicap ruse, he lured her into helping him carry his briefcase to his car because of his fake cast. When they arrived at his car he knocked her unconscious with the hidden crowbar and handcuffed her before placing her inside his Volkswagen. He then sped away and recalled how she regained consciousness and began rambling incoherently, asking his if he had been sent to help her with her Spanish exam.
He then knocked her out again, then pulled over and strangled her. He indicated he drove to Issequah where he raped her and severed her head, burying it in the woods. Whilst driving back he threw all her belongings out of the window. In a moment of sheer panick, he returned up the I-90 freeway and retrieved all her clothing, except for one shoe he could not find.
The next day, at 5:00pm he rode on his bicycle back up the I-90 to the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority house to locate Hawkin’s missing shoe, which he found in the parking lot where he abducted her along with her earring. The next day the area of Hawkins abduction was searched by three homicide detectives and a criminalist from the Seattle police department, who found no evidence of her whereabouts. Witnesses came forward to describe how they saw a man on crutches with his leg in a cast, carrying a briefcase.
Ted Bundy talking about the death of Georgann Hawkins
At 12:25pm, 23-year-old Janice Ott was approached by the man with his arm in a sling. Ott had gone to Lake Sammamish State Park without her husband that day as he had stayed on at practice in Riverside, and left a note for her roommate, telling her she had gone for a bike ride. Several witnesses reported seeing Otto briefly chatting with a handsome young man who had a broken arm, before they both walked off together.
A little after 4:00pm the young man was back at the Lake and was seen chatting to several other women. One young woman declined his request for help, and a 16-year-old girl was approached by a man with his arm in a sling at the park rest-rooms at 4:15pm. He asked her for help and when she declined he tugged on her arm insistently before she walked off.
19-year-old Denise Naslund was having a picnic with friends when she wandered off to the rest-rooms when the others fell asleep. At 4:40pm she bumped into a young man who asked her for help in loading his sailboat onto his car. Bundy would speculate years later on death row how he had first taken Janice Ott, leading her away from the park to a nearby house and raped her. He then returned to the park and abducted Denise Naslund, taking her to the house where she was raped in full view of Ott.
Both girls were then killed and taken to a remote spot 4 miles north-east of the park. Ted then spent the evening with Liz, and remembered how tired he looked that day and how hungry he was when they went for burgers in Seattle. When the news broke about the two young women who went missing at Lake Sammamish State Park, police interviewed dozens of potential witnesses who remembered seeing the young man with the broken arm who called himself “Ted”.
The Utah, Idaho and Colorado Murders (1974-1975)
On the morning of September 2, 1974, Ted hurriedly packed his Volkswagon and then he and Liz had breakfast together, and afterwards he posed for a photograph and the two embraced and kisses before he jumped into his car and drove off. Several days later on 6 September, bones are found scattered between 2 and 4 miles from Lake Sammamish State Park.
Unbeknown to authorities, these were the remains of Georgann Hawkins, Janice Ott and Denise Naslund. A month after his arrival in the state, 16-year-old Nancy Wilcox disappeared at Holladay, Utah. Bundy later speculated about the circumstances of Wilcox’s disappearance, telling Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth that he initially did not set out to murder Wilcox, but merely rape her. But whilst driving past in his car, he decided to attack her.
17-year-old Melissa Smith disappeared on October 18, when she travelled home to pick up some clothes when she decided to stay with friend who needed consoling. Smith was the daughter of Midvale’s Police Chief, and she was reported missing almost immediately. That night Bundy attempted to telephone call Liz three times from Salt Lake City and the following day he went hunting with her father.
Nine days after she went missing, the bludgeoned, strangled and frozen naked body of Melissa Smith was found at the Wasatch Mountains near Summit Park. The pathologist discovered she had been both raped and sodomised before her murder and her skull had been fractured by an instrument similar to a crowbar.
An odd thing was also noted, it appeared her hair had recently been washed and make-up had been applied after her death. During his last interviews with FBI agent Bill Hagmaier, Bundy commented, “if you’ve got the time, they can be anyone you want them to be”. It was several days later on the night of October 31, that another young woman vanished.
17-year-old Laura Aime had left a Halloween party in costume and went for a walk to a nearby park. At some point Bundy offered Aime a ride in his Volkswagen, and she accepted. She had recently dropped out of high school, and at nearly 6ft tall and weighing 115bls, she was awkward and insecure about her appearance. The evening of her disappearance, she had grown bored with and left a café, heading to a park.
She wasn’t reported missing until November 4, by friends. The sudden rash of disappearances of young women in Utah did not go un-noticed by detectives, however no witnesses came forward with any information on a potential suspect. Several days after Laura Aime failed to return home, investigators in Utah would finally get a break in the case of the three missing women.
Later that same day another woman would not be as lucky as Carol DaRonch. 17-year-old Debby Kent offered to pick her brother up from the bowling alley whilst her parents stayed behind at the Vermont High School’s drama night. She told her parents she would be back to pick them up shortly, but never arrived. Her car was later found empty in the High School parking lot, indicating she had never left to collect her bother.
Another parent later told police that he saw a light-coloured Volkswagen driving at high speed away from the school at about 10:30pm and a strange man was seen by several school staff and parents at the rear of the auditorium. When officers searched the parking lot they came across a handcuff key, which was later used to open the handcuffs placed on Carol DaRonch.
Whilst Debra Kent’s body was never found, the remains of another victim were located almost a month after she went missing. On November 27, the naked body of Laura Aime was found on a river bank at the Wasatch Mountains. Her face had been beaten beyond all recognition and like Melissa Smith, she had been sexually assaulted.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, investigators were working through a long list of potential suspects whose names had been placed there because of their criminal past or put forward by concerned citizens. One such name was Ted Bundy, who had gained considerable suspicion from detectives of the King County police department.
In November 1974, Elizabeth Kloepfer contact King County detectives for a second time to talk with them about her fears that her boyfriend Ted might somehow have been involved in the disappearances. In December Bundy went on a skiing trip to Aspen, Colorado during the Christmas period, and Liz decided to share her suspicions with the Salt Lake City County Sheriff’s office.
As a result Ted Bundy’s named was added to their list of potential suspects, however without any credible forensic evidence he was not considered a person of interest. On December 20, the horror film Black Christmas was released in the US. The plot centred on a sorority house that was terrorised by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then stalked and murdered the sorority sisters during the Christmas break.
In January 1975, 23-year-old Caryn Campbell went on a skiing trip to Snowmass, Colorado with her fiance Dr. Raymond Gadowski and his children. After a minor squabble with her partner, Caryn stormed off to their room to retrieve a magazine. When she failed to return, her fiancé did not immediately worry but when a significant amount of time had passed he grew concerned.
When he went to their hotel room to see where she was he found she had not returned. Caryn Campbell would not be seen alive again. Credit card receipts for January 12, indicate he purchased fuel from a gas station in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Two days later he returned to Seattle to spend time with Liz after his final law school exams had been completed and on January 23, he returned to Salt Lake City, Utah.
The following month the remains of more victims would be found. On March 1, 1975, a skull is found by two Green River College students in a thick wooded area on Taylor Mountain. The skull would later be identified as belonging to 22-year-old Brenda Ball, who disappeared on May 31, 1974. The police began a search of the area and soon more discoveries were made.
On March 3, 1975, parts of the bodies of Lynda Healy, Susan Rancourt and Roberta Parks were found on Taylor Mountain. A skull belonging to Healy is found which bore marks indicating she had suffered a brutal beating. The decapitated skull of Rancourt was found severely fractured, and other bones were believed to be those of Donna Manson. Despite the discovery of some of his Washington victims, Ted Bundy continued his murderous rampage in Utah and Colorado.
26-year-old Julie Cunningham went missing on her way to a nearby tavern in Vail, Colorado on March 15, 1975. That day Bundy purchased gas from several places including Golden, Dillon and Silverthorn, Colorado. He would later speculate on the murder, explaining how he saw her walking along the street crying and asked her if she would help him put his ski boots in his trunk because he had a sling on his arm.
After she agreed, he struck her on the head with a crowbar and bundled her body into his car. As he drove along she regained consciousness, so he hit her again and then pulled over and strangled her to death. He later buried her body at an isolated spot. He would elaborate on Cunningham’s murder, explaining how sometimes it amused him to pretend that someone else had attacked them, and he was a good Samaritan taking them to the hospital.
He claimed another victim on April 6, when 25-year-old Denise Oliverson decided to go for a bike ride to visit her parents at Grand Junction, Colorado. She had an argument with with husband and when she failed to return he assumed she had stayed with her parents for the night. Gas receipts showed Bundy purchased fuel from a station in Grand Junction, Colorado that same day. Oliverson’s body was never recovered.
On April 11, Bundy reported to the state of Utah that he lost his license plates, LEJ-379. However he kept them, and used them intermittently with his newly issued plates, MJE-052. On 6 May, Lynette Culver went missing from a school playground at Alameda Junior High School at Pocatello, Idaho. The 13-year-old would be one of Bundy’s youngest victims and her body was never recovered. In early May 1975, some of his former workmates at the DES office come to visit him at his Salt Lake City apartment.
They spent a week long visit, and Ted drove them around the city and took them swimming and horse back riding. One night he took the group to a homosexual night club, however Alice Thiessen recalled that despite claiming to have been there before, he seemed ill at ease in the gay club. In June, Ted returned to Seattle for four days to put a garden in for his old landlords, the Rogers at his previous rooming house.
He spent most of his time with Liz and they discussed getting married the following Christmas, before he returned to Utah on 6 June. Later that month, Susan Curtis was abducted from the campus of Brigham Young University.
The 15-year-old was attending a youth conference, and left her friends to walk to the back of the dorm and was never seen again. Curtis was originally from Bontiful, Utah, the same town from where Melissa Smith had been abducted from the previous October.
During his time in Utah, Bundy had an on-going relationship with his former co-worker Carol Boone, a brief fling with a woman called Margaret Maughan in early 1975, and was introduced to Leslie Knudson by Carol Booth. Knudson was a 31-year-old school teacher who had a 7-year-old son Josh and she occupied a place in Bundy’s life in Utah in much the same way Elizabeth Kloepfer did in Washington.
However, the relationship with Knudson was strained by his heavy drinking and constant mood swings which caused Bundy to confide in her one evening that, “My world is falling apart.” He told her of his political aspirations and how he wanted to be Governor of Washington State. Despite revealing they had a normal sexual relationship and that he didn’t seem particularly unusual, she eventually broke off their relationship.
Arrest and Imprisonment (1975)
On August 16, 1975, Utah patrolman, Sergeant Bob Hayward was patrolling an area just outside Salt Lake City when he spotted a suspicious looking tan coloured Volkswagen Bug drive past as he sat in his patrol car at 2:30am. Knowing the neighbourhood well, he had never seen this vehicle before and decided to follow. When he turned his lights on to get a better look at the license plates, the driver of the Volkswagen turned his off and sped up.
Sgt Hayward then began to chase the vehicle, which continued through two red lights but eventually pulled over into a nearby gas station. The occupant then got out of his car and began to walk over to the patrol car and Hayward asked the young man for his registration and license which was issued to Theodore Robert Bundy.
When asked about why he was out driving so late, Bundy replied he had been to watch the Towering Inferno at the Redwood Drive-in and was on his way home when he got lost. Not long after two other troopers arrived, Officer’s Fife and Twitchell and Hayward asked permission to search Bundy’s vehicle when he noticed the passenger side seat had been suspiciously removed.
Inside the officers found; a black duffle bag, a crowbar, a flashlight, a ski-mask, a pair of gloves, rope, a pair of handcuffs, wire, a screwdriver, an ice pick, strips of cloth, large green plastic bags and a pantyhose mask. Bundy was immediately placed under arrest on suspicion of burglary. Utah investigators now recalled the 1974 attempted kidnapping of Carol DaRonch and the suspect and vehicle description matched those of Ted Bundy.
The information Elizabeth Kloepfer provided to detectives was also cross-checked, raising concerns they had found DaRonch’s attacker. For his part, Bundy explained the ski-mask was for skiing and he found the handcuffs in a dumpster, whilst the rest were common household items.
Several days later on August 21, officers searched Bundy’s apartment and found various brochures from areas where some of the woman disappeared, but had failed to check the building’s utility room. Years later he would admit that some of the most depraved evidence of his crimes were contained within a shoebox, such as Polaroid photographs of his victims, which he later retrieved and destroyed. Bundy was released because police did not have the evidence to hold him, but he was placed under constant 24hr surveillance.
He was scheduled to meet with Salt Lake County detectives, but his attorney John O’Connell stopped all subsequent conversations. Investigators Jerry Thompson, Ira Beal and Dennis Couch then flew to Seattle to interview Liz Kloepfer. She said she was willing to offer any information to help with their investigation and admitted she could not account for Ted’s whereabouts on the nights of the Washington murders.
She also said his interest in sex had diminished somewhat over the past year and he only showed an interest when he pressured her into bondage, which she eventually refused to participate in. She remembered seeing the plaster of paris in his room, which she first noticed when they began dating and she told detectives that he visited Lake Sammamish Park in July, the same month that Janice Ott and Denise Naslund had gone missing.
On June 30, Ted Bundy was sentenced to between one and fifteen years in prison with the possibility of parole. Whilst in prison he was subjected to a psychological evaluation, which found he was neither, psychotic or suffering from any character disorder and was not considered a sexual deviate.
The psychologists did conclude he had a strong dependency on women and that he had a fear of being humiliated in relationships. Whilst he was incarcerated in the Utah State Prison, investigators began to search for more evidence linking him to the murders of Melissa Smith and Caryn Campbell.
Bundy’s Volkswagen was traced by Detectives who impounded it and began searching it for forensic evidence. Despite his fastidious cleaning of his car, Bundy had missed crucial pieces of evidence which were found by FBI specialist Robert Neill. Hairs were found which matched samples of Caryn Campbell, and others from three different victims who’s presence in Bundy’s vehicle would be astronomically unlikely as they had never met.
The impressions in Caryn Campbells skull bore the same impressions as those made by the crowbar taken from Bundy’s vehicle the night of his arrest. On October 19, 1976, a guard searched Bundy in the prison print shop and found a forged social security card, a sketch of a driver’s license, a road map and an airline schedule. Bundy was immediately transferred to a maximum-security wing.
Escape, Recapture and Escape… (1977)
On June 6, 1977, whilst his restraints were removed, Ted Bundy escaped from the courthouse by jumping from a window. He injured his ankle jumping from the second floor, then removed his outer layer of clothing so he could slip through the Aspen roadblocks unnoticed. Whilst on the run he managed to live off food he stole from local cabins and nearby campers and would sleep in ones that were abandoned. He later told investigators his first night had been spent sleeping in the rain, but then he found an unoccupied cabin on his second day, with a small amount of food, some warm clothing and a rifle.
It was on this day that a woman and her baby had a worrying encounter with a man in a vehicle who first asked for help and when it was refused, he became angry and threatened the woman, telling her he had been watching her and knew she was alone and her friends were not nearby. As she became frantic, her friends hiking party came down from the mountain and the man drove off in a panic. After his recapture, the woman identified Bundy as the man who accosted her.
Cold, with little money and in constant pain with his ankle, Bundy decided he needed to leave Aspen, but required a car to pass through the roadblocks. He finally found one with the keys left in the ignition, but when he tried to flee he was spotted by two police officers. After 6 days on the run, a very dishevelled Ted Bundy was recaptured. He was recognised by police even though he was wearing glasses and had a band aid over his nose.
Back at the jail in Glenwood Springs, Bundy began to formulate a new escape plan. He obtained a detailed floor plan of the jail and other inmates provided him with a hacksaw blade. Over the next six months he accumulated $500 in cash from visitors, and sawed a hole through the ceiling in his cell. He was able to slim his weight, losing some 16kg and was able to fit through the hole and into the crawl space above.
During December, he made several practice runs and no-one at the jail investigated the noises made during these test runs. On December, 31 1977, Bundy placed his law books on his bed and covered them with a blanket to make it appear he was sleeping, then crawled up into the ceiling and made his way to another part of the building and found an opening that led to the closet of the jailer’s apartment.
He then sat and wait until he knew the apartment was empty due to the New Years celebrations and then casually walked out of the front door to freedom. His escape was not discovered until the following afternoon, more than fifteen hours later, and by then he was already in Chicago, one of many stops on his way to sunny Florida.
The Florida Murders (1978)
Bundy arrived in Tallahassee, Florida on January 7, 1978. He quickly found a room to rent at the Oak under the assumed name Chris Hagen, and told the landlady he was a student. He now had the freedom to roam the nearby campuses, which were his old hunting grounds back in Washington.
Ted Bundy was now free in a place where nobody knew his identity or anything about his past, and he felt comfortable in his new environment at the nearby Florida State University, spending much of his time walking around the campus and occasionally taking classes un-noticed.
He spent the rest of his spare time at his apartment watching his stolen a TV, like everything else in his possession, much like he had done in the past and purchased food using stolen credit cards. On January 12, Bundy stole the license plates from a 1972 Volkswagon camper near Dunwoody Street. He then stole an orange Volkswagon Bug from a young man named Ricky Garzaniti from 529 East Georgia Street.
The Chi Omega sorority house at the University of Florida was quiet on the evening of Sunday, January 15, with most of the occupants either having gone out or retiring early to bed. At around 2:45am Bundy entered the sorority house and bludgeoned 21-year-old Margaret Bowman with a piece of oak firewood and then strangled her with a stocking.
He then went to the room of 20-year-old Lisa Levy and beat her unconscious, breaking her collarbone. One of her nipples was torn off, she was bitten on the buttocks, then sexually assaulted with a Claireol hairspray bottle and strangled with a stocking.
Moving into the adjoining bedroom, he assaulted 20-year-old Kathy Kleiner, breaking her jawbone and lacerating her shoulder and then struck 21-year-old Karen Chandler, who suffered a concussion, lost several teeth because her jaw had been broken in three places.
Bundy ran out of the house when he became startled by the headlights of a car which was dropping off housemate Nita Neary. These attacks were overheard by several of the other girls in the house who alerted the dorm-mother and notified the police that an intruder was inside the residence.
Karen Chandler staggered out of her room and into the hallway, with blood seeping from a head wound, then Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman were found were found dead in their beds having suffered gruesome injuries. Although they survived, Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner had suffered life changing injuries.
Ted Bundy escaped the scene and made his way to a basement apartment eight blocks away and there launched a final attack, this time on 21-year-old student Cheryl Thomas.
She was found lying diagonally across her bed, her face turning purple with bruises and barely conscious, whimpering in pain. She had been beaten across the head and suffered a broken jaw and dislocated shoulder, whilst her skull was fractured in five places. Next to her body police found a semen stain and a pantyhose mask which contained two hairs.
Cheryl Thomas suffered the worst injuries that night and was left with permanent deafness and equilibrium damage which ruined her dance prospects and would stay in hospital for a month. Ted Bundy kept a low profile after the murders at the Chi Omega sorority house, and on 5 February he stole a white Dodge van from the Florida State University media centre and left Tallahassee for Jacksonville. Several day later on February 8, he approached 14-year-old Leslie Parmenter as she waited to pick up her brother, Danny.
Bundy told the young girl he was Richard Burton from the fire department and asked her if she attended the nearby school. Parmenter’s father was the Chief of detectives for the Jacksonville Police Department, who had told her many times not to talk to strangers. She soon began to feel uncomfortable and found it odd that an off-duty fireman would be wearing plaid pants and a navy jacket. Eventually her brother arrived and told Leslie to get in the car. He then followed the man and made a note of his license plates to give to his father.
The next day, February 9, 12-year-old Kimberly Leach disappeared at Lake City, Florida. She had left one building of her school to go to another where she retrieved her purse during first period.
But on her return journey she was intercepted by Bundy who was seen by a witness and later described Leach being led by an angry-looking man to a white van, and assumed it was a father with his daughter. Her body would eventually be found two months later.
The day afterwards Bundy’s name was added to the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List as fugitive #360, with a $100,000 reward for information leading to his capture. At 10:45pm that evening he revisited the crime scene at Dunwoody street where the attack on Cheryl Thomas occurred.
The Florida Trials (1979-1980)
Bundy would stand trial for the Chi Omega murders and assaults in June 1979. It was to be held in Miami and would be the first nationally televised trial in the United States, covered by reporters from around the world. Ted decided, once again to represent himself, despite having five court appointed attorney’s to handle his defence. His own self-importance and mis-guided delusion of his own abilities contributed to the complete mishandling of his defence strategy.
His defence arranged for a plea-deal in which Bundy would plead guilty to killing Margaret Bowman, Lisa Levy and Kimberly Leach and in exchange he would receive a 75-year sentence. In his mind, Bundy thought he could agree and then file a post-conviction motion once the evidence was no longer of any use or the witnesses retract their statements. However, at the last minute he refused the deal, primarily because it would mean he would have finally admit to the world he was a murderer, something his ego could never allow.
During the trial, several witnesses confirmed before the court that the man they saw at the Chi Omega house on the night of the murders was Ted Bundy. Nita Neary, who’s arrival home during those early morning hours caused him to escape out of the house before he could attack anymore women, identified Bundy as the man she saw, whilst and Connie Hastings, a Chi Omega student told the court she saw him in the vicinity of the house.
There was also damning forensic evidence left at the crime scene which incriminated him, namely the bite wounds on Lisa Levy’s buttock which was matched to a mouth cast taken of Bundy’s teeth by forensic odontologists Richard Souviron and Lowell Levine.
On July 17, Bundy arrived late into court because she refused to leave his cell. At around 1:00am he had thrown an orange between the bars of his cell and managed to smash one of the lights outside. The jailers moved him to another cell and during a search of his, they found broken shards of glass from the splintered light-bulb hidden far back in the cell. When he was summoned to court, the jailers could not unlock his cell door and found he had jammed toilet paper inside the lock. When told he was due in court, Bundy replied, “I’ll be there when I feel like it.”
They adjourned for deliberation on July 23, 1979, and spent almost seven hours before returning a decision of guilty for the murders of Bowman and Levy. As he listened to the verdict he showed no emotion. He was also found guilty of three counts of attempted first degree murder, for the assaults of Thomas, Kleiner and Chandler as well as two counts of burglary.
The Judge, Edward Cowart sentenced him to death plus 196 years for brutal murders. In summing up, Cowart said, “these killings were indeed heinous, atrocious and cruel. And that they were extremely wicked, shocking evil and vile”. Although he was sentenced to death by the court, Jude Cowart had been impressed with Ted Bundy’s attempt to act as his own defence and in his closing words commented, “You’re a bright young man. You’d have made a good lawyer and I would have loved to have you practice in front of me, but you went another way, partner.”
The next time Bundy was in court was six months later when he was tried in Orlando for the abduction and murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, believed to be his youngest victim. During the trial, Bundy called Carol Ann Boone, who had been in a relationship with Bundy since his incarceration, as a character witness. Also present were numerous women who attended court to get a glimpse of Bundy, who had garnered quite the female following in his notoriety.
Boone had served as a witness for the defence at the Chi Omega Trial, and Bundy asked her marry him in the presence of the Judge, which constituted under Florida law as a legal marriage. But Bundy’s show of theatrics could not save him from the prosecution, who presented the witness who saw Leach being led away from the schoolyard and into a white van.
Ted Bundy was positively identified as that man and microscopic fibres from his clothing matched those found on Leach’s body. On February 10, 1980, after eight hours of deliberation, Bundy was found guilty of the murder of Kimberly Leach and sentenced to death for a third time by electrocution. This verdict resulted in the now famous picture of Bundy losing his temper and shouting, “tell the jury they were wrong!”.
He was sent to the Starke Prison in Florida, where he began his sentence on death row as inmate number 069063. The occupied a cell on the 2-North catwalk, and visitors to the prison would often ask to see him, something Bundy hated because he believed the prison authorities were treating him like a prison tour attraction. He would always receive more mail than any other inmate, around 20 to 30 letters a day from people all around the world.
Most were from people who wanted a souvenir if he wrote back, but some were from women who professed their love and admiration for him, and even proposals of marriage. During his time in prison, he was assessed by numerous psychologists and doctors to ascertain why he perpetrated the crimes he was found guilty of committing.
The Death Row Interviews (1980)
Because Bundy refused to talk directly about the murders, as he still protested his innocence, Michaud found a way for him to talk about his crimes without actually confessing or implicating himself, by discussing them within a third person perspective. On April 4, 1980, Michaud and Aysnesworth have their first meeting with Bundy, during which he discusses the abduction and murder of Lynda Healy.
The day of the murder he gained entry to Healy’s house and returned later that evening, not knowing if she would be home, and what opportunity he would find. He theorised how once he got Healy up to Taylor Mountain he had her undress and raped her, but was then in a position where he couldn’t let her go, and had to kill her and bury her body there.
Futher interviews occurred on November 12, 1980, February 5, 1981 and the last on March 31, 1981 during which he would explain other aspects of his life and crimes. He explained how he lured his victims to their deaths, by a combination of luring them to his car by asking for help, whilst some were offered a ride and others were simply kidnapped from their bed or off the streets.
He would always be polite, friendly and courteous, and sometimes wore his arm in a sling or used crutches to appear as a harmless, young man simply in need of help. He also used his appearance to his advantage, with the slightest changed able to dramatically alter the way he looked.
In many photographs of Bundy he appears to look different with slight weight gain or facial hair resulting in an almost chameleon-like ability to change his features.
Bundy was moved up to R-Wing 3-North and proceeded to keep his head down, quietly going about his business. During one evening shift on 18 July 1984, the Raiford guards decided the “beat the bars”, which was a security precaution that involved officers striking the metal bars of all the inmates cells with a rubber mallet, to detect any cutting or tampering.
After the first cell had been checked, the wing sergeant struck the bars on cell number two, and the cold steel hit the floor and rolled out onto the quarterdeck, they had been cut. The Death Row prisoner was cuffed and secured in the nearby shower cell. Then the same sound could be heard from cell number three, which Bundy’s cell.
He was quickly handcuffed and the sergeant offered the wing sealed off and additional assistance was requested. It was determined only two of the cells were tampered with, and it was learned Bundy and the other inmate had formulated a plans to escape by taking the midnight shift officers hostage. Bundy had managed to keep two hacksaw blades hidden in his cell and the steel bars had been sawn through at the top and bottom, then glued back into placed with an adhesive made from soap.
Bundy was moved to a different cell and several months later a mirror was found in his cell, which was unauthorised and he was again relocated. It was during this period that Bundy was attacked by several other Death Row inmates in what was described as a “gang rape“, however, Bundy would strenuously deny having been assaulted. He entered into unauthorised correspondence with another criminal, John Hinckley Jr. and was again disciplined for this infraction.
The Green River Investigation (1984)
On October 1, 1984, Ted Bundy wrote a letter to detective Bob Keppel and Lieutenant Dave Reichert to offer his helping in catching the elusive Green River Killer. Bundy had taken an interest in the case, but had an ulterior motive for helping investigators. Firstly he would get to talk about his favourite subject, serial murder and secondly, he wished to put an end to the Green River Killer who was fast becoming more prolific a serial killer and would soon surpass Bundy’s alleged high murder count of twenty-two kills. His only condition was that all communications and correspondence between himself and members of the task force be kept away from the press.
The Green River Investigation had been ongoing in Washington since the first bodies were found floating in the Green River in July and August 1982. Unlike Bundy’s victims, who were all Caucasian female students, the Green River killer chose his victims from amongst Washington’s red light districts and did not discriminate on race, choosing both Caucasian and African American women as his victims.
Detective Keppel hoped Ted Bundy would provide a unique insight into the killers motivations and pathology, something the police were unable to do. In his letters to Keppel, Bundy referred to the killer as the “Riverman”, and believed the key to identifying him was to find the locations where he placed the bodies.
Ted Bundy’s execution date was set for March 4, 1986 for the Chi Omega convictions, but the Supreme Court issued a brief stay of execution, which was then rescheduled for July 2. He then took the opportunity to confess to some of his crimes to his lawyer Polly Nelson and Bill Hagmaier. He finally admitted to revisiting the Taylor Mountain and Issequah crime scenes.
There he performed sexual acts with the victims remains, sometimes lying with the corpses and spending the night until decomposition prevented him from further interaction. He would often travel large distances to revisit his dumping grounds, and had a fear of running out of gas, which accounted for why he spent so much of fuel.
In some of the more shocking revelations he revealed about the murders, Bundy described how he beheaded at least a dozen of the corpses with a hacksaw, keeping the heads in his house where he shampooed the hair and applied make-up to more than once victim to fulfil his fantasies. He would later confirm this to Hagmaier.
He told him that he carried the heads around with him for days and kept as many as four or five heads at home with him at the same time. He also speculated for Hagmaier and Bob Keppel that he later burned Donna Manson’s skull on his girlfriends fireplace, something he found extremely risky, because it was during the summertime and Liz questioned why he had the fire on during a hot day.
He commented regretfully, “Of all the things I did to [Liz], this is probably the one she is least likely to forgive me for. Poor Liz.” He also admitted to using the hacksaw to remove the victims hands, which he also carried around with him in a bag for several days. Psychologists believed this was Bundy’s souvenirs, and that by carrying them around with him, he felt powerful because he was taking the risk of being caught.
On the evening before his scheduled execution, he was interviewed by Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. During the 45 minute conversation he discussed the effects pornography addiction had on his life, and which he claimed had contributed as motivating factor towards his crimes. He attempted to contact Carol Ann Boone, who had bore him his only child, but she refused to accept his call after his betrayal of her trust.
She had championed Bundy’s cause when everyone else believed his guilt, and his final confessions were deeply upsetting for her. She was also hurt because Bundy had entered into an apparent relationship with his attorney, Diana Weiner during his final years in prison.
Ted Bundy was led into the execution chamber a little after 7:00am and strapped into the electric chair, known as “Old Sparky”. His last words before the black hood was placed over his head were to his defence attorney Jim Coleman and his minister Fred Lawrence telling them, “Jim and Fred, I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends”.
The executioner threw the switch and his body went stiff and rose momentarily from the chair. A minute later, when the power was switched off, his body slammed back into the chair. A doctor then felt his pulse and he was pronounced dead at 7:16am. As his body was taken outside in a white hearse, loud cheers rose from the crowd. His body was taken to Gainsville where it was cremated and his ashes were scattered at an undisclosed location, in accordance with his will, in the Cascade Range of Washington State.