Theodore Robert Bundy, born in November of 1946, is an infamous serial killer. There aren’t many people who don’t know the name of this man, or the murders he committed.
Before Ted, the public saw serial killers as societal rejects, men or women who had been shunned by others for one reason or another. The media painted these individuals as ugly, disfigured and mentally unstable. While the latter is usually true of someone who takes the life of another human being, some killers remained hidden as they simply didn’t ‘fit the bill’ of a horrifying madman.
Ted Bundy changed everything. He came from a typical loving family, was extremely intelligent and obtained a college education. In some people’s opinion, Ted was a good looking man, and he seemed to go out of his way to help people, even volunteering at a suicide hotline.
So, what went wrong for Bundy? Why did this aspiring politician kill 30 women during the 1970’s in America?
During the years in which Ted was born, the idea of a woman having a baby out of wedlock was very much frowned upon. For that reason, Ted’s mother gave birth to him in a centre for unwed mothers. Ted was then raised by his maternal grandparents, and they passed him off as their own to avoid the social stigma. Ted never knew his real father, and it’s been reported that he held lifelong resentment towards his mother for keeping his dad a secret.
In 1966, Ted began attending the University of Washington. It was here that he met Stephanie Brooks (a pseudonym), an upper middle class girl whom he fell deeply in love with. He adored Stephanie as she represented everything Ted wanted to be; rich, powerful and successful. Sadly, this relationship wasn’t too last, and Stephanie ended things with Ted explaining that he was immature and lacked ambition. This break-up came at a pivotal time in Ted’s life, and would have far-reaching consequences.
In 1974, Bundy broke into the house of Joni Lenz, an 18-year-old student at the University of Washington. He crept through a window and bludgeoned her as she slept. He used a crowbar to attack her, then broke a rod from her bed and used it to sexually assault her. Later, when the police were examining the crime scene, Joni was almost unrecognisable. Miraculously, she survived the attack, but she suffered permanent brain damage.
Lynda Ann Healy was also a student at the University of Washington, and she was Bundy’s first confirmed murder victim. On the 31st January 1974, not even a month after Joni Lenz had been attacked, Bundy broken into Lynda’s room, knocked her unconscious, undressed her, and put her in jeans and a shirt. He then wrapped her up in a sheet and took her from her house. He left nothing but a hair behind. Almost a year later, her decapitated body was found, bearing the unmistakable marks of a savage beating.
Bundy went on to kill many, many other women. From January to June 1974, he averaged out at one murder a month, and didn’t stop there. All of the victims were young, beautiful women, with dark long hair usually parted down the middle. This type of girl became Bundy’s ideal victim, and after his arrest it wasn’t lost on the police just how much these women resembled Stephanie Brooks.
In autumn of 1974, Ted was living in Salt Lake City, Utah, when he was arrested on suspicion of burglary. When the police searched his car after pulling him over for erratic driving, they found items such as handcuffs, panty hose with eyes cut out to make a mask and various tools.
After a surviving Bundy victim, Carol Da Ronch, identified Ted as the man who attacked her, police had enough to indict him for kidnapping. A team of police was formed, and after reviewing evidence given by Da Ronch and the items found in Ted’s car, they became convinced he was the serial killer they had been searching for.
Although the case against him was currently weak, it seemed Ted wasn’t content with staying in prison. In 1977, he broke out through the prison library. He was apprehended just six days later, but managed to break out of prison a second time just six months after his first breakout. Once police found him, Ted was to be in jail for the rest of his life.
The trial was a media frenzy. Ted, who had trained in law, elected to represent himself with a team of lawyers for support. It’s well documented that he fought with and dismissed several members of his legal team over the course of his trial.
On July 24th, 1979, the jury took just seven hours to find him guilty of two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to death. On February 10th, Bundy was sentenced to death for the third time on remaining charges.
Before his execution, Ted undertook various interviews with both police and media. He revealed that he was exposed to violent pornography at a young age, and laid some of the blame of his actions on this. He also admitted that he revisited some of his victims dump sites, performing sexual acts with their corpses and going as far as to apply make-up and even wash the hair of his victims.
Ted Bundy was executed by electric chair on the 24th January 1989. He was 42 years old.
Bundy showed us that not all serial killers are deformed, social rejects who skulk in the shadows. He was good looking, charming, intelligent and seemingly caring, he just did a very good job of hiding his murderous side.
As the media followed Ted’s life and trial closely, printing stories about him and creating sensational headlines, he has become an almost celebrity. To this day, there are still women who call themselves ‘Bundyphiles’ who are obsessed with this man. His charm seems to have lived beyond his body and mind. We may never know exactly why Ted did what he did, but I believe that through his terrible actions, he opened the eyes of the public, showing them that some monsters hide beneath the surface.