Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell to Louise Cowell on November 24, 1946, at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. After eight weeks at the home Louise returned to her parent’s house in Philadelphia to raise her new son. For the first several years of his life Ted Bundy thought his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister. In 1951, Louise and Ted Bundy moved to Tacoma Washington; and Louise married Johnnie Bundy, a military cook.
Despite his parental circumstances and meager surroundings Ted Bundy was well behaved and grew into an attractive teen who was generally liked and who performed well in school. After high school he entered the University of Puget Sound and continued to do well academically; but felt uncomfortable around his fellow peers who were predominantly wealthy. In his sophomore year, Ted Bundy transferred to the University of Washington to escape the uncomfortable feeling of his financial status. Throughout, his years at high school Ted Bundy suffered from acute shyness that resulted in his appearing socially awkward.
This affliction followed him to college and although Ted Bundy had friends he never blended comfortably into doing much of the social activities. He rarely dated and kept to himself. But in 1967 Ted Bundy met the woman of his dreams. She was pretty, wealthy, and sophisticated. They both shared a skill and passion for skiing and spent many weekends on the ski slopes. Ted Bundy fell in love with his new girlfriend and tried hard to impress her to the point of grossly exaggerating his own accomplishments.
He tried to gain her approval with a summer scholarship to Stanford that he won although his time there was less than impressive. By 1968, she decided Ted Bundy lacked a real future and was not a husband material. She ended the relationship and broke Ted Bundy’s heart and his obsession toward her haunted him for years. Ted Bundy suffered extreme depression over the break up and dropped out of school. It was during this time that he learned the truth that his sister was actually his mother and his parents were his grandparents.
Ted Bundy was also getting a reputation by those close to him for being a petty thief. It was during this phase of his life that his shyness was replaced with false bravery and he returned to college, he excelled everyone in his major, and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Ted Bundy became involved with another woman, Elizabeth Kendall (the pseudonym she used when she wrote “The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy”) who was a divorcee with a young daughter. She fell deeply in love with Ted Bundy and despite her suspicions that Ted Bundy was seeing other women her devotion toward him continued.
Ted Bundy was not receptive to the idea of marriage; but allowed the relationship to continue even after reuniting with his first love that was attracted to the new confident Ted Bundy. He worked on the re-election campaign of Washington’s Republican Governor Dan Evans. When Governor Dan Evans was elected he appointed Ted Bundy to the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Committee. Ted Bundy’s political future seemed secure. In 1973 he became the assistant to Ross Davis, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. It was a good time in Ted Bundy’s life.
He had a girlfriend, his old girlfriend was once again in love with him, and his footing in the political arena was strong. In 1974, young women began to start vanishing from college campuses around Washington and Oregon. Lynda Ann Healy, a 21-year-old radio announcer, was among those who were missing. In July 1974, two women were approached at a Seattle state park by an attractive man who introduced himself as Ted Bundy; he asked them to help him with his sailboat but they refused. Later that day two other women were seen going off with him and were never seen alive again.
In the fall, of 1974 Ted Bundy enrolled in law school at the University of Utah and he moved to Salt Lake City. In November, Carol DaRonch was attacked at a Utah mall by a man dressed as a police officer; but she managed to escape. She provided police with a description of the man, the Volkswagen he was driving, and a sample of his blood that got on her jacket during their struggle. Within a few hours after Carol DaRonch was attacked, 17-year-old Debbie Kent disappeared. Around this time hikers discovered a grave yard of bones in a Washington forest. It was later identified as belonging to missing women from both Washington and Utah.
Investigators from both states communicated together and came up with a profile and composite sketch of the man named “Ted Bundy” who approached women for help, sometimes appearing helpless with a cast on his arm or crutches. They also had the description of his tan Volkswagen and his blood type which was type-O. Authorities compared the similarities of the women disappearing. They were all white, thin, single, and had long hair that was parted in the middle. They also vanished during the evening hours. The bodies of the dead women found in Utah had all been hit with a blunt object to the head, raped and sodomized.
Authorities knew they were dealing with a serial killer who had the capability to travel from state to state. On January 12, 1975, Caryn Campbell vanished from a ski resort in Colorado while on vacation with her fiance and his two children. A month later Caryn’s nude body was found lying a short distance from the road. An examination of her remains determined she had received violent blows to her skull. Over the next few months five more women were found dead in Colorado with similar contusions to their head, possibly a result of being hit with a crowbar.
In August 1975, police attempted to stop Bundy for a driving violation. He aroused suspicion when he tried to get away by turning his car lights off and speeding through stop signs. When he was finally stopped his Volkswagen was searched and police found handcuffs, an ice pick, crowbar, pantyhose with eye holes cut out along with other questionable items. They also saw that the front seat on the passenger side of his car was missing. Police arrested Ted Bundy on suspicion of burglary. Police compared the things found in Bundy’s car to those Carol DaRonch described seeing in her attackers car.
The handcuffs that had been placed around one of her wrists were the same make as those in Bundy’s possession. Once Carol DaRonch picked Ted Bundy out of a line-up the police felt they had enough evidence to charge him with attempted kidnapping. The authorities also felt confident they had the person responsible for the tri-state murder spree that had gone on for more than a year. Bundy went to trial for attempted kidnapping Carol DaRonch in February 1976 and after waiving his right to a jury trial he was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During this time police were investigating links to Ted Bundy and the Colorado murders. According to his credit card statements he was in the area where several women vanished in early 1975. In October 1976 Ted Bundy was charged for the murder of Caryn Campbell. Bundy was extradited from the Utah prison to Colorado for the trial. Serving as his own lawyer allowed him to appear in court without leg irons plus gave him an opportunity to move freely from the courtroom to the law library inside the courthouse. In an interview, while in the role as his own attorney, Ted Bundy said, “More than ever, I am convinced of my own innocence. In June 1977, during a pre-trial hearing he escaped by jumping out of the law library window. He was captured a week later. On December 30, Ted Bundy escaped from prison and made his way to Tallahassee, Florida where he rented an apartment near Florida State University under the name Chris Hagen. College life was something Ted Bundy was familiar with and one he enjoyed. He managed to buy food and pay his way at local college bars with stolen credit cards. When bored he would duck into lecture halls and listen to the speakers. It was just a matter of time before the monster inside Ted Bundy would resurface.
On Saturday, January 14, Ted Bundy broke into Florida State University’s Chi Omega sorority house and bludgeoned and strangled to death two women, raping one of them and brutally biting her on her buttocks and one nipple. He beat two others over the head with a log. They survived which investigators attribute to fellow roommate Nita Neary, who came home and interrupted Ted Bundy before he was able to kill the two other victims. Nita Neary came home around 3 a. m. and noticed the front door to the house was open. As she entered she heard hurried footsteps above going toward the stairway.
She hid in a doorway and watched as a man wearing a blue cap and carrying a log left the house. Upstairs she found her roommates. Two were dead, two others severely wounded. That same night another woman was attacked and the police found a mask on her floor identical to one found later in Ted Bundy’s car. On February 9, 1978, Ted Bundy killed again. This time it was 12 year old Kimberly Leach, who he kidnapped then mutilated. Within a week of the disappearance of Kimberly Leach, Ted Bundy was arrested in Pensacola for driving a stolen vehicle. Investigators had eyewitnesses who identified Ted Bundy at the dorm and at Kimberly Leach’s school.
They also had physical evidence that linked him to the three murders, including a mold of the bite marks found on the flesh of the sorority house victim. Ted Bundy, still thinking he could beat a guilty verdict, turned down a plea bargain where he would plead guilty to killing the two sorority women and Kimberly Leach in exchange for three 25-year sentences. Ted Bundy went on trial in Florida on June 25, 1979 for the murders of the sorority women. The trial was televised and Ted Bundy played up to the media when on occasion he acted as his own attorney.
Ted Bundy was found guilty on both murder charges and given two death sentences by means of the electric chair. On January 7, 1980, Bundy went on trial for killing Kimberly Leach. This time he allowed his attorney’s to represent him. They decided on an insanity plea, the only defense possible with the amount of evidence the state had against him. Ted Bundy’s behavior was much different during this trial than the previous one. He displayed fits of anger, slouched in his chair, and his collegiate look was sometimes replaced with a haunting glare. Ted Bundy was found guilty and received a third death sentence.
During the sentencing phase, Ted Bundy surprised everyone by calling Carol Boone as a character witness and marrying her while she was on the witness stand. Carol Boone was convinced of Ted Bundy’s innocence. She later gave birth to Ted Bundy’s child, a little girl who Ted Bundy adored. In time Carol Boone divorced Ted Bundy after realizing he was guilty of the horrific crimes. After endless appeals Ted Bundy’s last stay of execution was on January 17, 1989. Prior to being put to death Ted Bundy gave the details of more than fifty women he had murdered to Washington State Attorney General’s chief investigator, Dr.
Bob Keppel. He also confessed to keeping the heads of some of his victims at his home plus to engaging to an erotic attraction to corpse with some of his victims. In his final interview he blamed his exposure to pornography at an impressionable age as being the stimulant behind his murderous obsessions. Many directly involved with Ted Bundy believed he murdered at least 100 women. The electrocution of Ted Bundy went as scheduled it had a party like atmosphere outside the prison. On January 24, 1989, Theodore Bundy died at around 7:13 a. m. as crowds outside cheered and celebrated his death.