Ted Bundy – America’s Most Brutal Serial Killer
Given his upbringing and childhood, Theodore Robert Bundy was an unexpected serial killer. At least that what it looks like upon first glance of his story. He said he had a near perfect upbringing in a Christian home, attending church, with loving parents and a good network of friends, but there was one thing he was not able to control, which lead to him becoming one of the most brutal serial killers in American history.
He appeared to have it all; good looks, intelligence, an attractive nature, and an IQ of 113. He was a law student and college graduate, but all of these foundations for a valuable and successful life were outweighed by his dark desire.
Bundy recalled being drawn to magazines and comics at a young age which were focused around bondage, and mortally threatened women on the front covers. He said he found the detective magazines more interesting than the pornographic magazines, though. Many believe this is what influenced his brutal crimes and ignited what became a wild fire in Bundy’s psyche. However, a defense psychologist produced material that suggested his childhood was not all peaches and cream.
Bundy was born in November 1946, in a home for unwed mothers in Burlington, Vermont after a WWII veteran impregnated her then abandoned her. Bundy’s mother passed him off as her brother, which he discovered by going through his parents’ paper and it became a revelation to him. Ted’s friend said he was deeply angry about it and when said friends told Ted he was still loved, Ted replied with “you’re not the one that’s illegitimate”.
It also became clear that Ted’s family didn’t have a lot of money and he was jealous and resentful of kids that had more than he did. This jealousy over possessions may have played a key factor in shaping the monster he became.
Following an addiction to pornography and bondage, Bundy needed something more potent to get his buzz. He became a “peeping Tom” and would even masturbate whilst doing so. He moved onto burglary and stalking and assaulting women. The first interaction was when he followed a woman home from a bar, and as she tried to enter her front door, he ran up to her, but noticing him, she screamed, and scared him into running off. The next interaction was a little more aggressive, where he grabbed a stick and hit a woman over the head with it. This act scared him and he again ran off.
He continued to commit more crimes which progressed in seriousness. In early 1974, 18-year-old Joni Lenz was found in her basement room by housemates after a savage night at the hands of Bundy. She was found baring breathing with her hair and face matted in dry blood. She had been beaten with a pole from the metal bed frame that Bundy had broken off. Despite surviving the ordeal, she suffered damage to her internal organs, brain damage, and has no memories of the attack.
By July 1974, there were six missing girls from around the North West. Bundy was responsible for murders in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. He was arrested in Utah in 1975 for a failed abduction. He soon became the focus of unsolved cases from surrounding states. Whilst facing a murder charge in Colorado, he orchestrated one of his two successful prison escapes.
From 1974 to 1978, the body count racked up. He would simultaneously strangle and molest his victim, for all of which occurred while he was intoxicated with alcohol. It was said that he murdered and mutilated over 30 women, but it has been suggested that he was responsible for up to 120, some as far back as 1962, namely Ann Marie Burr, when Bundy was just 15-years-old. Though, this was never admitted or confirmed.
He moved to Florida and continued his reign of terror. Among the victims was Lisa Levy (age 21), who was attacked by Bundy in her dorm. She was barely alive when police found her, but despite having CPR and cardio pulmonary massage performed, she died before she reached the hospital. She had a broken collar bone, and a deep bite mark on her buttocks, which was a key element in later convicting him. There were many more explicit details, but they can be found in books and on other websites.
Other victims include Kathy Kleiner (age 20), Lisa Levy (age 20), Karen Chandler (age 21), Margaret Bowman (age 21), and Cheryl Thomas (age undisclosed), all of which took place in Tallahassee, Florida.
His final victim was Kimberley Leach, a 12-year-old who was abducted from her school on Feb 9th, 1978. She was seen walking off with an angry man, which at the time many thought to be her father who had been called to the school to collect her. Despite heavy searching, she was not found until 8 weeks later. All that was left were her bare bones, which were found in a pigpen.
We’re not going to go into anymore detail about the brutality of the murders above, but know we have barely scratched the surface and that Bundy’s crimes were labeled the worst sex crimes America had ever seen. You can find more information in one of the many books that have been written. He was apprehended a short time after, in Pensacola, Florida for driving a stolen car.
At the time of his arrest, police recall him being anything but remorseful. He protested his innocence for some time and was very arrogant during his trials. He wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and being a law student, he thought he was his own best choice and decided to represent himself. Bundy’s trial was one of the first to be televised and he became a media sensation, some would even say he had the popularity of a rock star.
He became a cult figure and women flocked to his trail. They would try to get his attention as if he were some sort of celebrity. Upon being interviewed, the young women said they would go home and lock their doors because they were scared of Ted Bundy. He had managed to get inside their heads with his vicious crimes. Experts were baffled by this “love” for such a person. Maybe they considered him as an evil icon, similar a modern Freddy Krueger where they knew he was evil, but are still drawn to him. They would send him mail with erotic stories, fantasies about being with him, and even nude photos.
Despite representing himself and being a manipulative, and even intelligent, person, he was not falling the jury. It was said that he never appreciated the weight of the accusations and he did such a detailed cross examination, it seemed he was reliving the crimes. He didn’t see the significance of what he was doing to the jury. Maybe he thought he was humanizing himself, but they seemed to see right through him and had no doubt in their minds that he was guilty. His arrogance even led to him exercising and conducting a marriage under Florida law, during his trial. But, the end was near.
In July of 1979, Bundy was sentenced to death by way of electric chair.
After his sentencing, he was put on death row, where he remained for 10 years. During that time, he had countless interviews where he was described as a cunning and manipulative interviewee. He received many more “love” letters from young women as well and more stories and explicit pictures.
It is said he was unremorseful about his crimes, and even laughed when talking about Roberta Parks (his 20-year-old victim from Washington). When shown a picture of Kimberly, his last murder, he threw the picture down and said “I am the most cold blooded son of a bitch you will ever meet” -Was he trying to show it didn’t bother him or was he genuinely careless?
Over the years, many appeals were made, but in January 1989, he had his final interview. He refused to speak with the hundreds of reporters who wanted to interview him and requested Dr. James Dobson, who was flown from in California to speak with him in the final interview, just hours before his execution at Florida State Prison.
During the interview, he shared his motives for the first time. He described it as an entity inside him, a possession fueled by pornography, but took responsibility for his actions. He wanted to create a legacy for himself that was something other than murder. He wanted people to see he did something that was socially valuable. Bundy described soft pornography as a gateway into hardcore pornography and said it, and horror movies, are so easily accessible for young people, it is something society should take more seriously. He accepted responsibility for his crimes, but also added that society should not only be safe from him, but society should be safe from society.
The first time he showed remorse was during this last interview where he avoided talking about his last victim. He was not willing to disclose the details of what happened between the abduction and the time Kimberley’s remains were found.
Over 500 people attended Florida State Prison on the morning of his execution, many of whom cheered on his death. He was considered the most hated man in America. His final appeal was turned down and his walk to the execution chair began. He was recorded admitting another murder on his way the the electric chair, maybe it was his last effort to avoid or extend the execution date. As he came to the execution room, his knees buckled and officers held him up while he regained his composure. He sat in the chair and scanned the room. He looked in everyone’s eyes and gave a last smile to the prosecutor before the head gear and mask was put over his face.
At 7.16am Bundy was executed. His body tensed up with the first jolt of electricity, loosened, then tensed up with the second jolt. Within 60 seconds was pronounced dead and the smell of burning flesh filled the room. Once his death was confirmed, people outside the prison cheered, knowing the world was rid of the monster forever.