Ted Bundy once said, “Sometimes I feel like a vampire.” He looked like a human, he talked like a human, but under that skin was a monster. The likes of Bundy, Ed Gein and John Wayne Gacy have gained high levels of notoriety for their crimes. Increasing widespread media coverage has helped serial killer interest overflow into households. So firstly, lets take a look at Mr Ted Bundy himself.
One of the most notorious serial killers in the US history, Ted Bundy is famous for all the wrong reasons. Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy (real name Theodore Robert Cowell) was born illegitimately on the 24th November 1946 to Eleanor Louise Cowell (known for most of her life as Louise). To avoid social stigma, Bundy’s maternal grandparents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell, claimed him as their son.
Family, friends, and even Bundy from a young age were told that his mother was his older sister. Eventually he discovered the truth, though exactly how and when is not absolutely clear. It was first thought that a cousin showed him a copy of his birth certificate after calling him a “bastard”, but he told biographers Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth that he found the certificate himself. Biographer and true crime writer Ann Rule, who knew Bundy personally, believes that he tracked down his original birth record in Vermont in 1969. He had expressed a lifelong resentment toward his mother for lying about his true parentage and leaving him to discover it for himself.
While Bundy spoke warmly of his grandparents in some interviews, describing his grandmother, Eleanor as a timid and obedient woman who periodically underwent electroconvulsive therapy for depression. He told Ann Rule that while he respected his grandfather it was also said by he and other family members that Samuel Cowell was a tyrannical bully and a bigot who hated blacks, Italians, Catholics, and Jews, and who used to beat his poor wife and the family dog.
Young Bundy was obsessed with knives and also known to torture animals. It was around this time he also started engaging in voyeurism. Years later, while on Florida’s death row, Bundy would describe a part of himself that, from a young age, was fascinated by images of sex and violence. In early prison interviews, Bundy called this part of himself “the entity”. While still in his teens, Bundy would look through libraries for detective magazines and books on crime, focusing on sources that described sexual violence and featured pictures of dead bodies and violent sexual activity. Before he was even out of high school, Bundy was a compulsive thief, a shoplifter, and on his way to becoming an amateur criminal.
Bundy was regarded as handsome and charming and he would exploit these traits with young women. He would typically approach them in public places, feigning injury by wearing a sling or a cast or he would pretend to be a public official like a fireman or a policeman before overpowering and assaulting them at more secluded locations. He sometimes revisited his secondary crime scenes for hours at a time, grooming and performing sexual acts with the decomposing corpses until putrefaction and destruction by wild animals made further interaction impossible. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims, and kept some of the severed heads in his apartment for a period of time as mementos. On a few occasions he simply broke into dwellings at night and bludgeoned his victims as they slept.
Initially incarcerated in Utah in 1975 for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault, Bundy became a suspect in a progressively longer list of unsolved homicides in multiple states. Facing murder charges in Colorado, he engineered two dramatic escapes and committed further assaults, including three murders, before his ultimate recapture in Florida in 1978. He received three death sentences in two separate trials for the Florida homicides.
Ted Bundy died in the electric chair at Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida, on January 24, 1989. Biographer Ann Rule described him as “a sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human’s pain and the control he had over his victims, to the point of death, and even after.” He once called himself; “The most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet” and Attorney Polly Nelson, a member of his last defense team, agreed, “Ted”, she wrote, “was the very definition of heartless evil.”