When it comes to some of the most infamous and notorious serial killers in the history of the United States, Ted Bundy’s name can never be ignored. Described by the FBI as “society’s most infamous and notorious serial killer,” Ted Bundy was responsible for abductions, rapes, and murders of countless young American girls and women during the late 20th century. He exploited his charming looks to lure young girls and women into his trap before killing them. After several trials and multiple escapes, Ted Bundy was sentenced to death, and he was finally executed on January 24, 1989. Before being executed, he confessed at least 30 homicides that he had executed between 1974 and 1978; however, the actual number is still unknown and is believed to be possibly higher.
I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.” – Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy (real name – Theodore Robert Cowell) was born on Sunday, November 24, 1946 (age 42 years; at the time of death) at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont, United States. INSIDER Bundy grew up at his maternal grandparents’ home in Philadelphia where he spent the first three years of his life. Bundy’s maternal grandparents, Samuel (1898–1983) and Eleanor Cowell (1895–1971) raised him as their own son, and they pretended to be the real parents of Ted Bundy to hide the fact that he was born outside of wedlock. During most of his childhood, Bundy thought that his mother was his older sister, and he got to know about his mother’s identity only later in his life. INSIDER
When Ted Bundy turned four, his mother took him to Tacoma, Washington (3,000 miles away from Philadelphia) where his mother met Johnny Culpepper Bundy (1921–2007), a hospital cook at an adult singles night at Tacoma’s First Methodist Church.
Ted’s mother and Johnny Bundy got married to each other on May 19, 1951, and Ted became the formally adopted son of Johnny Bundy. Ted’s mother bore four children with Johnny Bundy. Facebook In 1965, Ted graduated from Tacoma’s Woodrow Wilson High School.
After attending the University of Puget Sound (UPS) for one year, Ted went to the University of Washington (UW) to study Chinese but quit in mid-way. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule Later, he attended Temple University in Philadelphia for one semester. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule In mid-1970, he got himself re-enrolled at the University of Washington (UW) and graduated with a psychology major in 1972. Being a Republican supporter, Ted participated in the re-election campaign of Governor Daniel J. Evans. Later, he also assisted Ross Davis, Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. Although Ted had mediocre LSAT scores, in 1973, he got admission into the law schools of UPS and the University of Utah; as Evans, Davis, and several UW psychology professors had sent letters of recommendation for Ted. The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy By Stephen G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth He graduated from Law School in 1973. Later, he went on to become one of the dreaded killers in the United States. While describing serial killers, Ted Bundy said,
We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.”
Family & Ethnicity
Ted Bundy was a Christian who reportedly followed Tacoma’s First United Methodist Church. USA TODAY
Parents & Siblings
Ted Bundy’s mother was Eleanor Louise Cowell (1924–2012); better known as Louise who worked as a secretary at the University of Puget Sound. USA TODAY
Reportedly, a salesman and Air Force veteran named Lloyd Marshall was the father of Ted Bundy; however, there is no concrete evidence available to support this fact, and his father’s identity is still obfuscated. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule Some sources also claim that it might be his maternal grandfather who had fathered him. The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy By Stephen G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth Samuel (1898–1983) and Eleanor Cowell (1895–1971) were the maternal grandparents of Ted Bundy who had raised Bundy in Philadelphia. Later in his life, Bundy described his maternal grandfather, Samuel Cowell as a tyrannical bully and a bigot, and his grandmother, Eleanor Cowell as a timid and obedient woman who was a patient of depression. The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy By Stephen G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth His step-father’s name was Johnny Bundy. Ted had four step-siblings. USA TODAY
Relationships, Wife & Children
In 1967, Ted got romantically involved with a classmate named “Stephanie Brooks” at the University of Washington (UW). Some reports claim the real name of Brooks to be “Diana Edwards,” but it’s not confirmed. Serial killers by Time-Life Books In 1968, Brooks broke up with Ted and returned to her home in California. The reason cited by Brooks for her break-up with Ted was his immaturity and unmotivated lifestyle. Defending the Devil: My Story as Ted Bundy’s Last Lawyer by Polly Nelson
Ted was devastated by Brooks’ rejection, and he aimlessly wandered to many places, including Colorado, Arkansas, and Philadelphia. Later, he returned to Washington by the fall of 1969, where he met Liz Kendall (also identified as Meg Anders, and Beth Archer) who was a divorcee from Ogden (Utah) and worked as a secretary at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Reportedly, Ted approached her at the Sandpiper Tavern of the university district where he insisted on her to buy her a beer, she accepted his offer, and both started dating each other. Ted went on to become the surrogate father to Kendall’s daughter, Molly aka Liane. iHorror
In the fag end of 1974, Ted met Carole Ann Boone while working at the Department of Emergency Services (DES). Carole Ann Boone was a twice-divorced mother of two. Ted and Carole Ann Boone started dating each other, and they ended up getting married to each other in a courtroom in Orlando on February 9, 1980. The Deseret News Together they had a daughter, Rose Bundy who is also known as Rosa Bundy. However, they divorced in 1986. INSIDER
Some sources claim Diana Weiner, a young Florida attorney to be the last love interest of Ted Bundy. Defending the Devil: My Story as Ted Bundy’s Last Lawyer by Polly Nelson
A Devastated Lover
Reportedly, Ted Bundy couldn’t bear the rejection by his girlfriend Stephanie Brooks, and he was so shattered by Brook’s rejection that he chose only those girls and women as his victims who had stark resemblance with Stephanie Brooks. In the summer of 1973, when Ted was on a visit to Washington, he tried to revive his relationship with Stephanie Brooks and after his matriculation from UPS Law School in 1973, he continued dating her. Reportedly, they had even planned marriage, and once, Ted introduced her to Ross Davis (Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party) as his fiancee. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule By January 1974, Ted had started ignoring Brooks, and he abruptly broke off all contacts with Stephanie. After several phone calls and letters by Brooks remained unanswered by Ted, one day, he picked up her call, and when Stephanie asked her the reason behind his ignorance, he quietly said,
Stephanie, I have no idea what you mean.”
Reportedly, this phone call became the last conversation between Ted Bundy and Stephanie Brooks. Later, in an interview, Ted accepted that the entire plot to rekindle his relationship with Brooks was planned because he wanted to avenge the breakup initiated by Stephanie in 1968. Ted said,
I just wanted to prove to myself that I could have married her.”
Ted Bundy’s vengeance became so dreaded that he went on a spree to abduct, rape, and kill the young white American girls who had a similar appearance to Brooks; they all aged 15-25 having long, straight dark brown hair with a parting down the center. History Collection According to Ted Bundy’s biographer, Ann Rule, his breakup with Stephanie Brooks had played as the catalyst for everything that followed in his life.
Countless Kidnappings and Murders
Ted Bundy started losing interest in studies and skipping his law classes at the start of 1974. By April 1974, he had completely abandoned attending his classes. It was the same time when several media houses had started reporting about the disappearances of young girls and women in various states across the United States. These reports made the police and investigating agencies become active to look for the missing girls.
Although it’s not certain that when Ted Bundy had actually started abductions, rapes, and murders of young girls and women, according to his own words, his first kidnapping attempt was in 1969 in Ocean City, New Jersey; however, during an interview given to psychologist Art Norman, he told that his first victims were two women from Atlantic City who he had killed in 1969. He also talked about a murder in Seattle in 1972. Later, Ted accepted killing a hitchhiker near Tumwater in 1973. However, according to Ann Rule, one of the biographers of Ted Bundy, he had started committing crimes since he was a teen, and at the age of fourteen, he killed eight-year-old Ann Marie Burr of Tacoma.
According to sources, Ted Bundy’s earliest homicides were documented first in 1974, when he was 27 years old. Ted Bundy’s earliest homicides include the abduction and murder of five female college students in the Pacific Northwest – Donna Gail Manson, Susan Elaine Rancourt, Roberta Kathleen Parks, Brenda Carol Ball, and Georgann Hawkins.
In his life, Ted Bundy abducted, raped, and killed countless young girls and women across seven states in the United States between 1974 and 1978; however, he confessed to only 30 homicides before he was executed on January 24, 1989.
Ted Bundy’s Methodology
Ted Bundy was a handsome man with sharp physical features. He exploited his good looks to lure young girls and women into his trap. Although he had a mediocre upbringing, he always projected himself as someone from a rich background. He loved to remain dressed well just like an elite. Ted used to drive a brownish-yellow Volkswagen Beetle car in which he committed most of his crimes. Reportedly, he used to approach his victims by wearing a smile on his face and ask them to help him in some daily chores. TIME
While committing his crimes, Ted was so vigilant and meticulous that he would never leave any substantial clue at the place of crime; which aways kept the investigators on their toes. In an interview, Ted revealed that he had never felt guilt over his crimes rather he enjoyed them all, he said,
Murder is not about lust and it’s not about violence. It’s about possession. When you feel the last breath of life coming out of the woman, you look into her eyes. At that point, it’s being God.”
Arrests & Court Proceedings
On August 16, 1975, Ted Bundy was first arrested by Utah Highway Patrol officer Bob Hayward in Granger. From his Volkswagen Beetle car, the police found various suspicious items, such as a crowbar, a ski mask, trash bags, and handcuffs.
Later, Bundy was released for the lack of sufficient evidence against him. In February 1976, Bundy was arrested again, and this time, the police had gathered enough evidence against Bundy for the DaRonch kidnapping. In June 1976, Bundy received one-to-15 years sentence in the Utah State Prison. During the trial, Bundy waived his right hand to a jury, which was extensively covered in media. Reportedly, Ted had waived his hand on the advice of his attorney, John O’Connell.
After being charged with Caryn Campbell’s murder by Colorado authorities in October 1976, Bundy was shifted to Aspen in January 1977.
When Ted was transferred to Aspen in June 1977 for a preliminary hearing at Pitkin County Courthouse, he decided to act as his own attorney, which excused him from wearing handcuffs or leg shackles. During the trial, he asked the judge to give him the permission to access the courthouse’s law library to study his case. While in the library, Ted dodged the police and escaped by jumping from a window situated on the second floor of the library.
After escaping from Pitkin County Courthouse, Ted hiked onto Aspen Mountain from southward. When he reached the summit of the mountain, he stole some food, clothing, and a rifle from a hunting cabin. He left the hunting cabin the next day and got lost in the forest where he wandered for two days. Later, Ted decided to move back to Aspen and stole a car, and he drove back into Aspen. On his way to Aspen, two police officers noticed some weird driving and arrested Bundy and put him in jail in Glenwood Springs. Ted was again successful to escape from jail. This time, he escaped through a hole about one square foot on the ceiling of his jail cabin, which he had bored with the help of a hacksaw blade. Reportedly, Ted had lost approximately 35 pounds (16 kg) of his weight, so that he could wriggle through the hole.
After breaking through the ceiling of jail on the night of December 30, 1977, Ted landed in the room of the chief jailer’s apartment. Reportedly, Ted changed his clothes from the closet of the chief jailer and escaped easily from there. He again stole a car and drove eastward out of Glenwood Springs; however, he broke his car mid-way, then he boarded a bus and reached Denver. After reaching Denver, Ted boarded a morning flight to Chicago where he boarded a train to reach Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ted stayed for five days in Ann Arbor where he stole a car and drove to Atlanta from where he reached Tallahassee, Florida by bus. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
Florida Triple Murder
After reaching Tallahassee, Florida on the morning of January 8, 1978, Ted decided to lead a sophisticated life and vowed to stay away from criminal activities. While in Florida, Ted Bundy went by the alias Chris Hagen. When Bundy tried to get a legitimate job in Florida, he was asked to furnish his identity, which again triggered his criminal stints and within a week, he killed two young women at Florida State University’s Chi Omega sorority house. Although he attacked four women, two survived. The names of the women who were killed in the attack are – Margaret Bowman (21) and Lisa Levy (20) while the names of those survived are – Kathy Kleiner and Karen Chandler.
On February 9, 1978, Ted Bundy abducted and murdered a 12-year-old girl named Kimberly Dianne who was a student of Lake City Junior High School. Kimberly Dianne’s partially mummified remains were found near Suwannee River State Park. According to the police, Ted had raped her before killing her. The History of the Florida Highway Patrol
On February 15, 1978, when Bundy was driving near the Alabama state line in a stolen car, he was stopped by Pensacola police officer David Lee. Although Bundy tried to escape after kicking the police officer with his leg, he was eventually caught by the officer after a long chase. According to David Lee, when he was transporting Ted to jail, he heard him say –
I wish you had killed me.”
In June 1979, Ted Bundy was trialed for the Chi Omega homicides and assaults in Miami. The trial was covered by more than 250 reporters from five continents. It was also the first nationally televised trial in the United States. The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy By Stephen G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth During the Miami trial, Ted Bundy again handled much of his own defense. During the hearing in Miami, Bundy proposed to Carol Ann Boone in the courthouse interview for marriage. Carol Ann Boone was his star witness.
Several witnesses testified against Ted Bundy in Chi Omega sorority murders. Many substantial pieces of evidence including his teeth bites also played a significant role in the trial against Ted Bundy.
For the third time, Ted Bundy was sentenced to death by electrocution on February 10, 1980. Reportedly, after the death sentence against Bundy was announced, he shouted –
Tell the jury they were wrong!” Serial killers by Time-Life Books
Reportedly, Ted Bundy’s family always stood behind him during the trials. In 1980, in an interview with The News Tribune, Ted’s mother Eleanor Louise Cowell said,
Ted Bundy does not go around killing women and little children. And I know this, too, that our never-ending faith in Ted — our faith that he is innocent — has never wavered. And it never will.” The News Tribune
Confessions & Death Sentence
Before his execution, Ted Bundy had talked to several investigating officers and confessed his crimes. He also confessed to his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer aka Liz Kendall, and he told her that he was a thief. While talking to Liz Kendall, he said,
The big payoff for me was actually possessing whatever it was I had stolen. I really enjoyed having something … that I had wanted and gone out and taken.”
In April 1986, while giving details about his crimes to Hagmaier and Nelson (investigating officers), he told that he often used to visit the places where he had kept the dead bodies of his victims and would perform sexual acts with them, and sometimes, he would spend the entire night with those dead bodies. While describing in detail about his crimes, he also said that in Utah, he had washed the hair of Laura Aime and applied makeup to the lifeless face of Melissa Smith.
While giving details about what he did to the dead bodies of his victims, Ted Bundy said,
If you’ve got time, they can be anything you want them to be.” The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy By Stephen G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth
During his confessions, he also revealed that with a hacksaw, he had decapitated almost twelve of his victims and as a trophy, he kept almost four heads in his apartment. After his death schedule was deferred several times, the Supreme Court, in December 1988, announced a final execution date of January 24, 1989.
Ted Bundy’s final interview happened on January 23, 1989, just a day before his execution where, according to William Hagmaier, a Special Agent of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, Bundy talked about suicide. William Hagmaier said,
He did not want to give the state the satisfaction of watching him die.”
On January 24, 1989, at 7:16 am, Ted Bundy was electrocuted in the Raiford electric chair. Later, his cremation took place in Gainesville. Orlando Sentinel Reportedly, his mother had talked to him on the phone; minutes before his execution and told Bundy –
You will always be my precious son.”
Reportedly, FSU’s Chi Phi fraternity celebrated Bundy’s execution by erecting a large banner that read –
Watch Ted Fry, See Ted Die!”
Ted Bundy and his crimes have become the subject of many literary and entertainment works. There are many books, television shows, and films based on Ted Bundy’s life.
- 2012: The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy by Michaud, Stephen G., and Hugh Aynesworth
- The television series “Ted Bundy: Devil In Disguise” was premiered on January 8, 2017.
- The crime documentary “Ted Bundy: An American Monster” was premiered on September 9, 2017.
- The crime documentary “Ted Bundy: What Happened” was premiered on November 4, 2017.
- The Netflix documentary “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” was premiered on the 30th anniversary of Bundy’s execution on January 24, 2019, on Netflix.
- The Amazon Prime video series “Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer” was premiered on January 31, 2020.
- Ted Bundy was known by many names, like Chris Hagen, Kenneth Misner, Officer Roseland, Richard Burton, and Rolf Miller. Supreme Court of Florida
- Ted used to call his maternal grandparents “Mommy” and “Daddy.”
- Since childhood, he had been reading detective magazines and accessing violent pornography. INSIDER
- At one point in time, Bundy revealed to one of his girlfriends that while handing over to him his birth certificate, his cousin had called him a “bastard.” Later, he told biographers Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth that he himself had obtained his birth certificate. The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy By Stephen G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth
- He never forgave his mother for hiding his true parentage for a long time. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
- Reportedly, Ted exhibited paranormal activities in his childhood. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
- Ted Bundy was a supporter of the Republican Party and had volunteered for Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential campaign. tedbundy.com In 1968, he attended Republican National Convention in Miami as a Rockefeller delegate.
- Ted Bundy’s favorite sport was Skiing, and he was very good at it. His girlfriend Stephanie Brooks was also a good Skier.
- Reportedly, he maintained a B average during his school.
- According to Ted’s classmates, he always remained well-dressed to hide his working-class background.
- According to the professors at the University of Washington (UW) where Ted pursued a psychology major, he was a brilliant student. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
- During his study at the University of Washington in Seattle, Ted used to live in a dormitory room at McMahon Hall.
- In 1971, Ted Bundy’s future biographer Ann Rule met him at Seattle’s Suicide Hotline Crisis Center where she worked alongside Ted. Ann Rule was a former Seattle police officer who wrote Ted Bundy’s biography titled “The Stranger Beside Me.”
- In 1970, Bundy was awarded by the Seattle Police Department when he ran down a purse-snatcher. Ted also saved a drowning toddler at Green Lake in the same year. ati
- Ted Bundy was listed on the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list of the FBI.
- In October 1984, he offered his expertise in serial killer psychology to a former American law enforcement officer, Robert Keppel to find the “Green River Killer” who was later identified as Gary Ridgway. Bundy coined the nickname “The Riverman” for Gary Ridgway, and Keppel used this nickname in the title of his book – The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer. The Spokesman
- Ted Bundy’s complete DNA profile was included in the FBI’s DNA database in 2011 for future reference to solve complicated murder cases. The New York Times
- Until the closure of the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. in 2015, Ted Bundy’s Volkswagen Beetle car had been displayed there. Later, it was displayed at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Crime Museum