CrimeCon 2018

During the weekend of May 4-6, 2018, a group of ne’er-do-wells (myself included) gathered at the Gaylord Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee to enjoy a plethora of activities laid out for us. From exciting seminars to meeting our favorite podcasters, CrimeCon had it all. I stumbled upon the main area after entering the convention center around the back. When I arrived, I knew I was with my people. The large CrimeCon banner hung above revelers chatting, laughing, and gesticulating towards one another. I found myself drawn immediately to “Podcasters Row” where I could find such personalities as Justin and Aaron from Generation Why, Mike Morford from Criminology, and the very cool Mike & Gibby from True Crime All the Time (Unsolved).

With Mike Morford from the Criminology podcast

Aaron on the left & Justin on the right from Generation Why!

You have arrived!

Mike Ferguson (TCATT), Mike Morford (Criminology), moi, and Gibby (TCATT)

However, I was most excited when I met the effervescent Kristi Lee from Canadian True Crime! She was gracious and kind enough to introduce me to others of her ilk. I enjoyed meeting Mike from Dark Poutine and Anna from Case File, both Canadian podcasts.

Mike from Dark Poutine & Kristi Lee from Canadian True Crime

An American & a Canadian, eh?

I later ran into John from the Twisted podcast who interviewed me awhile back (see my link to the interview on this blog). In fact, look for another collaboration between John and me soon!

With John from Twisted!

I was also excited to pose for a photo with the amazing Keith Morrison from Dateline. You can tell by his expression that he was equally thrilled to be meeting me!

The one, the only, Keith Morrison from Dateline!

When the events kicked off, I found myself a little disoriented within the convention center, but I ended up in the Golden State Killer: A Deep Dive event hosted by Billy Jensen and Paul Haynes. Happily, the seminar was being given approximately 10 days after the long cold cases connected to this psychopath had been solved. The killer, Joseph DeAngelo, had been arrested, thereby shaking up the program and forcing some changes. The hosts decided upon having long-time GSK investigator, Paul Holes, and three of the killer’s surviving victims discuss their experiences and elation upon hearing their attacker had been linked decisively by DNA. It was an uplifting experience and I found myself riveted when Paul Holes talked about his investigative process and his attempts to catch DeAngelo through the years.

Another fantastic discussion was about the Delphi Murders. In February of 2017, the bodies of teenagers Liberty “Libby” German and Abigail Williams were found on a trail not far from their home. Family members and state police discussed details of the crime and tips received. The officer involved in the investigation noted that they “are very passionate about this case. We’re reminded that the family members are real people who had a tragic event occur in their lives.”

Suspect in the Delphi murders

Libby’s grandfather, Mike Patty, mentioned that both girls were interested in forensics and had taken a class related to it. He noted, “this guy’s out there. The fact of the matter is there’s a killer out there.” Earlier in the day I was lucky enough to talk briefly with Mr. Patty. He spoke to me about efforts to raise money and awareness because as he put it to me “somebody knows this guy.”

Another interesting event was called Profiling Serial Killers. Jim Clemente and John White, both former investigators, discussed the personalities of John Way Gacy, Derek Todd Lee, and Ronald Dominique. I was also attended the How to Catch a Liar seminar hosted by Steven Lampley. He advised that we hear lies every day and we can learn how to read them. He mentioned examples including finger tenting, failure to deny an accusation, not using contractions, stalling for time by repeating a question, and explained how officers often hand something directly to a suspect to determine whether they’re left or right-handed. Later in the day, I found myself in Nancy’s Grace’s presentation entitled Lady Justice.

Nancy Grace tells her story.

She was just as animated as she is on television and kept the audience riveted talking about her fiance who was murdered and various criminals she prosecuted in her home state of Georgia.

Though none of the events I attended were about Bundy, I must say that he was there in spirit. In fact, I gave out a few of my Bundy stickers to several of the podcasters who assured me they would hang them up as soon as they got home!

It’s as if he were there!

Anyway, one can’t possibly discuss true crime without a mention of the serial killer who started the media buzz, Mr. Theodore Robert Bundy himself. Perhaps next time, we’ll meet in person.

To purchase tickets for CrimeCon 2019 in the Big Easy, visit the site at: https://www.crimecon.com!

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Jeepers Creepers! Bundy was a Peeper!

Recently, when discussing the topic of “peeping Toms” with a colleague, she suggested that most people believe this type of voyeurism is a harmless activity. They feel it’s a rite of passage that boys hitting puberty are likely to engage in as their hormones rage. Despite the dismissive attitude, psychiatrists have found that peeping into neighbor’s windows can indicate a burgeoning interest in further criminal activities. It can act as a gateway to more violent acts. It can be dangerous if it interferes with the observer’s daily life. Considering this behavior often starts around age 15 most commonly in males, Ted Bundy was most definitely involved in it.

Watching you with those baby blues!

The definition of a Peeping Tom’s actions can be described as “a disorder that involves achieving sexual arousal by observing an unsuspecting and non-consenting person who is undressing or unclothed, and/or engaged in sexual activity. This behavior may conclude with masturbation by the voyeur.” What’s troublesome is that often, this behavior can be fueled by pornography and could escalate to more dangerous behavior. Bundy admitted to Dr. James Dobson during his final interview that he regularly viewed pornography as a teen. His Florida attorney, Polly Nelson stated he wandered alone all the time, going through trash cans to find pornographic magazines. Often young men start peeping then decide to break into homes and steal undergarments which can lead to physical attacks on their victims over time.
Ted readily admitted that he liked to “creep around in the darkness” and from a young age, he started sneaking out of his house at night. He would find young women in his neighborhood to watch throughout the neighborhood. He was once caught by a neighbor who discovered him watching a woman and threw water on him! This scene is depicted in the 2002 movie, Bundy,starring Michael Reilly Burke. When asked about this aberrant behavior in his childhood, Bundy pontificated, “This is something that a lot of young boys would do without intending any harm. But I see how it later formed the basis for the so-called entity, that part of me that began to visualize and fantasize more violent things.”

He’s not peeking…he swears!

Bundy was just one of many violent criminals who engaged in voyeurism during his youth. Canadian killer, Paul Bernardo, was an active peeping Tom who later became a brutal rapist and killer of teenage women. Maryland-based murderer, Jason Thomas Scott, started peeping when he was only 10 years old. He recorded much of what he saw and later evolved into breaking and entering and stealing before murdering at least 5 women in his local community.
Bundy would not have sought treatment nor would his mother have thought to take him to a therapist if she had been aware. Even in this day and age we aren’t always cognizant of the danger brewing within the minds of teenagers. However, there is no doubt there is a connection between peeping and escalating violence. Ted Bundy’s teenage years were a perfect example of how ignorance is hardly ever bliss.
Sources:
Medicinenet.com (www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=46420)
Health 24 (https://m.health24.com/Sex/Sexual-diversity/Inside-the-mind-of-a-peeping-Tom-20120721)
Chesterfield Observer (www.chesterfieldobserver.com/news/15-02-25/Front-page/Just_a_peep_Experts_say_voyeurs_can_turn_violent.html )
Morris, Rebecca. “Ted & Ann.” CreateSpace independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
Murderpedia (murderpedia.org/male.S/s/scott-jason-thomas.htm)
Pron, Nick. “Lethal Marriage.” 39-40, 44, 1996. (Scarsborough Rapist)

Ted Bundy and Guilt

“Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a universal moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.” –Wikipedia definition

Guilt is a feeling that most individuals experience in their lifetime. It can be argued it’s what makes America a civilized society. Guilt reminds us to act in a pro-social manner lest we feel emotional distress due to our actions. Guilt can be a very powerful motivator that provides the tenants of a productive community. Most members of society learn to experience vicarious pain while young and they develop into adults who sympathize with others in pain. By learning this behavior, the idea of harming others through violence starts to feel uncomfortable. That said, it would be unsurprising to learn that Ted Bundy did not experience remorse. He saw guilt as a sign of weakness and judged those who exhibited guilt on any level. Ted famously said he felt sorry for people who felt remorse.

However, psychopaths like Bundy lack guilt and empathy. They compartmentalize their feelings and view the world from a purely narcissistic viewpoint. Anything and everything around them is theirs to use and control.  Many psychopaths live in their own fantasy world. For a psychopath to commit any range of crimes, it is essential that they feel entitled. In this way, the individual feels he or she deserves what they want, regardless of laws. Most psychopaths understand the difference between right and wrong, but do not feel the rules apply to them. They are easily able to minimize their effect on humanity when embarking on a crime spree. Guilt never plays a part in their crimes.

Ted Bundy once said, “Guilt. It’s a mechanism we use to control people. It’s an illusion. It’s a kind of social control mechanism and it’s very unhealthy.” The language he uses gives the impression he at least understood how guilt worked and how it affected people. Unfortunately, he used his knowledge of guilt to manipulate his victims and others around him. The women who fell for his “wounded law student” routine felt they should help him carry his books to his car.  Bundy knew exactly how to control the situation to benefit his interests and was never hindered by feelings of regret. A lack of empathy combined with superficial charm guaranteed a pool of victims for a sophisticated serial criminal whom no one ever saw coming.

Much can be said about Bundy’s lack of guilt and its causes. His childhood remains locked in mystery, though stories of abuse and dysfunctional behavior have leaked to the media over time. Joe Nunziata noted in his book “Spiritual Selling” that “Guilt [and shame] is the weapon of choice used by parents to control their children…In most cases, parents are not using guilt on a conscious level.” More than likely, Bundy’s behavior as a child was curbed by the guilt elicited by his mother and grandparents. Due to various circumstances, guilt was less of a motivator over time, and his aberrant behavior increased. Once arrested, Ted told to an investigator, “I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.” When all is said and done, the lack of remorse extolled by Ted’s callous behavior speaks volumes. His behavior wouldn’t have changed regardless of consequences, only turning more violent over time. Despite its strength, guilt clearly had no power over him.

Nunziata, J. “Spiritual Selling,” Hoboken, NJ, Wiley, 2007.

Winch, Guy Ph.D. (11/9/14). “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Guilt.”https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201411/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-guilt

 

 

 

Ted’s Love Bites

In the normal practice of love-making, it is sometimes arousing to gently bite your partner. There is something forbidden about it, something animalistic. Certainly many people in consenting couplings have enjoyed a tender nip on the earlobe, maybe on the shoulder, without fear of horrific pain. Though not much is known about Ted’s sex life, his former fiancée Liz Kloepfer, wrote that Ted was a passionate lover who was into “normal sex,” except when he wasn’t. She recounts times when he encouraged her to engage in sex acts that weren’t satisfying to her and when she balked, he finally stopped mentioning them. One can only imagine the violence his victims endured before the final act of strangulation came upon them. Though many of his early victims’ bodies had decomposed before police located them, the women he brutally murdered in Florida bore evidence of aberrant and bestial violence. On sorority sister, Lisa Levy, police identified a savage bite mark left behind on her left buttock. This evidence would later be used to convict Bundy in the first of his two trials in the Sunshine State.

Ted+Bundy+The+Ted+Bundy+Case+is+a+very+famous+bite+mark+case..jpg

Bundy had a very unusual bite and was convicted on this evidence.

Odaxelagnia is described by Wikipedia as “a sexual paraphilia concerning individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal through biting or being bitten.” According to the Forensic and Medico-Legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Practices, odaxelagnia is “mild sadism used in necrophilia.” One thing we know about Ted, through his own admission, is that he was a true necrophiliac. He returned to his victims’ bodies over and over until there was nothing left with which to engage. The biting of his victims would be considered normal behavior for someone who enjoys intimacy with the dead. Many biters fantasize about chewing, biting, or otherwise using the mouth or teeth aggressively or destructively. German serial killer, Fritz Haarmann, killed his juvenile victims by tearing out their throats with his teeth. Fictional murderer, Francis Dolarhyde from Thomas Harris’ book, “Red Dragon,” had dentures made so he could bite his victims while in his imagined dragon form. However, most juvenile biters will tend to outgrow this behavior once they’ve learned new ways of dealing with their anger.

 It has been observed that bite marks can provide both physical and biological evidence against the perpetrator of the wound. However, bite mark evidence has recently come under scrutiny. This type of evidence is no longer seen by many as a valid tool to convict criminals. Jo Handelsman, the former assistant director of the White House Office of Science and Technology policy noted that “bite mark evidence lacks scientific foundation.” She also stated that results and accuracy were “widely varied.” There has been an unusually high error rate falsely identifying suspects as the guilty party. The trial of convicted offender Paul Aaron Ross was overturned due to questions about bite mark evidence and the Innocence Project claims more and more guilty verdicts have been vacated as the use of bite mark evidence has been questioned and reanalyzed.  images (3).jpg

Chris Fabricant from the Innocence Project states that “bite mark analysis is subjective speculation, masquerading as science.” In 1989, Steven Chaney was convicted of a double murder and sentenced to life in prison based mostly on bite mark evidence found on one of the victims. Dentist Jim Hales told the jury the evidence was conclusion to the point of “one in a million” chance anyone else could have bitten the victim. He later stated that his conclusion was scientifically unsound. Further testing has provided myriad false positive results when attempting to match bite marks to a suspect’s teeth because human skin cannot accurately record a bite mark since wounds stretch, swell, and heal.

bundy054.jpg

Though Bundy was executed in 1989 for the murder of 12 year old Kimberley Leach, not Lisa Levy, it’s interesting to consider how he was convicted at his 1979 trial. We know he was a horrific murderer, necrophile, and rapist, but how much to we really know about Bundy’s love bites? 

Resources:

Webb, David. Journal of Forensic Sciences. “Forensic Implications of Biting Behavior.” 

“Aggrawal, Anil. 2009. “Forensic & Medico-Legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes & Unusual Sexual Practices.”

Augenstein, Seth. July 24, 2015, Forensic Magazine. “Is This the End of Bite-Mark Evidence?”

Kaplan, Sarah.  October 13, 2015, Washington Post.“Texas inmate’s 1989 conviction overturned after bite mark evidence discredited.”

My Relationship with Ted Bundy

I’m involved in an abusive relationship with a dead man. Let me clarify that statement. I am constantly thinking about, imagining, and reading about a violent serial killer. His ice blue eyes and wavy brown hair call forth feelings of both compassion and revulsion. I am both drawn to and repelled from this handsome charmer, moonlighting as a bloodthirsty necrophile. Ambivalence lingers as I contemplate the dirty deeds of Theodore Robert Bundy, even twenty-eight years since his execution in Florida’s electric chair at age 42.

Bundy Smile.jpg

What a smile!

 

As if we were lovers, my thoughts often turn to him as I imagine the things we share in common. We both grew up in the Methodist church, were involved in scouting activities, and we were withdrawn and shy in high school. Despite being raised on the opposite sides of the country (he in Washington state and me in North Carolina), I’ve always felt a connection to Ted’s family upbringing and working class family. His mother clearly loved him, as did mine, and his siblings looked up to him.

As the eldest children in our families, we both understood the pressure placed on us. The first child always feels they’re treated as a guinea pig as their parents learn what boundaries to put on them. Parents always give only so much rope to test the waters in those early years. However, when Ted was sneaking out and peeping in his neighbor’s windows as a teenager, I was happily tucked in my bed at night. The thought of violence towards another individual couldn’t have been further away from my mind.

Conversely, the time I spend imagining how Bundy would have related to certain events and where he buried the still-missing bodies of so many women, it takes its toll on other relationships in my life. My husband notices when I seem far away and friends can tell when I’m less than involved in our conversations. Some people distance themselves when they hear about my interest in serial killers, and Bundy specifically. Explaining his acts of depravity and unsavory proclivities discourage some acquaintances from getting to know me better. Even when I am determined to envelope myself completely in social interactions, my mind drifts back to the memory of a certain cold stare in Ted’s interview with Dr. James Dobson.

Bundy Dobson

January 23, 1989: The day before his execution

 

Despite being averse to everything he did, including the political party he joined as a teenager, I am still drawn to the image of Bundy as a smart, driven law student with a quick wit and one-hundred watt smile. The relationship I have with this long deceased man is dysfunctional at best and morbid at worst, though I don’t see it ending any time soon. He will continue to haunt me through the years to come, and his words and deeds will hold me in his thrall.

Anniversary: Old Sparky Strikes Ted Down 

Twenty-eight years ago, Ted Bundy was executed by electric chair for the murder of 12 year old Kimberly Leach, whose body was found under a collapsed hog shed. On Tuesday, January 24th, he was declared dead at 7:16 A.M. After making his final statement “I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends,” a black hood covered his head and he was filled with 2000 volts of electricity. A crowd of approximately 500 people formed outside of Raiford Prison in Florida and cheered when his death was announced. Prosecutor George Dekle, who prosecuted Bundy in the Leach case had this to say about the event: “The thing that kept going through my mind was the awful crime scene I saw 11 years ago. I kept saying to myself that is where it started and this is where it ends.” Police officers keeping the peace outside of the prison stated they wish they “could be the one flipping the switch” and commented that they felt no compassion for the killer whatsoever. Bundy was 42 at the time of his death and lived longer than any of his victims.