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 We both grew up in the Methodist church, were involved in scouting activities, and we were withdrawn and shy in high school.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.

Bundy Quote Analyzed

“I don’t like being locked up for something I didn’t do, and I don’t like my liberty taken away, and I don’t like being treated like an animal, and I don’t like people walking around and ogling me like I’m some sort of weirdo, because I’m not.” 

Long before Ted Bundy admitted to committing several murders for which he was charged, he denied every single charge against him, including kidnapping and murder. He was innocent, dammit, and had clearly been arrested on trumped-up charges! He threatened police and jailers over his reputation being smeared and shouted out during his trials, denying any accusation of wrong-doing.

Bundy in prison in Florida.

Bundy in prison in Florida.

Like any sociopath, Bundy was all about appearances. Despite him having very little depth of character, he was used to showing his “good guy” image to the world. He simply couldn’t stand the idea of people seeing him in a negative light. To admit guilt was to admit being less than perfect. It’s also a lot harder to charm people if they’re already wary of you. If nothing else, Bundy was a master manipulator.

Bundy was also an addict. He was addicted to murder, rape, and the power they afforded him in his private life. To be in prison for any amount of time was to deny him his addictive substance. Very few women were around him while he was locked away and it helps explain his 2 successful escapes from prison in Colorado.

It took over a decade before Bundy gave up on trying to convince people of his innocence. By then, his execution was near and he had no more appeals. He no longer had to worry about what people thought of him or whether he was reviled by humanity for his evil deeds. He confessed to several murders as his mask of innocence fell for the last time and humanity breathed a sigh of relief.

The “Ted Murders”

It has always astounded me that Bundy used his real name when introducing himself to victims. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the victims were isolated, but when he was seeking out women at Lake Sammamish in the summer of 1974, he gave his name to several women. Most of those women didn’t leave the location with him and were able to report him to the police after Janice Ott & Denise Naslund were discovered missing.

Ted murders

Ted murders

This type of bravado in the face of potential witnesses aligns with standard psychopathic behavior. The individual committing the crimes believes he’s can outsmart police. It thrills him to dangle identifying information before authorities and to still get away with his crimes. Psychopaths don’t experience fear the way most of us do. They constantly need more and more risk (much like an addict, which described Bundy perfectly) to experience any kind of excitement.

One thing Ted did love was being noticed. He enjoyed being the center of attention among his peers. No doubt this was another reason he used his first name when other people could hear him. He wanted the notoriety, but didn’t want to be caught. While other killers write to the media or call the police to get famous, Bundy wanted a different type of notoriety. He clearly got aroused from seeing his name in the newspaper or on television because he was the only person who knew he was to blame.

What Ted didn’t know was his girlfriend in Washington State turned him in twice and his coworker (Ann Rule) turned him too. Ted didn’t think people noticed each other or missed a person when they weren’t around. He didn’t understand how giving his name could have been a bad idea because his grasp on reality was muddled. However, it explains how he was eventually caught. Thank goodness for small wonders and in this case, a big mistake.

Ted’s Last Meal

As is tradition in many countries, in the United States prisoners on death row can request a last meal before they are executed. In the event that they don’t choose a special meal, they are given a standard meal. Each state generally has a limit on the amount of money they will allow for the meal itself. Florida currently allows a $40 limit and Oklahoma limits it to $15 per meal.

Traditionally, the last meal was thought to absolve the executioner of guilt in the death of the criminal. The promise was meant to keep the deceased from haunting the person who put the guilty party to death.

Traditional death row breakfast in Florida in 1989.

Traditional death row breakfast in Florida in 1989.

Ted was executed in the early morning hours, so he was given steak (medium-rare), eggs (over-easy), hash browns, toast, milk, coffee, juice, butter, and jelly. However, since he didn’t eat his meal, perhaps he is still haunting the lives of those who sought to put him to death.

Why Do Some Women Love Serial Killers?

Teddy was certainly jumping for joy upon receipt of his fan mail.

Teddy was certainly jumping for joy upon receipt of his fan mail.

While the rest of the world cringes in horror at the crimes committed by violent men, there are a select few women who are riveted by their stories. Ted Bundy had his share of fans and even married and produced a child with one of them. Both of the Menendez boys are married and even Richard Ramirez found a wife in Doreen Lioy. In fact, this author had limited online contact with Doreen whom she found to be smart, funny, and humble.

What causes certain women to become intimate with a notorious murderer who would surely kill her if he weren’t in prison? I believe it has to do with belief that the killer isn’t a bad person innately. The woman thinks if only she could get to him, to show him the world isn’t a bad place, that he certainly couldn’t continue to commit crimes. I feel that some women, including Erik Menendez’s wife, Tammi, who came out of an abusive marriage, are looking for a relationship with someone who can’t physically abuse them. In states where no conjugal visitation is allowed, the women can have a perfectly platonic relationship full of longing and lust without physical intimacy. Others probably enjoy being associated with someone who’s famous.

It’s not too hard to understand why certain killers become the focus of adoring fans. Often times, the media portrays dangerous men as justified in their actions. By giving violent criminals the spotlight and trying to justify their deeds, they appeal to those who seek to cure them, when in fact, the only thing that cures them is death.

Post-mortem in 1989.

Post-mortem in 1989.

Bundy’s First Escape From Custody

Newspaper

Newspaper

Bundy’s first escape happened in Aspen, Colorado on July 7, 1977.  He was supposed to be doing research for his trial in the murder of Caryn Campbell, when he jumped from the 2nd story law library and high-tailed it out of the area on a sprained ankle.  He was able to steal a car, but it didn’t take him far before breaking down.  He got lost and wandered the area before locating a cabin nearby and breaking in.  He spent the night and stole food, clothes, and a hunting knife before heading back out the next day. 

Three days later, after continuously wandering in the area, he broke into a trailer and stole a ski parka and more food.  Keep in mind that he was doing all of this with a sprained ankle.  This is a guy that definitely didn’t want to be in custody!

On July 13th, he wandered back toward Aspen and stole a car.  He was discovered in this car by police and re-arrested.  After 6 days on the run, he was in pain and exhausted.  Though it wouldn’t stop him from attempting escape again, this attempt was hardly a success.

Sometimes when killers are caught, I hear people telling me that they want to be caught.  Very few of them turn themselves in and I believe they want the killing to end, but I doubt they want to be caught.  Some of them want the notariety that goes along with a successful and long killing spree.  Others have accomplished what they set out to do (a la Edmund Kemper who killed his mother at the end of his spree).  Those killers are few and far between.

Bundy didn’t want to be caught.  He wanted to kill over and over and constantly try to satisfy his hunger for murder and necrophilia.  As you’ll see in my next post, Ted escaped from prison a 2nd time and this time, women weren’t so lucky.

Stay tuned…

Bundy Quote Analyzed

One of 2 VW Bugs Bundy owned

One of 2 VW Bugs Bundy owned

You learn what you need to kill and take care of the details. It’s like changing a tire. The first time you’re careful. By the thirtieth time, you can’t remember where you left the lug wrench.

I find it interesting that Bundy could so easily compare the killing of a human being to the changing of a tire.  That in & of itself is telling.  In his defense, he probably didn’t have a very good point of reference for his cruelty.  Sociopaths don’t tend to relate to others any more than they would a tire or another object.  In Bundy’s mind, the killing of another human being would have meant nothing more than if we perhaps destroyed an old toy or punched a punching bag. 

The quote also serves to understand the dynamics of killing.  One probably would start out extremely careful and later become smug and possibly sloppy.  Bundy was a narcissist who felt he could outsmart the police.  He even defended himself in his first murder trial in Florida, much to his detriment.  He was in the wrong place many times in his later years of killing and was identified by witnesses.  He was eventually caught (after escaping from a Colorado prison!) for attempting to elude police in Florida.  So much for outsmarting the police!

Another interesting interpretation is that Bundy knocked out his young victims with a tire iron.  It’s interesting that this comment references changing a tire.  No doubt changing a tire was the farthest thing from Bundy’s mind when he was on the prowl.  I don’t doubt he had to do it on more than one occasion when he was traveling alone, trolling for victims. 

How automatic can serial murder become over time?  It must have seemed really exciting in the beginning, but after 30+ kills, things may have gotten rather stale.  What a shame he is no longer around because now we can only wonder if Bundy would ever have tired (ha!) of murder.