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“I’m the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet.” These are one of the most iconic quotes from one of the most notorious criminals in the 20th century, Ted Bundy. Ted Bundy was a serial killer, rapist, kidnapper, and necrophiliac who had his killing spree in the 1970’s. His prolific rain of terror throughout the east coast of the United States going to its west coast. By the late 70’s he had be tried and convicted of killing 28 females and the term “serial killer” was first used on an individual. The term serial killer by definition is someone who kills more than 3 people at different times and places and this individual fits the bill. But who was Ted Bundy? How did he become the man we know?
On November 24, 1946 the Home for Friendless Women, now called Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers had a mother give birth in their shelter. Eleanor Louise Cowell gave birth to a one young Theodore Robert Cowell. Eleanor, having a child out of wedlock and with a father not in the picture, moved back to Philadelphia where her parents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell, raised the newborn while his actual mother pretended to be his older sister. Ted’s childhood was very turbulent as his grandfather would regularly physically abuse the young boy. By 1951, his mother had enough with the abused and took her five year old son and ran away to Tacoma, Washington. There she lived with her cousins and changed her last name from Cowell to Nelson. There she met Johnnie Culpepper Bundy, an ex-military cook who at the time was working as a hospital cook. During that time she dated and eventually married Bundy, who adopted Ted who would then become Ted Bundy. His mother, who he still believed to be his sister, and father-in-law had four more children which cause his mother taking care of all of his siblings without any assistance. This made Ted’s developmental issues and introversion to go unnoticed.
During high school Ted had gone from introverted child to attractive teenager during his high school years. By 1965, he had graduated from Woodrow Wilson High school, and started his spree of breaking into cars and homes, searching for discarded pornography and performing voyeurism. He claimed that he broke into people’s properties because he used the stolen goods to pay for ski and ski passes.During this time he enrolled into the University of Puget Sound School of Law. He was there for just a year before transferring to the University of Washington where he began studying Chinese. Bundy explained later that he had problems with his peers at Puget Sound because most of his peers came from a well off background, which was growing Bundy’s inferiority complex. At first, Bundy still couldn’t properly fit in socially at either university, but his life changed in 1967.
Ted met the woman of his dreams. She was beautiful, smart, and from a well off family. He also enjoyed that she had the skill and passion for skiing as he did. He was enjoying life, but had difficulty working, being a student and having a girlfriend. So Bundy dropped out of school and took on more jobs. In 1968 he worked on Rockefeller’s president campaign in Miami. His girlfriend felt his lack of ambition didn’t make him proper husband material so she ended the relationship. This break up broke his heart and plagued him for years. At this point he left school and moved around. From Colorado, to Arkansas and then to Philadelphia where he enrolled into Temple University for a semester before returning to Washington in 1969. This was a pinnacle point in ted Bundy’s life. It was at this point in time that he found out about his actual parentage, that the person he believed to be his sister was actually his mother.
Bundy, with the newfound knowledge became more confident and once he returned to University of Washington, applied himself to his psychology major and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1972. It was only a couple years after this that we start to see the man we know today.
The year was 1974, women around the campus around Washington and Oregon started to go missing. Two women said they were approached by a attractive man at a Seattle state park who called himself Ted. He asked if they could help him with his sailboat, but they had refused, Later on he approached a couple of ladies who did go off with him, but were never seen again. In the same year Bundy enrolled into the University of Utah in the law school and moved to Salt Lake City.
During this time Bundy began to lure females to their deaths in various ways. He would wear a sling or put on a fake cast on his leg to feign injury. He would even impersonate law enforcement and firefighters in order to gain his victims’ trust. Once he would get them close to his 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, he would use a blunt object like a crowbar or pipe. He had removed the passenger seat and placed it in either the backseat or trunk so he could handcuff and place his victims laying down on the floor without them being seen by passerby (Montaldo, 2018). His typical modus operandi was to typically strangle or bludgeoned his victims, as well as mutilate them after death. It was reported that he would often go back to the sites where which he dumped them for further sexual gratification. It was even told he would take some of the heads and display them around his apartment and would even sleep with their corpses until the putrefaction of their bodies made it unbearable.
Throughout the year bundy killed in various states. Utah, Oregon, and Washington were washed with fear as young women were being killed and no murderer was found. Near the end of 1974, he attacked a woman by the name of Carol DaRonch. She managed to escape and give a description of the person who attacked her. It wasn’t until August 16, 1975, Utah police pulled over Ted Bundy for a traffic violation, he fled police, but was later caught. In his vehicle they found masks, handcuffs, rope and other items, but none of these items linked him directly to any of the crimes. It wasn’t until Daronch picked him out of a police lineup that the police felt like they caught the tri-state murder.
In 1977, Bundy was acting as his own legal counsel while on trial in Colorado (Jenkins, n.d.). This allowed him to not be shackled and access to the law library in the court house. While awaiting proceedings, Bundy escaped through a window. After escaping, he continued his spree heading to Florida. While there on February 15 of 1979 Ted Bundy was re-caught for a traffic violation. During several interviews, Bundy confessed to the killing of the a multitude of women. During his time in prison he married Carole Ann Boone in 1980 who pleaded that he was a good man. Police charged him with the murder of 30 woman, the courts were able to convict him with 28 and was put on death row. Bundy himself told the police that the number itself was much higher. He stated that if they put an extra digit and they would be closer to the number. In 1982 while on death row, Ted Bundy and Carole Ann Boone conceived a daughter by the name of Rose Bundy. After the birth of their child Carole Ann Boone divorced her husband in 1986.On the fateful day of January 24, 1989 at Florida State Prison near Starke, Florida. Ted Bundy was put to death with hundreds of people coming to watch by electric chair where he was pronounced dead.
While being interviewed, Ted had conflicting accounts on why he turned the crime. But he does state that being exposed to pornography as being a catalyst for his murderous obsessions. Also it should be noted that most of his victims looked very similar, young female, white, long straight hair that was parted in the middle. His victims ranged from as young as 12 years of age and to about 25 years of age.
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