He’s become a cultural icon, the basis for dozens of critically acclaimed television and film characters and will go down in history as one of America’s most brutal and depraved killers. A lot is known about Ted Bundy thanks to his highly publicized “career”. He slaughtered women from coast to coast in the 1970s and spent the remainder of his life, in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, fighting for his innocence and attempting to elude law enforcement.
Bundy was born to an unwed mother and an unknown father. He grew up believing that his grandparents were his father and mother and that his real mother was his sister. No doubt, the eventual revelation that his sister was actually his mother sparked a lifetime of psychological issues and problematic relationships with women – starting with his own mother, who he resented his whole life. He made strides to live life like a normal human and went on to attend college and later worked at a suicide prevention hot-line. He even attended law school for a short time.
Most of the focus on Bundy is on his early life and crimes before being captured. But what about after? The period of time between his initial arrest in 1975 and his execution in 1989 is an equally fascinating time. Here, we can see Bundy as a deeply disturbed sociopath, a clever manipulator, social chameleon and even a husband and father. A man with no regard for fellow humans, but a deep understanding of what to say, what to do and how to act in order to get what he wanted. Let’s go back in time and take a look at this horrifying yet intriguing psychopath and examine 15 of the most shocking facts about Ted Bundy’s murder trial.
15. Bundy Represented Himself In Court…Twice
Despite his lack of any degree, experience, or credentials, Bundy was quite adamant about representing himself during his trial. He was a major narcissist and saw himself as a competent lawyer. During his initial trial in Utah, Bundy was appointed an attorney to aid him. However, for both his Colorado and Florida murder trials he represented himself.
Legal experts present during his second and final trials described Bundy as “self-sabotaging” and observed that, “all that mattered to him apparently was that he be in charge.”. Still, even though he had no experience in a court room he still managed to land a pretty good deal. If he admitted guilt he would land a seventy-five-year sentence and his case would be up for review a few years later. Bundy, along with his overwhelming sense of self-worth and pride, saw the deal as an insult to his integrity and turned it down because he’d have to admit guilt for his crimes, which he never could bring himself to do. Eventually, he was found guilty anyway and sentenced to death.
14. He Proposed To A Witness While In Court
With his back against the wall and pressure mounting, Bundy was running out of options for his defense. In a last ditch effort to either shock the court or somehow prove his innocence, Bundy took advantage of an obscure rule in Florida courts that said that any declaration of marriage in front of a judge meant a legally recognized union. In a wildcard move, Bundy proposed to Boone, she said yes, and right then and there they were unified as man and wife.
Bundy met Boone much earlier when the pair worked together at the Department of Emergency Services in Washington State in the early 1970s. Friends and colleagues and acquaintances all agreed that Boone and Bundy had quite the relationship throughout the years. Ever the manipulator, Bundy kept Boone in his back pocket and eventually had her serve as a character witness multiple times during the trial. The sudden marriage proposal was shocking, but ultimately it served no purpose in his trail.
13. He Bribed His Death Row Prison Guard To Allow Him A “Private” Visit With His Wife
As stated above, Ted Bundy was a literal master of manipulation. Throughout his career as a serial killer, he convinced hundreds of people to believe countless lies. He understood enough about human nature to say and do the right things in order to get what he wanted. This didn’t end once he was captured. We already know Bundy convinced judges to let him represent himself. In addition, shortly after marrying Carole Ann Boone in court, he was able to convince a guard to allow him and his new wife some private time while he was on death row.
At the time, Florida state laws strictly prohibited these sorts of “visits” when an inmate was on death row. Typical death row visits involved a shackled and restrained prisoner sitting down across a table from their family, all under the watchful eye of an armed guard. Armed with his wit and a bit of cash collected from his fellow inmates, Bundy convinced the on-duty guard to turn a blind eye when Boone arrived. According to legend, Bundy and Boone consummated their marriage on the floor behind a water cooler.
12. Bundy’s Wife Had A Daughter While He Was On Death Row
Not only were Ted Bundy and Carole Ann Boone able to have their wedding night, nine months later Boone gave birth to a baby girl. The validity of the claim has been up for speculation for many years. Although, shortly after Bundy’s conviction, Carole Ann and her young daughter – whose father was still unknown to the public – relocated from their home in Florida to an undisclosed location. Not only did she flee her home, she also changed her and her daughter’s legal names!
These two facts alone have lead many to believe that Boone had finally broken free of Bundy’s long time spell over her and allowed her to run away in order to protect both her and her daughter from future scrutiny or danger. While this might have been a wise decision, it doesn’t change the fact that Bundy might have a daughter, who may or may not have his “killer” DNA, somewhere in the United States. Information about Boone and Bundy’s daughter is very hard to find. She’s clearly done a very good job of hiding her true identity.
11. He Was Able To Escape From Prison…Twice
Escaping from prison is hard. So hard in fact that out of 2,000 attempts by inmates each year, almost nobody actually makes it past the armed guards and razor wire. This wasn’t the case for Bundy, though. We can already gather that Bundy was kind of a smart guy. He was so smart that he actually managed to slip out of custody and elude law enforcement twice!
Bundy’s first attempt at freedom happened during his trial in Aspen, Colorado in 1977. While representing himself in court, Bundy requested access to the courthouse library for “research”. Then, Bundy managed to leap from a second-storey window and escape on foot. In the process, he sprained his ankle, but this didn’t stop him. Bundy was on the lamb for close to three days before two police officers pulled him over in a stolen car for weaving thanks to his injured leg.
By the end of 1977, Bundy was on the loose again. Ever the meticulous planner, Bundy spent almost six months plotting his next escape. By losing 35 pounds, executing many practice runs, and using a hacksaw he acquired from another inmate, Bundy was able to slip through bars used to reinforce the ceiling of his prison cell on December 30 – a night he knew the prison would be understaffed. He then made his way through crawl spaces and access tunnels to the warden’s apartment, who was out of town for the holidays, and stole some clothes and supplies and walked out the front door in his disguise. Bundy made it almost two whole months and all the way from Colorado this time before being apprehended.
10. He Helped The FBI Eventually Capture The Green River Killer
After escaping twice, representing himself in court, getting married, being sentenced to death and fathering a child from the confines of prison, Bundy wasn’t finished yet. By the 1980s there was a new serial killer in town known as the “Green River Killer”. In 1984, after learning of the case, Bundy offered his help to track down the repeat murderer wreaking havoc on Washington State.
Bundy sought out task-force detective Dave Reichert, who was in charge of the case. Seeing a similarity in behavior patterns between Bundy and the Green River Killer (both went after women and had a fondness for necrophilia), Reichert sat down with Bundy and interviewed him on multiple occasions. Unfortunately for Bundy and Reichert, the Green River Killer went on with his rampage for 17 more years – well after Bundy’s execution. Although, information gathered from Bundy’s interviews was used by investigators repeatedly until the Green River Killer was eventually caught in 2001.
9. Bundy Was Caught During A Routine Traffic Stop
Most of us have been there, maybe your registration isn’t visible or your license plate has an issue. Maybe you weren’t even aware there was an issue at all! Then, suddenly, you see the flashing red and blue lights in your rear-view mirror. The very same thing happened to Bundy at the end of his longest escape in February of 1978. At around 1:00 a.m., officer David Lee was performing a routine traffic stop on Bundy when it became apparent that the vehicle Bundy was driving was stolen.
Lee informed Bundy that he was under arrest and Bundy kicked Lee’s feet out from under him and he fled into the nearby woods. As a dedicated member of the Florida police department, Lee regained his footing and fired a warning shot and then went on pursuit, tackling Bundy. The two men wrestled over the officer’s gun but Lee eventually overpowered Bundy just a short distance away.
8. After His Arrest, Nobody Knew He Was Actually A Famous Serial Killer
When officer Lee had arrested Bundy on that February night in 1978, he had no idea who he put in the backseat of his Florida squad car. Bundy had no identification and was driving a stolen car. Upon inspecting the vehicle, Lee took note of dozens of stolen credit cards, college identifications, and even a television set.
During the ride to lock-up, Lee thought it odd that his suspect kept repeating, “I wish you had just killed me back there.” Lee had assumed he had a petty thief on his hands. It wasn’t until the next morning that officers at the jail realized who they had in their cell was in fact the man at the top of the FBI’s most wanted list, Ted Bundy.
7. During His Second Escape, Bundy Almost Got Away For Good!
While on the loose between Colorado, Chicago, and Florida, Bundy resolved to give up the life of a serial killer and thief and keep a low profile. Unfortunately for Bundy, it’s a bit difficult to start a new life after escaping from prison. Without money, proper identification or a job, he quickly went back to his old habits of swiping cash and credit cards from unassuming victims in grocery stores and stealing cars to move between state lines.
Once he arrived in Florida, Bundy did his best to keep a low profile and even got a humble apartment and applied for a job at a construction site. He realized he could live the rest of his life out of the public eye if he could just land a job and keep to himself. But the job required ID, which he could not gain without revealing his true identity. It also didn’t help that he eventually broke into a local sorority house and assaulted and raped four sorority sisters, killing two of them. A short time later he was linked to the assaults and murders as a result of being picked up during his traffic stop and arrest.
6. Stealing, Not Murder, Was His Original Motive
Psychologists and crime experts have long studied the case of Ted Bundy. During his trials, he was interviewed hundreds of times and one of the many facts that can be agreed upon from his extensive interviews was that he was a true kleptomaniac. And his drive to steal was one of the key motivating factors for him committing such dark deplorable acts.
At first, Bundy was only interested in stealing items like credit cards, money and other “souvenirs” off of his victims. His long time girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer even found a treasure trove of stolen goods from his victims and alerted the local authorities when he was first suspected of being involved in a number of murders. Killing, however, was not his motivating factor. In fact, Bundy admitted that “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.” At first, he only killed as a way of preventing victims from reporting his crimes. Later, however, murder became the ultimate act of theft because, in a way, Bundy was stealing the most important thing from his victims, their will to live.
5. Ted Bundy Had Fans
Despite being the textbook definition of a psychopath, the poster-boy for American serial killers and, as described by crime experts, the very essence of “evil” itself, Ted Bundy had a dedicated public following. Much like later trials, such as O.J. Simpson’s or Amanda Knox’s, Bundy’s was heavily televised and featured on nightly news and in printed publications regularly. He became a cultural icon both during his trials and after his execution.
A huge chunk of the general public gathered around their televisions at night and then around the water cooler the next morning to discuss the case. Pretty much everybody agreed that he was guilty of his crimes and should either be locked away for good or given the death penalty. However, Bundy also received dozens of fan letters, especially from female fans. Most of them were charmed by his good looks and personality. While even most of the fans believed his guilt, there were still plenty that held out for his innocence and eventual release until the very end. Bundy enjoyed fan mail and correspondence with many people until being put to death.
4. Bundy Had The Ability To Change His Appearance
At the height of his murder spree, Bundy had perfected the art of disguising himself and changing his appearance. It’s common knowledge that he would utilize fake arm casts, crutches, and canes to lure his victims into his van. This was even a major point of reference in the movie Silence of the Lambs. However, often times Bundy didn’t even need props to withhold his true identity.
During his more successful escape in the winter of 1977, Bundy simply threw on some old street clothes and was able to slip right out of the prison. Again, during his time fleeing capture, his arresting officer did not recognize him, despite his face being plastered all over the nightly news and on countless most wanted posters. Psychologists who have studied Bundy’s case theorize that he may have suffered from bipolar or dissociative identity disorder because of how easily he could change his appearance or attitude. According to one prison guard on Bundy’s behavior, “He became weird on me. He did a metamorphosis, a body and facial change, and I felt there was almost an odor emitting from him.” The guard continued, “almost a complete change of personality… that was the day I was afraid of him.”
3. Psychological Experts Agree That Bundy Was The First Real “Psychopath”
Dr. Dorothy Otnow-Lewis, a psychiatric professor and foremost expert on violent behaviors and mental disorders, met with Bundy and admits to having a hard time determining what exactly plagued him. At first, she determined that he suffered from bipolar disorder. However, upon later interactions with Bundy, she veered away from her bipolar disorder diagnosis. She stated that despite Bundy’s outward charm and appearance as a normal human being, he lacked any and all empathy for his victims. In fact, it was almost as if he had no personality at all – only the ability to show people what they wanted to see in order to get what he wanted from them.
Because he saw no use in admitting guilt or recognizing that what he did was wrong, Otnow-Lewis suggested he could have suffered from Antisocial Personality Disorder, or ASPD. In ASPD cases, most individuals show lots of skill in manipulation while never recognizing the repercussions of their actions. Often times, people diagnosed with ASPD are described as sociopaths. Dr. Otnow-Lewis has said, “I always tell my graduate students that if they can find me a real, true psychopath, I’ll buy them dinner [because] I never thought they existed … but I think Ted may have been one, a true psychopath, without any remorse or empathy at all.”
2. Bundy Blamed His Behavior On Adult “Fun”
It is unclear why, and often suggested to be one final effort at clearing his name or cleaning his reputation, but Bundy gave one final interview for James Dobson, founder of the Christian organization “Focus on the Family”. In the interview, Bundy claimed that pornographic material was “rooted” in his desire to hurt and kill. In his interview with Dobson, Bundy said, “”It happened in stages, gradually. My experience with … pornography deals on a violent level with sexuality. Once you become addicted to it … I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Until you reach a point where the pornography only goes so far … where you begin to wonder if maybe actually doing it would give that which is beyond just reading it or looking at it.”
That’s right, Bundy basically said that all of his evil, all of his manipulation, all of his killing and violence was because of his interaction with a few dirty pictures, magazines or films. It’s unclear if he was telling the truth, but there is a correlation between regularly viewing porn and a desire for more graphic and explicit material. Let’s just be thankful Bundy wasn’t around for the introduction of high-speed internet!
1. Bundy’s Total Number Of Homicides Still Remains Unknown
Even though Bundy was only ever linked to a handful of murders in Utah, Aspen, and Florida during his three most notable trials, it is unclear how many murders he is actually responsible for! A lot of serial killers enjoy the attention and embellish their true numbers. It should also be noted that Bundy was extremely meticulous and went to great efforts so that he could not be linked to his horrible actions by spreading out his slaughter across the United States and taking his victims to places where he could not be seen and their remains could not be found. So it has been difficult for investigators and prosecutors to properly link Bundy to every case.
After he was found guilty and awaited the electric chair on death row, he admitted to having committed about 30 more murders. His lawyer stated after Bundy’s execution that he personally knew of over 70 murders that Bundy had confessed to committing. During his time in prison and all the way up to his death, Bundy claimed responsibility for over 100 murders in total. We may never really know how many victims suffered at Bundy’s hand for sure.