Theodore Robert Cowell was born November 24, 1946, in a Vermont home for unwed mothers. His mother brought him to live with his grandparents, and the little boy believed they were his parents and his mother Louise was his sister. In 1954, she married Johnnie Bundy, and had 4 more children, for whom Ted often babysat. Although he took his stepfather’s name, he resisted attempts to build a father-son relationship. Ted did well academically but tended to remain solitary. Lacking confidence, he hid behind a social mask, and had a reputation as a liar. He attended several colleges and fell deeply in love, for the first time, with a wealthy young woman, who enjoyed dating him but did not view him as a serious life partner. After she broke off their relationship, Ted grew depressed, developing an obsession with her that he never overcame. When he learned, in 1969, about his illegitimacy and the fact that his “sister” was really his mother, Ted’s antisocial behaviors grew to encompass thievery.
Suddenly, Ted exhibited a new sense of ambition, a desire to succeed and impress. Returning to college, he became a psychology honors student, took an active role in local politics, and did volunteer work. He became involved with another woman, but Ted had maintained sporadic contact with his first love, and when they met again in 1973, she was more favorably impressed with him. They resumed their affair, and for several months, Ted was devoted and loving. As time passed, however, he grew colder and inattentive, and in 1974, to her shock, he dumped her. Ted got his revenge. Ted’s murderous rampage began shortly after this incident.
In January, 1974, female college students in Washington state began disappearing at a rate of one per month. In July, on the day Bundy abducted 2 girls in a state park, various visitors made reports about a handsome young man named Ted who had solicited their help unloading his sailboat from his Volkswagen Beetle. He had been seen together with one of the victims. Soon flyers were posted with his description; by now Ted had murdered at least 8 women. His targets are all young and slender, with long, center parted, dark hair.
That autumn, Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend law school. Resuming his killing in October, he claimed 4 more victims, with a 5th (Carol DaRonch) making a narrow escape. Expanding his range to Colorado and Idaho, he persisted in his one-a-month pattern, and at this point, there were enough specific clues for police to embark upon the cat and mouse game. The new science of computers forensics proved invaluable.
As so often happens in cases like his, Ted Bundy was arrested in Salt Lake City for a routine traffic violation. His car contained a cache of suspicious tools, including handcuffs, and he was hauled in for questioning. Bundy was tried and convicted for the DaRonch kidnapping, then extradited to Colorado, where he had been connected to several murders. While in an Aspen courthouse, he escaped through a window, stealing a car. After 6 days, he was apprehended, again for faulty driving, and placed in jail. Somehow acquiring a hacksaw blade and some cash, Bundy escaped again, incredibly, through the jailer’s own apartment. Catching buses, he fled first to Chicago, then to Florida, where he killed three more times in the space of two months.
Bundy was arrested for the final time in yet another traffic stop. His trials began in 1978, eventually resulting in convictions and death sentences for three of the murders. Insisting on acting as his own attorney, Bundy actually married one of the witnesses, Carol Ann Boone, while questioning her on the stand. Allowed conjugal visits, she gave birth to a daughter, but later divorced Ted and changed her daughter’s name. Bundy mounted a series of appeals, in the meantime talking at length to two detectives, in the hope that providing detailed confessions to his other murders would result in commutation of his sentence to life. It didn’t work. Ted Bundy was executed by electric chair on January 24, 1986 in Florida State Prison. He is known to have slain at least 36 women, and claimed to have killed over 100. Eventually, necrophilia was added to his list of deviant behaviors.
“I’m the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet.”
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Related characteristics: Lying, stealing, absent father, isolation, normal to high intelligence, age 25-35.