2/15/1978 - Near the state line of Alabama and Florida, one of the most heinous criminal careers in American history comes to an end by way of a routine traffic stop for speeding.
Born Theodore Robert Cowell at the Elizabeth Lund Home For Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont on November 24, 1946, the boy who will grow up to be serial killer Ted Bundy is messed up early (his youngest sister will wake up from a nap and find himself encircled in knives, with her three-year-old brother silently grinning at her from the foot of her bed!) ... born out of wedlock to a 22-year-old department store clerk named Louise, Bundy never finds out who his real father is (a sailor, an Air Force veteran, there are even rumors later that grand dad is the real father, no one is quite certain as one Lloyd Marshall is named on the birth certificate), and grows up believing his grandparents are his parents and that his mother is his sister. Bad upbringing and bad genes, Sam, the grandfather, is an Archie Bunker in the flesh, without any laugh track whatsoever ... a man who hates blacks, Italians, Catholics, and Jews, beats his wife and the family dog, when he can catch them, swirls neighborhood cats about by the tail before launching them towards the stratosphere, throws his youngest daughter down a flight of stairs for the sin of oversleeping, and speaks aloud to unseen entities. Meanwhile, his grandmother escapes from her home situation with excessive drinking (Bundy will claim later to be hammered on booze for most his killings), develops a fear of going outside, and periodically undergoes electro-convulsive "shock" therapy when she gets too depressed. After a name change from Cowell to Nelson, Mother/Sister Louise and her son flee to Tacoma, Washington to live with her cousins, Alan and Jane Scott in 1950.
Mother & Son
Stepfather & Ted
In Washington, it appears the family will live out the American dream as Louise meets (at church) and marries Johnny Culpepper Bundy, a hospital cook that adopts young Ted, but it is just a facade that masks the slow madness that is gradually transforming the youngest Bundy into a monster. Though liked by area friends, the youth keeps mostly to himself and spends many evenings wandering the neighborhood, going through trash cans, looking for nude pictures of women and crime magazines that he enjoys for their descriptions of sexual violence. He also discovers he enjoys torturing animals, drawing pictures of dead women in his school notebook, stealing cars, and going skiing as often as possible using stolen equipment. Weird, but not wanton, Bundy becomes a murderer shortly after he discovers his sister is actually his mom (though some members of law enforcement believe his first killing is 8-year-old Ann Marie Burr in 1961), and his college girlfriend, Stephanie Brooks, dumps his ass. Dual shocks needing insane rectifying, young women start disappearing from whatever vicinity Bundy is occupying in the early 1970s ... and not surprisingly, they all resemble the monster's mother and former girlfriend ... good looking brunettes with their hair parted down the middle.
Senior In High School
Masked by intelligence, good looks, a degree in psychology, classes in law, work experience with the Republic Party (Bundy will be a Rockefeller delegate to the Republican National Convention in Miami), and screening calls to a suicide hotline, Bundy doesn't seem harmful ... an attribute he enhances as he goes human hunting in the guise of a nice young man in need of help due to the cast and sling inhibiting the use of his left arm. Only when Bundy has a woman alone, and handcuffed in his Volkswagen Bug, does he reveal the abject evil at the core of his soul ... depending on his mood and the situation, Bundy's victims are raped, stabbed, beaten, and strangled, then furthering the offense, buried in a forest and visited later for necrophilia until decomposition makes further defilement impossible (at least 12 victims also have their heads cut off). At times, Bundy also breaks into homes and abducts victims, or simply beats sleeping women to death.
The Infamous 1968 Beetle
Some Of The Victims
No one but Bundy will ever know how many women he murders (he will confess to 30, but officials estimate the total might be above 100), but the chain of mayhem that Bundy forges includes women having their lives destroyed in Washington, Utah, Idaho, California, Oregon, Colorado, and Florida. Finally convicted of kidnapping and assault in Utah when an intended victim is able to escape his car (he will be sentenced to 1 to 15 years in the Utah state prison), Bundy adds "escape" to his criminal resume when he is extradited to Colorado to stand trial for the murder of Caryn Campbell near Snowmass Village. Serving as his own attorney so he will be left out of leg shackles and handcuffs, Bundy is left alone in the law library of the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen, opens a window behind a bookcase, and jumps out of a second floor window (spraining his ankle in the process). Breaking into local cabins for clothes and supplies, Bundy is recaptured after six days on the loose.
Utah Mug Shot - 1975
Pitkin County Courthouse
Practice, he will be out much longer on his second Houdini performance ... an escape in which over six months he acquires a floor plan of the Glenwood Springs jail he is being kept in, a hacksaw, and $500 in travel funds, loses 35 pounds, and while staff is short during the Christmas holidays, cuts a one foot square hole in the roof between steel bars, wiggles through a crawl space, breaks through the ceiling into the apartment of the head jailer (who is out on a date with his wife), changes into civilian clothes from the jailer's closet, and walks out the front door. Free, bullets for murder and kidnapping successfully dodged, Bundy steals a car that breaks down in the mountains on Interstate 70 (the FBI adds him at this time to their Top Ten Most Wanted list), thumbs a ride into Vail, takes a bus from there to Denver, catches a flight there to Chicago, goes from there to Ann Arbor, Michigan by train (where he goes to a bar and watches Washington beat Michigan in the 1978 Rose Bowl), steals a car and drives to Atlanta, and in Atlanta, takes a bus to Tallahasse, Florida, where he intends to hide in plain sight. Safe, using the alias Chris Hagen, it is only a matter of days however before his murderous urges once more get the best of him.
From FBI Wanted Poster
Entering Florida State University's Chi Omega sorority through a rear door with a faulty lock, Bundy attacks four sleeping women using his fists, a piece of Oak firewood, a nylon stocking, a hair mist bottle, and his teeth ... in the 15 minute rampage, two girls, 21-year-old Margaret Bowman and 20-year-old Lisa Levy, will perish from their wounds, another, Kathy Kleiner, survives with a broken jaw and a severely lacerated should, and the fourth girl, Kathy Kleiner, comes out of the encounter with a concussion, a broken jaw, the loss of several teeth, and a crushed finger. Lusts unsatisfied despite the carnage, Bundy then breaks into a basement apartment eight blocks away and assaults another FSU student, Cheryl Thomas. Another survivor, barely, Thomas receives a dislocated shoulder, a broken jaw, five skull fractures, and is left deaf, an injury that affects her equilibrium and effectively ends her dance career.
The FSU Dead
State already in an uproar over the attacks of January 15th, less than a month later Bundy has a need to kill again ... summoned from class at Lake City Junior High in Lake City, Florida, to retrieve a forgotten purse, 12-year-old Kimberly Diane Leach never returns (her abused body is found seven weeks later near Suwannee State Park). Realizing he needs to once more move his base of activities and unable to pay his rent, Bundy steals a car and takes off for Alabama. He will not make the border to continue his maniacal career.
Idiot, murderer driving a stolen car west, Bundy foolishly speeds into the Pensacola region at 1:00 in the morning ... and is clocked in excess of how fast he should be driving by Officer David Lee of the Pensacola Police Department. License plate checked and found to belong to a recently stolen automobile, Bundy attacks Lee when told by the officer that he is under arrest, kicking Lee's legs out from under him and then running. First round only, in a split second Lee is up too ... first yelling at Bundy to stop and firing a warning shot, and then chasing after the killer when the warning is ignored. Football in the road, Lee catches and tackles Bundy from behind and the men clash for a second time, struggling over Lee's revolver. Eventually a well placed fist ends the contest, and Bundy is put behind bars in the Pensacola jail, with Lee unaware he has just captured a fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted List. There will be no jail escape a third time.
Pensacola Mug Shot
A big trial, when Bundy goes before the bar of justice in June of 1979, his murderous antics are covered by 250 reporters from five continents. Ego on display, Bundy passes up on plea deal of 75 years behind bars, and despite five court appointed lawyers, handles much of his defense himself ... poorly ... an assortment of linking evidence, including casts of Bundy's teeth that match bite marks on some of his victims, causes a first jury to find Bundy guilty of two homicides in less than seven hours of deliberation, and six months later, a second finds him guilty of killing Leach in less than eight hours. For all three murders, Bundy is sentenced to death in the Florida electric chair (he officially will be executed for the Leach death) ... a sentence which is finally carried out on January 24, 1989 after a delay of nearly ten years (for the usual nonsense of lawyer appeals, and Bundy "helping" law enforcement officials clear up some of their cold cases). Fried to a crisp at 7:16 in the morning (declining a "special" meal, 42-year-old Bundy is given a last breakfast of medium rare steak, eggs over easy, hash browns, toast with butter and jelly, orange juice, and milk), the execution sets off a party in the pasture across the street from the prison where over 2,000 revelers celebrate Bundy beginning his permanent stay in Hell by singing, dancing, setting off fireworks, and cheering wildly when the white hearse bearing Bundy's body leaves for the morgue.
The Florida Chair
Bundy After The Chair
Thank you again Officer Lee for your service in stopping the monster known as Ted Bundy!