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Ted Bundy: Inside The Mind Of True Crime's Most Charming Killer

We'd all like to think we would easily recognize murders, rapists, and other criminals because they're supposedly really creepy looking and suspicious. However, that was certainly not the case especially when you consider serial killers like the notoriously handsome, charming, and charismatic Ted Bundy. His many heinous crimes committed across the country made him both a criminal and a celebrity during the seventies.

Think of it this way: Remember "The Addams Family" classic television series from the sixties and the movie reboots in 1990? In the latter case, let's recall a memorable quote from the adorable little character named Wednesday (as masterfully portrayed by a young Christina Ricci). When she was asked about the absence of a Halloween disguise, she swiftly and sarcastically replied, "This is my costume. I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else."

The Humble Beginnings Of A Brutal Butcher 

Theodore Robert Bundy was born on November 24, 1946, in Burlington, Virginia, a beautiful waterfront town some two hours south of Montreal, Canada, and nearly 150-miles northeast of the capital city of Richmond. By his own admission, Ted led a quiet and uneventful childhood, and his friends and family back up his claim. However, deeper looks into his disturbing upbringing tell a different story about the raising of a serial killer. 

Born at a home for unwed mothers, little baby Bundy remained there for two months while his birth mother contemplated the concept of placing him up for adoption. However, Ted Bundy's maternal grandfather wanted the infant to join his family in Philadelphia, and he was raised thinking his mom was his older sister rather than his mother. 

As a child, a young Ted Bundy lacked the social graces that would later serve him well as a beguiling and brutal murderer. According to the Netflix documentary, Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, interviewer Sandi Holt (who grew up with a young Ted) said he was teased for having a speech impediment and couldn't keep up with the guys in his Boy Scout troop. In his high school years, he was only an average athlete failing to make his basketball and baseball teams. These shortcomings would later haunt him as an adult.

However, Bundy's childhood also included many instances of normality. He took odd jobs delivering newspapers and cutting neighborhood lawns, regularly went to church with his parents becoming the president of his local Methodist Youth Fellowship. Bundy had "normal" friends in his youth and even saved the life of one of his buddy's nieces when she was at risk of drowning. This was hardly a heroic task you'd likely later associate with a future serial killer. 

Before his social awkwardness as a young man, his childhood went from somewhat normal to nasty as he continued to age. During Holt's conversations with the killer when he was behind bars, Ted stated he "liked to scare people." A fellow Boy Scout revealed that Bundy once crept up behind him and hit him over the head with a stick for no apparent reason.

Perhaps most bizarre was Ted's childhood passion for digging holes, placing sharpened stakes inside them, and then covering his tiny "tiger traps" with vegetation as camouflage. At least one little girl fell into one of his small pits of despair and injured her leg in a notable incident. This was certainly no accident and Bundy's bizarre behavior would continue to escalate into unlawful acts and unusual behaviors.


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Breaking The Law And Less Than Innocent Interests

Bundy began to enjoy Pulp Fiction detective stories filled with gory depictions of rape and murder. It's believed he may have accessed his grandfather's collection of porn when he was a mere child living in Philadelphia. Later in junior high school, classmates discovered him masturbating inside a closet and doused him with water. 

He started breaking the law committing petty theft and forgery. As an avid skier, he would often shoplift ski equipment that he couldn't afford and even crafted fake lift tickets to hit the slopes for free. When he was a teenager, he took a real-life Grand Theft Auto ride on city streets and received only a warning as punishment. Perhaps most disturbing, Bundy began spying on strangers (aka a Peeping Tom) and such voyeurism is a common precursor to sexual violence. 

In the first of many convictions, in 1976, a 29-year-old Ted Bundy was sentenced to serve up to 15 years for the attempted kidnapping of Carol DaRonch in Salt Lake City. She narrowly escaped from an attempted abduction by Bundy while shopping. Ted posed as a security guard and lured her to a car where she fought back and escaped being handcuffed inside the vehicle. 

While he began serving his sentence in Utah, Bundy was extradited to Colorado in January 1977 to stand trial for the murder of Caryn Campbell ,a registered nurse from Michigan. While vacationing with her family in Colorado, Caryn went missing and cops were later able to connect Ted with her death.

Rather than hire a lawyer and serving as his own attorney, Ted was given access to the law library and escaped custody by jumping out of a second-story window. People in the surrounding areas were terrified this dangerous criminal was on the streets. A front-page story n the Glenwood Post the day after his escape on January 9, 1977, read:

"Since Bundy's escape, parents have been asked to pick up their children at schools; the sale of guns and ammunition has been banned; people have been asked to travel in pairs and not to go camping alone."

Thankfully for members of this local community, Bundy was appended just a few days later driving a stolen Cadillac. On December 30, 1977, Ted managed to escape from prison a second time. The crafty killer lost enough weight to fit through an approximate 1-foot-square light fixture in the ceiling of his cell, squeeze through some ductwork to hide in a closet, and go on the lam once again.

More Murders And Attempted Killings In Florida

This time Bundy was able to get out of the state of Colorado and escape to Florida where he committed more crimes. On the night of January 15, 1978, several sorority sisters were sleeping at the Florida State University Chi Omega house when Bundy struck.

Ted brutally murdered Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy in their sleep. He also attacked Karen Chandler, Kathy Kleiner, and Cheryl Ann Thomas, but those three managed to survive their assailant's attempt at ending their young lives. 

Multiple Public Trials, Convictions, And Execution

Authorities eventually tracked and apprehended Bundy to ultimately hold him responsible for multiple murders, attempted murders, and kidnappings. During two very public trials, Bundy was first found guilty of two counts of murder (of Bowman and Levy), and three counts of attempted murder (with Chandler, Kleiner, and Thomas) on July 24, 1979.  

On February 10, 1980, he was found guilty of the murder and abduction of Kimberly Leach. For his heinous crimes, Bundy was sentenced to death. Prior to his execution, he would confess to many more murders. Many believe this was an attempt at clemency or mercy through media manipulation and attention, but it didn't work. He was put to death on the electric chair in Florida at 7:16 p.m on January 24, 1989. 

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