Ted Bundy is one of the most notorious killers in history. The American serial killer confessed to 36 murders, but it’s thought that the actual number of women he killed was closer to 100. When he was finally apprehended, Ted Bundy traded bits of confession in exchange for the delay of his execution. But before all of his crimes were disclosed, Ted Bundy was killed in the electric chair in 1989.
On this guide we’ll ask, Who was Ted Bundy and we’ll also look at the victims that fell before him. If this story disturbs and intrigues you in equal measures, be sure to check our pages on British Serial Killers and Unsolved Serial Murders.
Who Was Ted Bundy?
It can be said that a serial killer doesn’t become a murderer overnight. Such is the case for Ted Bundy. Born in 1946 in Burlington, Vermont, Bundy was the son of a young unmarried woman. Eleanor Louise Cowell was only 22 when Theodore Robert Cowell was born, and the boy’s simple presence brought his mother shame. Eleanor gave birth to baby Theodore in a home for unwed mothers, and after his birth the boy was raised by Eleanor’s parents. Throughout his life, Ted Bundy was told that Eleanor was his sister. His surname was changed to Bundy.
Growing up, Ted Bundy was an odd child. He didn’t get along well with others, though he performed well in school. A smart boy, he preferred to play alone, but soon began to exhibit strange behaviors. He would be caught peering into neighbors’ homes, and stealing from friends and family. Those who knew him report that he became fascinated with knives around the age of three.
A babysitter to the three year old child recalls a chilling incident. While Bundy was under her care, she fell asleep. When she awoke, she found that all the kitchen knives were arranged in a circle surrounding her; all the blades were pointed toward her. There is also speculation that Bundy was involved with the disappearance of an 8 year old girl. The little girl had developed a crush on the 15 year old Ted Bundy. Ann Marie Burr disappeared.
The childhood of Ted Bundy was not unlike many others. He grew up in a broken home, but was part of a middle class, stable family nonetheless. In college, the attractive Bundy began to date a woman named Stephanie Brooks. It is then that the Ted Bundy Murders began and this American serial killer began to make a name for himself.
The Ted Bundy Murders
In 1968, Ted Bundy dropped out of college. Disappointed, Stephanie Brooks broke up with the man who had once showed so much intelligence and promise. Bundy seemed to recover from the heartbreak, and began to date another your woman, Liz Kloepfer. Bundy focused his efforts toward graduating at the top of his class, in an attempt to impress his first love.
Ted Bundy arranged a meeting with Stephanie Brooks in the early 1970s, and the couple reunited briefly. But soon after, Bundy disappeared from Brooks’s life. It would seem that he had a new goal – to become a serial killer.
Most victims of the Ted Bundy murders resembled Stephanie Brooks. Though it’s unclear as to how many women fell victim to Bundy’s killing spree, a vast majority of the victims were young students with long brown hair. Bundy’s brutal murders frequently followed a pattern; Bundy was an attractive man, and it was easy to lure women to his Volkswagen Beetle.
He would pretend to be injured, ask them for help, and when they’d oblige, Bundy would make his move. Most of the women Bundy killed were first raped. Those who weren’t raped were brutally sexually assaulted; 18 year old Karen Sparks was sexually assaulted by a metal rod. Fortunately, she is one of the few survivors of the Ted Bundy murders, but she sustained permanent disabilities.
After Ted Bundy assaulted his victims, he then ruthlessly killed them. He would bludgeon or strangle the women to death, or torture and dismember them. Ted Bundy would display the heads of his victims in his apartment, and would sleep with their corpses until the bodies had decayed. It remains unknown how many victims Ted Bundy killed. It is, however, clear that the Ted Bundy murders were gruesome.
How Did Ted Bundy Die?
In 1975, Ted Bundy attempted to abduct Carol DaRonch. DaRonch, however, escaped. Bundy was convicted of the crime, and sentenced to serve a one to fifteen year sentence. However, in the time that he was incarcerated, he was indicted on counts of murder in other crimes. Following one failed escape attempt, Bundy finally escaped successfully in 1977. He had cut a hole in the ceiling of his cell and lost upwards of 30 pounds to ensure he’d fit through it.
Corrections officers didn’t notice Bundy’s absence until 15 hours after he left; this gave Bundy a good head start. He made his way to Tallahassee, Florida, where in the days which followed he killed two sorority sisters and a 12 year old girl. When law enforcement caught up with Ted Bundy, he was sentenced to the death penalty three times.
Bundy fought for his life while in prison, but the execution was never overturned. He attempted to bring the case before the Supreme Court, and the case was denied. During his time in prison, and in an attempt to negotiate a lesser sentence, Bundy confessed to 36 murders, sharing details of many.
Bundy’s victims were bludgeoned. They were stabbed or strangled. Vile sexual acts were committed with their live bodies or their corpses. The women were beheaded and dismembered. These killings were methodical and premeditated, yet there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the technique.
Ted Bundy was put to death at 7 in the morning on January 24, 1989. He was killed by electric chair at Florida State Prison. Upon his death, crowds outside the prison cheered. Fireworks were launched. And the public breathed a collective sigh of exhausted relief with the news that Ted Bundy, one of the worst serial killers, would harm no one else.