On a chilly afternoon in late 1977, a young, newly-wed woman of 26 was dropped off at her Volkswagen Beetle by her sister-in-law. Her name was Gini McNair. She waved goodbye to her companion, unlocked the driver’s door, and stepped into her vehicle. Sitting at the wheel, with the key in the ignition, she glanced around the deserted Boulder Canyon Road located outside of Boulder, Colorado. While waiting for her dusty red Volkswagen to warm up, she saw another one, light blue, heading down Sugarloaf Road towards her. When she glanced at the driver as he went past, he took the opportunity to look her over as well. With piercing eyes, Ted Bundy quickly examined Gini as he drove by her. When his eye caught hers, Gini immediately felt like she had just been delivered a swift punch in the stomach. He turned around at the bottom of Sugarloaf Road and drove over to where she was parked. As he walked over to her window, she rolled it down. He leaned in close and asked, ‘Are you having car trouble?’
Gini didn’t tell many people the story of that day, she figured that it was just one of those weird things that happen sometimes. One night, a few months later, she and her husband were watching the news and a story about Ted Bundy came on. While the young couple watched for a few minutes with a mixture of disgust and interest, it showed a picture of the famous ‘Ted’. Gini’s mouth opened in surprise; that was the same face and those were the same eyes that stared at her that day in Boulder Canyon. He was caught in Florida not long after she encountered him and was given the death sentence for the murders of many women from various states within the past five years. From that day forward, Gini always trusted that little voice in the back of her head. The voice that was present that very day when she escaped from one of the most famous serial killers of our time: Ted Bundy.
Theodore Robert Bundy was born November 24th, 1946 in Burlington, Vermont. His mother, Louise Cowell, was twenty-one when she gave birth to him. The only thing that Ted knew about his father was that he was in the armed forces. Ted was raised to the age of four by his grandparents, who had his last name legally changed from Cowell to Nelson. Soon after, Louise moved with her son to Tacoma, Washington, a Puget Sound harbor and mill town. Louise met Johnnie Bundy, a thirty-year-old cook at the Madigan Army Hospital. Louise and Johnnie were married May 17, 1951. It was at that point when Ted took on the Bundy name (Larsen, R. W.).
Louise and Johnnie had four children together: Linda, Glenn, Sandra, and Richard (Larsen, R. W.). At the age of thirteen, Ted discovered pornographic magazines in a trash can behind a store. He was immediately interested and captivated by them. As time went on, he became more and more addicted to violent images in the books and soon realized that they weren’t enough anymore. He needed something real (Dobson, J.).
Ted was a good student and graduated with a B+ average from Woodrow Wilson High School. He only dated one girl in high school, who described him as shy. His first year of college was at the University of Puget Sound, located close to his parents’ house. Here, Ted felt he didn’t fit in. Most of the students came from upper-class families and were high achievers. After a year at the University of Puget Sound, Ted decided to move to Seattle and enroll at the University of Washington. There he met Diane, an older and wealthier woman. Diane drove a red Mustang, while Ted drove a 1933 Plymouth coupe. Despite their differences, their relationship lasted for several years (Larsen, R. W.).
Ted received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Washington. He worked on the 1968 Rockefeller campaign and also took a part-time job at the Crisis Clinic at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. He answered phones and counseled numerous people who were experiencing emotional troubles. One of his co-workers mentioned that ‘Ted always seemed to respond to callers with sort of a cold lecture, telling them they should learn to discipline their emotions, to take charge, He didn’t seem to have the compassion, the understanding that these people were unable to take control.’ (Larsen, R. W.).
In 1972, Ted involved himself in Governor Dan Evan’s reelection campaign. With complaints from his advisors, he soon became assistant director of the Seattle Crime Prevention advisory committee. He even wrote a pamphlet instructing women about rape prevention (Burns, K. S.).
Ted Bundy was considered ‘handsome and smart’ by his friends and the people he met. His girlfriends described him as ‘romantic and tender’, but to the women he tortured and killed, ‘he was a nightmare.’ (Burns, K. S.).
Ted Bundy began his killing spree in late 1973. One source, (Ted Bundy) states that his first victim was a young girl of 15. Her name was Kathleen Merry Devine and she was murdered on November 11, 1973, in Seattle, Washington. Her body was found on December 6th, almost a month later. Another recent source, (Burns, K. S.) says that Ted was falsely accused of murdering her. Another man, William E. Cosden, who was also accused of killing Devine, was tried in March of 2002 and found guilty.
In Washington, Joni Lenz was attacked by Bundy in the night and was found on January 4, 1974. She was found by the police, severely beaten in her bed after a call from her frantic roommate. She survived but had no memory of the incident (Burns, K. S.).
Later that day, Bundy approached an 18-year-old girl from Seattle by the name of Sharon Clarke. He pretended to have a broken arm and was having trouble carrying his books. She, being a helpful person, approached him and asked if she could help. Bundy had many ways of pretending to be helpless in order to get a young woman to help him. That day, Sharon was led back to Bundy’s Volkswagen and was attacked, raped, and assaulted. She somehow managed to get away and later testified against him in the trial (Burns, K. S.).
Lynda Ann Healy was a 21 year old who lived at the University in Washington. She worked for a radio station and got up every morning at 5:30 to bike to work. The morning of February 1, she disappeared from her basement bedroom, leaving her bike behind, (Burns, K. S.) and was not found until March of 1975 on Taylor Mountain (Ted Bundy).
While Ted was stalking and attacking girls one by one, he also had a steady relationship with a girl by the name of Cas Richter. They met at a bar while Ted was attending college at the University. They dated for a long period of time and were engaged to be married after he would be finished law school. (Larsen, R. W.).
Living a double life, Bundy killed Donna Gail Manson, a 19-year-old student at Evergreen State College. Bundy murdered her on March 12 and the police never found her body. The next girl was an 18 year old by the name of Susan Elaine Rancourt. She disappeared from the campus of Central Washington State University in Ellensburg, Washington on April 17. Her body was found among many others in March of 1975 on Taylor Mountain, hours away from where she disappeared (Burns, K. S.).
Roberta Kathleen Parks, 22, disappeared in Corvallis, Oregon on May 6, 1974. Her body was also found on Taylor Mountain. Brenda Baker,15, was murdered in Seattle and her body was found on June 17, 1974 (Ted Bundy).
In Seattle, a number of women went missing with only one clue to each disappearance. They all left with a man in a Volkswagen who introduced himself as ‘Ted’. Police in Washington searched many Volkswagens without any clue of who the mysterious ‘Ted’ was. Meanwhile, Cas, his fiance, thought it was a funny coincidence. Her Ted drove a Volkswagen, but he was harmless. He was quiet and respectful and incapable of anything like this. With these thoughts constantly running through her mind, the once quiet and respectful Ted was shamelessly murdering numerous women.
Brenda Carol Ball, 22, was last seen on June 1, 1974, in a tavern. Next was Georgann Hawkins, an 18-year-old college girl who disappeared from the University of Washington on June 11, 1974. Janice Ott, 23, and Denise Naslund, 19, were both conned by a good-looking man with a sling. He approached both of them at Lake Sammamish Park in Seattle. Janice was tanning on the beach the morning of June 14, 1974, when Bundy asked her for help loading his boat. He led her to his car and said that he had to drive to the other side of the lake to get to his boat. Janice warily stepped into his vehicle and was never seen again. Less than 8 hours later, Bundy was back at the beach looking for another girl. He found Denise and gave the whole speech once again (Larsen, R. W.). Both bodies were found in September in a remote wooded area over two miles away (Ted Bundy).
From Washington, Ted went to Utah to finish law school where he added more victims to his ongoing list. Laura Aime, Nancy Wilcox, Melissa Smith, Nancy Baird, Caryn Campbell, and Debbie Kent were all conned by Ted and their bodies were dumped in various places around the state (Ted Bundy).
In November of 1974, one girl by the name of Carol DaRonch, was window shopping in Salt Lake City when Bundy approached her and said he was a policeman. He asked her if she was parked outside and when she said yes, told her that a man had tried to break into her car. He asked her to accompany him outside so she could see if anything was stolen. As she followed him to her car, she began to suspect something was wrong. He was not wearing a uniform and was very unprofessional. She asked to see his ID. He showed her what looked like a police badge and it was enough to satisfy her suspicions (Summers, C.).
They got to her car, made sure that nothing was missing, and Bundy asked her to come to the police station to make a statement. She followed him to his old and battered Volkswagen, took a close look at the torn seats, and questioned him again. He told her that his name was Officer Roseland of the Murray Police Department. She was still suspicious but entered the car anyway. In the small confines of the VW Beetle, she could smell alcohol on his breath. She soon realized that they were headed in the opposite direction of the police station. She panicked and at the next stop, tried to escape. Bundy was quicker than she was and managed to handcuff one wrist but she struggled more and he pointed a gun at her. She glanced back and saw a car in the distance and in one quick move, opened the door, threw herself out, and ran (Summers, C.).
After that incident, Bundy moved his way into Colorado and murdered Julie Cunningham, 26, in Vail. Her body was never found. Denise Oliverson, 25, lived in Grand Junction and was killed on April 6, 1975. Then Melanie Cooley in Nederland and Shelley Robertson in Golden (Ted Bundy).
After being in Colorado, Bundy was traveling back through Utah and was pulled over by Highway Patrolman Bob Hayward. He found a balaclava, a crowbar, an ice pick, a pair of handcuffs, and a ski mask in Bundy’s car. Ted was arrested but remained very well mannered and was constantly explaining that he needed the mask and balaclava for skiing, and had found the other items. He denied ever having been in Colorado but after a search of his apartment, the police found a brochure from a hotel in Snowmass (Summers, C.).
He was later identified by Carol DaRonch as the man who had assaulted her. Apparently, when Bundy and DaRonch had wrestled in his car, she scratched him and as a result, he left blood spots on her coat. These blood spots were identified at type O blood. Bundy was a type O. In his glove box were receipts from gas stations that showed that he had gotten gas at or near many places where the girls in Colorado had vanished. Ted was kept in custody until he was convicted and sent to Colorado (Ted Bundy. A Serial Killer.).
He was sent to jail in Colorado but escaped out of a window in the courthouse in June 1977. Eight days later, he was recaptured. The authorities were sure that they had incarcerated the right ‘Ted’ with a Volkswagen and were determined to put him away for good once they got proof of his murders (Summers, C.).
But in December 1977, Bundy cut a hole in the ceiling of his cell with a hacksaw blade and escaped yet again. Afterwards, he headed to Florida. By the time he got there, he was very disheveled and was living off of food he stole from grocery stores. On January 15, he entered a sorority house in Tallahassee, Florida. He strangled Margaret Bowman and beat Lisa Levy to death after assaulting her (Summers, C.). They were both left dead in their beds. Three other girls were also in the sorority house; Kathy Kleiner, Karen Chandler, and Cheryl Thomas were all beaten with a wooden club but were still alive (Ted Bundy).
Bundy’s final victim was a young girl of 12. Her name was Kimberley Leach and she was abducted from her school gym, sexually assaulted, and strangled. Her body was left in a deserted hog shed.
Finally, on February 15, 1978, Bundy was arrested for driving a stolen car. He went on trial for the sorority house murders in June. Ted stood no chance against the evidence against him. There was a witness who had seen him leaving the sorority house after the attacks and there was a mask found in the house that resembled another that he owned (Ted Bundy. A Serial Killer). But the best evidence was the bite marks he left on Lisa Levy’s buttocks. The prosecution brought in a forensic odontologist to match Bundy’s teeth to the bite marks. They matched perfectly. It took the jury only six hours to find Bundy guilty. He was sentenced to death by the electric chair by Judge Edward Cowart, who said to him, ‘I bear you no animosity. But you went the wrong way, partner. Take care of yourself.’ (Summers, C.).
Ted Bundy spent 10 years on Florida’s Death Row all the while pleading innocent to the charges against him. The night before his execution, he gave an interview to James C. Dobson and his camera crew to admit to the world that he was guilty. Ted said that he felt he owed it to society to warn everyone of the dangers of pornography and to explain how it led to where he was. He made sure that people knew that he was not blaming pornography, but that it shaped his violent behaviors.
He began explaining that he grew up in a great household and had a great childhood. But he soon found and became addicted to pornographic material which eventually led to more. In this interview, Bundy states that ‘Once you become addicted to it…you look for more potent material…Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach…that jumping-off point where you begin to think maybe actually doing it will give you that which is just beyond reading about it and looking at it.’ Bundy admitted to every single one of the murders he was accounted for. He also admitted to nearly a hundred more that had not even been reported or linked to him (Dobson, J.).
In his final hours, Ted admitted that he was scared to die. He was afraid, what was going to happen to him afterward. He said he knew he deserved it, he knew he deserved every bit of it. At one point during the interview, the lights dimmed and flickered. James Dobson looked up with a worried look on his face and Ted told him that they would be on in a minute. Ted knew what caused the lights to flicker: they were testing out the electric chair that would take his life the next morning. At the end of their interview, Bundy stated that being within arms reach of death was, ‘…just an experience we all share.’ (Dobson, J.).
As the sun came up over the horizon on January 24, 1989, Ted Bundy was getting ready to face his death. Head shaved, he was strapped to the electric chair inside Starke prison. He nodded in the direction of his lawyer as the straps were placed over his chest and mouth. A steel cap, full of electrodes, was gently placed over his head. At 7:07 a.m. the executioner flipped the switch that sent 2,000 volts of electricity through Bundy’s body. Outside in the morning air, dozens cheered as the hearse drove by carrying his lifeless body (Summers, C.).
The families who suffered from the actions of Bundy would never be whole again, but they would know now that no one else would suffer. In the horrifying words of Theodore Robert Bundy, ‘We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow. You will feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God!…’ (Ted Bundy: A Serial Killer).