Ted Bundy's name was written in the history books when he became the prime suspect in the murder of dozens of women in the 1970s.
Ted Bundy: A Media Star
Ted Bundy committed terrible crimes that left the authorities confused and the public terrified. Everyone wanted to find the man who had been breaking into different houses at night and attacking young women to death.
It was not until his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, gave a tip to the police who managed to find the murderer and arrest him.
What happened next was unexpected. This murderer looked like an average man, although clearly, he was not. He was intelligent, coherent, and a master of manipulation, so he managed to play with the narrative and move it in his favor. He was causing hundreds of people to believe in his innocence. Women followed him out of the courthouse, screaming for him as if he were one of the Beatles.
Decades have passed since his death, but the world is still obsessed with the story of the charismatic and brilliant killer. He turned the case into a media circus, the likes of which had never been seen before.
Much has been said about Ted Bundy in the past. Yet, not many understand his history, motives, and obsession with his personality. The myth is here to stay, so here are a few things you need to know.
Who Was Ted Bundy?
There are many facts out there about the life of Ted Bundy. He was first born in a humble family and raised by very strict grandparents. They were so religious that they did not want the world to know that their daughter had had a son out of wedlock. So, they told everyone he was adopted, and Bundy thought that his mom was his sister for most of his life.
He was an ordinary boy who looked like he had developed into a regular, charismatic, and attractive man. But he was hiding a very dark secret, and, at one point, he decided to stop controlling his impulses and started murdering women.
All his victims were young, attractive, and dark-haired. He followed them through the night, sneaking into their houses and attacking them when they least expected it.
In the end, Bundy confessed to murdering at least 30 women, but experts believe that number could be much higher. It is also said that he helped the police to catch the Green River Killer, who had even a higher number of victims than Bundy.
Ted Bundy gave investigators details about the way serial killers think.
Ted Bundy's Psychological Profile
There is no doubt that Ted Bundy was a psychopath, a highly intelligent man, and an evil genius, but psychologists say it is much more complex than that.
.A complicated childhood marked Bundy's life. That helped him develop an incredible ability to lie and lead a double life that continues to amaze experts today.
Thomas Widiger, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Kentucky, said:
"My research on Ted Bundy is more concerned with demonstrating the benefits of a dimensional trait model -- the five-factor model in particular -- in identifying and describing people with personality disorders".
Ted Bundy is a good illustration of this, as categorical descriptions of Ted don't entirely provide an accurate or individualized portrayal. He doesn't have some of the hallmarks of the prototypical psychopath.
Ted Bundy is fascinating because he was also charismatic and personable. But Widiger said: "he was, for the most part, emotionally stable. A trait common to all psychopaths is the ability to be deceitful, to lie easily."
He further explained:
"There is probably a serial killer somewhere in the United States at any given time. They can be very difficult to catch because there is no personal connection between them and the victim."
Hervey Cleckley, considered to be the father of psychopathy, had the opportunity to study Ted Bundy during his trial. He diagnosed him as a psychopath, referring to "social predators who charm, manipulate and mercilessly work their way through life.
Psychopaths completely lack conscience and feelings for others. They selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret."
These are the characteristics of Bundy as a psychopath:
Antagonism (deceitful, manipulative, insensitive, exploitative, and arrogant)
Extraversion (attractive and assertive)
High conscientiousness (skillful, competent, thoughtful, organized, and diligent)
Low neuroticism (charm and bravery)
Elizabeth Kloepfer, The Woman Who "betrayed" Ted Bundy
While Ted Bundy spent his nights murdering women, his life had another side. He was in a relationship with Elizabeth Kloepfer, a woman who met Ted in a bar, quickly fell in love with him, and began a relationship. Ted Bundy even became a father figure to Elizabeth's daughter.
The relationship was normal and stable, but when details about the case began to be revealed, Elizabeth found some strange connections to Ted.
She called the police to report him as a suspect. At first, they didn't believe her, but upon investigation, they found many things related to the murders in Ted Bundy's car, which was identical to the one some witnesses had mentioned. And that's how they managed to catch him.
Ted Bundy's Wife And Daughter
Elizabeth and her daughter weren't the only women in Bundy's life. The killer married a fan while in prison. She got pregnant during one of his visits.
Carol Boone accompanied Bundy throughout his trial. But when he was sentenced, she disappeared, took her daughter, and they changed their names to start a new life. Nobody knows what happened to them.
On the other hand, Elizabeth Kloepfer's daughter, who saw Ted Bundy as a father, decided to forget that part of her life and leave it in the past. She finally broke her silence in a documentary. She recounted her life with the murderer and the effect that the news of his true identity had.
The Surviving Victims Have Spoken
Ted Bundy is said to have killed more than 30 women. There is even a talk that he killed his first victim when he was only 14 years old. But not all the women he attacked died. Some survivors have given their testimonies countless times and were the ones who helped convict Ted Bundy at his trial.
Carol DaRonch, one of the survivors, recounted the nightmare she experienced when the killer kidnaped her and how she escaped. Carol was just 18 years old when Bundy abducted her. She helped put him behind bars with harrowing testimony that left the jury shattered.
Carol said she had nightmares about the incident. But she couldn't let Bundy win, so she decided to defend herself by telling her testimony. She said that Ted Bundy approached her in a shopping plaza and convinced her to accompany him. He said that he was a policeman and that someone had tried to steal his car.
But once there, the "policeman" tried to put handcuffs on her hands, but he could not close them, so she pushed him. He started to hit her, but she managed to open the door, jumped out of the car, and ran to ask for help. Ted Bundy fled, and she only managed to escape because a couple approached his car and rescued her.
Not all the victims were so lucky, as Ted Bundy murdered dozens of women. Including a group of students who were asleep in their university dorms and attacked one by one during the night. Only a few managed to live to tell the tale of what happened.
Ted Bundy's Life In Documentaries And Movies
Many movies and documentaries tell the life and crimes of Ted Bundy. Some are from the perspective of the victims. Others from the police's point of view and some from the point of view of the murderer. These are the best:
Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer
In this documentary, Ted Bundy's daughter, ex-girlfriend, and women who survived Ted Bundy talk about their experiences with the killer.
Molly grew up seeing Ted as her dad. She broke her silence to recount her own experience and shed some light on the "normal" life of the killer. At the same time, the survivors tell the history of what they lived.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile
One of Ted Bundy's survivors said that Zac Efron was the best person to play the killer because Ted was handsome and charismatic. Efron managed to reflect that.
This film shows us more of Bundy's life outside of the murders. It reveals the moment his girlfriend realized he might be the killer, leading her to call the police and eventually dump Ted.
Conversation With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
A series of recordings and videos never seen before were chosen to make this Netflix documentary.
It shows much more detail about the Ted Bundy trial through interviews with the murderer while in jail. There are also testimonies of police officers, journalists, and people involved in the case.
How Did Ted Bundy Die?
Ted Bundy was sentenced to death for his crimes. On January 24, 1989, he was executed at the Florida State Prison.
It is said that millions of people watched his execution at home and that thousands gathered outside to shout, "Burn, Bundy, burn."
Bundy refused to choose one last meal, so he was served steak, eggs, French fries, and toast, the meal death row inmates receive if they don't have a preference. Ted Bundy died in an electric chair.