The man, the myth, the crazy guy with the unibrow you can’t look away from: Ted Bundy. Who was he, and why was he such a national sensation? You already know the answer, even if you don’t know the details. He was a serial killer operating in the U.S. with a penchant for kidnapping, rape and necrophilia–you know, the usual subject of American fascination. He liked them oh-so-young and eventually confessed to upwards of 30 murders while in police custody. But how did this tragic, and tragically enticing, story come to be?
His story is an interesting one. Because we live in a society that treats its bastards like unicorn turds, dear young Ted was raised by his grandparents instead of his not-quite-as-young-but-still-pretty-young mother, who subsequently posed as his sister. He eventually saw through the elaborate ruse (after being called a bastard), and seethed with rage toward his deceptive mommy. Although the real story isn’t clear from later interviews with Ted, it seems like his real father whom he never met and his actual grandparents were an abusive lot who liked the drink. By high school, Ted was stealing equipment to pursue his only normal hobby of skiing. Darker hobbies came a little later.
So he didn’t have the best childhood. Noted.
Ted had a fairly normal college experience before beginning to skip class. That’s how it happens, really: a young, upstanding citizen starts skipping class and before you know it young girls are starting to vanish from the face of the Pacific Northwest.
Or perhaps it began much earlier–a couple of homicide detectives strongly believe that Bundy began his serial killing stint in his teens. Either way, in 1974 women were popping out of existence on average of once a month. At first detectives didn’t know what to make of it, except that there was nothing obvious to connect the young women to one another, and an aggravating lack of evidence pointing to foul play. Eventually, remains were discovered near a site where Bundy often hiked and more at a state park. Things were starting to come together, but Bundy still wasn’t located.
Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to go back to college, and shockingly women began to disappear yet again. Ted was known to have brutally beaten, rape, sodomize, strangle, shampoo hair, and apply makeup with his victims. Sadly, that was also the typical order of operations during a ritual that was at that point routine for him.
This model citizen was caught by authorities in Utah in 1975 for the minute charges of aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. It wasn’t long before the local judicial system figured out that those charges were mere child’s play for Bundy, who was eventually connected to a series of murders spanning a number of states. Like most crazy people, he chose to represent himself during a preliminary hearing in Aspen. Since judges are stupid, Bundy was freed from his cuffs and allowed access to the courthouse library. You know those courthouses you walk past on busy city roads? This wasn’t one of those. He jumped from the second story window and poof! He was gone.
Because there was a much longer list of incompetent people involved, or maybe because Bundy is just that good, he was incarcerated again, escaped a second time, murdered three more people, and was then finally captured–for good–in Florida by 1978.
He was executed at the age of 42 on January 24, 1989, and gave most everyone in the country a reason to be thankful for capital punishment. His legacy of terror persists even today. Will we ever get over our possibly unhealthy obsession with serial killers, rapists, mass murders, explosions, and dystopian TV dramas? Probably not.