Born to unwed mother Louise Cowell on November 24th, 1946, Theodore Robert Cowell was raised by his grandparents in Philadelphia. He lived believing that his grandparents were his birth parents and his mother was his sister. Odd yes, but this was in order to protect Louise Cowell from the prejudices of being an unwed mother. Through out his life he did not know his birth father. It was known that his father was an Air Force veteran, however.
His mother moved to Washington taking him with her when he was four years old. There they lived with relatives. Soon thereafter Bundy’s mother fell in love with a man named Johnnie Culpepper Bundy. They married in May of 1951 and Ted took his last name, making him Ted Bundy. The Bundy’s had four more children. Ted was always emotionally detached from his step-father. He generally preferred to be alone and had a strong inability to be social with other people. Shy, insecure, and uncomfortable Bundy was teased quite often. He excelled in school through out his whole entire educational career and flourished into a popular young man in high school. People thought of him as well dressed and well mannered. He very rarely dated. He was more interested in politics. He was highly fascinated by politics. Soon after high school he attended college at the University of Puget Sound and the University of Washington. He worked several low-paying jobs so that he could pay his way through school. It is said that he couldn’t hold a job for very long, because his employers considered him unreliable. His reliability school-wise was in high contrast to his reliability to work. He was extremely focused on his grades.
In 1967, he entered into a relationship that changed his life. He met a beautiful California girl who was from a wealthy family. They both loved skiing and he fell in love with her during their many ski trips that they had taken together. This girl would become his first true love and possibly the first girl he’d ever been sexually involved with. She liked him a lot, but did not reciprocate the strong feelings that he had for her. He tried very hard to impress her by lying and that really turned her away from him. She also felt that he had no future goals. They broke up in 1968. He took this break up terribly hard and seemingly never recovered. He eventually dropped out of college, because he nothing held his interest. He stayed in touch with her as friends, but he became very obsessed with her.
In 1969, he found out that his sister was really his mother and that his parents were really his grandparents.This had a strong impact on Ted and although his attitude towards his mother didn’t change, he did become highly disrespectful towards his stepfather. It had always been suspected by people that were close to him that he was stealing. This stealing started with small things at work and school to shoplifting and burglary. That was a sure fire sign, because stealing without guilt and having a sense of entitlement is a common trait in a psychopath. He had done a complete one-eighty. He was once shy and introverted and then changed to be a more dominant person. He went back to school to study and excel in Psychology.
Around the same time, he met a shy and quiet divorcee named Elizabeth Kendall. They became romantically involved and lasted almost four years. She fell deeply in love with him. She felt that he was perfect for her and a great father figure for her young daughter. She said that she wanted to marry him and he declined. He said that he wasn’t ready, because he felt he still had a lot to accomplish. Miss Kendall knew the feelings she had were not mutual. She continued to see him in hopes that someday he’d change his ways and they’d be married. Soon Ted applied to multiple law schools and became active in politics. He worked for the Republican Party and volunteered at a crisis clinic. He also saved a three-year-old boy who almost drowned in a lake.
In 1973, he went to California on a business trip. He met up with his ex-girlfriend multiple times. She was impressed by his changes. She soon fell in love with him. They spoke of marriage, but that didn’t last. He soon became cold towards her. He had planned revenge. He wanted her to fall in love with him. He wanted to reject her like she did him years before. He cut off all contact with her and she never heard from him again.
That’s when everything really started. The first woman to disappear was Lynda Ann Healy in January 1974. In the spring and summer of 74 more female students started to disappear. Most of the women had many similarities. Long hair parted in the middle, slender, wearing slacks, white, single, and all of them vanished at night. In August of 74, remains of some of the girls who went missing were found in Lake Sammamish State Park. Two girls, Janice Ott and Denise Naslund, were identified. There wasn’t much left of them. Stands of hair, five thigh bones, two skulls, and a jaw bone were found.
Bundy began traveling to different states to find victims. In Utah, a Police Chief’s seventeen year old daughter was found dead. She’d been strangled, sodomized, and raped. On Thanksgiving Day seventeen year old Laura Aime was found dead by a river. She had been missing since Halloween. She had been beaten with a crowbar, raped, and sodomized. The murders in Washington State caught the attention of the police in Utah. After consulting with Washington State investigators they agreed that it was more than likely the same man committing the crimes. They soon came up with a sketch of a man who went by his actual name.
A friend of Bundy’s girlfriend saw the article of Melissa Smith’s murder and the sketch of the “could-be-killer” and knew that it was Ted Bundy. Elizabeth knew in her heart that it was him, because the facts came together like a puzzle. She called the Seattle Police Department anonymously reporting that her boyfriend might be involved in the murder cases. She tried to help as best as possible, but witnesses couldn’t positively identify him. Bundy was forgotten when they decided they would look into more likely suspects.
He became more brass in his approach to women. That was a big mistake on his part, because the women who did get away knew what he looked like and gave police very valuable information. On Friday the 8th of November, 1974, he made a huge mistake. He had attempted to kidnap and kill eighteen year old Carol DaRonch. She was very lucky and got away. He had told her that he was a police officer in the successful attempt to lure her to his car. After she got away, she went to the police station.
DaRonch sobbingly told the story of what had happened to the police. There was no Officer Roseland that worked at that department. The police got a description of the man who did the crime, his car, and a blood type off of her coat. That night, a woman was approached by him asking for assistance in identifying a car. She refused him twice. He made her uncomfortable and he seemed odd. He ended up in the back of the auditorium where she was directing a High School play. That disturbed her.
Debby Kent was the next victim. She was watching the performance at the same play that the other woman directed. She went to pick up her brother from a night of bowling, but never made it or came back. January 12th, 1975 a woman, Caryn Campbell came up missing while on vacation in Colorado. A Month later she was found a few miles from where she had disappeared. She was found naked lying near a road. What her murder had in common with the others was she had suffered blows to the head repeatedly. Much like his other victims, she had also been raped. Months later, the body of Brenda Ball was found ten miles from where the two other identified girls were found from over the summer. A couple days after that another girl who had disappeared during the summer, Susan Rancourt, had been found dead also. Two more women were found dead including Lynda Ann Healy, the first girl to go missing. Police kept searching for the killer. During that time, five more women were found dead in Colorado that died similarly to the other women. Bundy was arrested for suspicion of burglary on August 16th, 1975 after he had been pulled over. While his car was being searched they found a crowbar, ski mask, rope, handcuffs, wire, and an ice pick. They started realizing that he was possibly the man that had assaulted Carol DaRonch. They also suspected that he was responsible for the kidnapping of three girls. Despite professing his innocence over and over, he had been positively identified by both Carol DaRonch and the play director. They began to investigate him after that.
Long time girlfriend of Ted soon began to give the police all of the information that she could. She couldn’t account for him on the nights of the murders and their sexual relationship had decreased dramatically. When they did have sex, he made her do bondage. She gave pertinent information against Bundy. Soon between her and other people there had been a mountain of evidence built up against him. They soon charged him with kidnapping Carol DaRonch and was sentenced to one to fifteen years in prison with possibility of parole.
During that time, they had evaluated him. They said that he had a fear of being humiliated in the relationships with women. Also, that he had a strong dependency on women. So strong that it was suspect. Soon the Colorado Police filed charges against him for the murder of Caryn Campbell. He decided that his lawyer was incapable of representing him, so he decided to do it himself. He was given permission to leave jail occasionally to use a courthouse library in Aspen. Ted soon escaped during one of his trips. Police, bloodhounds, and 105 searches couldn’t find him for days.
He was soon caught and ordered to wear handcuffs and leg irons when doing research outside of the jail. Seven months later, he escaped again. This time he escapped from the jail itself. No one even noticed that he had escaped until fifteen hours later. He stopped in a few places including Chicago while going to Tallahassee, Florida. There he lived in a one room apartment and used the name Chris Hagen. He spent a lot of time ducking into classes at the nearby Florida State University and listening to lectures. When not at the college stealing education, he would watch television at home. Everything he had in his apartment from furniture to food was stolen.
Becoming lonely, he started raping and killing again. He had gone to a sorority house and attacked three girls. Killing two of them in their sleep. Another girl at the Chi Omega ouse had been attacked also. In February of 1978, Lake City police got a phone call from the parents of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach. They said she disappeared that day from school. Eight weeks later, they found her body in a state park. Days before Leach had been kidnapped, two young girls had been confronted by Ted Bundy. Luckily, one of the girls brother had picked them up. Suspicious of the man, they wrote his license plate number down and gave it to his father who was Chief of Detectives for Jacksonville Police Department. The father of the two children took them to the police department to look through mug shots. He had a feeling who it was and they picked him out proving he was right. Soon Bundy was caught while driving a suspicious and stolen vehicle in Pensacola, Florida. He was soon charged with Kimberly Leach’s murder and also the Chi Omega murders. He plead in his own defense that he was not guilty. On July 23rd, he was found guilty of the Chi Omega murders. On July 30th, Judge Cowart imposed the death penalty two times for the murders of Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy.
February 9th, 1980, was the sentencing trial for Kimberly Leach’s murder. It was also quite the spectacle. While interviewing a defending witness Carole Ann Boone, they exchanged vows. The two were considered officially married, due to Florida laws stating that a verbal promise made under oath was enough to “seal the agreement”. He was sentenced to death by electric chair for the third time. Ted appealed both cases and both appeals were denied. He continued to try. His execution date was scheduled for March 4th, 1986, but it was postponed.
While on death row, Bundy decided to confess to more crimes. He had admitted to shocking things such as keeping victims’ heads at home as trophies and dabbling in necrophilia. It was said that it was likely that he was responsible for the deaths of over one hundred women. Sadly, no one will ever know. He was only held responsible for the deaths of 36 women.
On January 24th, 1989, early in the morning he was electrocuted. Many people who stood outside waiting, cheered and the crowd was joyous to know that this was over.