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Who Was Ted Bundy?
Ted Bundy was a 1970s serial murderer, rapist and necrophiliac. He was executed in Florida's electric chair in 1989. His case has since inspired many novels and films about serial killers.
Ted Bundy's Parents and Siblings
Eleanor Louise Cowell, who went by Louise, was 22 years old and unmarried when she gave birth to her son Ted. Ted's father may have been Lloyd Marshall, an Air Force veteran and a Penn State graduate, according to Ann Rule, a coworker of Ted's and the author of the book The Stranger Beside Me. Other sources had Ted's father's name as Jack Worthington, while some rumors had it that his father was also his grandfather. Because Ted's birth certificate lists his father as "unknown," his biological father's identity may never be confirmed.
In 1951, Louise married Johnnie Bundy. While Ted took his name, he reportedly didn't have much respect for his stepfather, whom he resented for being too uneducated and working class. Johnnie and Louise had several children together.
Louise was working as a secretary at the University of Puget Sound and still married to Johnnie in the 1970s when Ted was accused of his crimes. She refused to believe the charges for years, although she changed her stance after he confessed.
Bundy was born in Burlington, Vermont, on November 24, 1946. Bundy started life as his mother's secret shame, as his illegitimate birth humiliated her deeply religious parents. Louise delivered Ted at a home for unwed mothers in Vermont and later brought her son to her parents in Philadelphia.
To hide the fact he was an illegitimate child, Bundy was raised as the adopted son of his grandparents and was told that his mother was his sister. Eleanor moved with Bundy to Tacoma, Washington, a few years later, and soon married his stepfather Johnnie.
From all appearances, Bundy grew up in a content, working-class family. He showed an unusual interest in the macabre at an early age. Around the age of 3, he became fascinated by knives. A shy but bright child, Bundy did well in school but not with his peers.
As a teenager, a darker side of his character started to emerge. Bundy liked to peer in other people's windows and thought nothing of stealing things he wanted from other people.
Ted Bundy waves to a TV camera at his indictment for the January murders of FSU coeds Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman.
Photo: Getty Images
Bundy graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in psychology in 1972. He had been accepted to law school in Utah, although he would never earn his degree.
While a student at the University of Washington, Bundy fell in love with a wealthy, pretty young woman from California. She had everything that he wanted: money, class and influence. He was devastated by their breakup. Many of Bundy's later victims resembled his college girlfriend—attractive students with long, dark hair.
By the mid-1970s, Bundy had transformed himself, becoming more outwardly confident and active in social and political matters. He even got a letter of recommendation from the Republican governor of Washington after working on his campaign.
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Bundy confessed to 36 killings of young women across several states in the 1970s, but experts believe that the final tally may be closer to 100 or more. The exact number of women Bundy killed will never been known. His killings usually followed a gruesome pattern: He often raped his victims before beating them to death.
While there is some debate as to when Bundy started killing, most sources say that he began his murderous rampage around 1974. Around this time, many women in the Seattle area and in nearby Oregon went missing. Stories circulated about some of the victims last being seen in the company of a young, dark-haired man known as "Ted." He often lured his victims into his car by pretending to be injured and asking for their help. Their kindness proved to be a fatal mistake.
How Ted Bundy Was CaughtIn the fall of 1974, Bundy moved to Utah to attend law school, and women began disappearing there as well. The following year, he was pulled over by the police. A search of his vehicle uncovered a cache of burglary tools—a crowbar, a face mask, rope and handcuffs. He was arrested for possession of these tools and the police began to link him to much more sinister crimes.
In 1975, Bundy was arrested in the kidnapping of Carol DaRonch, one of the few women to escape his clutches. He was convicted and received a one-to-15-year jail sentence.
Prison EscapesBundy escaped from prison twice in 1977. The first time, he was indicted on murder charges for the death of a young Colorado woman and decided to act as his own lawyer in the case. During a trip to the courthouse library, he jumped out a window and made his first escape. He was captured eight days later.
In December, Bundy escaped from custody again. He climbed out of a hole he made in the ceiling of his cell, having dropped more than 30 pounds to fit through the small opening. Authorities did not discover that Bundy was missing for 15 hours, giving the serial killer a big head start on the police.
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Chi Omega Sorority House Break-In
After Bundy's second escape from prison, he eventually made his way to Tallahassee, Florida. On the night of January 14, 1978, Bundy broke into the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University. He attacked four of the young female residents, killing two of them. On February 9, Bundy kidnapped and murdered a 12-year-old girl named Kimberly Leach.
These crimes marked the end of his murderous rampage, as he was soon pulled over by the police that February.
The most damning evidence connecting Bundy to the two Chi Omega murders at FSU were bite marks on one of the bodies, which were a definitive match to Bundy.