5 Facts You May Not Know About Infamous Serial Killer Ted Bundy
From his chilling childhood to his explosive execution, go inside the twisted world of the notorious serial killer.
As one of history’s most notorious serial killers, Ted Bundy still commands a nightmarish fascination. While Bundy’s known crimes are horrifying enough — more than 30 murders, combined with rape, torture, and necrophilia — part of his wicked allure stems from what remains mysterious about him.
Beyond just the speculation that he perhaps killed and violated more victims than we’ll ever know, the facts of Bundy’s life suggest an incarnation of evil that remains chilling in every detail. Here are five eye-opening facts about Ted Bundy.
1. Ted Bundy Is 1 Of 17 Infamous Serial Killers Born In November; Others Include Charles Manson & Charles Starkweather
A recent study of the birth patterns of historically prominent serial killers and mass murderers showed that most months top out with 9, while November somehow produced 17 of the most reviled slayers the world has ever known.
Ted Bundy, for example, was born on November 24, 1946, exactly eight years to the day after the unfortunate arrival of Charles Starkweather, the “teenage thrill killer” who kidnapped his 14-year-old girlfriend Caryl Ann Fugate and murdered 11 victims on an interstate crime spree between late 1957 and early 1958.
November 23, meanwhile, brought us both Dennis Nilsen (1945), a murderer and mutilator nicknamed the “British Jeffrey Dahmer,” and UK taxi driver Derrick Bird (1939), the “Cumbria Killer” who in 2010 fatally shot 12 people, including his own twin brother.
In terms of big-time horrific name recognition, homicidal hippie cult leader Charles Manson came into the world on November 12, 1934; while Rosemary West, who assisted her husband Fred West in torturing and killing at least nine young females including her eight-year-old stepdaughter, was born on November 29, 1953.
Other reviled life-takers in the November birthday club include David Parker Ray, aka “The Toy Box Killer” (November 6, 1939); Eugene Watts, “The Sunday Morning Slasher” (November 7, 1953); and Moses Sithole, “The South African Strangler” (November 17, 1964). [CrimeFeed]
2. Bundy Grew Up Thinking His Mother Was His Sister & Rumors Persist That His Grandfather May Have Actually Been His Father
In 1946, 22-year-old Louise Cowell gave birth to a son she named Theodore Robert at the Elizabeth Lund Maternity Home For Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont.
The birth certificate initially listed an Air Force vet named Lloyd Marshall as the father, but Louise later said the baby was actually sired by “a sailor” who may have been named Jack Worthington. No records ever turned up to substantiate that story.
More troublingly, rumors have long circulated that Louise’s own father may have raped her, resulting in the pregnancy that produced Ted Bundy. Again, though, no proof has ever been presented regarding that possibility.
To avoid scandal in post-WWII society, young Ted was first raised in Philadelphia, believing his grandparents were his parents and that Louise, his biological mother, was actually his sister.
It’s thought that Bundy discovered the truth upon finding his birth certificate as a teen and that it disturbed him. Nonetheless, he was later quoted as saying he liked and looked up to his grandfather, Samuel Cowell.
Some accounts report that Samuel was a loud, violent bigot who beat his wife and even abused the family dog. In the meantime, Eleanor Cowell, Bundy’s grandmother, reportedly lived in terror of her husband and received electroshock therapy treatments.
After Louise Cowell moved in 1950 to Tacoma, Washington, she met and married John Bundy, a restaurant cook who adopted Ted and thereby gave him the last name that has since become so notorious. [CrimeFeed]
3. Bundy Helped Police Catch The Green River Killer
Between 1982 and 1988, Gary Ridgway murdered 71 known female victims long Highway 99 outside of Seattle and became known as the “Green River Killer.”
Ridgway was convicted for 49 of the slayings, but he has speculated the real tally might be closer to 90.
As the culprit eluded capture for years, the Kings County Sheriff’s Office set up a Green River Killer task force that included Police Detectives Robert Keppel and Dave Reichert. One afternoon in 1984, they received a letter from Ted Bundy. He said he wanted to help.
Six years earlier, Bundy had been convicted for a multitude of horrors and was on Death Row in Florida. Bundy wrote that, having committed crimes similar to those being investigated, he could offer unique insight into the killer.
Keppel and Reichert took Bundy up on his offer and interviewed him numerous times, and it proved worthwhile. Bundy suggested that the suspect likely came back to body dumpsites to violate the remains and, therefore, police should stake out any fresh graves they found. Bundy even came up with a nickname for the killer that, for a while, stuck: “Riverman.”
One proposal Bundy pitched that cops didn’t follow through on was holding a “slasher film festival” and taking stock of any suspicious characters who showed up to see it.
In 1995, Keppel authored a book on the case titled The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer, in which he wrote: “Most of the homicide-behavioral theorists on the case … expected that any day a crazy psycho would be found running down the street with a bloody knife in his mouth. They did not go for the subtlety of the murderer’s methods.” Ted Bundy did. [Spokesman-Review] [All That’s Interesting]
4. Bundy Died Weeping In The Electric Chair While Crowds Cheered
It happened on Tuesday, January 24, 1989. Witnesses said Ted Bundy spent his closing hours at Starke State Prison in Florida crying hysterically. Bundy also claimed he was praying.
The moment arrived years after Bundy had been convicted for the 1978 rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl. He was then later convicted of killing two FSU Tallahassee students. In addition to those crimes, Bundy was known to have murdered at least 36 other females, although some observers say the real number could top 100.
As a result, Bundy had a 7 A.M. sit-down scheduled that winter morning with “Old Sparky” — the prison’s sardonically nicknamed electric chair — and he was not going quietly.
In the weeks leading up to his death date, Bundy began confessing to dozens of other murders, directing authorities to potential evidence sites in Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. He hoped new cases would delay the execution. They didn’t.
For his final words, Bundy turned to Reverend Fred Lawrence and his attorney, Jim Coleman, and said, “Fred and Jim, I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”
The switch got pulled on Old Sparky at 7:06 A.M. Ten minutes later, a doctor officially pronounced Bundy dead.
Outside the prison, a crowd of about 500 had gathered to mark the moment. Catholic nuns and other death penalty opponents held a silent vigil, but they were drowned out by rapturous throngs who showed up to celebrate the execution.
Chanting “Burn, Bundy, Burn” and waving signs such as “Tuesday Is Fry-Day,” the revelers popped champagne corks, danced, and high-fived upon hearing that Ted Bundy was dead. [CrimeFeed]
5. A Ted Bundy Survivor Approved Of Zac Efron Portraying The Killer In A Controversial Movie
While Ted Bundy has been the topic of numerous films both narrative (such as the 1986 TV-movie The Deliberate Stranger) and documentary (such as 2018’s The Bundy Tapes), no Bundy flick has generated controversy on the order of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019).
At issue, reportedly, was the performance by grown-up Disney teen heartthrob Zac Efron in the central role of Bundy. Some critics complained that Efron made the murderer come off as excessively “charming.”
Of course, many of those who dealt with the real Bundy said the killer’s tightly controlled smooth style and powerful charisma played a key part in his ability to lure victims and disarm them into being vulnerable.
Among those who endorsed Efron in the role of Bundy was Kathy Kleiner Rubin, a survivor of Bundy’s horrific 1978 attack on a Florida State University sorority house.
Speaking to TMZ, Kleiner Rubin said, “I don't have a problem with people looking at it, and as long as they understand that what they're watching wasn't a normal person. I believe that in order to show him exactly the way he was, it's not really glorifying him, but it's showing him, and when they do say positive and wonderful things about him ... that's what they saw, that's what Bundy wanted you to see.”
Kleiner Rubin went on to say that she hopes the film will help women going forward, stating, “I think everyone should see it and understand him as what he was, even when he was the perfect son. I think hopefully it will make women — mainly that’s my heart, to care for the women — to be more aware of their surroundings and to be cautious. He had different tactics that he used to help people — to help people get in cars or do things. In your gut, if you feel that something doesn’t feel right, just say no.” [CrimeFeed]