The Murders and Victims of Ted Bundy

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Ted Bundy was an active serial killer, kidnapper, necrophile, and rapist during the 1970s. Bundy was born in Burlington, Vermont on November 24th, 1946 to his unwed mother, Eleanor Louise Cowell, and an unknown father. Bundy lived with his grandparents in Philadelphia and began showing signs of disturbing behavior by the age of three. Bundy left Philadelphia with his mother in 1950 and moved around the country for the rest of his childhood. He grew up without friends and had no knowledge of how to make interpersonal relationships with his classmates.

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Pictured are Ted Bundy, upper right, with his grandmother in the middle, and his cousins.


Ted Bundy was known for luring his victims in by faking a disability or impersonating an authority figure, which allowed him to gain the trust of his victims. His victims were typically young college girls whom he lured in using his intelligence and charm. On January 4, 1974, shortly after midnight, Bundy assaulted 18-year-old Karen Sparks in her apartment with a metal bed rail while she slept. The young woman suffered both internal and external injuries that left her unconscious for 10 days. Sparks was left with mental and physical disabilities, but was one of the few victims that survived. Later in the year, Bundy’s first known murder took place. Bundy confessed to up to 30 murders, but he was believed to have committed many more.


Bundy’s first arrest took place on August 16th, 1975. He was pulled over in Utah for speeding when he noticed a highway patrol officer following him. The officer searched his car and arrested him for evading an officer, but he was later freed on bond. The officers were suspicious of Bundy and contacted investigators in Washington who confirmed that Bundy was on their list of suspects for the series of murders. Ted Bundy left a witness in Washington who identified Bundy from a lineup as the man who kidnapped her almost a year earlier. Bundy was sentenced to 15 years for kidnapping. Bundy was linked to several more crimes and extradited to Colorado where he orchestrated his first of several escapes. Pictured is Ted Bundy’s mug shot taken in Salt Lake County Jail on October 3rd, 1975.

The Problem of Catching a Killer

First Arrest

On August 16th, 1975, in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ted Bundy was in his car, parked outside a home at 3:00 in the morning. Sergeant Bob Hayward noticed the vehicle and approached. As soon as Bundy noticed the patrol officer, he sped away. Hayward followed the car until he finally caught up and pulled Bundy over. Bundy claimed that he was lost after seeing a movie in the drive-in, but that movie was not playing that night. Suspicious, Hayward searched the vehicle. Inside were handcuffs, an ice pick, ski mask, flashlight, trash bags, rope, and gloves. Bundy persuaded the officer that he was coming back from a ski trip and that the rest of the items were only essentials. Bundy was arrested for evading an officer, but was freed on bond. However, Hayward remained suspicious of Bundy, so he contacted two investigators in Washington. Also pictured is Ted Bundy’s tan 1968 Volkswagen Beetle.

Second Arrest

When the officers realized that Bundy was on their suspect list for the kidnapping of Carol DaRonch in 1974, Bundy was placed in a lineup with the other suspects. DaRonch immediately identified Bundy as her kidnapper. There was still not enough evidence to conclude that Bundy was responsible for the disappearances of over 30 women, but he was now in custody. The bail placed on Bundy’s sentence was $15,000, which was paid by his parents. Eventually, he was placed on trial again and was found guilty of kidnapping and assault. On March 1, 1976, Bundy was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in Utah State Prison but was extradited to Pitkin County Jail in Colorado.


While awaiting a hearing at the Pitkin County Courthouse, Bundy jumped out of a second-story window. Bundy was a fugitive for six days. On his getaway, he broke into cabins and trailers and stole a car. While driving in Aspen, Colorado, he was seen weaving in and out of his lane and was pulled over by two police officers. Bundy was put back into custody.

Bundy escaped jail a second time in 1977 and traveled to Florida. At this point, he was put on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. While in Florida, Bundy assaulted five more girls, killing three of them. On February 15, 1978, Bundy was arrested 2 months after his escape for driving a stolen car.

A Long Awaited Solution

Ted Bundy was found guilty of two counts of murder on July 24, 1979. Shortly after, on February 7, 1980, he was found guilty on another count of murder and one count of kidnapping. Ted Bundy remained in Florida State Prison for nine more years. On January 24, 1989, Bundy was executed by electric chair at the age of 42.

The Victims

The first murder Ted Bundy admitted to was Lynda Ann Healy. Healy disappeared on January 31, 1974, while she was in her house, which she shared with 3 other girls. Lynda was supposed to make dinner for her parents, but when her parents arrived, she was nowhere to be seen. Police searched her room and found a bloodstain under the blanket on her bed, along with her blood-stained nightgown. Lynda’s remains were found more than a year later while investigating what would be called “Bundy’s Graveyard”. Bundy continued with his murders in Washington until September of 1974. Bundy admitted to committing over 10 more murders while he was in Washington.

Murders in Colorado

After Bundy left Washington, he resided in Colorado. His next string of murders took place between February and August of 1975. His Colorado victims included Caryn Campbell, Julie Cunningham, Denise Lynn Oliverson, Melanie Cooley, and Shelley Robertson, all between the ages of 18 and 26 years old. His final Colorado murder was of Shelley Robertson, who was reported as missing. Her family and friends initially believed she had taken off for a hiking trip as she had done in the past. When her body was discovered months later in a coal mine, the truth was laid bare. Ted Bundy confessed to this murder before his execution.

Murders in Florida

A few years later, Bundy escaped from prison for the second time and traveled to Florida. This is where he would commit his final three murders. Bundy attacked a house of four college students on January 14, 1978. Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner were seriously injured, while Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman were killed. Kimberly Leach, a 12-year-old, was also killed just a month after his attack on the college students. Bundy was arrested, effectively ending his murderous spree.

How Ted Bundy’s Childhood Influenced His Future

Ted Bundy had a very lonely childhood. His inability to form an emotional attachment to his family is believed to be the primary cause of his psychopathic tendencies as a young adult. But how exactly did his suffering from attachment disorders shape his chilling future?

A Dysfunctional Family

Ted Bundy was an illegitimate child. His mother, Louise Cowell, could not support him. As a result, Bundy grew up in Philadelphia, raised by his grandparents. He was led to believe that his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister. When he discovered the truth about his family, it left him deeply confounded. He pleaded with his mother to reveal more about his father, but she refused. Then, when his mother married a man with children from a previous relationship, Bundy found himself out in the cold. Despite the family secrets and the diversion of attention to his stepsiblings, he purportedly had a normal and stable childhood.

In junior high school, Bundy’s peers described him as a charming and intelligent student with an excellent academic record. He was actively involved in clubs and school activities. However, when Bundy transitioned to high school, his peers noticed a decline in his academic performance and his engagement in school activities. They observed him becoming increasingly introverted and awkward in social situations.

Bundy’s criminal behavior began with window peeping and escalated to shoplifting. His guilt over these actions ebbed away as his family became increasingly religious, which he later cited in an interview. He suggested that his rebellion was a way to comfort himself after having to deal with a turbulent family environment and a strained relationship with his stepfather.

The Connection

The troublesome childhood of Ted Bundy was the leading cause of his psychopathic tendencies. His deteriorating relationship with his mother began when she refused to tell him about his biological father and only got worse when she diverted her attention to her new stepchildren. The emotional stress caused Bundy to resort to committing countless crimes, each escalating in severity as the years went by. Bundy admitted in an interview that his reason for killing was to establish “possession of a person”, which can only be explained as a way to feel less lonely. He killed women as an emotional outlet and a means of concealing his loneliness.

Ted Bundy vs. Gary Ridgway

  1. Both had lonely childhoods.

Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway (Green River Killer) both had disturbing childhoods. Ted Bundy was shut out by his mother, while Ridgway was a poor student who was abused by his parents. The early lives of these two men drastically influenced their behaviors as adults.

  1. Both are married with children.

Both men had wives and children. Bundy married Carole Anne Boone and conceived a child with her, named Rose Bundy, while he was in prison. Gary Ridgway was married three times. Gary had a child named Matthew Ridgway with his second wife, Marcia Brown. Both men were very trustworthy and appeared as though they lived regular lives.

  1. Both were rapists, necrophiles, and killers of women.

Both killers hunted young women. Bundy typically preyed on college girls, while Ridgway targeted prostitutes and young runaways. The murder strategies were eerily similar between the two killers. Bundy and Ridgway were both necrophiles and were known to revisit their victims’ corpses.

  1. Both committed over 30 murders.

Ted Bundy confessed to 30 murders of young college girls, but it is believed that he committed many more. Gary Ridgway committed 49 confirmed murders. Both murderers were very intelligent, in the sense that they went years without being caught.

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The Murders and Victims of Ted Bundy. (2022, Nov 14). Retrieved from