Ted Bundy: Detective reveals how they caught serial killer
In the space of just four years, Ted Bundy raped and murdered dozens of women and girls in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, and Florida. While it is estimated that he was responsible for 100 deaths, one of the 20th century’s most notorious criminals confessed to just 36. In 1979, he was sentenced to death three times, one of which was for the horrific rape and murder of Kimberly Leach who was just 12 years old when he stole her life from her. Her murder came just one month after the killings of Florida State University students Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman. Here, Express.co.uk reveals the final moments of the heinous killer’s life before he finally sat in the electric chair on January 24, 1989, to jubilant celebrations outside the jail.
The notorious serial killer, who is believed to have reigned terror over several states from 1974, would keep trophies from his victims, in some cases decapitating their heads and taking them back to his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. There he would wash their hair and cover them in makeup.
Bundy was finally arrested in 1978, and following a well-publicised trial, he awaited his death on Florida State Prison’s Death Row in Raiford where it was alleged that he was gang-raped by four prisoners in 1984, according to prosecution lawyer George R. Dekle in his 2011 book The Last Murder.
Although the Bundy interview tapes, recorded while he was on death row, revealed that the serial killer was terrified of being sexually assaulted, it appears he had no fear of his imminent death. He said: “It’s an eye for an eye — it’s no deterrent. It does not and never will restore any measure of compensation to the victims’ family or the state.”
On his final day, January 24, 1989, Bundy refused to touch his last ever meal. He had refused to choose a death row meal and was instead given the standard plate of steak, eggs, hash browns, and toast.
Bundy, who once bragged that he was the “most cold-hearted son of a b**tch you’ll ever meet”, had spent the night before his death weeping and praying with the Methodist minister Fred Lawrence, according to a Los Angeles Times article, written in 1989.
Ted Bundy, who was executed in 1989, had steak, eggs, hash browns and toast for his final meal
Kimberly Leach was both Bundy’s youngest and final victim
On his final day, Bundy, who had worked on a suicide prevention hotline, called his mother before he sat down on the chair that would end his life. No family was there as neither he nor his mother wanted her to go through the “agony” of watching it.
With his arms and legs strapped to the chair, he surveyed the 42 witnesses, including those who had prosecuted him. When asked if he had anything to say, he hesitated before “quavering”, turning to his attorney Jim Coleman and the minister, Mr Lawrence, and saying: “Jim and Fred, I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”
Both men nodded. Bundy had married Carole Ann Boone in 1980, while he was on trial for the murder of 12-year-old Kimberly. While Bundy was locked up, the couple even conceived a child, Rosa, who was born in October 1982.
A strap was pulled over his mouth and chin, and the heavy black veil of the metal skullcap covered his face before an executioner pressed the button. 2,000 volts coursed through his body, ending the life of one man who had caused pain and suffering to so many.
The “lady killer” was pronounced dead at 7:16am — news that brought relief to many. Hundreds gathered outside the prison singing, dancing, and setting off fireworks while chanting “burn, Bundy, burn”. When his body came out in a hearse, it was met with cheers.
Florida State University’s Chi Phi fraternity celebrating the execution of Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy’s brain was examined by researchers following his execution in 1989
For some of those affected, the punishment did not go far enough. Eleanor Rose, mother of 19-year-old Denise Marie Naslund who was kidnapped and murdered by Bundy in 1974, said: “For everything he did to the girls — the bludgeoning, the strangulation, humiliating their bodies, torturing them — I feel that the electric chair is too good for him.”
Exactly when Bundy began his killing spree is not known for definite as he embellished the truth following his arrest. However, in early 1974, women in Seattle and Washington began to disappear and in February of that year, he claimed his first confirmed victim.
Within the space of just six months, Bundy took a total of eight women’s lives, before venturing further afield. He used his charisma and good looks to earn the trust of his victims — and later the public — luring them by asking for help, feigning an injury or impairment, before kidnapping them.
The former law student had sex with the corpses and claimed he was addicted to murder, describing how his acts made him feel as though his victims became a part of him.
But after his death, the story was not over for Bundy — scientists resolved to establish what had made Bundy, a seemingly upstanding citizen, into such a monster. So following his death, his brain was removed and examined, undergoing a series of experiments.
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Researchers found that Ted Bundy’s brain was completely normal with there being no deformities
When he had been alive, experts suggested that Bundy — who had compared his desire to rape and kill to drug addiction — had been manipulative with poor judgement, a sociopath, a narcissist, or had multiple personality disorder.
Witnesses described Bundy’s switch in his mood as being terrifying. Dr Dorothy Otnow Lewis, a psychiatrist who examined Bundy prior to his death, spoke to an investigator who interviewed him in his cell in Florida and was left feeling as though he was about to become the serial killer’s next victim.
Dr Lewis told how the investigator said Bundy had become “weird”, adding: “He did a metamorphosis, a bit of a body and facial change, and… almost an odour emitted from him.”
The incident lasted 20 minutes with the investigator stating that there was a change of personality with extreme tension. They told Dr Lewis: “I was afraid of him… it was very scary.”
Researchers have in some cases connected brain injuries with criminality, but when they took a closer look at Bundy’s brain, it was completely normal. There were no deformities, injuries, or legions.