Theodore Robert Bundy (born Theodore Robert Cowell; November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989) was an American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s, and possibly earlier. Shortly before his execution, after more than a decade of denials, he confessed to 30 homicides committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978. The true victim count remains unknown, and could be much higher.
Bundy was regarded by many of his young female victims as handsome and charismatic, traits that he exploited to win their trust. He typically approached them in public places, feigning injury or disability, or impersonating an authority figure, before overpowering and assaulting them at more secluded locations. He sometimes revisited his secondary crime scenes for hours at a time, grooming and performing sexual acts with the decomposing corpses until putrefaction and destruction by wild animals made further interaction impossible. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims, and kept some of the severed heads in his apartment for a period of time as mementos. On a few occasions, he simply broke into dwellings at night and bludgeoned his victims as they slept.
Initially incarcerated in Utah in 1975 for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault, Bundy became a suspect in a progressively longer list of unsolved homicides in multiple states. Facing murder charges in Colorado, he engineered two dramatic escapes and committed further assaults, including three murders, before his ultimate recapture in Florida in 1978. He received three death sentences in two separate trials for the Florida homicides.
Bundy died in the electric chair at Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida, on January 24, 1989. Biographer Ann Rule described him as “a sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human’s pain and the control he had over his victims, to the point of death, and even after”. He once called himself “the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet”. Attorney Polly Nelson, a member of his last defense team, agreed: “Ted”, she wrote, “was the very definition of heartless evil.
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