Ann Rule began volunteering at the Suicide Crisis Center after her brother committed suicide. He felt guilty about his death and wanted to do something to help suicidal people. He answered the phone at night and into the early hours of the morning. There were only two people on the night shift, her and a courteous, friendly and empathetic young man who convinced people not to commit suicide. His name was Ted Bundy, probably the worst serial killer in American history.
As they worked nights side by side, they became firm friends, even though Ann Rule was 10 years older, had four children, and was married. Ted was a student at the University of Washington, majoring in psychology, and was an honor student. During quiet nights, they shared aspects of their lives as friends do.
No one saw Ted Bundy as a threat, as a murderer. What they saw was a charming, intelligent, helpful and friendly young man, universally called “handsome.”
In 1971, Ann was a single mother of four, she was 35 years old and struggling with a divorce and a sick husband. He had briefly been a police officer, but now made a meager living writing true crime articles for magazines. When college students began disappearing at the rate of one a month, Ann Rule was awarded a publishing contract to write an entire book on the murderer of these young women. He said this to Bundy, not thinking that he could be the killer.
Bundy was a smart predator who used a variety of methods, such as a fake leg cast, pretending he couldn’t walk, and getting young women to help him get to his car. At that point, he would have an iron bar ready to attack them and would shove his unconscious body into his car, took them to a remote location and murdered them, often after raping them. Other times he would pick up hitchhikers or pretend to be a police officer telling a woman that someone had got into her car and that she should go with him to the police station.
Some women were saved; These women took action, doubted their stories and refused to go second, following their instincts, they were the ones who survived. Interestingly, the dogs seemed to feel like he was not a good person and kept up a rampage when he tried to get through the front door. Generally, women believed in his charm, his lies. Ann Rule found it hard to believe that he was the serial killer, even when she saw his sketch of Identikit in the newspaper, where she instantly recognized him as Bundy.
Bundy had multiple girlfriends, but was able to compartmentalize them, so they were unaware of the other’s existence, even when he was engaged to two different women at the same time. While he was in prison, accused of the most evil and monstrous murders, he always had one or more women who loved him, supported him, believed in his innocence. And as the years went by, he acquired groupies who struggled to get into his trials, overjoyed if he smiled at them as they sat in the front row of the courtroom.
There is no question that this is a fascinating tale of probably the worst American serial killer of all time. He murdered “at least 100 women”. On two occasions he committed more than one murder on the same day. The women, in most cases, disappeared as if they had been taken by an alien. A woman, had 100 meters to walk to her apartment, saw two friends on the way, the final distance she had to travel was barely 10 meters to the door of her house. It disappeared without a trace, without a sound. This was common to many of the murdered women. Many bodies were not found for months or years, many have never been found. There were no clues, no one saw or heard anything. And the killer, Ted Bundy lived an exemplary life. He studied law at different universities, worked as a security guard, in a government department, was a volunteer for the Republican Party, he was charming, friendly and very persuasive.
This fact book is definitely creepy. But there are things to learn from him. In one case, two women walked to their car at night. One returned to his flat, about 100 meters away, to look for a forgotten key. The other was waiting in the car. When the woman returned with the key, she saw a man dragging his friend away with a headlock. He let out an almighty scream, which was heard a few blocks away. The man, Ted Bundy, released her and left.
There are parts of this book that are gruesome, the murders, fortunately the vilest parts, like the necrophilia, are not fully detailed. The book is largely a biography of Bundy’s life and a short autobiography of Ann Rules’s connection to Bundy. Much of the book is about his legal defense (he had been a law student and graduated in psychology) and how he used all the tricks he could to stay alive. He had three different execution orders waiting for him.
Ann Rule would have known Bundy better than anyone. After going their separate ways, they continued to correspond as friends, by mail and phone calls. Ann Rule strongly suspected Bundy of the murders, but found it difficult to reconcile the Bundy she knew with the hideous murderous Bundy. This was despite the fact that he had vast experience in law and gave seminars to police detectives on many criminal matters. During her lifetime, she has written 33 books and 1,400 articles mainly on criminal cases, so she was not naive about murderers. She followed her case through the courts, the detectives working on the murders, and the phone calls and letters Bundy sent her.
As time passed, she became convinced of his guilt, even as he continued to skillfully deny it. In court, the evidence against him was never strong. There was no DNA, no fingerprints, he always wore gloves and rarely left the slightest evidence, even the bodies were not found for months, years and, in many cases, they have never been found. His defense team succeeded in having some important police evidence removed from the trials. But members of the public, women who escaped death, were able to identify him. The tooth marks on a woman’s body exactly matched her teeth. The hairs found in a mask matched her hair. Weapons, a knife, cast and crutches were found in his possession. The evidence was irrefutable.
It’s a fascinating book, detailing how he was eventually caught, his two-time escape from custody, the failure of the criminal justice system to coordinate information from other states. Bundy killed, not just in one state, but in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, California, and probably more. There were many similarities in these kidnappings and murders, yet each state kept the information to themselves. If the information had been shared, they would have caught him years earlier.
It is not known how many women, mostly between the ages of 15 and 25, Bundy killed, but the best estimate is “at least 100.” Many bodies have never been found, dumped in remote places. In addition to this, over the years, many credible witnesses have come forward to describe how Bundy harassed them or tried to kidnap them.
There are many theories about his mental condition. He was mad? After many mental tests, the answer was always negative. The most likely description was sociopath (psychopathic). He was usually lucid, intelligent, persuasive, and charming. At times, he displayed violent anger that scared those who saw him. There is no consensus on why he committed these murders or what his mental defect was.
For ten years, Bundy argued that he was innocent, but even in his final hours after confessing thirty murders, he did not take the blame. The blame, he said, was the pornography that messed up his mind and led him to carry out the murders. However, many years before he had written to Ann Rule telling her that no one looked at these pornographic books, and he certainly had no interest in them.
Ted Bundy was executed in Florida in 1989.