The Profile of Serial Killer Ted Bundy

Serial Killer, Rapist, Sadist, Necrophile

Ted Bundy
Mug Shot

Theodore Bundy was attractive, smart, and had a future in politics. He was also one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history who confessed to the brutal murders of 36 women, although it is believed that he killed many more. He screamed his innocence until his death in the electric chair became imminent, then he tried to use his victims one more time - to keep himself alive. His plan failed, and the world got a glimpse of the depth of the evilness that ruled him.

Ted Bundy's Childhood Years

Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell on November 24, 1946, at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. His mother, Eleanor Louise Cowell (who went by Louise), remained at the Lund Home for eight weeks before returning to Philadelphia to live with her parents and to raise her new son.

In the 1950s being an unwed mother was scandalous and illegitimate children were often teased and treated as outcasts. To avoid having Ted suffer, Louise's parents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell, acted as his parents. For several years of his life, Ted thought his grandparents were his parents, and his mother was his sister. He never had any contact with his birth father, whose identity forever remained a mystery.

According to relatives, the environment in the Cowell home was volatile. Samuel Cowell was an outspoken bigot who would go into loud verbal rants about his dislike of blacks, Italians, Jews, and Catholics.

He physically abused his wife and children and brutalized the family dog. He suffered hallucinations and would sometimes talk or argue with people who were not there. Eleanor was submissive and fearful of her husband. She suffered from agoraphobia and depression. She periodically received electric shock therapy, which was a popular treatment during that time.

Tacoma, Washington

 In 1951 Louise packed up and, with Ted in tow, moved to Tacoma, Washington to live with her cousins. For unknown reasons, she changed her surname from Cowell to Nelson.  While there, she met and married Johnnie Culpepper Bundy. Bundy was an ex-military cook who was working as a hospital cook. Johnnie adopted Ted, and changed his surname from Cowell to Bundy. Ted was a quiet, well-behaved child although some found his behavior unsettling. Unlike other children who seem to thrive on parental attention and affection, Bundy preferred isolation and disconnection from family and friends.

As time went on, Louise and Johnnie had four more children, and Ted had to adjust to not being an only child. The Bundy's home was small, cramped, and tense. Money was scarce. Because Ted was always so quiet and well behaved, he was often left alone while his parents dealt with their more demanding children. Ted’s growing developmental issues went unnoticed as what had turned into his extreme introversion was explained away as Ted's shyness.

Ted Bundy's Teenage Years

Despite the circumstances at home, Bundy grew into an attractive, quiet teenager who got along with his peers and performed well in school.

He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1965. According to Bundy, it was during his high school years that he began breaking into cars and homes. This change from always being the well behaved Ted, into being a petty thief, might have begun due to his desire to go downhill skiing. It was the only sport he was good at, but it was expensive. To participate, he would use stolen skis and fake ski passes.

Although his police record was expunged at the age of 18, it is known that Bundy was arrested twice on suspicion of burglary and auto theft.

After high school, he entered the University of Puget Sound and continued to do well academically, but felt uncomfortable around his fellow peers who were predominantly wealthy. In his sophomore year in 1966, Bundy transferred to the University of Washington to study Chinese and to escape the uncomfortable feeling of his financial inadequacy.

Throughout his years at high school, Bundy suffered from acute shyness that resulted in his appearing socially awkward. This affliction followed him through college and, although Bundy had friends, he never blended comfortably into doing much of the social activities others were doing. He rarely dated and kept to himself. But in 1967 Bundy met the woman of his dreams. She was pretty, wealthy, and sophisticated. They both shared a skill and passion for skiing and spent many weekends on the ski slopes.

Bundy's First Love

Ted fell in love with his new girlfriend and tried hard to impress her to the point of grossly exaggerating his accomplishments. He tried to gain her approval with a summer scholarship to Stamford that he had won although his time there was less than impressive. By 1968, Bundy dropped out of college and was working in minimum pay jobs. His girlfriend decided Bundy lacked any real future and was not husband material. She ended the relationship and broke Bundy's heart, and his obsession toward her haunted him for years.

Bundy suffered extreme depression over the breakup. It was during this time that he learned the truth that his sister was his mother and his parents were his grandparents. Bundy was also getting a whispered reputation by those close to him for being a petty thief. It was during this phase of his life that his shyness was replaced with false bravado and he returned to college, excelled in his major, and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Elizabeth Kendall

Bundy became involved with another woman, Elizabeth Kendall (the pseudonym she used when she wrote "The Phantom Prince My Life With Ted Bundy"). She was a divorcee with a young daughter. She fell deeply in love with Bundy, and despite her suspicions that he was seeing other women, her devotion toward him continued. Bundy was not receptive to the idea of marriage but allowed the relationship to continue even after reuniting with his first love who attracted to the new, more confident, Ted Bundy.

He worked on the re-election campaign of Washington's Republican Governor Dan Evans. Evans was elected, and he appointed Bundy to the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Committee. Bundy's political future seemed secure when in 1973 he became assistant to Ross Davis, Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. It was a good time in his life. He had a girlfriend, his old girlfriend was once again in love with him, and his footing in the political arena was strong.

Missing Women and a Man Named Ted

In 1974 young women began vanishing from college campuses around Washington and Oregon. Lynda Ann Healy, a 21-year-old radio announcer, was among those who were missing. In July, 1974 two women were approached at a Seattle state park by an attractive man who introduced himself as Ted. He asked them to help him with his sailboat, but they refused. Later that day two other women were seen going off with him and were never seen alive again.

Bundy Moves to Utah

In the fall of 1974, Bundy enrolled in law school at the University of Utah, and he moved to Salt Lake City. In November Carol DaRonch was attacked at a Utah mall by a man dressed as a police officer, but she managed to escape. She provided police with a description of the man, the Volkswagen he was driving, and a sample of his blood that got on her jacket during their struggle. Within a few hours after DaRonch was attacked, 17-year-old Debbie Kent disappeared.

Around this time hikers discovered a graveyard of bones in a Washington forest, later identified as belonging to missing women from both Washington and Utah. Investigators from both states communicated together and came up with a profile and composite sketch of the man named "Ted" who approached women for help, sometimes appearing helpless with a cast on his arm or crutches. They also had the description of his tan Volkswagen and his blood type which was type-O.

Authorities compared the similarities of the women who had disappeared. They were all white, thin, and single and had long hair that was parted in the middle. They also vanished during the evening hours. The bodies of the dead women found in Utah had all been hit with a blunt object to the head, raped and sodomized. Authorities knew they were dealing with a serial killer who had the capability to travel from state to state.

Murders in Colorado

On January 12, 1975, Caryn Campbell vanished from a ski resort in Colorado while on vacation with her fiancé and his two children. A month later Caryn's nude body was found lying a short distance from the road. An examination of her remains determined she had received violent blows to her skull. Over the next few months, five more women were found dead in Colorado with similar contusions to their head, possibly a result of being hit with a crowbar.

Part Two > Ted Bundy is Caught