Ed Bundy Biography & Facts
Theodore Robert Bundy (born Cowell; November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989) was an American serial killer who kidnapped, raped and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. After more than a decade of denials, he confessed to 30 murders committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978. His true victim total is unknown and likely significantly higher.Bundy was often regarded as charismatic and handsome, traits he exploited to win the trust of both his victims and society as a whole. He would typically approach his victims in public places, either feigning a physical impairment such as an injury, or impersonating an authority figure, before bludgeoning them into unconsciousness and taking them to secondary locations to be raped and strangled. Bundy often revisited his victims, grooming and performing sexual acts with the corpses until decomposition and destruction by wild animals made any further interactions impossible. At least twelve of his victims were decapitated and their severed heads kept as mementos in his apartment. On a few occasions, he broke into homes at night and bludgeoned his victims as they slept.
In 1975, Bundy was arrested and jailed in Utah for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. He then became a suspect in a progressively longer list of unsolved homicides in several states. Facing murder charges in Colorado, Bundy engineered two dramatic escapes and committed further assaults in Florida, including three murders, before his ultimate recapture in 1978. For the Florida homicides, he received three death sentences in two trials. Bundy was executed at Florida State Prison in Raiford on January 24, 1989.
Biographer Ann Rule characterized 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." Bundy once described himself as "the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you'll ever meet," a statement with which attorney Polly Nelson, a member of his last defense team, agreed. "Ted," she wrote, "was the very definition of heartless evil."
Ted Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell on November 24, 1946, to Eleanor Louise Cowell (1924–2012, known by her middle name) at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. His biological father's identity has never been confirmed; his original birth certificate apparently assigns paternity to a salesman and United States Air Force veteran named Lloyd Marshall, though a copy of it listed his father as unknown. Louise claimed she met a war veteran named Jack Worthington, who abandoned her soon after she became pregnant. Census records reveal that several men by the name of "John Worthington" and "Lloyd Marshall" lived near Louise when Bundy was conceived. Some family members expressed suspicions that Bundy might have been fathered by Louise's own father, Samuel Cowell. In the 2020 documentary film Crazy, Not Insane, psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis claimed she received a sample of Bundy's blood—though she did not specify from where—and had arranged a DNA test which confirmed that Bundy was not the product of incest.For the first three years of his life, Bundy lived in the Philadelphia home of his maternal grandparents, Samuel (1898–1983) and Eleanor Cowell (1895–1971), who raised him as their son to avoid the social stigma that accompanied birth outside of wedlock at that time. Family, friends, and even young Ted were told that his grandparents were his parents and that his mother was his older sister. Bundy eventually discovered the truth, although his recollections of the circumstances varied; he told a girlfriend that a cousin showed him a copy of his birth certificate after calling him a "bastard," but he told biographers Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth that he had found the certificate himself. Biographer and true crime writer Ann Rule, who knew Bundy personally, wrote that he did not find out until 1969, when he located his original birth record in Vermont. Bundy expressed a lifelong resentment toward his mother for never talking to him about his real father, and for leaving him to discover his true parentage for himself.Bundy occasionally exhibited disturbing behavior at an early age. Louise's younger sister Julia recalled awakening from a nap to find herself surrounded by knives from the kitchen, and three-year-old Ted standing by the bed, smiling. Bundy's childhood neighbor Sandi Holt described him as a bully, saying, "He liked to terrify people... He liked to be in charge. He liked to inflict pain and suffering and fear."In some interviews, Bundy spoke warmly of his grandparents and told Rule that he "identified with," "respected," and "clung to" his grandfather. In 1987, however, he and other family members told attorneys that Samuel was a tyrannical bully who beat his wife and dog, exhibited bigotry (including religious intolerance, racism, and xenophobia), and swung neighborhood cats by their tails. In one instance, Samuel threw Julia down a flight of stairs for oversleeping. He sometimes spoke aloud to unseen presences, and at least once flew into a violent rage when the question of Bundy's paternity was raised. Bundy described his grandmother as a timid and obedient woman who periodically underwent electroconvulsive therapy for depression and feared to leave their house toward the end of her life. These descriptions of Bundy's grandparents have been questioned in more recent investigations. Some locals remembered Samuel Cowell as a "fine man", if a bit eccentric. A cousin of Bundy claimed that the negative characterizations of Samuel Cowell likely arose to explain why his grandson became a serial killer. In addition, Louise's sister Audrey stated that their mother couldn't leave her home because she suffered a stroke due to being overweight and was not mentally ill.
In 1950, Louise changed her surname from Cowell to Nelson and, at the urging of multiple family members, left Philadelphia with Ted to live with cousins Alan and Jane Scott in Tacoma, Washington. In 1951 she met Johnny Culpepper Bundy (1921–2007), a hospital cook, at an adult singles night at Tacoma's First Methodist Church. They married later that year and Johnny formally adopted Ted. Johnny and Louise conceived four children together, and though Johnny tried to include his adopted son in camping trips and other family activities, Ted remained distant from him. He would later complain to a girlfriend that Johnny wasn't his real father, "wasn't very bright," and "didn't make much money."Bundy varied his recollections of Tacoma in later years. To Michaud and Aynesworth, he described roaming his neighborhood, picking through trash barrels in search of pictures of naked women and to Polly Nelson he said that he perused detective magazines, crime novels, and true crime documentaries for stories that involved sexual violence, particularly when .... Discover the Ed Bundy popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Ed Bundy books.