Serial Killers in Film

Ted Bundy: True Crime Background

Name: Theodore Robert Cowell (“Ted Bundy”)
Occupation: Murderer, Criminal
Birth Date: November 24, 1946
Death Date: January 24, 1989
Place of Birth: Burlington, Vermont
Place of Death: Starke, Florida
Cause of Death: Electric Chair
Number of Killings: Admitted to 36 (experts believe close to 100)

Ted Bundy was one of the most notorious criminals of the late 20th century. Experts labeled Bundy a 1970’s serial murderer, rapist and necrophilia ( Editors, 2017). Bundys’ case has inspired many novels and films about serial killers including a few based off his exact case such as “Ted Bundy Film” and “The Stranger Beside Me”. Ted Bundy was born in Burlington, Vermont on November 24, 1946 by his unmarried mother, Eleanor Cowell. Being that she had Bundy at the age of 22, Eleanor felt as though she let down her extremely religious parents and felt ashamed. Therefore, she soon gave her son to her grandparents to be raised as an adopted child while she pretended to be his sister. In 1951, Teds’ mother married his step-father and had several children together where he grew up to Tacoma, Washington. Around the age of three, Bundy became fascinated by knives and as he continued to grow a darker side of his character started to emerge. As a teenager, Bundy liked to peer into other people’s windows and thought nothing of stealing things he wanted from other people. As a student at the University of Washington, Bundy fell in love with wealthy, pretty, young women from California. Crime Investigation (2017) states that many of Bundys victims resembled attractive fair toned women with long, dark hair. His killings also followed a gruesome pattern where he’d often raped his victims before beating them to death. Once detectives found definite evidence against Bundy, he was given the death penalty twice in 1979. 

According to Crime Museum (2017), Bundy tended to prey on young and attractive college women, first near his home in Washington, then moving east to Utah, Colorado, and finally in Florida. He would wear his arm in a sling or his leg in a fake cast and walk on crutches and fake disability to convince his victims to help him carry books or unload objects from his car. Bundy was also known to impersonate authority figures, such as police officers and firefighters to gain victims trust before he attacked. Once the victims got to his 1968 tan Volkswagen Beetle, he would strike them over the head with a weapon resembling a crowbar or pipe. After hitting his victims, he would place them in handcuffs and place them inside the passenger side of his vehicle where he removed the seat so the victims would lie out of sight as he drove away. Racheal Bell (2011) states in her article that Bundy would typically strangle or bludgeon his victims as well as mutilate them after death. He would return to visit the corpse at their dump sites or even take them home to display their decapitated heads in his apartment or sleep with their corpses until putrefaction made it unbearable. Several people contacted the police to report Bundy as a matching suspect to the crimes that were being committed over time. He was able to avoid many accusations by learning how to leave no evidence that could be traced by the basic forensic techniques of the 1970’s. On August 16, 1975, Bundy was arrested for the first time in Utah after fleeing from a police car. Police searched Bundys vehicle and found masks, handcuffs, rope, and other sinful items but nothing solid enough to link him to the crimes. After being released, Bundy remained under surveillance until he was arrested again for the kidnapping and assault of one of his victims several months later. After being transferred from Utah to Colorado, Bundy escaped custody but managed to get caught within a week. He then managed to escape a second time on December 30, 1977 and was able to reach Florida where he resumed his rape and killing spree of at least 6 more victims, 5 whom attended Florida State University. On February 15, 1978, Bundy was apprehended again for a traffic violation and finally sentenced to death and died in the electric chair on January 24, 1989. 

Bell, Rachael. “Ted Bundy, Notorious Serial Killer.” Not Reality. Actuality., Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc.: A Time Warner Company, 2011,
“Ted Bundy.” Edited by,, A&E Networks Television, 2 Aug. 2017,
“Ted Bundy.” Edited by Crime Investigation, Crime + Investigation, 31 July 2017,
“Ted Bundy | Serial Killers | Crime Library.” Edited by Crime Museum, Crime Museum, 2017,

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