For me, the Bundy case cuts close to home. I graduated from the University of Washington in 1973, and one of my friends dated one of Bundy’s victims. My last residence near campus was in Bundy’s hunting grounds, just blocks from his earliest known abductions. Another very close friend was a life guard at busy Lake Sammanish the day of the Ott and Naslund abductions.
Bundy’s killing spree kicked off a lot anti-male caution and even paranoia. It got so bad that I even wondered for a time about my friend. When the Chi Omega killing occurred in Florida after Bundy’s second jail escape in 1978, I immediately said it was Bundy, and I wasn’t the only one in Seattle to say so. It took Florida police a week to figure this out after he was detained. My personal favorite Ted Bundy (1946-1989) photo-
Given this history, my curiosity was piqued by Netflix’s new four-hour docu-series on Bundy called “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” I found it quite comprehensive, as it utilizes lesser-known sources. Bundy’s criminal terror career is already well documented, but I recommend the Netflix series to fill any gaps in knowledge.
The Sundance Institute announced that the movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” about Bundy is to debute at the Sundance Film Festival, opening Jan. 24, 2019.
So rather than rehash his crimes, let’s focus on the creation of this monster and an alternative theory of his MO.
One aspect not discussed much is Bundy’s childhood. Ted, or rather Theodore Robert Cowell, was born into a Vermont home for unwed mothers in 1946. It’s important to understand that in that era, a pregnant unwed woman was considered something shameful. Rather than face scorn among friends and neighbors for getting knocked up, the woman would hide out someplace — like an unwed-mothers home — to serve out the term of her pregnancy.
But Bundy was abandoned during his first three months of infancy and thus deprived of both a mother and father’s nurture. When rescued later by his mother and grandfather, he then fell into the household and hands of his maternal grandfather, Sam Cowell, with whom he lived until the age of 4. Family, friends and even young Ted were told that his grandparents were his parents and that his mother, Eleanor “Louise” Cowell, was his older sister.
Cowell’s wife was super submissive. At some point, she was hospitalized for depression and administered shock therapy. She was beaten by Cowell, who also had a proclivity to abuse neighborhood animals. Cowell would speak aloud to unseen presences. There is a theory that Ted was the product of an incestuous relationship between his mother and his grandfather. Regardless, Ted Bundy was the genetic offspring of mentally ill people. Family members felt that Ted and Louise needed to be rescued from Cowell’s household.
Like his grandfather, Ted was obsessed with social acceptability. Although he showed promise, Ted had a low threshold for setbacks and failures, such as his first year of law school at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma; and for not meeting the expectations of his serious girl friend, who was a princess type. It’s during this period that Ted says “his mind went blank” and he hardly remembers what went on “during that summer”.
Ted’s mother, Louise, was notable for being detached and one must say dissociative. After she was presented with the totality of Bundy’s crimes, she switched gears and asked the two investigative reporters if they were game for apple pie and ice cream. This is a matter-of-fact aspect of Ted Bundy’s personality as well.
When Ted was 5 years old, Louise married John Bundy, who just so happened to be employed as a cook at a military hospital at a joint Army-Air Force complex. Later, the infamous Dr. Louis Jolyn West said of Ted, and perhaps revealing the method, stated, “Somewhere in that man’s childhood, a woman beat him with a stick.” Bludgeoning was an M.O. of Ted Bundy’s murders. Was an already warped young Bundy perhaps plucked up by the Crime Syndicate for further terror development?
Later, when the family moved to Tacoma, we see a familiar pattern seen in split-persona personalities. Ted supposedly attended Woodrow Wilson High School, but all of his records have strangely disappeared.
Although he didn’t describe himself as a reclusive child or adolescent, Ted later stated, “I didn’t know what made people want to be friends. I didn’t know what underlay social interactions.” Nonetheless, he adopted an effective mask to hide his disconnection.
During high school, he was arrested but not charged at least twice on suspicion of burglary and auto theft.
Showing shades of Israel Keyes, Bundy as a teen began heavy alcohol consumption and masturbatory peeping-Tom activities at night. We believe that the darker spirits come out from around midnight until about 4 a.m. and will add to mind-warping. People with the wrong formative fundamentals should avoid traipsing around at these hours at all costs. He reveled in it.
Bundy revealed that during a murder it was necessary to “sedate” with alcohol the “dominant personality” that he feared might prevent his inner “entity” from acting on his impulses
He perused detective magazines, crime novels and true-crime documentaries with stories that involved sexual violence — particularly when the stories were illustrated with pictures of dead or maimed bodies.
As a preteen, he was fond of “panting” girls and burning dead animals.
He enrolled at the University of Washington in 1966 but drifted in and out, going to Temple University in Philadelphia for a quarter.
Then, and rather inexplicably, he was awarded a summer scholarship to study “intensive Chinese” at Stanford (a spook curriculum) in 1968. This was the geographical epicenter of the serial-killer outbreak in the U.S. About the only thing Bundy seemed qualified for at this stage was as a budding serial killer. At that point, at the age of 23, nothing in his bio then or history since hinted at any interest in Chinese studies.
Almost precisely corresponding with his Stanford “studies,” he was dumped by his girlfriend, Stephanie, and fell into a deep funk. Additionally, “someone” revealed to him his birth certificate showing his paternity was “unknown.”
Quickly following “spook studies” at Stanford, he turned up as a Washington State delegate for Nelson Rockefeller at the 1968 GOP Convention in Miami. No kidding.
For much of 1969, Bundy drifted around to places like Arkansas and Aspen, Colorado, for inexplicable reasons. His claim of being a “ski instructor” turned out to be fabricated. What was he doing in these places?
In September 1969, drifting back to Seattle, he picked up a Mormon girlfriend from Utah with a string of aliases, such as “Liz Kendall” and “Meg Anders.”
Bundy worked with various police commissions between 1972 and ’73. During this stint, he got to observe first hand their methods and failings, which proved useful to him as a terror killer. During his 1974 murder spree, Bundy managed to land a position working in Olympia at the Department of Emergency Services (DES), a state government agency involved in the search for the missing women. Is this an infiltration template of some sorts- for instance Smiley Face Killers?
The degree of police “incompetence” was off the charts. For example Bundy told his last lawyer Polly Nelson that when he was arrested for kidnapping in Utah, searchers missed a collection of Polaroid photographs of his victims.
From 1971 to ’72, he worked for a suicide hotline service called the Seattle Crisis Center, where he became friends with true crime reporter Ann Rule (1931-2015). She wrote a bestselling book on Bundy called “The Stranger Besides Me.”
Rule wrote, “Logically, statistically, demographically, the chance that Ted Bundy and I should meet and become fast friends is almost too obscure to contemplate.”
The late Dave McGowan suggests some of this was a backstory. Rule pushed the lone-killer narrative and, for some reason, gaslighted those considering a gang, cult or satanic angle. McGowan also points out that crisis centers are often infiltrated by cult members looking for recruits among vulnerable people.
Next, Bundy went to Harborview to work in psychiatric counseling. All this would have given him entree into the dark underbelly of society and at a very unsettling time. Was Bundy being introduced to like-minded psychopaths? And all this shortly before he began his crime spree in 1973.
Bundy said, “The really scary thing is that there are a lot of people who are not in prison who were far more successful than I.”
He specifically states that murder for him was about “mastering life and death.”
His years at the commission and crisis clinics prepared him, and we suggest, were about making contacts with others of his twisted persuasion.
In the Netflix documentary, Bundy is shown confessing to 30 murders. However, he uses certain language — specifically, that he “was involved in 30 killings.” There could very well be others he didn’t confess to. There are many still many unsolved cases of missing women in Northwest during the 1970s.
involvement- n: the fact or condition of being involved with or participating in something. … personal association with someone.
Another clue that the whole story hasn’t been pursued came from Bundy himself:
“I mean, talk about fiction. That’s what history is. You never know if historians, for one reason or another, well-intentioned or not, are creating things that they wish had happened, or thought happened, or would like to have happened, because it satisfies their own preconception of what they think the history should have been.”
And then there is the missing File 1004 at Seattle PD tracking occult crimes.
On July 14, 1974, there were the Lake Sammamish State Park murders of Janice Ott and Denise Naslund. Bundy confessed to Seattle task force detective Bob Keppel to being “involved” in these killings. He also told investigators that Ott was still alive when he kidnapped Naslund, and one was forced to watch as he murdered the other. So how did he manage this without an accomplice?
On October 18, 1974 in Utah Bundy targeted Melissa Anne Smith—the 17-year-old daughter of the police chief of Midvale (Salt Lake City suburb)—disappeared after leaving a pizza parlor. Her nude body was found in a nearby mountainous area nine days later. Postmortem examination indicated that she may have remained alive for up to seven days following her disappearance. Bundy went on a hunting trip a day after the Smith disappearance. Would Bundy need an accomplice to do this?
With the Utah killings, Bundy was dropping suggestive hints to his old girl friend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, who called Seattle PD. Bundy was moving up on the suspect list, so police showed their best Lake Sammanish witness Bundy’s photo in a line up. The witness failed to identify him.
When Det. Keppel questioned Bundy about the photo at left (Keppel believed it was Bundy’s VW), Bundy recognized the scene and said “law breakers,” denoting he knew what was happening there.
What follows is from the record:
Keppel: “Is that you? It’s Lake Sammamish State Park, 1974. The tree, cops roll in and take care of the –
Bundy: Law breakers.
Bundy: Well, I mean, we’re in the ballpark.
By saying “law breakers” and telling Keppel he was in the ballpark, Bundy was admitting he had personal knowledge concerning what was taking place. When Keppel pressed him about the car, believing it was his and wanting him to admit it, Bundy responded, “Well, I — is it?”
Bundy knew that wasn’t his car, but he was telling the investigator he was in the ballpark, meaning the car was nearby. There were thousands of photos taken at the park, but Bundy isn’t spotted in any.
Indeed a total of five witnesses described a man not really resembling Bundy speaking in a Canadian or British accent. British Columbia was also enduring a wave of serial killings and disappearances at this same period. Most of these 1970s killings are still unsolved. Were one or more of these Canadian killers a Bundy sidekick at Lake Sammanish or perhaps elsewhere?
And how did Bundy so easily come across an unlocked get away car with key in ignition after his second jail escape in Colorado.
Then we have the Lake Sammamish police sketches of an individual seen with Janice Ott. Does this resemble Ted Bundy? Not really.
Stanley M. Bernson is a convicted murderer who followed the M.O. and prototype of Ted Bundy around the same time. He is a suspect in up to 30 disappearances and murders. He is a member of a “brotherhood” of accomplices bound by a “covenant.”
Bernson, who operated out of the Tri-Cities, Washington, claims to have been “a travelling partner” of Ted Bundy.
The internet is strangely scrubbed of any Bernson references, but this snippet turns up in an Oregon criminal trial lawyer publication:
“Bernson’s lawyer, the late Dennis Hachler, said that his client used to run with Ted Bundy and, he added, Bernson made Bundy look like a choir boy.”