October 6, 2002
Ted Bundy didn't have it all but he had most of it: good looks, charm, smarts, and ambition. He could have been anything he wanted to be. Instead he became the poster boy for serial killers, killing as many as 40 young women and girls as young as 12 years old during a four-year rampage in the mid 1970s. He was so mainstream that the Washington State Republican Party hired him, so cunning that twice he escaped from jail, and so dashing a figure that women sent marriage proposals to him on death row.
by David Lohr
Mention the term "serial killer" and Ted Bundy's name is frequently the first to pop into mind. Before he was executed in 1989, he admitted to murdering 40 young women in almost a dozen states during his four-year reign of terror in the mid-'70s. In the process he became one of the most feared and prolific serial killers in U.S. history. But what sets Bundy apart is how different he was from the stereotype of the homicidal madman: He was so mainstream that the Washington State Republican Party hired him, so cunning that he twice escaped from jail, so dashing a figure that women sent marriage proposals to him on death row.
What caused Ted Bundy to snap and murder countless young women and girls as young as 12 years old for no apparent reason? The devil is in the details. Many of his early victims bore a physical resemblance to Bundy's first girlfriend, who was tall and slender and wore her long brown hair with a part in the middle.
Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell on November 24, 1946, in Burlington, Vermont. Bundy's mother, Eleanor Louise Cowell, was unmarried and just 22-years-old at the time of his birth. Bundy's father, Lloyd Marshall, apparently wanted nothing to do with him, so he and his mother moved to Philadelphia to live with her parents. In an unusual twist, Eleanor's parents, out of fear that their daughter would be criticized for having a bastard child, raised Bundy as their own son, leaving him to believe that his mother was his older sister.