Monday, January 24, 2011

Jan. 24, 1989: Ted Bundy Executed

At approximately seven o'clock on the morning of January 24, 1989, Ted Bundy, perhaps the most notorious serial killer in the U.S., died in the electric chair. It had been a long journey consisting of multiple captures, escapes, manhunts, trials, appeals, and denials. The crowd gathered outside let out a jubilant cheer and set off fireworks. The assembled media outlets breathlessly reported the news that Ted Bundy had finally gotten what he deserved.

Bundy was guilty of murdering an estimated 35 women in the Pacific Northwest, most of whom had long, dark hair parted in the middle. He would routinely approach an intended victim wearing a fake plaster case, claiming he needed assistance, to lure her to his tan VW Beetle. He would bludgeon, sexually assault, and ultimately murder his victim before dumping the body in a remote area. Like most serial killers, he had a troubled childhood. During his college years, he was stunned to learn that his sister was actually his mother, and his parents were really his grandparents. This revelation came right on the heels of a devastating break-up with his college girlfriend, from which he would never recover.

Bundy was extremely smart and handsome, however. He studied law, psychology, and politics, and gave many the impression of a responsible young man with great ambition. He seemed especially trustworthy and was well respected by college professors and professionals. Few that knew him would ever suspect what he did in his spare time.

Bundy was captured more than once, but managed to escape twice -- first by leaping out of a courthouse window, and the second time by losing enough weight to crawl through the jail ceiling amd strolling right out a main door. Following his second escape in 1977, he traveled to Florida where he went on his final, murderous rampage. Forgoing his previous tactic of luring unsuspecting victims, he broke into a Florida State University sorority house and, using a tree branch, bludgeoned and assaulted four women, two of whom survived. After another failed kidnapping attempt and with police hot on his trail, Bundy claimed his final victim, 12-year-old Kimberly Leach. A week later, Bundy was caught driving a stolen car and subdued after trying to escape. Fingerprints identified him as the FSU killer.

He went through multiple trials and appeals, many just an effort to manipulate the system and put off his impending execution. He frequently changed lawyers and even defended himself at one point. He eventually confessed to several crimes unknown to police and helped investigators in the Green River Killer case. Eventually, his options ran out and his eleven-year stretch on Death Row came to an end.

READ MORE: The Crime Library

READ MORE: Wikipedia

IN PRINT: The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule

ON FILM: The Deliberate Stranger


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