Friday, October 7, 2011

Forensics of Horror Part 1: Ted Bundy

It's October again, the leaves are falling, the pumpkins are out, and so are the Christmas Halloween decorations. Which means it's time to focus on the Forensics of Horror again. Last year I focused on the supernatural boogie men, but this year I'm going to focus on the human monsters, which in my opinion, are infinitely more scary.

This week: Ted Bundy

 I had quite the surprise researching Mr. Bundy, nee Theodore Cowell, to find that he had his very own tie to my home state of Vermont. He was born in 1946 at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers right in Burlington. The Lund Family Center still exists helping pregnant young Vermont women though the name has changed. He was only in Vermont for a couple of months before moving to Philadelphia where he was raised under the impression that his grandparents were his parents. In 1951 he moved with his real mother where she married  Johnnie Bundy, a military cook.

His profile seems to be that of every successful serial killer. Well behaved, charismatic, quiet... He met his first love in 1968. When she left, deciding he was not husband material, he was devastated and became withdrawn and depressed. He learned his mother was not his sister as he had believed for so long. Eventually he started another relationship and though "Elizabeth" thought he was unfaithful she stayed utterly devoted.

In 1974 women began disappearing from the local college campus...

In 1975 he was stopped by police for a moving violation. In the vehicle, police found pantyhose, handcuffs, an ice pick and a crow bar. The front seat was missing. Police suspected him of burglary. Now at this time there was a woman who claimed to be attacked, the items she described were the same as those found in Bundy's car. The police made the connection and he was charged with attempted kidnapping. He was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Police were also trying to tie him to a known murder and eventually felt they had the evidence to move forward. According to credit card statements he had been in the area at the time of the murder.

In the murder trial Ted Bundy decided to represent himself. This allowed him to be in the court room without leg irons and move with complete independence in the court room, and more importantly, freely between the courtroom and the court library. In June of 1977, he escaped, leaping from a window in the library. A week later he was captured.

One would think this would make the guards more cautious but on December 30th, he escaped from prison and moved to Tallahassee Florida, next to Florida State University. He lived under the name Chris Hagan and would occasionally attend lecture. 

On Saturday, January 14, he broke into Florida State University's Chi Omega sorority house and bludgeoned and strangled to death two women, raping one of them and brutally biting her on her buttocks and one nipple. He beat two others over the head with a log. They survived thanks to the arrival of their fellow roommate Nita Neary, who came home and interrupted Bundy before he was able to kill the other two girls.

On February 9th, 1978 he killed again, this time a 12 year old girl who he mutilated. Investigators were able to match bite marks on the victims to Bundy. Remember at this time, DNA evidence was not used but we do have an example of forensic work in the bite molds which are still used to this day.

Good ol' Ted thought he could still beat the guilty verdict and turned down a plea deal.

In 1979 he want on trial for the sorority murders where he again acted as his own attorney. The trial was televised and Ted attempted to play up to the media and charm the jury. It didn't work. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

In 1980 he was put on trial for the death of Kimberly Leach, the 12 year old victim. This time he had an attorney and his court room behavior was nothing like the charismatic man known to so many. He appeared angry, slouched and glared. Appearing perhaps more the man he really was than the congenial mask. He was found guilty and received a third death sentence.

During the sentencing phase, he surprised everyone by calling Carol Boone, who was convinced of his innocence, as a character witness and marrying her while she was on the witness stand. She later gave birth to Bundy's child, a little girl who Bundy adored. Eventually Boone divorced Bundy after finally realizing he was guilty.

On January 7th, 1989, prior to being put to death, he gave details of more than 50 women he claimed to have murdered. Those closest to the case thought there were as many as 100 victims to Ted Bundy, but whether this is true or not has not been proven. He confessed to keeping severed heads and participating in necrophilia. On January 24th, 1989 at 7:13am he was put to death by electric chair while the crowd outside cheered his death.

But it's not over, because just recently Ted Bundy has made the news again. Speculation was that eight year old Ann Marie Burr may have been Ted's first victim when he was 14 years old and lived in the girl's neighborhood. A DNA profile of Bundy was recently obtained and now cold cases are being brought to light again in an attempt to link Bundy to previous murders with the forensics capability that is available now. This case did not show a match, but how many others will? The very fact that we are still looking at Bundy after his death shows the fascination is not over.


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