By: Dana Poll, MLIS
Theodore “Ted” Robert Bundy was a serial killer, rapist, and a necrophiliac. Here’s everything you need to know about him — and his victims.
Ted Bundy — Quick Facts
Name: Theodore “Ted” Robert Bundy (42 year old) – born Theodore Robert Cowell before he was formally adopted by his stepdad and took on the lastname Bundy
Known aliases: Chris Hagen, Kenneth Misner, Officer Roseland, Richard Burton, Campus Killer, and Rolf Miller
Birth: November 24, 1946, in Burlington, Vermont
Date Apprehended: August 16, 1975
Known Active States: Colorado, California, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington
Dates of Murders: 1974-1978 (possibly earlier)
Convictions: First-degree murder (x3), attempted first-degree murder (x3), aggravated kidnapping, and burglary
Penalties: 2 death sentences (1979, 1980), 1-15 years in prison (1976)
Death: January 24, 1989, executed in Florida via the electric chair
Ted Bundy’s Victims: Know their names.
Despite confessing to the murders of at least 30 women during the 1970s, the number of actual victims remains unknown but some believe it to be higher. Here are the names of his known victims and survivors:
- Karen Sparks, known as Joni Lenz (18) – Survived January 4, 1974 attack
- Lynda Ann Healy (21) – February 1, 1974
- Donna Gail Manson (19) – March 12, 1974
- Susan Elaine Rancourt (18) – April 17, 1974
- Brenda Carol Ball (22) – June 1, 1974
- Georgann Hawkins (18) – June 11, 1974
- Janice Ann Ott (23) – July 14, 1974
- Denise Marie Naslund (18) – July 14, 1974
- Roberta Kathleen Parks (20) – May 6, 1974
- Nancy Wilcox (16) – Missing since October 2, 1974
- Melissa Anne Smith (17) – October 26, 1974
- Laura Aime (17) – October 31, 1974
- Debra Kent (17) – November 8, 1974
- Carol DaRonch (18) – Survived November 8, 1974 attack
- Susan Curtis (16) – Abducted on June 27, 1975. He admitted to murdering her in his final confession. She is still considered a missing person and her remains have never been found.
- Caryn Campbell (23) – January 12, 1975
- Julie Cunningham (26) – March 15, 1975
- Denise Oliverson (24) – Missing since April 6, 1975, confessed to killing Denise, and disposing of her body in the Colorado River. Her remains have never been found.
- Melanie Cooley (18) – April 15, 1975
- Shelley Robertson (24) – July 1, 1975
- Lynette Culver (12) – Missing since May 6, 1975, confessed to killing Lynette and disposing her body into the Snake River. Her remains have never been found.
Florida 1978 — Chi Omega Attack
- Margaret Bowman (21) – January 15, 1978
- Lisa Levy (20) – January 15, 1978
- Kimberly Leach (12) – February 9, 1978
- Karen Chandler (22) – Survived January 15, 1978 attack
- Cheryl Thomas (21) Survived January 15, 1978 attack
- Kathy Kleiner (20) – Survived January 15, 1978 attack
Who was Ted Bundy?
Theodore Robert (Ted) Bundy was a serial killer, rapist, and a necrophiliac. He abducted and murdered women in several states throughout the 1970s.
Ted was born on November 24, 1946. His mother, 22-year-old Eleanor Louise Cowell, gave birth to a son at a home for unwed mothers. His paternity is unknown, but some say his father was Lloyd Marshall, a college graduate and air force veteran. Others believe he may have been a man named Jack Worthington, and still others say his father was his grandfather. Ted’s birth certificate lists his father as unknown, so we will probably never know his biological father’s true identity.
Shortly after Ted was born, his mother moved back into her parent’s home in Philadelphia. The Cowell’s were religious people and were humiliated by the birth of an illegitimate child. Instead of sharing the truth, they created a story they could live with. They told everyone, including Ted, he was adopted and his mother was his sister.
After living the lie for a few years, Eleanor and Ted moved to Tacoma, Washington. It was here that she met Johnnie Bundy. The couple married in 1951 and had several children together. Ted took his step-father’s name, but he never really respected him. In his eyes, Johnnie was uneducated and “too working class” for his liking.
It was during his teenage years that Ted’s behavior began to change. A darker side of the shy, bright child emerged. He was caught peering into people’s windows and stealing whatever he wanted without feeling any remorse.
After graduating in 1965 from Woodrow Wilson High School in Tacoma Washington, Bundy attended multiple colleges and universities, including the University of Puget Sound, Temple University, and the University of Washington.
While attending the University of Washington and studying psychology, Bundy met fellow student, Stephanie Brooks (pictured), and fell in love. She was and had everything he wanted: beauty, money, and her family was influential. When she broke off the relationship, Bundy was devastated. It has been said that many of Bundy’s victims resembled this young woman.
In 1972, Bundy graduated from the University of Washington and was accepted into the University of Utah (Law School). Although he never graduated, he put his education to use in later years when he represented himself in the courtroom.
What was Ted Bundy’s Modus Operandi (MO)?
Ted Bundy preyed on predominantly young women whom he abducted, raped, and murdered in several states across the country. He was known for his charming and manipulative nature, often luring his victims into his car under false pretenses before attacking them.
Bundy was also known to disguise himself by altering his facial hair, using different style of clothing, wearing glasses, posing as authority figures, and faking injuries with casts to gain sympathy. Some of these disguise elements have since captured the intrigue of murderabilia collectors.
What car did Ted Bundy Drive?
Ted Bundy drove a beige 1968 Volkswagen Beetle. The Beetle was a very popular car with college students in the 1970s. Bundy chose this car because it was cute and non-threatening, and really popular at the time. It allowed him to blend in and hide in plain sight.
Bundy traveled extensively between Washington and Colorado, making several trips from Salt Lake City, Utah, over the Rocky Mountains to Aspen, Colorado and beyond. According to Google Maps, this trip takes nearly 7 hours. The stock 1968 Volkswagen Beetle had a 4-speed manual transmission and a 4-cylinder engine. The maximum speed on a straightaway was 80 miles an hour. Based on this information, it would have taken Bundy a lot longer than 7 hours to make this trip. The beetle was definitely not the most efficient choice of transportation when traveling long distances through the Rocky Mountains, but it was inconspicuous.
Who was Ted Bundy’s Girlfriend?
In 1969, Bundy met Elizabeth (Liz) Kloepfer, at the University of Washington. They dated for 5 years, and their relationship spanned the years that Bundy was murdering young women. In 1981, Kolofer wrote about her life with Bundy in The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, under the pseudonym Elizabeth Kendall. This book was the inspiration for the 2019 Netflix movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile starring Zac Efron and Lily Collins.
How did Ted Bundy get caught?
As the number of deaths rose and reports from witnesses spread like wildfire, a number of worried people called the police, thinking that the elusive killer known as “Ted Bundy” might be responsible. But law enforcement dismissed these claims over and over again because Bundy seemed to have a good name and a clean image. He was able to stay free for even longer because he knew how limited forensics were in the 1970s, so he didn’t leave behind much evidence that could be used to tie him to the murder scene.
Law enforcement got their first break on August 16, 1975, when Bundy was finally apprehended in Utah after a daring escape from a patrol car.
Although a subsequent search of his vehicle yielded a chilling array of masks, handcuffs, ropes, and other items, no conclusive evidence linking him to the crimes was found. Bundy was temporarily released but was kept under constant surveillance.
Several months later, Bundy was back in custody following his involvement in the abduction and assault of one of his victims. However, Bundy’s need to outsmart law enforcement could not be tamed. He managed to escape custody again, this time during his transfer from Utah to Colorado for a court date. Luckily, authorities were able to recapture him within a week.
On December 30, 1977, he made a third daring escape, this time heading to Florida, where he targeted at least six more victims, five of them being students at Florida State University.
When was Ted Bundy executed?
His reign of terror finally ended on February 15, 1978 when he was detained for a routine traffic violation. A crucial mistake for a man who was able to evade capture for so many years. In the end, Bundy faced the full weight of the law and justice was served. He was sentenced to death and died in the electric chair on January 24, 1989.
Ted Bundy Documentaries and Movies
The Deliberate Stranger – 1986
Ted Bundy – 2002
The Stranger Beside Me – 2003
The Riverman – 2004
No Man of God – 2021
Best Selling Books About Ted Bundy
The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy. Stephen G. Michaud
The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History. Kevin M. Sullivan,
Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer. Stephen G. Michaud
The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy. Elizabeth Kendall (New edition 2021)
The Stranger Beside Me. Ann Rule (New Edition 2019)
How You Can Help
These victims and their stories deserve to be remembered. There are many other women whose disappearances and deaths could be potentially linked to Bundy. Due to a lack of evidence or Bundy’s refusal to confess, their cases remain unresolved. Consider exploring the Uncovered Database for cases from the 1970s in the states he frequented.
Together, we can make a difference.