The most distinguishing factor of a serial killer is multiple victims, generally four or more victims. A serial killer will continue killing until he is made to stop. Serial killers differ from mass murders. A mass murder may open fire in a bank and kill several people, making him a mass murderer. A serial murderer does not kill several people in a matter of hours only. The killer goes through phases. He claims a victim, has a cooling off period, and then claims another victim in a week or month. A serial killer may even wait years before claiming another victim. The killers go through a cooling down period, but will eventually kill again. Serial killers are most often white men between the ages of 25 – 35. Serial killers, in most cases, work alone. The murderer most often does not know his victim nor have they had any previous contact with each other. A serial killers motivation is death. He has a need to kill as others have a need for food. A serial killer can appear “normal” to neighbors and friends.
Ted Bundy is known as one of the most notorious serial killers. He was born in November of 1946 to a 22 year old unwed mother, Eleanor Louise Cowell. Teds father, whom he never knew, was an air force veteran. After Ted was born his mother moved him from the home for unwed mothers to her parents house in Philadelphia. Bundy later referred to his grandparents as his mother and father and his natural mother was known to him as his sister. Bundy grew up believing his mother was his much older sister. When Ted was four, he moved with his mother to Tacoma Washington to live with relatives. A year after the move Teds mother married an army cook, Johnnie Culpepper Bundy. Ted assumed the last name and it later become synonymous with murder.
Ted spent much of his youth baby-sitting his four younger siblings. He remained a distant relationship with the man who became his step father. His new father tried to raise him as his own. Ted, however, never really related to him. He thought of himself more of a Cowell and less of a Bundy. He missed his “parents” in Philadelphia.
Growing up Ted was known as a shy classmate. He often became the butt of pranks and jokes by other school mates. Classmates recall Bundy being smart, well dressed and mannered. He was well respected in high school and maintained a high grade point average. Although he became more confident and popular with the transition from junior high to high school, he did not date and took little interest in the opposite sex. His interests lay in politics and skiing.
After Ted graduated from high school in 1965, he won a scholarship to the University of Puget Sound and later transferred to the University of Washington. There he began an intensive interest in Chinese and his interests for politics bloomed. Although Ted maintained a high grade point average, he was less consistent with his jobs. He took low paying, entry level jobs to pay for school. His work habits were poor and he never stayed with one position for too long. His focus remained on his studies until 1967. That year Ted Bundy begin a relationship that would forever change his life. Ted met a beautiful, sophisticated young women, Stephanie Brooks. She was from an upper class family in California and Ted was madly in love with her. They had little in common with each other aside from skiing. It was during skiing trips that the two fell in love. Although Stephanie felt strongly towards Ted she also felt he had little ambition and didnt see him in her future. Ted was completely infatuated with her. She was his first major relationship and the first women he was sexually intimate with. Ted tried hard to impress her and keep their relationship from going sour. But Stephanie didnt believe he would permanently fit in to her lifestyle. Stephanie graduated from the University of Washington in 1968 and broke of her relationship with Ted. It was something that he never got over. Depressed over the break up he dropped out of school. He had trouble keeping interest in anything after his true love left him. They kept in touch through letters, but Stephanie made it clear she did not want to be together. This break up would lead to a spiraling obsession.
To make matters worse, Ted learned in 1969 that his “sister” was really his natural mother, and his “parents” were actually his grand parents. This caused another change in Bundys personality. He took on an icy demeanor. He was no longer a shy introverted person. He became focused again, but in a more aggressive, dominant way. He was driven to prove himself to the world, and maybe more importantly, to Stephanie Brooks. He re-enrolled in college to study psychology. Bundy excelled this time around, becoming an honors student and well liked by his professors. Also around this time, Bundy met another women. Meg Anders, a young secretary and single mother, fell deeply in love with Ted. Ted still maintained an cool attitude and Meg knew he didnt feel as strongly for her as she did him. She was unsure if she was the only woman Ted was seeing. She was also unaware of his former girlfriend and their relationship as it continued in letters. Ted remarked that there was a difference in his feelings for Meg. Stephanie would remain the one true women he ever loved.
Between 1969 and 1972 Teds life changed dramatically. He had high hopes for his future. He began filling out law school applications and regaining an interest in politics. It was through this interest that Ted met up with Stephanie Brooks again. He worked on a campaign to re-elect a Washington governor. In a 1973 trip to California for the Washington Republican party, Ted met with Stephanie for a night out. Stephanie was impressed with the noticeable change in Ted. He was much more mature and less aimless. Unknown to Meg, the women Ted was living with, he met with Stephanie several other times. Once again, Stephanie fell in love with Ted. During the fall and winter they met for many intimate rendezvous and even went so far as to discuss marriage. But then an interesting thing happened. Unlike their previous courtship where Ted lavished his attention on Stephanie, this time he was cool to her. At times he seemed despondent and indifferent. It seemed as if Ted had lost all interest in Stephanie. Stephanie was confused by the change and even more so when, in February of 1974, Ted ended all contact with Stephanie with no explanation. It was as if he intentionally did to her what she had done to him years earlier. Stephanie never heard from Ted again.
In the winter of 1973, the first of Bundys victims were found. His victims all had striking similarities. All were white, thin, young, single, and wearing slacks at the time of the disappearance. He used police impersonations, and fake casts to lure his victims. Most of the women were crudely sexually assaulted. All died off blunt force to the head, probably from a crow bar. It is rumored that he may have killed over 40 women. He confessed, before being executed, to murdering 36 women.
Events that altered Ted Bunnys life more that anything happened within the same time frame. After suffering a broken heart from his first love , he also had his family reality shattered. The people he believed to be biological parents were really grandparents. His mother, who had posed as his sister for so many years, now revealed she was his natural mother. This devastation and the fact that the events overlapped one another may explain the rage he had towards women. Some of his victims were sexually assaulted with hairspray bottles and bed posts. Nearly all of the victims were raped or sodomized or both. The bodies were gruesomely beat and strangled. It was as if he was releasing his frustrations from the two women who hurt him most on women he never even knew. These two events, I believe, directly affected his violent spree of killing and also the victims he chose. All the victims were young, slim, and attractive. Perhaps it was a way for him to seek revenge on Stephanie over and over again. The two women he was closest to betrayed him in the worst possible ways, and it was something that he never recovered from. This led to his deviant behavior against women.
Ted Bundy especially interested me because he had been so successful in eluding the police. He moved quickly from victim to victim and left by little of or no physical evidence. He escaped from jail twice and killed more than 30 women in 2 years time. I also found it interesting that he was such a productive part of society. This was not a seedy man from the wrong side of town. He was a college graduate, participated in local politics, and even volunteered on a crisis line in his spare time. He was an attractive man whom police thought posed little harm. Five people called to turn Ted Bundys name in to the police after seeing a composite sketch. But police found it hard to believe the apparently respected man could be responsible. Ted Bundy seemed, for a time, to be one step ahead of the police. His escapes and his role in the community interested me. The fact that such a respected, intelligent, attractive man could be a serial killer intrigued me.
As stated earlier, a serial killer needs to kill. He will kill and kill until someone stops him. I dont believe there is any hope for rehabilitating these people. Their pattern has already been set. The serial killer follows a cycle. And when it comes full circle, he kills again. This behavior cannot be changed. To a serial killer their need to kill is as simple as our need of water and food. It is a desire they must fulfill and will do what they have to achieve their goal. Ted Bundy escaped twice to continue his cycle. I dont believe there is a chance for a positve change in such people.
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