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Ted Bundy: The Boy Next Door

By Merlene Reynolds

He was 31 years old in 1978. He was a handsome man, by most people's accounts. His physical characteristics would have read well in a personal advertisement in the back of any local newspaper or on a website for singles. He was tall, slender with his height and weight proportional to his slender, athletic build. He attended law school and had also received a degree in psychology. He played tennis at the local country clubs and wore white tennis shoes. His name was Theodore Robert Bundy. His friends called him "Ted."

When referring to Ted, most people remarked that he was handsome, nice-looking, or attractive. "There was a special dapperness about him," writes Richard W. Larsen, Bundy: the deliberate stranger. Even the men envied his good looks and long brown hair, Larsen continues. Ted was often described using words such as: "very sharp young chap" or "nice-looking young man" or "quite handsome" or "terribly charismatic" or "rather debonair" or "impeccable." Even Ted's fourth grade teacher remembered him as a "happy, well-adjusted child... always eager to learn," explains Larsen.

In 1972, Ted received a bachelor's degree in psychology and had been active in the Republican politics and campaign efforts. Then, the next year, in 1973, he was an assistant for a few months to Ross Davis, chairman of the Washington State Republican party who later recalled that "Ted was a super bright guy" and an "effective worker," writes Larsen, in regards to what Davis said. Davis' wife, Sarah, exclaimed during this same interview that, "We just all loved Ted."

Those who knew Ted him considered him intelligent, articulate, and self-confident. "All the accolades, all the praise-filled remembrances of Ted fell into place to form a portrait of a bright young man of accomplishment, warmth, and sincerity," summarizes Larsen.

Then, three years later, in 1975, some news reporters had named the Intermountain States Law Enforcement Conference, the "Ted Squad," because thirty detectives and prosecutors had gathered in Aspen "to compare dozens of similar unsolved cases of murdered girls and young women in several states - California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado," explains Larsen. The focus and interest on Ted Bundy had starting circulating among police officers and detectives. Young women were disappearing under suspicious circumstances and at alarming frequency.

The "Ted Squad" did not deter Ted; however, the publicity only seemed to have encouraged him. Ted's grandiose view of himself and his narcissist tendencies began to surface as he welcomed the attention and celebrity following his arrest and during his trial. He was obviously "chipper" after his release from jail, explains Larsen, and even boasted that he considered his time in jail as an "eight-week course, paid for by the county, in the criminal-justice system." Ted's confidence also was seen following some preliminary court hearings when he told reporters in the corridor that he welcomed a trial, wanted to clear his name, and wanted "it all out in the open," states Larsen.

The investigations into the deaths of so many victims with similar physical appearances continued. Women who had known Ted were asked during police interviews about Ted's sexual preferences. A former female friend described sexual intercourse with Ted as more of a "slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am sex act," reports Larsen. Cas Richter, Ted's long-time girlfriend, reported in a separate interview, how Ted started experimenting with various sex moves and methods. He had once asked her if he could tie her up. She initially consented, but after three or four times, decided she didn't like it and cut him off. She had later recalled that while she was tied up, Ted strangled her.

Ted's sexual behavior began to develop into a profile. However, despite thousands of interviews, detectives were never able to "discover any proof of homosexual tendencies or activities in Bundy's life," explains Larsen, which, according to most law enforcement agencies, would have been "an expectable characteristic in a man suspected of violence against women."

The sexual behavior of a suspect is of critical importance to investigators. Sexual deviance, specifically homosexuality and the preference for anal sex, is a major clue into the underlying psychological symptoms or personality traits that motivate certain behaviors; particularly when the suspect is a sexual sadist. "Some examiners consider this behavior [anal sex] sadistic in any context because it involved the infliction of pain to a victim associated with a sexual act," writes Brent E. Turvey, author of Criminal Profiling: an introduction to behavioral evidence analysis.

There were numerous accounts of Bundy's "necrophilia and other postmortem fantasy-oriented behavior," continues Turvey. The psychosexual orientation of the offender is a critical factor when evaluating offender motives and behaviors. Considering that most of Ted's victims were no longer alive to describe his sexual behaviors, law enforcement was reliant on the descriptions given by former female friends during interviews which helped them uncover the animalistic characteristics rooted in the psyche of a sadist. Victims of sexual homicide do not have the luxury of testifying.

Psychologists and criminologists analyze behavioral characteristics from separate and distinct perspectives. The psychologist specializes in the diagnosis of specific, known individuals to determine if mental illness exists. Criminologists develop typologies of offender behavior of unknown suspects based on experience, crime statistics, and behavioral analysis of crime scenes and potential suspects. Each group agrees, however, on general behavioral assumptions regarding the complex composite of a sexual sadist. "Psychopathy and sadism are offender classifications that are behaviorally determined," explains Turvey. This means that the offender's behavior largely determines the diagnosis. Ted "is widely referred to as a psychopathic sexual sadist," states Turvey.

The primary trait for sadism is "the intentional infliction of psychological or physical suffering on a conscious victim, able to experience pain or humiliation for the purpose of the offender's sexual gratification," continues Turvey. Sexual sadism was the primary motive of Ted Bundy's criminal behavior and subsequent murder of at least thirty-three young female victims during the early 1970s.

Ted did not live among the underbelly of society, as reported by everyone involved with the Ted Bundy investigation; instead, he interacted with business leaders and politicians while simultaneously concealing his weapons of choice that he carried with him in his yellow, Volkswagen bug. Ted was the man who could mingle with and blend into the fabric of society with intellectual sophistication. He was socially adept and able to fluctuate from one murder to the next for almost ten years without being caught. He was a handsome man, by most people's accounts. He did not "look" like a criminal.

Ted's physical characteristics would have read well in a personal advertisement in the back of any local newspaper or posted on any website for singles. He was attractive, tall, and slender with his height and weight proportional. He wore a fashionable hair cut. Most women would have responded to his personal advertisement and been proud to display him in public. He was the type of man who could influence men and persuade women. He always knew which clothes to wear and always wore a smile. He was the type of man most people would call "nice."

Then, on February 10, 1978, he was added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's list of the ten most wanted fugitives. It took almost ten years before he was convicted; and, a little more than ten years before he was executed by the electric chair on January 24, 1989. He was 42-years-old. His name was Theodore "Ted" Robert Bundy.

His name was Theodore Robert Bundy, but his friends called him "Ted." It could have been any name or user name which he used to identify himself. This "Ted" was a typical sociopath with sadistic tendencies. His sadistic nature is demonstrated through the pleasure he derived from the physical pain and torture he inflicted on women. The sociopathic tendencies are demonstrated through Ted's total lack of conscience which allowed him to commit heinous crimes without feelings of guilt or remorse. He knew what he wanted and what to look for. His actions were premeditated and precise. He could work by day and murder by night.



"Ted" also chose his victims well. He knew his "type." He preferred women with long, auburn hair, which was typically long enough to reach their shoulders and, thus, flow effortlessly in the breeze. He was attracted to traditional beauty and was handsome enough to acquire it. His best weapon was his charm and sophistication. He blended with upper-class society and, thus, spent his time with the "in" crowds. He lured his victims with ploys and always brought a prop.

He did not look like a criminal. He looked like the boy next door, the man behind you, the man on the bus, or the one sitting next to you at the office. He knew how to "blend-in" in almost any situation. He could blend with the best or lurk unnoticed. He was the type of man people would defend and, even after being shown multiple facts or courtroom evidence, there would always be someone who would still remark to the police officer or comment to a news reporters, that "he would never do that." He was the type of man everyone loved and everyone loved to follow. He was the man everyone wanted to know and get to know better. He was the man who brought a gift in one hand and a knife in the other. He was the "glad hand" and the "candy man." He was the type of man no one ever suspects.


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