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The most evil and heinous acts of Ted Bundy

A photo of Ted Bundy in court
Image: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

It might never be known exactly how many victims Ted Bundy had: the number could be anywhere from the 30 odd he confessed to, to somewhere in the hundreds.

He was a heinous serial killer. A member of his own defence team, Polly Nelson, described him as “the very definition of heartless evil” and arguably some of his worst crimes weren’t limited to murder.

Bundy was executed in 1989, drawing a huge crowd. But his offences aren’t easily forgotten, nor are the women he brutalised, raped, and killed. These are some of his most evil acts.

He manipulated himself into positions of trust

A lot is said about Bundy’s charm, but he was also a ‘compulsive nail biter’ who manipulated his victims by appearing either physically weak or as authority figures to gain their trust or get them to comply.

He posed as a police officer and told 18-year-old Carole DaRonch her car had been broken into. This was a pretence to get her alone with him and then, into his car. He approached Sandra Swartz under the guise of taking a survey (both women were able to escape or evade him).

He was later found to have a stash of crutches, slings, and casts that enabled him to feign a broken leg or injured arm, before asking unsuspecting young women for help getting to his car. The props could then be used as a weapon. He preyed on his victim’s trust, kindness, and societally-conditioned respect for authority.

Survivors were also brutalised

Not all of Bundy’s victims died, but the survivors didn’t have easy escapes. In 1974, he broke into a dorm room and attacked student Karen Sparks, beating her with a rod from her metal bed frame and assaulting her with a speculum that caused internal injuries. She survived but suffered permanent brain damage.

His failings spurred him on

Bundy was furious after failing to kill Karen Sparks. He was startled by the sound of her roommate and fled the scene. His anger led him to evolve and escalate his crime. A few weeks later, he brutally assaulted and abducted another student, Lynda Ann Healey from her room, leaving only some bloodied sheets as evidence.

His use of teeth

Bundy’s horrific attacks on women often included frenzied biting—which ultimately helped prosecutors to convict him. In her book about Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule described how Bundy had scarred the buttocks of one victim, Lisa Levy, with his teeth.

He trained to kill

He had what he called 'off seasons', during which time he would capture women and let them go, in order to keep himself in training for his actual murders.

He murdered children

Many of Bundy’s known victims were young women, but he also murdered two young children: Kimberley Leach and Lynette Culver, both aged 12. Culver went missing after she left her school in Idaho for lunch. Although her body has never been found, Bundy confessed to her murder shortly before his execution, claiming he assaulted her, drowned her in a bath, and dumped her body in the Snake River.

Leach also went missing from school in the middle of the day. She was missing for two months before her body was found. She had been sexually assaulted and beaten before she was killed.

He defiled his victim’s bodies

In the 1980s, in an interview with journalists, Bundy admitted to spending the night with the bodies of his victims and even revisited them after he had dumped them to abuse them until they were too decomposed.

He kept souvenirs

Bundy also admitted to keeping parts of his victims’ bodies as trophies, including their decapitated heads. He would wash them, apply makeup and use them for sex acts.

He relived his crimes in court

Bundy chose to represent himself in court, meaning he could question first responders about his own crime scenes, seemingly relishing and reliving the details, forcing the witnesses to describe the scenes back to him.

He committed more crimes on escaping from prison

Bundy managed to escape from prison twice. In 1978, a month after he escaped from a Colorado jail where he was awaiting charges, Bundy broke into a sorority house near Florida University where he attacked four students.

Within 30-45 minutes, he had hit Margaret Bowman with a log, before strangling her and beating, raping, and strangling Lisa Levy. He then went on to brutally beat Karen Chandler and her roommate Kathy Kleiner, shattering the latter’s jaw. Both Chandler and Kleiner survived the attack, as Bundy was interrupted by the return home of another woman.

Escaping the sorority house, Bundy then broke into the house of another student, Cheryl Thomas, who he beat so severely, that she suffered permanent hearing damage.

He attempted to save himself from execution

Facing his fourth execution date, after receiving three stays, Bundy attempted last-minute escapes from execution, offering to confess to unsolved crimes and murders to buy himself extra time. Ultimately, this was rejected and on 24th January 1989, 2,000 volts of electricity were sent through his body, while outside, a crowd cheered for his death. At 7:16 that morning, he was pronounced dead.