Ted Bundy: The makings of a killer

Ted is immortal. I don’t think he’ll ever really die.

SOURCE: http://www.my-diary.org/read/b/542952235

Ted Bundy: The makings of a killer, by Alexis J. Caloway

*This is an old essay that I had to write for one of my English classes. It’s
not perfect, by any means, but it was one of the few papers I got to write about
that I *wanted* to write about. Just fealt like sharing it…)*

What creates a killer? The question is simple enough. Perhaps, however, it can
be answered by an even simpler question. General killers, mass murderers, serial
killers are they just victims of their environment or does an unforeseen
mental snap simply occur in these average and usually relatively normal
individuals which cause them to develop a killers mentality? For the notorious
serial killer Ted Bundy, this creation was largely due to the circumstances
within his past which molded him into what he became. Perhaps equally as harmful
is the fact that each incident built up upon past incidents of a similar nature
which created a snowball effect, of sorts, which in turn also strongly
contributed to Ted Bundys mindset development of a killer.

Theodore Robert Bundy (then Theodore Robert Cowell) was born November 24, 1946
to Louise Cowell. She had had Ted in Vermont in a house for unwed mothers,
having had the baby out of wedlock. His mother and he, however, soon returned to
her parents house in Philadelphia to live for a short while (Philbin 42).
They lived there for about four years where he was raised by his mother and
grandparents. Louise posed as his older sister with his grandparents playing the
part of mother and father. However, he early on reasoned that this was most
likely a falsehood. a story attributed to the adult Ted Bundy had it that
Louise posed as his older sister, not his mother. This is not so; he always knew
her as Mom (Michaud, Only Living Witness 1983, 58).

Ted had shown signs of violent tendencies at a very early age. In court, a
psychiatrist by the name of Aynesworth told of an interview he had had with
Teds aunt (Louises sister) in which she reported that at about the age of
three he would take butcher knives from the kitchen and come upstairs and
secretly lift up her covers and place them beside her on her double bed
(Michaud, Only Living Witness 1999, 329). As a child he also had somewhat
of a temper. He would get into scuffles with his friends or acquaintances over
tiny things, such as getting hit in the eye during a play war game or another
boy scout having hatcheted a sapling. A childhood friend recalls: It was
really easy to see when Ted got mad Someone would say something and you could
see it in his face (Michaud, Only Living Witness 1983, 62).

Childhood, especially early childhood, is an essential time of learning and
family influences in such a time are quite strong and make impressions on the
child that are deep enough to be built upon later in life and long lasting,
regardless of whether the influences or impressions are good or bad. In Teds
case, his grandfather was an early influence and contributing factor to his
later killer mentality. According to Dr. Lewis, every Cowell family member
she talked to -including Louise- described Teds grandfather as an
extremely violent and frightening individual. Sam Cowell once shoved his
daughter Julia down a staircase for awakening too late one morning. These
violent tendencies also extended (more liberally) toward animals, such as
physically abusing the neighborhood cats and the pet dog. Furthermore, he
reportedly had a rather extensive collection of pornography which young Ted and
his cousin would often get into (Michaud, Only Living Witness 1999,
330).The introduction to all these elements played a pivotal role as the
building blocks to Teds later development.

The introduction of pornography was a vital instrument which served as a strong
push in the snowball effect of Teds mentality. In his final jailhouse
interview with the psychologist James Dobson, Ted Bundy was agonizing over how
his addiction to hardcore pornography had ruined his life and how much it had
contributed to his violent sexual urges (Philbin 44). He started obtaining an
interest in pornography at about thirteen or fourteen years of age, when he and
his cousin would sneak into the collection of books his grandfather had. Bundy
describes, however, how that interest progressed to stronger forms and evolved
for him. For most everyone that would simply be a sign of healthy interest,
normal. But this interest, for some unknown reason, becomes geared towards
matters of a sexual nature that involve violence.

He goes on to explain that in such cases the person may hold no hatred or ill
will towards women in general and that that transition is simply a weakness of
sorts that gives way to fantasy. That interest and sense of fantasy continues to
grow until the limit of the material is reached as far as for the items in the
dirty book stores will go (Michaud, Conversations With A Killer 67).
[Ted] read pulp detective magazines and gradually developed a store of
knowledge about criminal techniques That learning remained incidental to the
central thrill of reading about the abuse of female images, but nevertheless he
was schooling himself (Michaud, Only Living Witness 1983, 117).

Bundy states how once the limit is reached concerning books and pictures, a
person may be prone to indulging in a form of voyeurism. How one would pay
closer attention, initially, for the types of things they wanted to see without
necessarily changing any of their normal important day to day activities
specifically for the purpose of indulging that urge. Over time, one would become
quite skilled at it. He continues, however, with the next step or evolution over

Whats happening is that were building up the condition and what may
have been a predisposition for violence becomes a disposition it begins to
demand more of the attention and time of the individual. Theres a certain
amount of tension, uh, struggle between the normal personality and this, this,
uh, psychopathological, uh, entity [theyd] had all this, this reservoir
of tension building up. Building and building. Finally, inevitably, this force
this entity- would make a breakthrough.
Eventually the force would be too strong or tension too great that control is no
longer possible and the person would actually begin to act out upon their
compulsion and need for something more or greater an experience then they had
encountered so far (Michaud, Conversations With A Killer 68-71).

Ted Bundys initial lack of social connection and social abilities were also
key elements to his minds molding. Ted never knew his real father and was
never really close to his stepfather, despite the mans attempts to form a
connection with his stepson. Ted spent time with his stepfather only
grudgingly. Johnnie tried. He had accepted Louises child just as he had
accepted her If Ted seemed increasingly removed from him, he put it down to
burgeoning adolescence (Rule 11). However, young Ted felt uneasy around the
man and preferred to remain in solitude when possible.

His school life also served to further hinder his sense or ability of social
connection with other people, especially his peers. He was a shy introverted
individual with a fairly low sense of self esteem. Ted was a target for teasing
and bullies in school because he was different from the other children,
regardless of his attempts to fit in with his peers (Bell, The Early Years
par. 4). Ted always kept himself apart, a devise for masking his
insecurities (Michaud, Only Living Witness 1983, 63).

It was not so much that there were significant events [in by boyhood], but
the lack of things that took place was significant. The omission of important
developments. I felt that I had developed intellectually but not socially Ted
explain(Michaud, Conversations With A Killer 12). He felt that the years
prior to high school were all right, for the most part (concerning his general
social development), but afterwards it came to a halt, of sorts. He felt as if
his friends of old were moving forward while he remained behind. He didnt
lack the desire to join in with the others, but lacked the incentive and ability
to actually do so. I used to compensate for my outright fear of socializing.
Maybe, also, it was a way to protect myself, because I couldnt achieve those
kinds of social goals that I wanted (Michaud, Conversations With A

One of the last events Ted Bundy experienced as part of the snowball effect
transitioning his mindset to that of a killer was romantic rejection and the
need for revenge. In the spring of 1967 Ted Bundy became involved in a
relationship with a woman whom he quickly and absolutely fell in love with. He
was amazed that she went out with him, considering she was out of his league.
However, she ended up breaking off the relationship, not being as in love with
him as he was to her. [she] believed he had no real direction or future
goals She was a practical young woman and seemed to realize that Ted had some
serious character flaws that took him out of the running as husband
material. He never got over the fact the she had left him. However, the
two remained in touch via mail despite the breakup (Bell, The Early Years
par. 8, 10-11). Despite this, after some time he was involved in another
relationship with a woman by the pseudonym of Elizabeth Kendall. She felt more
for him then he did for her, however, and Ted often avoided the subject of
marriage saying he was not yet ready. Elizabeth was not aware of his past
relationship or the fact that he and his ex-girlfriend still kept in contact
(Bell, A Time of Change par. 5).

Teds life began to take a more positive aspect at this time due to several
circumstances. His work in politics was blossoming, he was a volunteer at a
crisis clinic, and he was more serious about his studies in law. In 1973,
during a business trip to California for the Washington Republican Party, Ted
met up with his old girlfriend. She was amazed at the transformation in Ted. He
was much more confident and mature, not as aimless as he was when they last
dated. They continued to meet and after a time his old girlfriend fell in
love with him once more. (This woman was unaware of the presence of Elizabeth in
his life.) Bundy even approached the subject of matrimony with his new lover
several times over the fall and winter seasons. (Bell, A Time of Change
par. 7-8).

However, his demeanor and attitude quickly changed for the worse. Where he
had been so loving and affectionate, he now seemed cold and distant. Something
had happened to change Teds whole attitude toward her Now he seemed
uninterested and almost hostile. She had thought they were engaged and yet he
acted as if he could hardly wait to be rid of her (Rule 51-53). She waited
for him to respond after she had returned to California; however, there was no
word from Ted. She never obtained an explanation for his behavior and never
received word or letter from him again. He had accomplished his task for
revenge. He had hurt her as she had once hurt him that time long in the past.

The development of Ted Bundys mind frame into that of a killer was an
extensive process that spanned from his childhood to his adult years. Various
circumstances of his past molded him and shaped what he would eventually become.
There was a snowball effect regarding each circumstance where they built upon
one another causing Ted Bundy to become more and more predisposed to the life he
eventually led; where each circumstance built upon the last was more negative,
pulling him into a life he could not escape since it was engrained into his very
being the life of a killer.

Works Cited

Bell, Rachael. The Early Years. Trutv.com. Turner Broadcasting System,
Inc. n.d. Web. 18 November 2009.

—. A Time of Change. Trutv.com. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. n.d.
Web. 18 November 2009.

Philbin, Tom, and Michael Philbin. The Killer Book of Serial Killer. Naperville:
Sourcebooks, Inc. 2009. Print.

Michaud, Stephen, and Hugh Aynesworth. Ted Bundy Conversations With A Killer.
New York: Signet, 1989. Print.

—. The Only Living Witness. New York: Linden Press/Simon & Schuster, 1983.

—. The Only Living Witness. Irving: Authorlink Press, 1999. Print.

Rule, Ann. The Stranger Beside Me. New York: Pocket Books, 2009. Print.