Florida Killer Still Has Date With Executioner

Times Staff Writer

Ted Bundy, the handsome stranger blamed for murdering dozens of pretty young women during a savage binge across five states, remains scheduled to be electrocuted early Wednesday morning.

On Monday, the clean-cut, college-educated killer--one of the century’s best known and most feared criminals--lost two more efforts to forestall his fate.

In the latest defense tactic, Bundy’s attorneys claimed that he should have been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial and that his former lawyers were incompetent for not proving so.


But Circuit Judge Edward Cowart, who seven years ago sentenced Bundy for murdering two women at a sorority house, ruled here that he saw no cause for delay. Later, the Florida Supreme Court agreed.

Last-Gasp Appeals

That leaves the attorneys to scramble today with last-gasp appeals to the federal courts.

If the execution proceeds, it will be the 61st since America resumed the death penalty. Few executions any longer receive much notice.

But Theodore Robert Bundy, 39, is different. Unlike the brutes and loners who most often find themselves on Death Row, he was a Boy Scout and a law student and an active Young Republican in Washington state party politics.

He seemed the boy next door. That he yearned to kill the girls next door--preferably ones with long hair parted down the middle--has made him the ironic subject of several books and a recent made-for-TV movie.

Multiple Murders

The FBI blames Bundy for 39 murders, though he has been tried and convicted for only three. Victims came from Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado and Florida. The oldest was 26, the youngest 12. All were female.

From 1974 to 1978, Bundy was the glib and engaging man who picked up women at parks, shopping malls and college campuses. Sometimes he posed as a fire investigator or a man with a broken arm. He had the gifts of a lady’s man.


“All the girls I ever talked to said they just fell in love with him, his personality, his smile,” recalled Jerry Thompson, a Salt Lake City detective who led the Utah manhunt.

Usually, Bundy drove hundreds of miles with the dead or unconscious victims hidden in his Volkswagen Beetle, police say. He dumped them in remote forests. Most had been raped and mutilated.

Kimberly Leach, 12, of Lake City, Fla., was found under a collapsed hog shed. “I wish they’d bring him back to Lake City and let us have at him,” her father, Tom Leach, told a reporter last week.

Florida police were not the first to capture Bundy.

In June, 1977, and then again in December, he escaped from custody while awaiting trial on a murder charge in Colorado.

A month after his second escape, he showed up in Tallahassee, Fla., where late on a Saturday night he sneaked into the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University. He carried an oak club.

He walked among the bedrooms, bludgeoning four women, killing two of them.

Three weeks later, Kimberly Leach disappeared between classes at Lake City Junior High. She had met a man who carried a Fire Department badge.


The following week, a patrolman who thought Bundy looked suspicious stopped him in Pensacola, Fla. He tried to sprint away, but he slipped and fell in some sand and was captured.

Bundy first was tried for the Chi Omega murders. Beforehand, his attorneys negotiated a deal for a life sentence.

But Bundy himself reneged. Then he castigated his own lawyers in open court for believing him guilty.

During the procedures, he often acted as his own counsel. He wore Madison Avenue suits and sometimes a bow tie.

Network TV carried parts of the trial live. Rapt groupies crowded the courtroom.

At the end, jurors needed only six hours to find him guilty. Among other things, they were convinced by a pathologist who said Bundy’s teeth perfectly fit a bite mark that had been left in one victim’s flesh.

“It’s a tragedy for this court to see such a total waste of humanity,” Judge Cowart said at sentencing.


Six months later, Bundy was found guilty in Kimberly Leach’s murder. Again, he showboated in the courtroom.

At his sentencing hearing, he questioned his girlfriend, Carole Ann Boone.

“Will you marry me?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Then I do hereby marry you.”

Thus, with a notary present in the gallery, they were wed under Florida law. Some hours later, the jury returned with a second death sentence.

“Tell the jury they were wrong!” Bundy shouted from his chair.

On Death Row, Bundy claimed to convert from Mormonism to Hinduism. He had become a vegetarian and needed religious grounds to receive a vegetarian diet.

Birth of Child

He accomplished something else--or so claimed Carole Boone. Four years ago, she gave birth to a daughter. She said the child was conceived during a prison visit.

If so, the girl has more pedigree than her father. Bundy is the illegitimate son of the former Louise Cowell of Philadelphia and a man who stopped coming around soon after Louise became pregnant.

She later moved to Washington state and married Johnnie Bundy, a hospital cook. They would lead quiet, middle-class lives, and their Ted would grow up to be someone who seemed incapable of a private dementia that would horrify a nation.


To this day, Bundy has never confessed to anything more serious than stealing credit cards. But in a series of remarkable interviews, two journalists at work on a book--Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth--persuaded Bundy to “speculate” on what might have driven the killer.

“He should have recognized that what really fascinated him was the hunt, the adventure of searching out his victims,” Bundy said.

“And, to a degree, possessing them physically as one would possess a potted plant, a painting, or a Porsche. Owning, as it were, this individual.”

This hypothetical murderer was frequently remorseful, Bundy said. He tried to conquer his impulses by making a demonic compromise and committing a lesser crime.

“He would search out a victim in such a way that there would be no possibility of detection and he would not be forced into a position of having to kill,” Bundy said.

“In essence, he compromised into just going out and performing an act of rape, as it were.”


But he never fully extinguished the urges. So he would delude himself into thinking it did not really matter.

“He would cling to the belief that there would be virtually no furor over it, notwithstanding the fact that he was proven wrong,” Bundy said.

“I mean, there are so many people. It shouldn’t be a problem. What’s one less person on the face of the Earth, anyway?”

Two summers ago, Ted Bundy again tried to escape, this time from Florida State Prison near Starke. Somehow he had gotten two hacksaw blades and completely cut through one bar.

Now he is near his fatal hour. He has been moved to a holding cell in the same prison. It is beside the electric chair sometimes called Old Sparky.

His only visitor Monday was Carole Boone, though two detectives from Utah tried to see him. They hoped Bundy would finally talk to them about unsolved crimes.


But Ted Bundy told them no. He had nothing else to say.