This paper discusses Theodore Robert Cowell, and his display of a lack of social skills and attachment disorder. Along with traumatic experiences and the constant disappearance of his father sparked anti-social personality disorder; which is an inability to show empathy for others. This is a common occurrence with psychopaths and successful serial killers. Using impeccable charm and intelligence ted Bundy would lure victims in rape, murder, and dismember them and keep the body parts for continued sexual pleasure. His charm faired well for him avoiding the authorities for much of the 1970s.
Analyzing Ted Bundy and his tradecraft give police the tools to understand the minds of psychopathic killers even today. This paper, discusses much of Ted Bundy’s life, his Motus Opererondi, tradecraft, and what led him to kill. As well as what made him a psychopath, and the evidence supporting why analysts see Ted Bundy as one of the most notorious serial killers in history.
Ted Bundy formally known as Theodore Robert Cowell was one of the most successful serial killers of the 20th century, throughout his years of murder has confessed to 30 murders but it is suspected that his total number is much greater. Ted Bundy is considered one of the most dangerous serial killers to ever live because of his unique style. Like many serial killers Bundy was abused and suffered from extreme abandonment disorder as well as the evident lack of social skills starting at a young age.
Ted Bundy was born on November 24th, 1946 at the Elizabeth Lund home for unwed mothers to his mother Louise. Ted did not know his birth father and to date it still remains unknown however there are several theories tied into the birth of Ted Bundy. Bundy’s birth certificate states a “Lloyd Marshall” however, Louise his mother would later express a story of her seduction by an air force veteran “Jack Worthington ” These stories did not provide enough evidence for Bundy’s adopted family they believed that Louise’s abusive father may have been the ultimate cause of Ted Bundy’s birth; however, this was never proven (Delphine 2012).
Bundy’s grandparents became his legal guardians and convinced the young boy that his birth mother was his older sister for much of his young adult life up until he entered high school he believed this was true. In the early years of Bundy’s life, he resided with his grandparents and his “sister” in the city of Philadelphia until 1950 when him and Louise moved to Tacoma, Washington and lived with relatives. Bundy was not given a permissive environment to grow as a young boy. Although his mother was present in his life she did not provide the emotional support needed for a child. After the move to Washington Louise met Johnny Culpepper Bundy and soon after they were married and Johnny Bundy legally became the adopted father of Ted whose name was now Bundy (Crime Museum 2017). Although it seemed
like Ted was becoming a part of a whole family; that wasn’t the case. The family grew with four more young children that Ted would be held responsible for much of the time. Resentment for his stepfather and his siblings grew stronger as he was forced to babysit them and essentially raise them on his own. Although Johnny Bundy attempted to incorporate Ted into father and son activities Ted remained emotional detached and quite resentful towards his father.
Ted believed of himself as more of a Cowell not a Bundy and he viewed his family as lesser because of it. It was clear from a young age that Bundy preferred to be alone and did not interact well with other people and this transferred into his time a Woodrow Wilson Highschool. Despite his good grades and his ability to perform academically his social skills were far behind in relation to his fellow classmates at his age. Although he involved himself in extra-curricular activities in and out of school such as Vice President of the “Methodist Youth Fellowship” and an active troop member with the local boy scouts he simply found himself uncomfortable in the presence of other people including his father. This behavior was magnified as Ted aged and throughout his young adult life he felt out of place when conducting any social event.
In later interviews he would recall himself as metaphorically “hitting a wall in high-school” (Crime Museum 2017). Comprehending social behavior and how others successfully went about understanding social interaction was extremely difficult for Bundy and his social development was affected drastically because of this lack in understanding. The prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobe of the brain controls social interaction and emotions and with suspected psychopaths this area of the brain has been shown to not develop entirely. “The frontal lobe links and integrates all components of behavior at the highest level. Emotion and social adjustment and impulse control are also localized here” (Brain Injury Alliance Utah 2015).
With a lack in development of this location of the brain social skills and cognitive understanding of emotions such as empathy and sympathy simply do not exist and those that cannot understand these traits fail to learn how imperative they are within the function of society and normal behavior becoming of a human-being. Even as a teenager Bundy displayed behavior that is considered deviant and on its way to criminal.
The difference between the two is deviant behavior categorizes itself as unbecoming of a citizen or normal behavior but not criminal and criminal behavior is simply illegal actions such as theft; “Before he was even out of high school Bundy was a compulsive thief, a shoplifter, and on his way to becoming an amateur criminal. To support his love of skiing, Bundy stole skis and equipment and forged ski-lift tickets. He was arrested twice as a juvenile, though these records were later expunged” (Cook 2011). It was evident that Bundy embodied the behavior that was considered definitive if anti-social personality disorder however it was not clear until a few years later in college when his murderous tendencies would begin to surface.
Bundy was disconnected from society on an emotional level, although he achieved good grades and was considered charming deep down he embodied psychopathic behavior with his early obsession of sex and violence in relation to sexual interactions. “Bundy described the part of himself that, from a young age, was fascinated by images of sex and violence as “the entity”, and kept it very well hidden” (Cook 2011). Bundy later would admit that the system of how people functioned, how people sustained relationships, how they embody attraction towards one-another and how people simply lived social lives confused him greatly and he was uncomfortable from a young boy with all social interactions.
This behavior is a major indication for psychopaths. To fully understand Ted Bundy and his psychopathic actions; defining psychopath in comparison to sociopath is essential. Psychopath is defined as “An individual who has a personality disorder, especially one manifested in aggressively antisocial behavior, and who is lacking in empathy, psychopaths are thought to have been born that way” (Schmalleger 2016). Sociopath is defined as “An individual who has a personality disorder especially one manifested in aggressively antisocial behavior, and is lacking in empathy.
Also known as secondary psychopaths, sociopaths may have been born normal but personal experiences in early life may have caused them to embody psychopathic characteristics” (Schmalleger 2016). These two definitions are very similar however, there is one major differentiation and that is psychopaths are seen as born evil whereas sociopaths become evil based on experiences. Theories of chemical imbalances in the brain attempt to provide understanding of why psychopaths can function the way they do. This ties back into the prefrontal cortex of the brain and how it is related to the lack of empathy in human personality and how this is typically related to psychopaths. Ted Bundy suffered from anti-social personality disorder which means he had extreme challenges socializing with others and this disconnected separated him from other people his age growing up and this negatively affected his developmental growth.
He also lacked empathy for others and did not understand the system of feelings. This is supported by reports of violent actions conducted by Ted’s grandfather such as twirling the family cat around by its tail and repeatedly beating the dog “This early behavior in Ted’s life may have influenced the learning, enforcing violence to animals and people around him as acceptable. Occasionally exhibiting disturbing behavior, his grandmother once woke up surrounded by kitchen knives, to see the three year old Ted smiling up at her” (Delphine 2012). Although experiences may have shown young Bundy this behavior was condoned his tendencies were within him long before that these experiences simply woke them up and allowed a permissive environment for his violent characteristics to develop.
By the time Bundy left for college he had experiences physical and emotional abuse from his family, he had realized his obsession with violent pornography and his inability to form a relationship was evident; however in 1967 Bundy found a woman by the name of Stephanie Brooks later she would leave Bundy, He left college to travel the countryside, he then returned to the University of Washington after learning his love for sexual dominance and violent sexual acts.
He began dating another woman Elizabeth Kendall. He began dating Stephanie again until he grew tired of her and left her. In 1972 he graduated college however this year was more significant because it was the first official start to his kidnaping and murderous rage. “When talking to his lawyer the day before his execution, Bundy said that his first attempt to kidnap a woman was in 1969, and implied that his first actual murder was sometime in the 1972-73 time frame. His earliest known, confirmed murders were committed in 1974, when he was 27” (Crime Museum 2017). This means that throughout his relationship with Kendall he was committed these heinous acts. On January 4th 1974 .
Bundy began his new occupation as one of the most successful killers in history with the forced entering of a college girls’ room his first victim “Bundy entered the basement bedroom of 18-year-old Joni Lenz (pseudonym), a dancer and student at the University of Washington.
Bundy bludgeoned her with a metal rod from her bed frame while she slept, and sexually assaulted her with a speculum” (Crime Museum 2017). With serial killers there is usually a type of victim, Bundy sought after 18-24-year-old females (college age) with short brunette hair that would be split down the middle psychoanalysts believe this was because of his first love Stephanie Brooks and his anger towards her for breaking his heart in college. Bundy went on to rape and murder numerous University of Washington students in the same horrific fashion by breaking into their rooms, bludgeoning them dressing them in specific clothing then raping them or kidnapping them. He would then provide himself with sexual pleasure before mutilating their bodies and leaving them at the crime scene.
He would then return later and recover the body bringing it back to his apartment where he would sleep with the corpse retrieving greater sexual pleasure until the body became exorbitantly decomposed beyond the ability to handle. Analyzing these actions supports the psychopathic tendencies he exposed. Bundy although a charmer and a man of cleanliness which he used to lurer his victims in . Was a horrifying individual only a man of insanity could possibly commit such atrocious crimes and then continue to do so for years to come. After leaving Washington Bundy moved his murder career to Utah where he attended law school. In October, “Nancy Wilcox disappeared from Holladay, near Salt Lake City, Utah on October 2. Wilcox was last seen riding in a Volkswagen Beetle. On October 18, Bundy murdered Melissa Smith, the 17-year-old daughter of Midvale police chief Louis Smith.
Bundy raped, sodomized, and strangled her. Her body was found nine days later” (Crime Museum 2017). Bundy continue to rape and murder in Colorado, and Idaho before his first arrest in 1975 on August 16, He was questioned after an officer searched his vehicle finding a ski mask, rope, an ice pick, and other items. He would stand trial in 1976 for a kidnapping of one of his victims and sentenced to 15 years. He was then extradited to Colorado for another trial where he would escape after jumping out of a library window during a recess. He was captured six days later and brought back to a smaller cell.
Where he again escaped after digging a hole through the ceiling and walking out the prison undetected he resumed his murders. He became careless entering Florida state lines perhaps knowing what his fate will be, he simply needed one last attack. “Just one week after Bundy’s arrival in Tallahassee, in the early hours of Super Bowl Sunday on January 15, 1978, two and a half years of repressed homicidal violence erupted. Bundy entered the Florida State University Chi Omega sorority house” (Crime Museum 2017). h e traveled to Lake City where he murdered his final victim On February 9, 1978, 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, throwing her body under a small pig shed. She would be his final victim (Delphine 2012). Bundy was arrested 6 days later thus ending one of the most tremendous rampages in history.
To conclude, Ted Bundy stood trial in 1979 for the Chi Omega murders he was placed on death row and executed by electric chair in 1989. He confessed to 8 unsolved murders and Bob Keppel a former King County investigator went on record as saying he was the type of man born to kill (Cook 2011). Ted Bundy was a horrific man and a successful serial killer but just like any long-lasting murderous rampage things are forgotten and he let his anger control him he made mistakes such as biting his victims in Florida which ended up being part of his demise.
Ted Bundy experienced incredibly horrendous events as a child that sparked his anger towards females and human beings however, his ability to kill without remorse stems from a biological defiency in his brain as well as his extreme antisocial personality disorder. Events like the Ted Bundy murders developed society and homicide investigations throughout the years allowing for law enforcement to pin point why people commit actions such as serial rape and murder.