Home True Crime Ted Bundy – “The Very Definition of Heartless Evil”

Ted Bundy – “The Very Definition of Heartless Evil”

Bundy killed anywhere from 30 to 40 women, making him one of the most infamous and terrifying serial killers in U.S. History.

Name: Theodore Robert Bundy

Date of Birth: November 24, 1946

Date of Death: January 24, 1989

Victim Count: 30+

Years Active: 1974 – 1978

Region Active: United States

Date of Arrest: August 16, 1975, February 15, 1978

Photo Credit: New York Times

Ted Bundy is infamous as one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Traveling around the Western United States, he killed dozens of young college girls until his arrest in 1975.

After this arrest, he escaped prison twice, the latter time making it all the way to Florida, where he committed additional murders before being rearrested.

He was the face that changed our collective mental image of a murderer forever. Gone was the idea of a leering, monstrous creeper once the nation saw the charming boy-next-door Ted.

I have recently been swept up in the re-ignited interest in Bundy’s crimes, beginning with the 2019 film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile starring Zac Efron. Since its release, like many other true crime enthusiasts, my interest in Bundy has been renewed.

Additionally, my interest has only been egged on by the influx of documentaries. As a writer, my go-to media is book format, and I have been devouring Ted books lately. So, here’s seven of my top recommended, in case you are as interested in the case as I am.

In case you know little about Ted Bundy and his crimes, I’ll fill in some of the details.

Ted Bundy killed at least thirty women, dotting across the United States from coast-to-coast.

Born Theodore Robert Cowell to a single mother in Burlington, Vermont, Bundy showed signs of trouble from a young age. The most famous of these incidents was when, as a toddler, Bundy surrounded his sleeping aunt with kitchen knives.

Bundy’s mother married Johnny Bundy, who soon adopted young Ted. As Ted grew, his relationship with his stepfather became strained, and his tendency for violence and sociopathic personality began to manifest.

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Bundy struggled both academically and socially, and his social immaturity followed him to college. This ineptitude caused his dream relationship with a well-off young woman to fail, and the wound to his pride only fanned the flames of his resentment for women.

This festering wound grew as time passed, even as Ted began to develop his façade of normalcy and charisma. He turned his life around, working for the Republican party and getting a degree in psychology, all while perfecting his persona of a charming, affable young man.

He enrolled in law school in 1973, and settled into a long-term relationship. However, his dark urges, expressed mostly in committing rape, increased exponentially. Rape no longer cut it, and, in 1974, his murder spree began.

Ted murdered at least nine young women in the Pacific Northwest, all beautiful college-age girls, most of whom he picked up around campuses. His most daring attack happened at Lake Sammamish State Park on July 14, 1974.

He abducted two young women, Denise Naslund and Janice Ott, back-to-back. He was spotted by multiple eyewitnesses and overheard giving Janice his name of Ted. This was the beginning of Ted Bundy coming on to law enforcement’s radar.

Soon after the Lake Sammamish incident, Ted transferred to the University of Utah, and his trail of bodies followed him. He killed several young women and girls in Utah and its surrounding states.

Ultimately, his downfall would be the failed kidnapping of Carol DaRonch, who would later be able to identify him. His arrest, however, was not on this charge. He was arrested after failing to stop for a police officer, and a search of his car turned up his kill kit, which was mistaken for a burglary kit. Eventually, he was charged with the attempted kidnapping of Carol DaRonch.

After being convicted of kidnapping, Bundy was extradited to Colorado to stand trial for the murder of one victim, Caryn Campbell. He escaped from the courthouse during a break but was apprehended less than a week later.

He managed to escape again, this time from his cell. He made his way to Florida, where he planned to lay low. But he could not suppress his homicidal urges.

He attacked the girls in the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University, killing two and severely wounding two more.

He then made a second attack eight blocks away, breaking in to the basement apartment of Cheryl Thomas, beating her within an inch of her life. Less than a month later, he killed twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach.

Ted Bundy was apprehended February 15, 1978. He was tried for the Chi Omega assaults and murders and was convicted on July 24, 1979. He was sentenced to death.

He stood trial for Kimberly Leach’s murder and was once more convicted and sentenced to death.

Hours before Ted Bundy was executed he confessed to thirty murders in Washington State, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, California, and Florida.

He was executed by electric chair on January 24, 1989 at forty-two years old.

Ted Bundy Book Cover By Ryan Becker

Before we get in to the list, fellow True Crime Seven author, Ryan Becker authored a book on Ted Bundy, featured above, Ted Bundy: The Horrific True Story Behind America’s Most Wicked Serial Kiler.

Becker’s presentation of the facts is vivid and flows in a quick, smooth pace. The book packs a lot of facts and description into its bite-sized package. I recommend giving it a read if you are new to the case, as it is a great introduction to Bundy’s crimes.

Including this book, there have been countless books written about Ted Bundy since his capture.

Something about the charming, well-spoken man concealing some of humanity’s most depraved desires sparks both imagination and morbid interest. Of the numerous books about Bundy, many are fascinating reads, making it hard to pick only seven.

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Nonetheless, here are my picks for Top Seven Books on Ted Bundy.

#7: The Deliberate Stranger

Ted Bundy Book (Deliberate Stranger)

A list of Bundy books would not be complete without mentioning The Deliberate Stranger. Quite possibly one of the best known on this list, it was written by Richard Larsen, who knew Ted Bundy back in the day when he worked in politics.

Larsen, a reporter, tells the story in a refreshing way, with testimony and insight from those who knew Bundy.

The richness of the storytelling makes it a gripping story, and the pacing allows for an easy read. It has definitely earned its place as one of the fundamental Bundy books, and if you haven’t yet read it, I recommend it.

#6: The Devil’s Defender

Authored by Ted Bundy’s defense attorney, John Henry Browne, tells two stories in this book. One story is of defending Ted Bundy, mingled with the story of Browne’s rocky climb to being a successful defense attorney. Though not entirely a book about the Bundy case, it is a fantastic read.

During the book, Browne tells of the tragic murder of his college girlfriend. Her death showed similarities to the known Bundy victims, and was the reason Ted chose him as his attorney.

Browne bares his soul by sharing his lowest points, and the many notorious clients he represented. He also details how Bundy confessed to him that he had killed one hundred people, and not just women.

Overall, the story is a laid back read, told as if Browne was telling it to you in conversation, and a fast-paced read. I recommend it for those who have read nearly every book on Bundy and looking for stories from someone involved in his case.

#5: The River Man: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer

This thrilling read is written by Detective Bob Keppel, whose interviews with Bundy brought about the killer’s last-minute confessions to murders across the western United States.

When news of the Green River Killer broke, Bundy penned a letter to the King County authorities saying he would help catch the killer, but he would only speak to Bob Keppel.

The book is gripping and artfully written, and details both Bundy’s crimes as well as his insights into the motives of the Green River Killer.

This book has become a classic and definitely earned its status. It sucks you in from the get-go, and you won’t want to put it down.

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#4: The Last Murder

This book is authored by George Dekle Sr., who prosecuted Ted Bundy during his trial for the murder of twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach. The book follows Ted Bundy’s trail from his arrival in Florida to his execution.

Since Dekle was personally involved in the case, he brings a considerable amount of detail on this last murder than I have read in any book thus far. The book is fast-paced from the start, delving right into the disappearance of Kimberly Leach, painting a vivid picture of events.

This book really sucks you in, and I highly recommend it to anyone fascinated by the Bundy case.

#3: Ted and Ann

An outstanding book as author Rebecca Morris brings to light the possibility that Ted Bundy may have committed his first murder in 1961.

Ted’s potential first victim may have been eight-year-old Ann Marie Burr, who disappeared from her neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington. Ted, Morris revealed, lived nearby and later told a hypothetical story of killing the little girl.

Morris’s recounting of events is expressive and colorful and makes you feel as if you are right there. The book gets you hooked from the first chapter and is so absorbing, it is hard to put down.

It is well-written, and the new insight on a possible first victim is a fresh change of pace in the often-retold case.

#2: The Bundy Murders

Anything written by Kevin Sullivan is, without question, a good read. His storytelling is engaging and vividly descriptive. Sullivan is adept at digging up details, and this book is full of little tidbits that allow the reader to get to know both victim and killer alike.

The Bundy Murders is sprinkled with information on criminal psychology and the legal system, told in such a skillful manner that progresses the story instead of dragging it down.

The book is a wonderful introduction to the Bundy case, following Bundy from birth to execution, and definitely worth the read.

#1: The Only Living Witness

Written by Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, The Only Living Witness chronicles Bundy’s life and crimes.

The book is equal parts Ted Bundy’s own retelling of events—often with a figurative other person committing the crimes—and the authors’ own narration of events.

The writing style is captivating and descriptive. This allows readers to place themselves in each situation, be it the cramped interview room with Bundy or the wilds of Colorado during Bundy’s first escape.

The book is hard to put down, and you will find yourself so caught up in the storytelling that you won’t realize it has been three hours since you picked it up.

Want more spine-chilling stories? Get our most shocking and horrific stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for True Crime Seven’s newsletter and you can also receive a FREE copy of “The Briley Brothers” today.

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