Growing up as a child, Ted Bundy experienced neglect, mental/physical abuse, lack of discipline, and absence of parental care. These factors and many more created one of the most notorious serial killers in history. He was a social outcast and didn’t have many friends, which made him feel insecure and eventually caused him to fall into a semi-permanent deep depression early in his life. His father was absent by the age of 12, and to hide the fact of his illegitimacy, he was adopted by his grandparents who then in collaboration with his real mother, convinced him that they were his parents, and his mother was his sister. This would later unfold and be revealed to Ted and only solidify the strange, and bizarre circumstances he grew up in.
The social environment that Bundy experienced during his important developmental stages as a child were extremely unhealthy and dangerous for a child of his age to endure. Financial struggles due to low economic status, and multiple children pushed Bundy even farther away from societal norms. He isolated himself from a very early age, and because of this he received much less attention than some of his more demanding siblings. The possible direct trauma of sexual abuse is a huge factor that contributes to the aversion to intimacy, and desire to sexually abuse others in adulthood. The indirect trauma Bundy experienced scarred him for life, and desensitized him to sexual and physical violence, and caused him to isolate himself further from his family, and peers. This low quality and almost complete absence of family interaction left Bundy with a lack of attachments formed to any person, and causes him to place a low value on other members of society. Since he had no one to talk to at all really, he became extremely shy and communication seemed foreign to him. He would be classified as a loner because of his lack of attachments, communication, and the affects of trauma that he faced. Bundy exhibited criminal behavior such as burglarizing, and shoplifting at a young age to feel gratification, and possibly gain a sense of pride. He also expressed feelings of anger, and violence when he surrounded his aunt with knives when she was asleep in her bed. This could have been simply a cry for help as children tend to act defiant when put under extreme pressure, but this was one of the earliest signs of vengeance against the women in his family.
The antecedent behavior of Bundy can be used to determine the signature of his offences. Bundy’s pre-crime stress factors include his obvious detestation of women due to the lack of maternal relationship with his biological mother, the rejection of the love of his life, as well as anxiety and pressure. 53% of murderers mention parental conflict as a major stress factor, and Bundy was no exception. The acceptance of his siblings by his mother built an unconscious jealousy for his sister so strong, that he would use this hatred to fuel murders he committed against victims who shared traits with this sister. The current frame of mind any murderer is in plays a large part in the motive. For Bundy, his depression was a constant looming challenge, as well as his anxiety he felt when encountering females. To resist these pressures, Bundy would formulate a plan for success. Like Bundy, nearly half of all murderers say they only perform murders when they have a clear plan, and have thoroughly prepared for the event. The exposure to events such as sexual abuse, and stress factors out of his control produced the craving for revenge, and desire to feel powerful. As Bundy continued with his offences, he soon developed necrophilia. After killing a victim, Bundy would achieve gratification by having sex with the corpse. This behavior suggests that his motive was partly fantasy, and revenge. Bundy was never able to form a successful intimate relationship with a woman, and was victimized by his mother, causing him to lash back. These specific motivations required the victim to meet Ted’s criteria. Similarities in his victims suggest that he preferred a slim woman, around the age of a college student, who had medium to long straight hair that was most commonly parted down the middle. A possible reason for the gender, and age selection could have been to achieve a sense of revenge on a victim sharing traits with his sister, or similar his ex-girlfriend who broke his heart.
After the murder, Bundy would decide what to do with the body. Having sex with the dead body was a common practice of Bundy’s as well as grooming the victims body after death. If Bundy did decide to take them to a final resting place, he would sometimes dress the women’s bodies in different clothes, paint her nails, or do her makeup. Bundy was unpredictable in the disposal of the body because sometimes, he would go to the victim’s home and kill her, and just leave her there to be found, but most commonly he would lure them to his car and take them to another location, and bury or dispose of the body else ware. When Ted would dispose of a victim, he would sometimes make note of where he dumped her body, then would revisit it to relive his fantasy over again, and have sex with her decomposing corpse. The final location of these bodies also tells a story of the victim, and how Ted may have felt about her. Some of his victims were decapitated, and their heads were displayed in Ted’s apartment like art. Others may have been buried close to his home to withhold a bond, or a fond memory with that victim.
Ted Bundy is known as one of the most organized serial killers of all time. Although he did not exibit a specific pattern, he took great care in the planning and execution of his killings. In his childhood, he had a lack of parental involvement and discipline, which could be a possible reason for him to create order in his life. By having a set plan, his own weapons, and a false sense of confidence, Bundy felt in control. He also was a very intelligent person yet, he worked below his skill level which left him feeling unsatisfied with his life. He found fulfillment by showing off his alter-ego to his victims upon meeting them for the first time. He appeared to be very socially adept as he showed himself to be an average and easygoing guy. Posing as an injured young man, he instantly captured the attention of the target by seeming helpless, and harmless. The crime scene had a semblance of order in preparation of the murder. He had planned what he would use to knock the victim out initially, and what he would do to her. He then cleaned the scene up extremely well, and disposed of the body with no trace back to himself. Rather than using only physical force like a disorganized killer might, he would use a combination of verbal and physical force. Using his confident, persuasive alter-ego, he gained the trust of these women by charming them, and then used minimal physical force initially to get them into the car. He would then gain control by use of restraints like hand cuffs, chemicals, or ropes, creating a sense of control. Fantasy and ritual together, make up the overall purpose of this strict routine, and specific limitations.
Ted Bundy is a perfect representation of the classic organized serial killer. He exhibited signs of patience and calmness in the initial interaction with the victim showing his desire for a potential conversation or to get to know his victim a little. A disorganized killer uses the element of surprise to catch their victim by surprise and he kills the victim instantly. Killers like Bundy feel less impulsive, and want the satisfaction of defying the victims trust. They feel wronged in life and want to put someone else in their position. Disorganized killers can potentially feel wronged as well, but do not put effort into deterring detection from law enforcement. This type of murderer is concerned with mutilation and dehumanization, and will often perform sadistic acts on the corpse after death such as mutilation to the genitals, amputation, and ejaculation into wounds or onto the clothing of the victim. Ted Bundy was concerned with covering his foot steps, and never leaving behind evidence like the disorganized killer would. The murder weapon is almost always left behind at the scene of the disorganized killer’s crime, and the victim is in the same position that they were murdered in. It is easy to predict exactly how, when, and obviously where it took place, leading law enforcement very close to a suspect, or gathering evidence that will be used to convict the killer. Bundy was a smart serial killer who never killed a victim he could be directly suspected of killing. He covered his foot prints effectively and thoroughly until he was captured in 1975, and convicted for the kidnapping of Carol DaRonch which was only the beginning of the convictions that he would soon face.