Ted Bundy once boasted that he was ‘the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet’ — and even his lawyer agreed, calling him ‘the very definition of heartless evil’.
He had a pathological hatred of young women, describing an all-consuming ‘force’ inside him that drove him to find, rape and kill them. He single-handedly reduced the female population of entire cities to a state of abject terror.
Bundy confessed to murdering 30 women — usually attractive university students — across seven states in the 1970s, although the real figure is probably higher.
Yet there was one woman who loved him. Elizabeth Kendall has an unenviable place in history as the long-time girlfriend and ex-fiancée of the notorious serial killer.
After nearly 40 years of silence, Ms Kendall has spoken out again about her relationship and how she feels about Bundy in Amazon Prime’s chilling docu-series Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer. It is told from the perspectives of women who were victims of Bundy’s crimes, including Ms Kendall and her daughter Molly.
Ted Bundy confessed to murdering 30 women across seven states in the 1970s, although the real figure is probably higher. Yet there was one woman who loved him. Elizabeth Kendall has an unenviable place in history as the long-time girlfriend and ex-fiancée of the notorious serial killer. Pictured: Bundy with Elizabeth and her daughter Molly
In 1981 — five years after Bundy finally went to prison — Ms Kendall wrote a little-noticed memoir, The Phantom Prince, under a pseudonym (her real name is Elizabeth Kloepfer), then disappeared into obscurity.
She re-emerged last year after the release of the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile, in which she was played by Lily Collins and Bundy by Zac Efron. Though it was based on Ms Kendall’s memoir, she felt it didn’t tell the whole story, so she has republished her book with a new foreword and afterword.
‘I’ve had so much to work through since all of this happened,’ she says. ‘There was shame, there was guilt, there were all kinds of things I didn’t feel really good about.’
She still has complicated feelings for Bundy. As she reads out some of the many letters he wrote her from Death Row, expressing his undying love for her and how she and her daughter Molly were ‘the best thing that ever happened to him’, her eyes well up with tears.
In quieter moments, though, she reflects on the monster he was.
Ms Kendall remembers, for example, how he excused himself from the pizza restaurant where he had taken her family before her daughter’s baptism so he could slip off to a bar and find a young victim.
Then there was the time, while he was driving away to law school in Utah, that he rang en route to say he loved her. Later, police revealed to Ms Kendall that on that very day he had abducted a woman and battered her to death.
It’s not difficult to see how Bundy gained notoriety. His clean-cut good looks, charisma, intelligence and apparent utter normality contrasted so sharply with the monstrous nature of his crimes: he not only raped and murdered his victims but practised necrophilia on their bodies and kept severed heads as souvenirs.
Nor is it hard to understand how a vulnerable, insecure woman like Ms Kendall would be putty in his hands. A painfully shy and rather naive divorcee, raised in a Mormon home in Utah, she struggled with alcoholism.
Some suggested that the family life Bundy established with the Kendalls was a sham, cleverly designed by a highly manipulative man to deflect suspicion. Pictured: Elizabeth Kendall and Molly, today
They met in a Seattle bar one night in October 1969. She was 24 and, having recently divorced, had moved there to enjoy the dawning Women’s Liberation movement and ‘find Mr Right’.
Instead she found Mr Wrong. The self-assured 22-year-old bowled her over. He was a student and aspiring lawyer at the University of Washington, where Ms Kendall worked as a secretary. She ended up inviting Bundy home, where they simply went to sleep on her bed.
The next morning, she awoke to find he had got her little daughter up and was making everyone breakfast. ‘I fell in love with him from Day One,’ she says. ‘He took my breath away.’
They were soon in a serious relationship and although Bundy never formally moved into her flat, he would be a constant presence there until he was jailed in 1976.
‘It was like everything I’d ever wanted, so I was just hooked,’ says Kendall, who craved a happy family life. ‘We made love every chance we got. I had never felt this close to any man before.’
Bundy also rapidly enchanted two-year-old Molly. Family photos show him holding her upside down as she beams with delight, or teaching her to ride a bike.
Bundy would later describe his love for Ms Kendall as so strong it was ‘destabilising’, although he admitted they had little in common. She was ‘astounded’ by how easily Bundy mixed with people, able to talk to anyone about anything.
Others describe him as a chameleon. ‘He was rather gifted at seeing what you might need him to be and being that,’ Molly adds.
Bundy’s relationship with Ms Kendall was volatile. In February 1970, they obtained a marriage licence but he ripped it up a few days later during a fight, so they never married. Two years later she became pregnant but had a termination — he was about to go to law school and she needed to work to put him through it.
Bundy temporarily escaped from custody twice, first jumping out of a second-floor courthouse library window in Denver, Colorado, where he faced a murder charge in 1977. Pictured: Bundy goes to court in 1977. He escaped during a recess
For all his protestations of love for Ms Kendall, Bundy wasn’t always faithful. In 1973 he rekindled a romance with a beautiful university classmate, Stephanie Brooks, and even discussed marriage with her. Neither she nor Ms Kendall knew of the other’s existence.
Ms Kendall also didn’t know about Bundy’s creepy behaviour towards her daughter. Molly recalls how he once climbed into bed with her. Another time, as they played hide-and-seek, he hid naked and sexually aroused under a blanket.
That he had a darker side soon became clear even to his besotted lover. He enjoyed stealing — everything from a TV set to textbooks — but when she confronted him about it, he said he’d ‘break your f*****g neck’ if she told anyone.
Early in 1974, Bundy’s behaviour began to change. He would drop out of her life mysteriously for several days, leaving her to worry that she had said or done something wrong, then return as if nothing had happened. She feared he was seeing another woman. In fact, it was about then that he began his Seattle killing spree.
Because Bundy kept changing his story, there is no consensus on exactly when he first murdered. But it is a matter of record that in January 1974 he bludgeoned 18-year-old Karen Sparks, a student, in her Seattle basement flat. Although she survived, she was left with horrific disabilities.
A month later he murdered Lynda Ann Healy, another student. Her skull, along with other bodies, would be found a year later in a forest 23 miles away.
That year, female college students disappeared in Washington and Oregon states at the rate of about one a month. He would play on their kindness by asking them for help, often pretending he was injured. He generally raped his victims, then beat them to death.
Ms Kendall re-emerged last year after the release of the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile, in which she was played by Lily Collins (left) and Bundy by Zac Efron (right)
Few managed to escape. Bizarrely, Blondie singer Debbie Harry claimed in her memoir, Face It, that he tried to kidnap her in New York in 1972, though it is unconfirmed whether the man in question actually was Bundy.
Ms Kendall recalls coming home one day to find Bundy had got into her flat after borrowing the landlord’s key. ‘He was really upset and lay down with his head in my lap and just sobbed,’ she recalls. ‘He said he had something really important to tell me that I would probably be shocked about. But of course I had no idea what he was really fighting against with himself.’
Suffice to say he didn’t let on.
A wave of terror gripped young women in Seattle and Ms Kendall admits she, too, was ‘scared to death… there was a real pattern — the women who’d been abducted all had long hair parted in the middle, as I did. But I was older than the college students so I didn’t really fit the profile.’
Ms Kendall made several puzzling discoveries, including a meat cleaver in Bundy’s desk and sets of keys that didn’t belong to him. Police reported that the murder suspect would be on crutches or with an arm in plaster when he accosted women. Ms Kendall found both crutches and plaster of Paris in his room. In each case, he was ready with a plausible explanation.
She admits that with hindsight she could have been more suspicious. One weekend he invited her out to dinner but immediately said he needed to go home, as he felt sick. It later emerged that he had abducted and killed two women within two hours of each other.
However, there were too many coincidences. The suspect called himself Ted and drove a brown VW Beetle, as Bundy did, while police sketches of suspects often strongly resembled him.
Ms Kendall contacted the police on three occasions to suggest they might be looking for her boyfriend — but she was rebuffed each time.
Bundy and Kendall from an image featured in the upcoming Amazon Prime documentary, ‘Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer’
Convinced that she wasn’t being taken seriously because she was a woman, she asked her father to talk to police instead. He refused, warning her it would ruin Bundy’s career if she was wrong. ‘He so liked Ted, as we all did,’ she says. ‘I feel in hindsight he chose Ted over his daughter.’ But the net was closing on Bundy. After moving to Salt Lake City in August 1974 for law school, he started murdering women there.
Stopping Bundy for running a red traffic light the next year, Utah police found he had rope, handcuffs, a crowbar and ski masks in his car.
Then, a woman Bundy had tried to abduct identified him in a line-up and he suddenly became a suspect in murders across the U.S. (incredibly, it wasn’t until 1979 that he was finally charged with murder).
When police rang Ms Kendall to say they were about to charge Bundy for attempted kidnapping, she ‘immediately fell apart. I froze, the bottom of my stomach fell out’.
Bundy started writing letters from prison, pleading with her to stand by him and saying how much he loved her and Molly. ‘I feel like he was manipulating me,’ she says.
Bundy temporarily escaped from custody twice, first jumping out of a second-floor courthouse library window in Denver, Colorado, where he faced a murder charge in 1977.
Six months later he broke through the ceiling of his jail cell and fled to Florida, where he committed at least three more murders, including that of a 12-year-old girl.
Recaptured, he rang Ms Kendall from a Florida jail. ‘He said to me, ‘Didn’t you always know?’ And I was just like ‘Yes and No’,’ she recalls. ‘I now think that for so long the mental confusion I had … was me just not being able to face the facts.’
He even admitted he’d tried to kill her once under the sway of his murderous impulses, closing the chimney damper at her home to stop smoke escaping from her room, then putting a towel under the door. She remembered waking up coughing, eyes streaming, after a night of heavy drinking.
In July 1979 he was convicted in Florida of two murders and sentenced to death. During another murder trial, in 1980, Bundy exploited a legal loophole and married his former work colleague Carole Ann Boone while she was a witness on the stand. Although conjugal visits were not allowed at Raiford Prison, it was easy to break the rules. She gave birth to a daughter in 1981 — Rose — and claimed the child was Bundy’s. Boone divorced him in 1986.
Some suggested that the family life Bundy established with the Kendalls was a sham, cleverly designed by a highly manipulative man to deflect suspicion.
When Bundy was found guilty, Ms Kendall was ‘devastated’ and took to the bottle, feeling she didn’t deserve to be alive.
Despite this, she insists that he loved them and still treasures a scrapbook full of joyful snapshots of their years together.
‘Me and my daughter were about the realest things he ever had in his life,’ she says. ‘We represented something he really wanted and tried to maintain.’ If it wasn’t real, then ‘it just makes me feel I’m as crazy as Ted was’.
Bundy was finally sent to the electric chair in Florida in January 1989. He was 42.
- Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer available now on Amazon Prime.