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The Organized Serial Murderer: Theodore Bundy Essay

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Federal Bureau of investigation FBL define a serial killer as one who commits homicide acts on one or more occasions but with a tine lapse between the murders. (Snow R, 2005). According to Internal Association of Forensic Science serial killers tend to have similar characteristics. It is estimated that over 90% of the serial killers are male whose intelligence level are above average. Their IQ levels are estimated to be above what is considered normal. More often than not, serial killers tend to perform poorly in school and even on completion of education; they have difficulties holding their employment.

A large number of them have difficulties holding their employment positions with most of them working as unskilled laborers. In terms of family backgrounds serial killers are mostly from unstable families and have difficult childhood.  Most are brought up by domineering mothers after their fathers abandon them. Others hail from families that have a history in crime, psychiatric disorders or have problems with alcoholism.

Due to such problems the serial killers have a resentful feeling towards their parents.

Another characteristic of serial killers is that during their childhood years, most of them record incidences of abuse which would be psychological, sexual or even physical that is perpetrated by one of the family members. Serial killers tend to have psychiatric problems during their early childhood years and they record higher rates of attempted suicide. Serial killers have developmental problems which can be bore witness by the fact that a large proportion or percentage of them wet their beds after the age of 12 years. Most are interested in pornography which starts at an early age. (www.webcitation.org/56kygo07t)

            According to Balwyn in ‘The Australian woman’s survival guide’ the police define a serial killer as someone who kills three to four but takes a break or a ‘cooling off’ period from one killing to the next. More often than not the serial killers do not have a connection with their victims.

The murders conducted by serial killers exhibit their desire to dominate their victims but in a sadistic manner. Serial killing is not new but dates back to the 15th century with offenders like Gilles de Rais as well as Jack the ripper in the terrorized streets of London. Serial killers do not kill for convenience or for necessity but for the psychological satisfaction/gain purposes. (Falk G and C, 1990)

            Serial killers choose their victims who are in most instances the vulnerable population like prostitutes and runaways, students, waitresses or even models and these victims have a symbolic value to the serial killer. Serial killer victims are mostly women. (Kamir O, 2001). A typical serial killer according to Balwyn is white in terms of racial background. He is from a middle class family background and has a tendency of being attracted to setting up fire as well as torturing animals during their early childhood years. At times some serial have a record of brain injury during their early years (Balwyn M, 2007)

            According to Peck and Dolch serial killers can be categorized as either organized or disorganized. Organized serial killers are of good intelligence and socially competent unlike they often than not prefer working in skilled employment or jobs. They tend to be sexually competent and their fathers tend to be in stable employment. (Peck D and Dolch N, 2001). Organized serial killers have a history of inconsistent discipline in their childhood age. Another observation made regarding organized serial killers is that during the commission of their crimes they exhibit a controlled mood. (Shinder D and Tittel E,2002).

They tend to follow the events of crimes as they are unveiled in the media. The use of alcohol is also a common characteristic among the organized serial killers who suffer from experiences that precipitate or rather trigger stress. Most organized serial killers live with their partners and own a car which is in good condition. (Roberts A, 2003). This is in contrast with a disorganized serial killers who are of average intelligence, have social immaturity, register poor work history. (Holden H, 2006H, 2006).

Disorganized serial killers have a history of father being in unstable employment and most of them have harsh parental discipline experiences during their childhood days. Most disorganized serial killers experience anxious mood while conducting their heinous crimes and rarely use alcohol. Disorganized serial killers unlike the organized serial killers rarely follow up news related to crime. They live alone and mostly reside or work near the crime scenes. (Holden H, 2006H, 2006). Some serial killers exhibit the characteristics of both the disorganized as well as the disorganized serial killers a clear indication that the characteristics are not mutually exclusive.

            Peter Vronsky in his distinguished book ‘Serial killers’ noted that organized serial  killers plan their acts and are able to escape carefully. They may take weeks, months or even years before executing their heinous acts. They tend to fantasize and have a growing compulsion towards their strong desires to kill or murder others. They take pride when they are in charge or rather when they take control at the scenes of crime.

Vronsky also noted that it is difficult and dangerous to trace the organized serial killers as they ensure that they destroy any evidence that would incriminate them. Organized serial killers successfully approach their victims through socializing with them or tricking them until they take them to a situation or place where they can overpower them. Most organized serial killers tend to be educated though they are cunning and controlled. They tend to be perfectionist and learn with each new murder. (Vronsky P, 2004).

            The disorganized serial killer is difficult to detect and arrest since unlike the organized one he is not predictable. He kills spontaneously as he has no prior arrangements to kill. It suffices to say that his crimes are ‘crimes of opportunity’ and any suitable chance is exploited. Most disorganized serial killers are unskilled and consequently unemployed. His IQ can be defined as average or psychotic. Organized killers may dispose their victims while ensuring that they have eliminated any evidence that would link them with the murders. (Badal J, 2001).

On the contrary, the disorganized serial killers may leave their victims at the crime scene which is at times near the areas where they reside. Some serial killers keep their victims belongings as souvenirs. (Raine et al, 2000). Disorganized serial killers make no effort of clearing any evidence or covering their tracks in an effort to reduce the chances of being caught since they live alone they do not have to hide any of their incriminating objects. The FBI has also categorized some serial killers as the mixed category killers as they exhibit both the characteristics of the organized as well as the disorganized serial killers.

            Ted Bundy was viewed as an ultimate serial killer who was so keen in his acts that the police officers were unable to locate the crime scenes of approximately 17 victims. He was considered ‘American pscho’ who declared himself as ‘the only Ph.D in serial murder. Bundy was educated, attractive and believed in the American Dream where hard work and education were perceived as the road or way to success in life (Vronsky P, 2004). Theodore Robert Cowell or Ted Bundy was born on November 24, 1946 in Burlington Vermont. His 22 year old mother, Louise Cowell was single and lived in Philadelphia when she got pregnant.

The real biological father of Ted Bundy remains obscure. The Louise Cowell’s family members were strict Methodists and the idea that Louise was pregnant out of marriage did not go down well with them. They were deeply ashamed and Ted was given the last name ‘Cowell’ to avoid embarrassment. A month before Bundy was born his mother lived in a home for the unwed mother, the ‘Elizabeth Lund Home for unwed mothers’ in Vermont.

After Bundy’s birth his mother left for Philadelphia leaving him with her parents who tried to adopt him. Bundy’s grandfather Sam Cowell acted as his father while Louise his mother acted as his sister. Since Bundy gave conflicting stories about his early childhood it is a bit unclear.  However it is the perception of many that he lived with his grand parents for four years before leaving with his mother to Tacoma. While in Tacoma Louise met and married John Culpepper Bundy who was a cook at a hospital from whom Ted took his surname from him.

            Bundy did not seem to be at home with his social class in his early childhood years. He was embarrassed that his family was of a lower class in the society. He fantasized of being adopted by famous personality like Roy Rogers who was a TV cowboy actor. Bundy missed his grandfather and preferred to live with his uncle who was a university professor with a grand piano in his house. (Michaud S, Aynesworth H and Bundy T, 2000).

The birth of his other four siblings may have disrupted his development at an early age. Bundy’s childhood friends confess that he was short tempered. John, Ted’s stepfather is also said to have been short tempered too though no claims of abuse were highlighted with his half brothers and sisters. Louise, Ted’s mother claimed to have had more attention on Bundy since he was her first born. (Vronsky P, 2004).

            Ted Bundy’s school mates in public school confessed that in school Ted had a good academic record implying that he was intelligent. He was also social, happy and had a good sense of humor. This was however, not long lived as when he joined high school he became unpopular, had fewer social relationships and in fact he became alienated from his old friends. To Bundy he ‘hit the wall’ while in high school. He claimed that he lacked role models at home to emulate. Ted also lost his self confidence while in high school.

It seemed that he did not fit in high school and he preferred to be isolated. Bundy did not exhibit sexual interests while in high school. In fact he confessed that he was ‘dense’ in issues of male-female relationships while in high school.  Though his adolescence life was somehow calm it is thought he was involved in the disappearance of Anne Marie Burr an 8 year old that reportedly disappeared in Tacoma. At 14 years the police suspected that Bundy was responsible for Ann’s disappearance. (Vronsky P, 2004).

            Bundy’s childhood was a difficult one especially when realized that his grandfather was not his father and his purported sister was actually his mother. The 4 year separation with his mother and the separation with his grandfather could have affected him psychologically. Bundy’s grandfather is said to have had ‘an explosive temper and reportedly physically assaulted his wife. He was also a perfectionist who abused animals both physically and verbally. (Simon R, 2008).

Again, despite his being a church deacon he kept a large collection of pornographic material which Bundy accessed. Some psychiatric suggest that Ted’s behavior could be linked with horrific or traumatic experiences while in his childhood. His actions are thought to have occurred after a long period of being suppressed.

At three years old, Ted is reported to have uncovered his 15 year old aunt as she slept and slipped in three butcher knives. This was strange for a boy of his age.  During his adolescence age Bundy was involved in burglary. He had a history of stealing like is the case with serial killers according to the FBI study. Bundy graduated from high school in 1965 from his large class of 740 students. The high number of classmates could have contributed to his preferring a lone life as it is associated with anonymity as well as isolation.

            Throughout his childhood Bundy exhibited the signs that he liked wealth. He opted for the expensive clothing or fashion items when they went shopping with his mother. This could have led to his unrealistic ambitions. Though Bundy was attractive to many he did not consider himself as such probably because of his poor self confidence.

            Bundy met and fell in love with Stephanie in 1966.  Stephanie was beautiful and from a wealthy family. Bundy seemed happy with the relationship and in fact introduced Stephanie to his family and friends. He also transferred to Stephanie’s university where he did Chinese studies to separate himself with others. It was after seeing a certain woman undressing through a window that Bundy gained the obsession of peeping at windows for naked women. Stephanie started to lose interest in Bundy in 1967 citing immaturity and strange especially when he tapped her and disappeared. (Vronsky P, 2004).

            After transferring to San Francisco Bundy seemed to have ‘lost it’. He missed lectures and consequently performed poorly. After Stephanie broke up with Bundy he became upset and was devastated. It was after this period that he developed a different opinion for women. He confessed that he could deflate their fires. This however, was not enough punishment for them as men could come to their rescue. He began to put his fantasies to test by experimenting them from what he considered ‘to see how far things could go’. In 1967 he went back to the university but dropped the Chinese studies opting for urban planning which he also dropped. Bundy went back to Seattle where he got a job in a supermarket as a night stocker.

He became a serious thief but stole not to sell but for consumption purposes. He stole quality products like a TV, furniture, clothes and other appliances. He stole from stores or on summer houses near Seattle. He used alcohol which he confessed made him less nervous when perpetrating his criminal activities. Bundy had a strong attraction to violent pornography and he also read detective literature where he was pleased by scenes or images of abused women. From such literature Bundy was exposed to information.

In 1968 Bundy worked for a politician, ‘Art Fletcher’ campaigns. After Fletcher lost in the elections Bundy got a job as a salesman where he was engaged in shoplifting. In 1969 he met Liz Kendall who was also beautiful and from a rich family. They were to marry and even had a marriage license but Bundy called it off. In 1970 he enrolled for a psychology class at the University of Washington. Bundy was later employed as a counselor at Seattle crisis clinic where he supervised the volunteering staff as a psychology student.

            As Snow Robert in ‘murder 101’  noted Ted Bundy always killed college-age women with long brown hair precipitating the notion that he killed those who resembled his girlfriend Stephanie. Serial killers show no empathy for their victims who they consider merely as objects. They also have no remorse for their actions. Joseph Kondro, a serial killer for instance said that if he was to change anything it would probably be the location of his last victim as it precipitated his being caught. To him, he would only have sought for change where mistakes that could have seen his arrest were avoided (Snow R, 2005)

            Petherick in ‘Serial crime’ classified serial killers into five categories. There are the psychopathic sexual sadists who are not psychotic but they derive job killing. The crime spree killers, the custodial poisoners for instance those taking care of the aged and functionaries of organized criminal operations or those who kill under contracts. Other classification of serial killers are the visionary or the mission oriented who want to bring about change, the hedonistic or those deriving pleasure killing as well as the power control who commit murder due to the sense of dominance. (Petherick W, 2005).

            The most dangerous thing about serial killers is that they only stop killing after there are apprehended or when they die. Serial killers tend to be fascinated by the police or detective work and some go to extra mile of enrolling in courses related to such works.

Others read relevant materials or watch cop shows some impersonate the police officers. A clear illustration of this is John Wayne Gay a serial killer who had a police radio at his home and Ted Bundy who once worked with the king county crime commission. Others like Dennis Nilsen had earlier worked in the police force while some like Edmund Kemper spent time near police headquarters where they questioned the police regarding crimes he had perpetrated. Bundy could be categorized as psychopathic sexual sadists (Schlesinger L, 2000)

            According to Turvey in ‘Criminal profiling’ , Bundy killed a minimum of 30 victims across 5 states of USA in a span of 5 years up from 1973. Bundy is said to have been polite and friendly and when approached by his victims he pretended to be in need of assistance. Bundy planned his actions before hand. (Turvey B, 2008). Bundy could keep the bodies of his victims for days and as his alcohol consumption levels increased he increased the sexual attraction to the dead. Instead of disposing them he reportedly applied make up and lipstick on the corpses as well as shampooed their hairs (Turvey B, 2008).

 Hickey in ‘Encyclopedia of murder and violent crimes, noted that Bundy suffered from a ‘Jekyll-and-Hyde personality’ where the morally wrong things in the society were suppressed in him only to erupt later in violent forms. (Hickey E, 2003). Bundy killed his victims when having sex with them. He confessed that he beheaded at least 12 of his victims with hacksaws. In other instances he cut off their hands. He actively followed police procedures as they investigated his cases at times altering the crime scenes.

To him, the police were ineffective and lacked coordination among them something that kept him off apprehension. Like other serial killers for instance the green river valley killer Gary Leon Ridgway, Bundy was engaged in necrophilia with some of his victims. At times he carried the head of his victims in his Volkswagen for several days. Bundy buried some of his victims, threw others in water and remains of others could be scattered between the burial sites. (Gebert V, 2006)

Most serial killers have problematic relationships with the opposite sex partners. Bundy can bear this witness given the fact that at one point he had two girlfriends at the same time without their knowledge. He confessed that his breaking a marriage proposal barely two days later was as a sign of dominance. He wanted to prove that he would still have her girlfriend as he so wanted.

             Bundy’s first murder victim is thought to have been eighteen year old Joni Lentz on January 4th 1974 in Seattle. He physically and sexually assaulted her leaving her covered in her bed that one would think she was sleeping. Joni was lucky to survive but she suffered a permanent brain damage and could not recall the ordeal.  On 31st January 1974 21 year old Lynda Ann Healy was the next victim. For the next few months Bundy was thought to have murdered at least seven more college girls from the states of Utah, Oregon and Washington. (Lohr D, 2008).  Their initial disappearance raised concerns after the discovery of two bodies.

In august the same year Carol DaRonch who narrowly escaped death under Bundy’s cruelty had an important role to play in as far as the link of the prevailing murders to Bund by the authorities. Bundy’s first arrest was in August 16th 1975 in Utah and on February 1976 he was put on trial. During this period Bundy was linked with the Caryn Campbell whose body was found on 17th February 1975. He was put on trial on 22nd October 1976 and it was during this period that he attempted to escape by jumping out of a window two storey building. He was rearrested eight days later as the injuries he suffered imposed a negative effect on him.

 In December 1977 Bundy escaped from prison for a second time through a ceiling hole he had created leaving for Florida where his craving for murder intensified precipitating the ‘Chi Omega murders’. These incidence four college girls lost their lives while two escaped with serious injuries.

Murders linked to Bundy in 1971 include Donna Gail Manson 12th March, Georgeann Hawkins on 11th June, Janice Ott and Denise Naslund, Nancy Wilcox on October 2nd, Melissa Smith on October 18th Laura Aime on October 31st.  In 1975 Bundy is thought to be responsible for the death of Caroly Campbell on Jan 12 1975, Julie Cunningham on March 15th, Denise Oliverson on April 6th and Susan Curtis on June 28th. (Hub pages Inc, 2008).

             Bundy was arrested in Salt Lake Utah on august 16th 1975 for failing to comply with a policeman’s stop order. A search in his car led to his arrest as he had incriminating objects. Bundy went to trial on June to July 1979 and during this period he acted as his own counsel. He also got married to Carole Ann Boone who bore him a daughter in October 1982. (Lohr D, 2008).

Bundy claimed that he could be of great assistance in the search for the Green River Killer but the information he provided was inadequate according to the relevant task force. (Keppel R, BirnesW and Rule A, 2004). He also claimed that he would help in the finding of missing bodies probably to extend his execution time. (Lohr D, 2008). This however fell on deaf ears as on 24th January 1989 he was executed. He was pronounced dead at 7:16 am at the age of 42 years. On his last speech he blamed pornography and violent media as factor with a significant role in his life as a serial killer. (www.pureintimacy.org).


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