Bundy was described by most as handsome, charismatic, and charming. For a number of years he even had former law enforcement officer and renowned true crime author, Ann Rule, fooled, having worked closely with her at a suicide hotline and becoming friends. She would later go on to write the infamous book The Stranger Beside Me, detailing her account with him and all of his crimes.
Theodore Robert Bundy confessed to killing 36 women across several states, starting in Washington and moving east to Utah, Colorado, and closer to his demise to Florida from 1974-1978. The exact number of his victims is unknown. In a memoir written by one of his defenders, John Henry Browne, he recalls a time Bundy disclosed to him that the number of his victims was somewhere near 100.
Bundy targeted young attractive women. The ages of his known deceased victims are as young as 12 and go up to 26. He often approached them in public places by using the ruse of being injured or disabled and asking for aid in carrying something into his car, other times by acting like he needed directions or his car had broken down. On a number of occasions he feigned being a figure of authority and would often impersonate a police officer or a detective. There were a number of times he invaded their homes and bludgeoned his victims in their sleep. The most dangerous thing about him were his looks, and he often relied on these to abduct his victims, often in broad daylight. Bundy often raped his victims and killed them either by bludgeoning them to death with a crowbar (or other readily available object). He later moved on to strangling his victims.
Bundy couldn’t get enough satisfaction by the simple act of obliterating lives. He had a fetish for returning to the locations he’d dump his victims’ bodies and would further mutilate them, in some instances by decapitation. He even painted their nails in some cases, changed their clothing, and put make up on them. Ted was also a necrophilic who would continue to sexually assault his victims post-mortem, often times until the body was at too far a state of decomposition that it was no longer feasible for him to do so.
Though the question as to when Bundy started filling his quench for blood thirst is debatable and may always remain unknown, his first known murder occurred in January of 1974 at the University of Washington when he broke into the apartment of student Karen Sparks (18) and fatally bludgeoned her with a rod from her own bedframe. Women from the University of Washington would continue to disappear as he engaged in his homicidal rampage. Women in the Pacific Northwest would continue to disappear for some time.
That same fall Bundy moved himself and his murderous tendencies to the state of Utah to attend law school and continued on with his killing spree. He even took it as far to Idaho and Colorado. In 1974 he kidnapped 18-year-old Caron DaRonch, she however was successful and lucky in being able to escape and hold on to her life.
In 1975 he was arrested near Salt Lake City after fleeing from a police car and having strange items such as handcuffs, roped, gloves, a crowbar, trash bags, and a ski mask in his car. The officer who pulled him over remembered the description of the man and the car for the attempted abduction of DaRonch and took him into custody. Upon further search of his home, other items linking him to some of the murders were found in his home but he was released because due to insufficient evidence to incriminate him. While trying to build a case against him, authorities impounded the car he had tried to get rid of and sell and found hair strands of LaRonch.
There was little evidence to link him to and charge him with the Northwest Pacific killings and he was freed on bail as he awaited trial for the kidnapping of DaRonch, after having been identified by her in a line up. He was convicted in 1976 and while in jail, was charged with the murder of Colorado woman Caryn Campbell and was transferred to a facility in Aspen in early 1977 and later to Glenwood. There he would successfully escape jail by jumping out a second story window and successfully remaining at large for 6 days.
This first attempted escape was the first time he almost got away with it. There was some evidence that was inadmissible and he could have potentially had good chances of an acquittal for the murder, he literally could have gotten away with murder, but for a second time Bundy escaped prison in late December of 1977. This time he was more successful at evading authorities and he got as far as to Florida.
He could have probably remained a free man and live under the radar had it not been to his thirst for homicide. On the night of January 14, 1978 he broke into the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University in Tallahassee Florida and attacked four young women, killing two. Karen Chandler and Kathy Kleiner, both 21, survived. Margaret Bowman (21) was bludgeoned to death and raped, and Lisa Levy (20) was raped and strangled. Almost a month later he abducted, raped, and killed 12-year-old Kimberly Leach.
Bundy’s killing spree and murderous rampage came to a halt a few days later when he got pulled over for a minor traffic violation (again he could have gotten away with it.) He was apprehended and the most compelling evidence against him was that found in the Chi Omega house, including testimony from witnesses and physical damnation of evidence. Had he been able to contain his blood lust, perhaps Bundy would have gotten away with murder.
He was convicted on July 24, 1979 for the Bowman and Levy murders and sentences to death. For the Leach murder he was also given the death sentence by electrocution.
Ted Bundy was executed by electrocution in Florida on January 24, 1989. Today, you can visit the 1968 Volkswagen he used to lure women and abduct many of them at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C.
Dennis Rader – The BTK Killer
Known as the BTK Killer for his preferred method of binding, torturing and killing, Dennis Rader committed a series of murders, killing a total of 10 people in Wichita, Kansas between 1974 and 1991.
Rader’s MO included the thrill of the hunt. He said to have wandered around the city until zeroing in on his target. Once doing so, Rader would stalk his victims and learn their routines. Once ready for the attack he would break into their homes, cut off their phone lines, and bind, torture, and kill. He carried a gun to initially intimidate his victims and usually tied them up and killed them either by strangulation or by suffocation with plastic bags. He would take articles from the murder scene as mementos for his personal collection. Sometimes this included women undergarments. Rader confessed to getting sexual gratification from committing the killings and he masturbated at a couple of his crime scenes.
Several reports, and Rader himself, have stated that he began to exhibit homicidal tendencies at an early age by torturing, hanging and killing small animals as a child. Those who knew him, however, described him as polite, well mannered, and kind. Even in his adulthood, Rader gave the impression to all those around him of being a moral man with good values. He was a member of Christ Lutheran Church and held presidency of the church council, being regarded as a pillar of the community. Unbeknownst to this community, Rader was a bloodthirsty and twisted individual fantasizing about torturing and killing women.
On the morning of January 15, 1974 his fantasy would become a reality when he cut the phone line and broke into the home of the Otero family. Four of the seven family members were awake when he entered and were told by Rader that he was a fugitive on the run and needed money and a vehicle before ordering them to lie down. Believing Rader would only take what he needed and leave, the family complied with his orders and allowed themselves to be tied up by Rader. He proceeded to kill the father, Joseph Otero, 38 years old, first by placing a plastic bag over his headed and suffocating him. Mother Julie Otero, 34 years old, was next. He strangled her with his bare hands and after struggling to end her life Rader used rope to finish. The body of 9-year-old Joseph Jr. was found facedown with a plastic bag over his head and 11-year-old sister Josephine was found hanging from a drainage pipe in the basement. Siblings Charlie Otero (15), Daniel (14) and Carmen (13) arrived home on what should have been a typical afternoon after school and found the bodies of their family members.
Months later in April of 1974 Rader broke into and hid inside of the home of 21-year-old Kathryn Bright. When she arrived Rader was surprised to find her accompanied by her 19-year-old brother Kevin Bright. He bound them both and strangled Kathryn but proceeded to kill her by stabbing her 11 times in the back and torso. Though he attempted to kill Kevin and shot him twice, he survived, and Rader quickly fled the crime scene.
The BTK Killer began his infamous cat and mouse game with the police and the press in October of that same year when he began to seek notoriety by placing a letter inside a book of the Wichita Public Library anonymously confessing to the Otero murders and giving a grizzly and detailing description. He made a phone call to the Wichita Eagle to make the existence of this letter known. Inside this letter, he was to give himself the name for which he would be know by the rest of his life when he wrote, “the code words for ‘em will be Bind them, torture them, kill them, B.T.K.”
Rader’s bloodlust would remain unquenched until 1977 when he strangled Shirley Vain Relford (24) with a rope. Her children were present inside the home he barricaded them in a bathroom and left them unharmed after fleeing the scene. He struck again 9 months later when he strangled Nancy Fox (25) to death using a belt.
He wouldn’t strike again until April of 1985 when he strangled Marine Hedge (53) using his bare hands, and again in September of 1986 when he used Nylon stockings to strangle Vicki Wegerie (28). In 1991 Rader would commit his final murder when he strangled Dolores Davis (62) using pantyhose.
Rader’s greedy desire for fame is what would ultimately do him in and get him caught. Throughout the years he taunted police with letters and phone calls the police department and to the media. Often times this included description accounts only the killer could have given, photographs of the murders, driver’s licenses of the victims or even items from the crime scenes. Though it had been years since he had fed his homicidal lust, in 2004, Rader began a series of communication with the local media, probably because of the lack of attention he had been getting since the case of the BTK Killer had gone cold. This is what would eventually lead to his arrest.
Rader could have literally gotten away with murder had he not committed the idiotic mistake of trusting the police’s answer when they told him a floppy disk could not be traced to him when he asked if it would be safe to send him some writings that way. Authorities were led to his church thanks to the date on the disc, and soon after, to him.
Rader is currently in Kansas at El Dorado Correctional Facility serving ten consecutive life sentences for his crimes.
Dennis Nilsen – “Muswell Murderer” or “Kindly Killer”
Dennis Nilsen is a Scottish serial killer known to have defiled, murdered and dismembered 15 young boys and men between the years of 1978 and 1983 in London.
Nilsen would target homosexual homeless men or students whom he often picked up at bars and encountered randomly, and would invite them to his house. He would lure them there with offers of food and alcohol, often wanting them for sex and company. He would first ply them with alcohol and once passed out, or unable to defend themselves, he would strangle his victims to death, if unsuccessful would resort to drowning them in the sink or bathtub.
He really did invite them over wanting company, even if it was post mortem. After his murders Nilsen would engage in strange rituals in which he bathed the bodies, cleaned the young men, and even shaved them. He would sometimes apply make up on their faces and clothe them. He says to have cohabited with them and engage in conversation with his dead victims. He would perform sexual acts on or to the bodies and masturbate on them. After enjoying their “company” for a period of time Nilsen would move on to dissecting their bodies and dismembering them. He would do so by butchering them in his kitchen. He started his killing spree at an address in Melrose Avenue, and here he would bury the remains in the garden or burn them in a bonfire. After moving to the Muswell Hill district he had to resort to other methods such as flushing parts down the toilet, boiling and cooking other parts, and stuffing some in bags and placing them under the floorboards.
A small started to emanate in his building caused by a blockage of the sewage system, since he had been flushing body parts down the toilet like someone would a dead goldfish. Either out of stupidity, being oblivious to risk, or confidence, Nilsen had the audacity to call the waste company Dyno-Rod and complain of the smell. The employee who responded to the call discovered bones and flesh-like substances upon opening a drain cover. It was decided that the following day a full inspection would be made of the pipes and that police would be called for further investigation. That night Nilsen was seen by neighbors attempting to cover his tracks by cleaning out actual human remains from the pipe. The next day it reported that he told a coworker, “If I don’t come in tomorrow, either I’m dead of in jail.” After inspecting other sections of the pipe the bones of a human hand were found.
Nilsen was questioned by police in his apartment where they noticed the foul odor coming from the bags of remains he kept beneath the floorboards. When asked about the smell he calmly confessed.
Nilsen was sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole for at least 25 years. If he hadn’t moved and continued to dispose of his victims the way he did while living in Melrose Avenue and burning them or burying them, if he hadn’t flushed body parts down a toilet, if maybe he would have thought to clean the pipes out before calling the waste company, and if he hadn’t complained about the sewage system he himself destroyed, perhaps he could have gotten away with it.