In a remarkable series of interviews with authors Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, Bundy adopted the coy device of speculating on how some hypothetical third-person serial murderer might have killed. The charade sheltered Bundy from any possible legal repercussions that might have resulted from the interviews, but there was no doubt that he was talking about himself. He spoke of a sinister "entity" that bore the true responsibility for his crimes.
"The initial sexual encounter would be more or less a voluntary one," he said of one of the murders, "but one which did not wholly gratify the full spectrum of desires that he had intended. And so, after the first sexual encounter, gradually his sexual desire builds back up and joins, as it were, these other unfulfilled desires - this other need to totally possess her, after she's passed out, as she lay there in a state somewhere between coma and sleep, he strangled her to death."
These "other unfulfilled desires" became a recurring theme, but one that Bundy never could fully explain. "The sexual act - in the larger scheme of things - was sort of obligatory conduct," he insisted. "Not in itself, you know, the sexual act was not the, the ... the principal source of gratification."
Every so often, as he struggled to elucidate the real "source of gratification" and the course of its development, Bundy seemed to reveal more than he intended. "And when he's 15," he said of the moment of killing, "it'd be a much more mystical, exciting, intense, overwhelming experience... than when he's 50." The statement had a frightening resonance for authorities who remembered an eight-year-old girl named Ann Marie Burr, who had vanished from her home in Tacoma, Washington, on August 31, 1961. A few blocks away lived Ted Bundy, just shy of his 15th birthday. Bundy would deny committing that particular murder.
In his veiled disclosures, the killer's manner was as chilling as his words. He was by turns intense, gloating, excited, nonchalant, indifferent, even amused. He described quite merrily how he had his "own garbage disposal" method at the dumping grounds where he left his kills - a "whole bunch of little beasties who would, in effect, destroy every last shred of the victim."
Sometimes Bundy had trouble keeping his many victims straight; he couldn't remember their names. "Terrible with names," he smirked. "And faces." He even seemed surprised that the killings caused such a furor, that the young women he murdered were mourned so deeply by the people who'd loved them. "What's one less person on the face of the earth anyway?" he shrugged.
The question of just how many people he killed would surface again and again. Bundy would eventually confess officially to 30. Others close to the case placed the number at 36. Once, when a policeman expressed shock that one person had killed 36 women, Bundy shook his head. "Add one digit to that," he said, "and you'll have it."
It may never be clear what he meant by the remark. He may have been saying that the tally was off by one victim, but he may also have meant that the figure was far too low - that the actual number was more than 100. Some investigators, Seattle's Bob Keppel among them, believe the latter interpretation .
One confidant in Bundys spiritual discussions was William Hagmaier, an agent attached to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Sciences Unit in Quantico, Virginia. The unit has since become famous for its pioneer work in probing the psychopathic mind. Hagmaier clearly struck Bundy as a worthy audience for the deepest insights of a killer.
True to his notions of grandeur, the murderer adorned his savagery in metaphysical trappings: He told Hagmaier of the spiritual oneness he achieved with his victims. "You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body," Bundy said. "You're looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God! You then possess them and they shall forever be a part of you. And the grounds where you kill them or leave them become sacred to you, and you will always be drawn back to them." These were the same grounds he'd described earlier as places where the "little beasties" helped him dispose of his garbage.
Sacred unions aside, toward the end Bundy had no compunction whatever about using his victims' bodies one last time: He cynically bartered them, trading the awful details of their deaths in an effort to prolong the only life that had ever mattered to him - his. Agents for the convicted killer hastily contacted various investigators in the Bundy case, promising to provide details of unresolved murders if the detectives would urge Florida governor Robert Martinez to delay the execution. The victims' family members were given the same offer: the truth about how their daughters died, in exchange for a good word on the killer's behalf. Bob Keppel and several other detectives showed up to hear the confessions, although they were vague about commitments to intercede with the governor. Among the families, not a single person agreed to say or do anything that might prolong Bundy's life.
The confessions, when they finally came, left even the hardened detectives cold with contempt and disgust. Bundy told of luring his victims by affecting some injury, playing on their kindness to get them to come within striking range. He told of clubbing them with a crowbar, of handcuffing them, of chatting with them once they regained consciousness. Sometimes it amused him, he said, to pretend that someone else had attacked them and that he was a good Samaritan taking them to a hospital. Bundy had already described for Bill Hagmaier how, before killing, he sometimes used his victims to animate his sick fantasies. Given sufficient leisure, he would make them dress in certain clothes and pose in ways that re-created pornographic images that appealed to him. Many of the images came from the covers of the cheap detective magazines that Bundy liked to read. Sometimes he took Polaroid snapshots of the young women during these sessions and kept them as souvenirs. "When you work hard to do something right," he confided, "you don't want to forget it." Also, Bundy confirmed for Hagmaier a horror that other investigators had long suspected: On the day that he kidnapped Janice Ott and Denise Naslund from Lake Sammamish, he kept both alive for a while. One had to watch the other die.).
In his official confessions, Bundy told how he strangled his victims with lengths of rope, sometimes even as he raped them. After killing, he said, he beheaded at least a dozen of the corpses with hacksaws. Sometimes he cut off the hands as well. Part of his motive for this was to impede identification of the dead. Evidently, however, that was not the only reason: He carried the heads around with him for days. There were some things he would not discuss for the record - whether he had sex with any of the women after they were dead, for instance. Several investigators believed that he did.
In all, Bundy confessed officially to 11 murders in Washington, 8 in Utah, 3 in Colorado, 3 in Florida, 2 in Oregon, 2 in Idaho, and 1 in California. (Off the record, he had hinted earlier at two more killings: During his brief 1969 stint as a student at Temple University, he implied to a psychologist, he traveled from Philadelphia to kill two young women in nearby Atlantic City, New Jersey.) Of the official tally of 30, Bundy had long been a suspect in some of the cases; others came as a surprise to police. His first killing - first, at least, among those he admitted for the record-was in May of 1973, earlier than most investigators had thought. The victim was an unidentified hitchhiker whom Bundy picked up near Olympia, Washington. It also turned out that little Kimberly Leach was his second 12-year-old victim. The first was Lynette Culver, kidnapped from her junior high school in Pocatello, Idaho, on May 6, 1975. Some of the dead Bundy could not identify. Some have never been identified.
In the last days of his life, Bundy did not even bother to feign remorse for the lives he took. He was lavish, however, in his self-pity. While talking to Bob Keppel, he burst into tears, then went on to beg for "sixty, ninety days. A few months." Sometime earlier, there had been a similarly weepy scene with Bill Hagmaier. Bundy's eyes had filled with tears and he said, "You know, they want to kill me." He seemed amazed.