Violence has been present in society since the beginning of time terrorizing communities and changing interactions between citizens. The 1960’s were filled with political violence such as the assassinations of several leaders as well as the violent nature of the Cold War. The 1970’s, however, had more violence between average citizens. There was an instant rise in serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy and the most infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy. Bundy committed several murders throughout his adulthood and forever changed society. The numerous murders Ted Bundy committed induced fear into the public by creating an undetectable profile of a serial killer and provoked distrust of the police system.
Ted Bundy differed from the stereotypical serial killer because of his illusion of compassion as well as his outgoing personality. Many serial killers throughout history have been deemed socially inept. Ted Bundy on the other hand was very sociable and had many platonic as well as romantic relationships throughout his lifetime. In an article written by The History Channel it was recorded that Bundy’s classmates said that, “He was very smart and personable, and he used his charm to pick up his victims,” which greatly differs from the stereotype of a serial killer. Bundy was the first to challenge this idea of an “easily detectable” serial killer. He fooled his classmates as well as his victims into thinking he had no harmful intentions and could be a trustworthy citizen. Ted was one of the first serial murderers to be well known as an outgoing, sociable, and intelligent. These aspects of Bundy’s personality swayed people’s primary perspectives on who Ted really was. When citizens found out that Ted, who seemed well rounded, committed terrible crimes, they were shocked and this redefined their outlook on the personality of a serial killer. Americans could no longer assume that only social outcasts could be capable of the unthinkable crimes that occur in society. Citizens now feared that there is no certainty when it comes to trusting others or predicting the sanity and safety of others.
Ted Bundy’s acts of kindness greatly differed from his criminal reputation which added even more layers to his concealment of his insanity. During college, Bundy worked at a suicide hot line center, giving compassionate aid to people who felt hopeless. The fact that Bundy, who spent his time preventing citizens from taking their lives, would later take the lives of several young women was utterly confusing to the public. Bundy seemed like a caring citizen who had no intention other than to help. Ted Bundy also made platonic connections with coworkers during his time at the hotline center, in particular Ted became close friends with a woman named Anne Rule. The two would turn out to be lifelong friends and Anne would later write a book about Bundy after his death. In a Washington Post article Anne said that she “liked him immediately…It would have been hard not to. He brought me a cup of coffee and waved his arm over the awesome banks of phone lines,” which gives us insight on their relationship as well as the way Bundy presented himself in a public setting. Ted Bundy acted as though he was a caring citizen when in actuality he was a destructive and immoral being. The deception Bundy created throughout his life allowed him to go almost unnoticeable in the eyes of the community. His acts of voulenteering at the suicide hot line, getting coffee for coworkerws, and simply saying hello to people made citizens assume he was a good man. This perception of Bundy led people to believe he could never commit the horrific crimes he had. Ted Bundy’s double life took away trust between citizens.
Bundy’s attendance to law school added to the citizen’s confusion of his life choices and the visage he put up in front of the public eye. Ted Bundy attended Harvard Law School after high school and then later furthered his studies in Colorado. Ted Bundy seemed to be loyally dedicated to his studies and would frequently go to the library whilst in custody to further extend his knowledge of law. In an interview with NBC News Bundy was recorded saying, “Yes I intend to complete my legal education and become a lawyer and be a damn good lawyer,” while making his way to the courthouse library from jail. Ted’s positive outlook on the ongoing trial and his persistence with law school added to the public’s perception that he was deeply interested in the legal system. Bundy’s interest in law studies made part of the public believe he was innocent while he was on trial and made the public shocked when the verdict was heard. It was a paradoxical philosophy that Bundy would be so invested in the legal system and betray the most critical laws worldwide. These differing aspects of Bundy’s life created confusion and fear within the citizens.
Bundy’s dedication to law throughout the numerous trials and accusations added to the confusion of citizens. In Ted Bundy’s last trial he did not feel as though his lawyers were fully committed to the case. Bundy decided he would be his own lawyer to try to secure a verdict of not guilty. Although Bundy lost the trial due to outstanding evidence proving his guilt, “Bundy ably defended himself at trial,” as said in an article written by the History Channel. It was almost unheard of for a man on trial to defend himself, especially in a case like Bundy’s. Since being a lawyer is such a high position in society, citizens were reluctant to believe a man who was becoming one would also commit dozens of murders. The place in society Bundy withheld before as well as during the trial greatly affected the public’s perspective on his criminal life. When the verdict was revealed citizens felt hopeless because they no longer knew who to trust. The fact that a man who was learning how to protect our citizens legally was simultaneously breaking the law on a major scale created doubt and hopelessness in the American society.
The crimes Bundy committed were the most gruesome the public have seen which brought a new level of terror to society. Although any crime committed is a terrible one, some crimes committed are unthinkable in their gruesome nature. Bundy raped most of his victims and murdered all but one. Bundy preyed on females in society of all ages. The Britanica Encylcopedia said that “In the following year he again was sentenced to death, this time for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl,” showing that Bundy had done enough horrific crimes to get multiple death sentences. The quote also refrences a crime Bundy commited in Florida, the rape and murder of Kimberly Leech, a truly young woman. Raping and murdering a young child is so horrific it shocks citizens who hear about it. The vulgarity of Bundy’s crimes not only brought fear to the citizens but also brought a new feeling of despair and loss of hope with society. Ted committed similar crimes to the Kimberly Leech case repeatedly over many years. Bundy committed the most unimaginable crimes which left the country in pain.
Not only were Bundy’s crimes gruesome but there were also an abundance of murders committed by the individual which shocked the police force as well as the public. Bundy was one of the first infamous serial killers in the world let alone the United States. Citizens and law enforcement alike were shocked by the confession Bundy gave which revealed the true acts of his crimes. In the World Book Encyclopedia it was said that,”Bundy confessed to the murders of more than 30 women in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Law enforcement authorities, however, believe he may have been responsible for as many as 100 murders”.Bundy was one of the first serial killers to commit as many murders as he did. The number he admitted to alone was enough to induce an incredible amount of fear into the citizens of America. Ted was also one of the first to murder across state boarders which created problems for the police department. Before Bundy’s murders the police rarely communicated between states. Due to this many of the states Bundy murdered in believed they had their own separate killer instead of all states looking for one man. This prolonged the investigation to find the criminal and made the police review their communication system.
The victims of Bundy’s crimes were extremely vulnerable which created fear and distrust in the community. Most murder victims are people who have put themselves in a harmful or dangerous situation. Bundy’s victims were different. These young women who Ted Bundy targeted were often studious, well rounded, college girls. Before the 1970’s there was not as much fear in society between citizens. People would often lend a hand to a friend, neighbor, or even a stranger without suspicion of alternative motives. Niel Hamilton recorded in his book that, “Several women said that the man approached them and, with his arm or leg in a cast, asked them for help in getting to his car,” which not only shows how trusting and vulnerable Bundy’s victims were as well as how he had taken advantage of them. The women Bundy brutally murdered were not aware that they were putting themselves in danger. The girls were simply trying to offer help to what seemed to be a citizen in need. This manipulation Ted used created distrust between citizens. Now people are reluctant to supply assistance to strangers in need due to the assumption that the stranger may have sinister motives like Bundy did. Because of this America’s society is less communal and trusting compared to before Bundy’s capturing methods were exposed.
Ted Bundy’s notorious escapes created panic locally as well as nationally and made the public question the ability of the police force. While Ted was on trial in Colorado, he would often be allowed to visit the courthouse library with supervision of the police. Bundy said that on many different occasions he had seen the opportunity to escape due to lack of constriction and observant supervision. On June 7th, 1977 Bundy took advantage of the poor supervision and escaped the courthouse by jumping out of a second floor window. The deputy who was responsible for watching Bundy had not even been in the room with him at the time. The citizens of Aspen, Colorado were told that a potential murderer had escaped. The police did not find him for several days and the surrounding cities were also in a panic. The citizens were enraged by the police. In Neil Hamilton’s book, the 1970’s, he records that a teacher and citizen in Aspen had said, “This man is dangerous enough for the police department to warn citizens to stay inside and lock their door, but he wasn’t dangerous enough for them to watch him while he was in the courtroom.” which demonstrates the beginning level of distrust in the police. The public had felt betrayed by the police department for putting citizens lives at stake simply because the deputy did not fulfil his duties. The authorities were well aware that Bundy was potentially dangerous and a threat to citizens but they did not take the responsibility and precautions they should have to contain him. The police made a careless mistake that would put the whole community at risk of attack. This had created a sense of distrust in the police because they were acting irresponsibly within their enormous task of keeping citizens safe from a possible murderer. The public should not have faith in their police system if they can not handle keeping one criminal in captivity. This is how the majority of Aspen felt. If the authorities were to be so naive to have left a murder suspect alone and unchained, there would be a good chance a similar situation would happen.
As the citizens feared, the police had lost custody of Ted Bundy yet again. Bundy had spent many days in prison not eating to slim down his figure. He had also cut a hole into the ceiling of his cell which was the first part of his escape out of jail. On December 30th, 1977 Bundy would make his second escape. He stacked books on top of his bed, climbed through the hole in the ceiling, crawled over a prison guards empty office, broke through the ceiling to get into the room, put on the guards civilian clothes and then walked out the front of the prison. From this point no one knows exactly how Bundy ended up across the country in Florida, but the police originally not noticing his absence gave him a head start. Neil Hamilton said that, “It took 15 hours for the authorities to discover that he had been missing” which is an absurd amount of time. Not only were the police careless enough to allow Bundy to escape for a second time, but they also did not notice he was missing for fifteen hours. Within these fifteen hours Bundy had gotten far enough away so that the police could not find him for three months. This ignorant and naive behavior of the prison’s workers led to panic nationwide. The lack of responsibility in the police had not only led to extreme distrust but also led to the murders in Florida Bundy committed during his escape.
Ted Bundy was eventually killed by the electric chair after many trials for many murders. Bundy was a sick, disgusting man who fooled the nation, his peers, and even his friends into thinking he was sane and well. The crimes committed were terribly gruesome and will always be remembered by the victims’ families as well as by society. The effects of Bundy’s crimes will forever remain in society such as the distrust in other citizens as well as the police force. The police did learn a lot from Bundy. They now knew that communication between states was crucial and to keep a close watch on all suspects on trial at all times. Bundy was a terrible man who will remain infamous in society for the murders he committed as well as the effects it had on society.