Known as one of the world’s most notorious criminals, Theodore “Ted” Bundy was born on November 24, 1946 in Burlington, Vermont. (Biography.com Editors, 2014). Bundy was born out of wedlock and his mother was embarrassed by this. To hide the fact that Bundy was an illegitimate child, Bundy was adopted by his grandparents and was told his biological mother was his sister. (Biography.com Editors, 2014). Aside from his troubling childhood, Bundy had showed an interest in knives at a young age. He was also known as a Peeping Tom. (Biography.com Editors, 2014). Bundy was seen as a shy but smart student in school. In college, Bundy was in a relationship with a young woman, Stephanie Brooks. He became obsessed with her. (Ted Bundy, n.d.). After their relationship ended, Bundy was discouraged. It is also recorded that his victims resembled his ex-girlfriend.
There is still some debate as to when Ted Bundy began committing his heinous crimes, but it is believed to be around 1974. (Crime Museum, n.d.). He used his charm and good looks to lure women in to “help” him, only to be kidnapped, brutally raped and murdered. He would often pretend to be injured and ask women for help. Bundy was known to strangle and bludgeon his victims as well as mutilating them after their death. He brutally raped them, before and after they were dead.
There are many speculations as to why Ted Bundy committed his crimes. There are various criminological theories that can explain his actions. For one, the Rational Choice Theory can explain Bundy’s behavior very well. According to our book, Rational Choice Theory is the view that crime is a function of a decision-making process in which the potential offender weighs the potential costs and benefits of an illegal act. (Siegel, 2016). The potential offender in this theory would ultimately come to a conclusion that the crime they are going to commit will be greater than the consequence. For one, Ted Bundy wasn’t worried that he would get caught by police. He also had a plan to trick his victims by asking them for help, or claiming he was injured in order to lure them into his car. This shows that he has rationally planned out his attacks. His choice of victims also correlates with the Rational Choice Theory because he chose victims that were gullible, weaker, and were less likely to fight back.
Another theory that explains Bundy’s behavior is the Social Control Theory. This theory states that everyone has the potential to become a criminal, but that most people will commit crimes when their social ties to family, relationships, etc. are broken. (Siegel, 2016). Ted Bundy’s family dynamic was not normal ever since he was a child. His mother was ashamed to have him, and he grew up with his grandparents as his parents. He didn’t have a solid father figure growing up, which damaged him. His failed relationship with Stephanie Brooks also added fuel to his crimes. Many of Bundy’s victims resembled Stephanie, young women with long dark hair, parted down the middle. (Corner, 2017). Criminologists note that Bundy was motivated by the “deep-rooted sense of rejection” he experienced from his first relationship. (Corner, 2017).
Although many theories are able to explain Bundy’s actions, there are some that don’t explain them at all. One theory that doesn’t nearly explain his actions is the Social Structure Theory. This theory states that lower class areas are the main cause of crime. Basically, children who live in lower income areas will continue to be affected and influenced by their social status, therefore they will more likely be committing crimes when they are older. It was never noted that Bundy grew up in a low economic neighborhood. It is stated that he grew up in a content, working-class family. (Biography.com Editors, 2014). There is no evidence that his socioeconomic status was a reason for his criminal acts.
Another criminological theory that does not explain the behavior of Ted Bundy is the Labeling Theory. This theory states that people will commit deviant acts if they are labeled as deviants. (Siegel, 2016). People who are negatively labeled may adopt a negative self-concept about themselves, which will later cause them to commit crimes. (Siegel, 2016). As a young child, Bundy wasn’t necessarily labeled as a deviant. He did well in college and wasn’t seen as a “deviant “child.
Ted Bundy will forever be known as one of the world’s most prolific serial killers. His lack of remorse and understanding of his crimes is truly evil. His crimes may be justified by the Rational Choice Theory and the Social Control Theory. The Social Structure Theory and Labeling Theory do not adequately explain his behaviors.