“Why didn’t he kill her?”When it comes to Ted Bundy, you can ask that horrifying question when it comes to three women. Netflix’s new docuseries Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes provides viewers with intimate and chilling conversations between the infamous serial killer and journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, who visited Ted in jail and recorded more than 150 hours of their taped interviews. During their conversations, Ted, who still maintained his innocence at the time the interviews were recorded in 1989, often reflected on his past relationships and history with women.”It wasn’t that I disliked women or were afraid of them,” Ted said. “It was just that I didn’t seem to have an inkling as to what to do about them. I honestly can’t say why.”
And yet, just hours before his scheduled execution in 1989 at the age of 42, Ted finally confessed to his crimes, claiming responsibility for 30 homicides that he committed between 1974-1978 in seven states. (And that number could possibly be higher.)In one of his conversations with Michaud and Aynesworth, Ted boasted about his ability to connect with women, despite claiming earlier he had trouble interacting with them.”I’ve always preferred women to men, I probably have sixty percent women friends and close to 40 percent men friends,” he claimed. “It’s always been divided that way. I enjoy women.”
Bundy’s victims were, of course, all young women, and his crimes were committed in such a violent manner that a judge would later describe them as “extremely wicked, shockingly evil, and vile.”Extremely, Wicked, Shockingly Evil is now the title of a new film about the serial killer, with Zac Efron taking on the role of Ted. But the movie, which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is actually told from the perspective of Elizabeth Kloepfer, Ted’s girlfriend who would ultimately turn him in. But Elizabeth wasn’t the only important female figure in Ted’s life, as the Netflix documentary revealed he had three impactful romantic relationships during his life. One dated him. One loved him. One married him.
Diane Marjorie Jean EdwardsTed didn’t enter his first real relationship until he was a student at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1967, when he met Diane, who hailed from a very wealthy and respected family in California.”The relationship I had with Diane had a lasting impact on me,” Ted divulged in the tapes. “She’s a beautiful dresser, beautiful girl. Very personable. Nice car, great parents. So, you know, for the first-time girlfriend, really that was not too bad.”
Their college romance sounded downright ordinary, idyllic even, with Ted saying, “We spent a lot of time driving around in her car. You know, making out in the car. Mumbled sweet nothings into each other’s ears and told each other how much we loved each other.”For Diane, it was Ted’s way with words that drew her in. “I was very caught up by his ability to talk. You know, he could just off the cuff come out with anything and it sounded good,” she told Dr. Al Carlisle, the author of Violent Mind: The 1976 Psychological Assessment of Ted Bundy. “And he wrote fantastic letters. He put a great deal of import on a person’s ability and intelligence, in their quickness of mind.
Ted also revealed he lost his virginity to Diane while he was on election trail for State Republican Party, working on Dan Evans’ gubernatorial campaign, revealing in the first episode, “During that campaign I got laid for the first time. I got laid in Walla Walla.”According to Diane, they often slept in the same bed but didn’t have sex in the beginning stages of their relationship.”He never made me feel like it was just a physical thing. I believe he was in love with me. I was very turned on but I wasn’t experienced. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
After he graduated and failed to get into any of the prestigious law schools on his list, ultimately ending up at the University of Puget Sound, their relationship eventually deteriorated, as Diane’s social standing triggered insecurities for the aspiring lawyer. “She was a very classy person,” his friend at the time Marlin lee Vortman recalled, “and Ted wanted to be in the upper class.”As his concerns over his future began to take over, Ted admitted he had this “overwhelming feeling of rejection,” partially stemming from their relationship.”I experienced any number of insecurities with Diane,” he explained. “There were occasions when I felt that she expected a great deal more from me than I really capable of giving. I was not in any position to take her out and squire her around in the manner in which she was accustomed…or buy her clothes.” (This is an insecurity Diane picked up on, recalling, “Sometimes I felt he was spending his last dime to buy me something.”)
“I think I was coming apart at the seams, and maybe she saw it and maybe didn’t understand what I was going through,” Ted continued. “Throughout the summer, Diane and I corresponded less and less and then Diane stopped writing and then I started to get fearful about what she was up to.”During her interview with Dr. Carlisle, who was part of a the psychological team who evaluated Ted during his stay at the Utah State Prison, Diane said Ted was “pitifully weak” during any arguments the couple had.
“This was my main criticism of him after the year and a half of our relationship,” she revealed, “he kowtowed to me. He wasn’t strong. He wasn’t real masculine. If I got mad at him because he did something he sort of felt apologetic about it. He wouldn’t stand up for himself.”
By the end of the summer, they were over for good, with Diane being the one to call it off in 1968. Ted’s reaction? “Oh, sort of begging. I told him it was never going to work, that he wasn’t the kind of person I needed,” she explained. “I loved him dearly but I couldn’t exist with him. I just wasn’t comfortable with the things he did and the way he kowtowed to me. I just didn’t feel he was straight with me all the time. i pushed him away and I cut off my ties with him.” While Ted said in the docuseries that he felt a need to exact “revenge” against Diane, she told Dr. Carlisle, “Ted didn’t show a lot of anger when I was first got to know him. We were truly in love with each other at that time. It was a great emotional relationship.”
Elizabeth KloepferAside from publishing her memoir, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, in 1981, under the pen name Elizabeth Kendall, Kloepfer has kept a very low-profile, never publicly speaking about Bundy.But she agreed to meet with Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile director Joe Berlinger, who also is behind Netflix’s docu-series Confessions of a Serial Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, and Lily Collins, who portrays Elizabeth in the film, opposite Efron as the infamous murderer.”I think Liz was basically checking us out to make sure we were deserving of trust for the first couple of hours,” Berlinger told the Deseret News. “And as someone who had a loving relationship with Ted Bundy, you can imagine that trust for her is hard-won.”
During their meeting, she showed the director and Collins old love letters and old photo albums with photographs from her time with Bundy.”There was this nice family unit of three going sailing, going camping, going hiking, having birthday parties,” Berlinger recalled, “but that male figure was Ted Bundy.”She also shared the love letters the couple wrote to each other, with Collins even reading some of them aloud.”And Lily holding those letters, written on these yellow legal pads — and Lily actually read them aloud — I think that was a very big moment for everybody,” Berlinger said, “and crystalized …one of the controversial questions of the film: Is a psychopath capable of love? And why didn’t he kill her?”
According to Bundy, Elizabeth was The One from the first moment they met in a bar. “I loved her so much, it was destabilizing,” he said. “She was from a Mormon family. She was from a wealthy background. She was somewhat meek. Liz had a child that she had to raise alone for a time.” Ted, Elizabeth and her child quickly began a small family unit, with Bundy saying “it was a whole new dimension to living that I had never seen before.”
Still, their romance was far from perfect, as Ted opened up about the issues they faced. “I felt such a strong love for her, but we didn’t have a lot of interests in common. Like politics or something, I don’t think we had in common. She liked to read a lot. I wasn’t into reading.” He also said he experienced a major problem in the relationship, one that really had nothing to do with Elizabeth.
“Not being able to make my genuine feelings for her come out, whether it’s fixing a special dinner or going out or bringing flowers or taking out the garbage or changing the sheets or doing the laundry,” he explained, “but on occasion I would experience this fit of guilt as it were and I would vacuum and I would straighten up and wash dishes or fix dinner or do something. The area where I really failed would be not opening up my whole life to her…don’t know what I was hiding.”And similar to the beginning of the end of his first relationship with Diane, Ted admitted, “I was terribly jealous of her. I used to agonize about losing her. I used to just torture myself. I did a lot of dumb things.”
He also seemed to start being a little careless about leaving any potential evidence of wrongdoing out, with journalist Stephen Michaud revealing in the docuseries’ second episode that Liz had found women’s underclothing, a bowl killed with house keys and bandages in her boyfriend’s apartment, along with a knife under the right front seat of his car.But it wasn’t until Brenda Ball, 22, went missing (and whose body was later found months later) in May 1974 that Elizabeth’s suspicions lead her to eventually contact the police, telling them, “I’m concerned about my boyfriend named Ted Bundy whom you should look at,” after he was late to her daughter’s baptism the day following Ball’s murder.
In her first interview with police, Elizabeth said, “He mentioned an incident about following a sorority girl. When he was out late at night and he would follow people like that. But that he tried not to, but he just did it anyway.””She reported suspicious behavior on his part and she was, frankly, afraid,” Seattle homicide detective Kathy McChesney said, “But she was not certain.”And Liz expressed her conflicted feelings.
“In my own mind, there were coincidences that seemed to tie him it,” she said in a later interview, “yet when I would think about or day-to-day relationship there was nothing there that would lead me to think that he was a violent man capable of doing something like that.”Despite her ongoing contact with the police, Ted and Liz continued to date, even after he moved to Salt Lake City in after he was accepted into the University of Utah Law School, with Liz choosing to stay in Seattle. (It’s rumored that Ted casually dated several other women during this time.)
But when Liz realized that women were disappearing in her boyfriend’s new location, she once again called the police. Nothing really happened. A month later, she called again. Nothing really happened. He eventually came back to Seattle to visit her in June 1975 and talked about getting married by Christmas. He even was baptized into the Mormon church at the end of the summer. In her memoir, Elizabeth recalled Ted getting “very upset” whenever she discussed cutting her long hair. She claimed she would wake up in the middle of the night to find Ted under the covers, examining her body with a flashlight. Like Diane, she noticed he didn’t have a lot of money, and when she questioned where he had gotten a new TV, she alleged he told her, “If you tell anyone, I’ll break your f–king neck.”
But that wouldn’t be Liz’s last interaction with her ex.After Ted was arrested for a third time (after his second escape from prison), he refused to reveal his identity to the police unless he was allowed to call Elizabeth, which he did in February 1978. “He told me that he was sick and that he was consumed by something that he didn’t understand and that, um, that it—that he just couldn’t contain it,” she recalled in Conversations With a Killer. “He spent so much time trying to maintain a normal life and he just couldn’t do it. He said that he was preoccupied with this force.”
Carol Ann BooneCarole first met Ted when he worked at the Washington State Department of Emergency Service in 1974. In a chilling twist, he was actually helping the department find many of his victims in their pursuit of the local serial killer, likely covering his tracks while doing so as he was later revealed to be the very killer they were searching for.Carole, who at that time had been divorced twice and had a son from one of her previous marriages, worked in the department, and hit it off with Ted, who was still dating Liz at the time.
“I liked Ted immediately. We hit it off well,” she said, according to the 1983 book The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy. “He struck me as being a rather shy person with a lot more going on under the surface than what was on the surface. He certainly was more dignified and restrained than the more certifiable types around the office.”On the witness stand while being questioned by Ted, who often participated in his own defense, much to the chagrin of his attorneys, Carole, who had moved to Florida in order to be closer to Ted who was on trial for the murders and sexual assaults at FSU’s Chi Omega sorority house, detailed their romance for the court (and the riveted public) to hear.
“Several years ago the relationship evolved into a more serious, romantic thing. Serious enough so I want to marry you,” she said, according to a 1986 article in the Orlando Sentinel.And in a news clip featured in the docuseries, Carole was confident that her “buddy” was innocent, despite already being convicted in Washington, telling reporters, “Let me put it this way, I don’t think that Ted belongs in jail. The things in Florida don’t concern me any more than the things out west do.”After describing Ted as “warm, kind and patient” to Ted while she was under oath, he decided to pull off another huge stunt…one no one saw coming and couldn’t do anything to stop.
“Do you want to marry me?,” Bundy asked his girlfriend/witness.”Yes.””Do I want to marry you?” he asked.”Yes.””Will you marry me?””Yes.””I do hereby marry you,” Bundy said.
And with that they were married…because Bundy had somehow contacted a notary public and asked them to be present in the courtroom to witness their vows, stamp the marriage license, which Boone had applied for a few days prior, and pronounce their marriage legal. The spectacle came after Orange County officials refused to grant the couple’s previous request to wed at the jail.
After inadvertently becoming guests at one of the most infamous wedding ceremonies, Bundy told the jury, “We didn’t do this for your benefit. It was the only chance to be in the same room together where the right words could be said. It was something between she and I.”
Their newlywed bliss was shortlived as Ted was found guilty and sentenced to death for a third time on the same day they were married. Still, they managed to have their own twisted version of a honeymoon, as described in Conversations With a Killer.According to the docuseries, Carole often visited her husband in prison, even smuggling drugs in “vaginally” to Ted, who would bring them back to his cell “rectally.” According to Michaud, “They were crazy together.” Despite conjugal visits behind prohibited, she got pregnant and gave birth to a girl, Rose, on October 24, 1981. “After the first day they just, they didn’t care,” Carole said in a taped recording about the prison guards. “They walked in on us a couple of times.”Carole insisted Ted was Rosa’s father, and they formed a small family, with Carole, Rose and James, Carole’s son from her previous marriage, paying visits.
But by 1986, Carole had divorced Ted, and she and their daughter moved back to Washington, managing to retreat out of the spotlight despite the public’s never-ending fascination with Ted.According to lawyer Polly Nelson, who was on Ted’s defense team from 1986 until his execution, Carole felt “deeply betrayed” by Ted’s confessions just ahead of his death.In her 1994 book, Defending the Devil: My Story as Ted Bundy’s Last Lawyer, Nelson alleged Carole refused Ted’s final phone call to her because she was “devastated by his sudden wholesale confessions” and “hurt” over an alleged relationship with Diana Weiner, one of his civil attorneys.
Rose, Ted’s daughter, is now 37, and has remained out of the public eye her entire life.
Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is currently streaming on Netflix.
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