Ted Bundy’s Glenwood Springs

Perhaps no other jail should be held more accountable for its lackadaisical attitude towards Ted Bundy than the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Despite his previous escape from law officials in Aspen and rumors of someone crawling above the cells at night, jailers and their superiors chose to ignore red flags, subsequently allowing for Bundy’s descent on the unsuspecting women of Florida in January of 1978.

On the evening of December 30, 1977, Bundy crawled through the 12 inch by 12 inch hole in his ceiling, no small feat by any measure, and made his way onto the snowy streets below. The Garfield County jail has since been repurposed as offices, but it’s fascinating to consider how an inmate could have found his way out of the large building, let alone have escaped to sunny Florida within just days.

I’ve visited the sheriff’s department several times and been allowed to tour part of the building, though not the former jail. Employees working there are aware of Bundy’s history in the jail, but don’t have any real connection to the momentous event that occurred over 40 years ago.

Glenwood Springs PD

I have occasionally considered the damage inflicted in Florida upon Bundy’s second escape. I’m reminded of the three deaths that could have been prevented, and the three additional lives that would have continued unfettered if Colorado officials had kept better watch over their most volatile inmate.

Kathy Kleiner Rubin, CrimeCon 2019

Last year I asked Kathy Kleiner Rubin, one of Bundy’s Florida victims, if she blamed the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department for not keeping Bundy from escaping and, like the wise woman she became long ago, she doesn’t hold any ill will against them. Of course, in the end, Bundy was the only person responsible for his actions and perhaps we shouldn’t be so harsh on the authorities of the time. It’s reasonable to think that any of us might have been charmed by the consummate manipulator with the smile in his eyes, but nothing hidden within his soul.

I’m just chilling in front of the sheriff’s department in September of 2019.
The former jailhouse.

Video of the area

Something kooky: Around the corner from the sheriff’s department, you’ll find this interesting parking sign!

Did Ted Bundy Want To Get Caught?

Sigmund Freud once speculated that most criminals wanted to get caught because they experienced an overwhelming sense of guilt. Despite the popularity of this theory, there is overwhelming evidence that people who consistently skirt the law do not want to be caught. In the case of psychopaths, Bundy included, they do not possess a sense of guilt, throwing Freud’s analysis out of orbit. Bundy made some major mistakes that brought him the authorities’ attention and once he was on their radar, he couldn’t shake their accusations. If estimates of his killings are correct, he only murdered women between 1974 and 1978, a relatively short amount of time for an organized serial killer. However, one cannot but imagine that by avoiding several errors, he may have been able to continue killing indefinitely.

Bundy in black & white

Bundy’s first mistake was underestimating how police would perceive his car randomly idling on nights when he was trolling for victims. He was arrested in both Utah and Florida when he was hanging out in his car, smoking marijuana. In truth, he was probably just trying to determine where else he could find women in the middle of the night before being noticed by police. By slowly cruising through residential neighborhoods, he drew attention to himself even more. In Florida, Bundy stole a car and was stopped at one A.M. by a Pensacola, Florida officer. After running the plate and realizing the vehicle was stolen, Bundy was pulled over. He kicked Officer David Lee’s feet out from under him and ran. The officer had to fire a warning shot and tackle the suspect.

Blatantly lying to the police might have worked if he’d used better lies. When he was pulled over during the early hours of the morning August of 1975, Officer Bob Hayward asked Ted what he was doing all the way out in Granger when he lived in Salt Lake City. Ted gave the cop a ridiculous excuse about seeing the film “The Towering Inferno” in the nearby theater. However, the officer knew that the film wasn’t playing, catching him in his first lie. Noticing the front passenger seat missing in Bundy’s VW Bug, Hayward had probable cause to search further. Bundy’s burglary tools (aka “kill kit”) were discovered and he was promptly handcuffed and booked at the local police station. The charges just piled on after a local detective remember a description of his car and tools from Carol DaRonch’s attempted kidnapping.

Finally, something that would have helped Bundy continue his freedom and/or avoid the death penalty would have been by pleading guilty to the kidnapping and murder charges against him. To assume that Bundy would do what was best for himself was to not realize he was a true psychopath. Grand standing and narcissism prevented him from listening to reason when considering how to handle the charges against him. His appeals attorney, Polly Nelson, later wrote that he “sabotaged the entire defense effort out of spite, distrust, and grandiose delusion.” It became more important to showboat and be the center of attention rather than to be strategic about his pleas. It has been theorized that had he pleaded guilty on his original charge of attempted kidnapping, he would have been paroled quickly and probably wouldn’t have been charged in Colorado for the January 1975 murder of Caryn Campbell due to lack of direct evidence. If Bundy had plead guilty to murdering the Chi Omega sorority victims in 1978, he could have avoided the death penalty in that case. Even so, Bundy realized he would have to admit guilt in public and he would never voluntarily admit that, at least not until his final execution date was imminent.

Bundy declaring his innocence to Leon County Sheriff, Ken Katsaris

In summary, Bundy never wanted to be caught, regardless of what Freud or his followers may have suggested. In fact, Bundy once told Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, “Guilt. It’s this mechanism we use to control people. It’s an illusion. It’s a kind of social control mechanism and it’s very unhealthy. It does terrible things to our body.” That hardly sounds like the words of a person who felt remorse or sorrow over all of the horrible things he did. If he had been smarter about hunting for victims, it’s possible he could have continued killing for decades, much to the detriment to women everywhere.

Other resources:

Samenow, S.E. (2016, August 4) Do Criminals Desire to Get Caught? Another myth with roots in Freud. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inside-the-criminal-mind/201608/do-criminals-desire-get-caught-0

Bundy’s First Escape From Custody

Newspaper
Newspaper

Bundy’s first escape happened in Aspen, Colorado on July 7, 1977.  He was supposed to be doing research for his trial in the murder of Caryn Campbell, when he jumped from the 2nd story law library and high-tailed it out of the area on a sprained ankle.  He was able to steal a car, but it didn’t take him far before breaking down.  He got lost and wandered the area before locating a cabin nearby and breaking in.  He spent the night and stole food, clothes, and a hunting knife before heading back out the next day. 

Three days later, after continuously wandering in the area, he broke into a trailer and stole a ski parka and more food.  Keep in mind that he was doing all of this with a sprained ankle.  This is a guy that definitely didn’t want to be in custody!

On July 13th, he wandered back toward Aspen and stole a car.  He was discovered in this car by police and re-arrested.  After 6 days on the run, he was in pain and exhausted.  Though it wouldn’t stop him from attempting escape again, this attempt was hardly a success.

Sometimes when killers are caught, I hear people telling me that they want to be caught.  Very few of them turn themselves in and I believe they want the killing to end, but I doubt they want to be caught.  Some of them want the notariety that goes along with a successful and long killing spree.  Others have accomplished what they set out to do (a la Edmund Kemper who killed his mother at the end of his spree).  Those killers are few and far between.

Bundy didn’t want to be caught.  He wanted to kill over and over and constantly try to satisfy his hunger for murder and necrophilia.  As you’ll see in my next post, Ted escaped from prison a 2nd time and this time, women weren’t so lucky.

Stay tuned…