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!

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile: What the new Ted Bundy movie got right and wrong

Movie poster

Over the past two years, since crime fans were made aware that a new Ted Bundy movie was forthcoming, we have been waiting for it with bated breath. There was debate over whether Zac Efron had the acting chops to truly possess the mindset and mannerisms of Bundy or if his good looks would detract from the seriousness of the film. Readers of Liz Kloepfer’s book, “The Phantom Prince,” were ready to see just how close to the book the script came and whether the facts of the cases were portrayed correctly. Personally, I had certain expectations for the film, hoping to see a new side to the Bundy myth and for a light to be shone on his deeds once and for all.

Sadly, I was mostly disappointed. Most of the scenarios in the movie, though based on reality, were distorted to make the story more watchable and exciting. Characterizations of detectives and police officers were exaggerated to make Ted seem more sympathetic that he actually was. The majority of the murders and violence were glossed over and viewed only in hindsight. That isn’t to say that the movie got everything wrong. I also understand that some of the actions by individuals were supposed to have been seen from Bundy and Liz’s points of view. However, that wasn’t made truly obvious. I wasn’t completely disappointed by the movie, just underwhelmed.

Florida victims Lisa Levy & Margaret Bowman

I appreciated that they actually used the real names of his victims, survivors, and detectives on the storyline. Often, names are changed to protect the identity of certain players in a crime drama. Since all of the names in the movie were of people listed in public record, there was really no need to change them. I liked that some of the actual footage of news stories was used. It lent to more of a feel of the era in which these crimes occurred. Actual pictures of the victims helped lend a feeling of truth to the story-telling as well.

Ken Katsaris reading Bundy’s indictments before the press in Florida

What I didn’t like was the portrayal of Ken Katsaris, sheriff of Leon County, Florida, as a cowboy of sorts. Though responsible for noting and preserving the bite marks on Lisa Levy’s buttocks, he didn’t waltz into Ted’s cell with random people to take pictures of his teeth. Casts of his Ted’s teeth were taken against his will (under a warrant), the photographs and casts were taken by a qualified dentist in a dental chair. There are pictures of Ted having the procedure done. Despite his anger in his eyes, he wasn’t in any physical pain during the process. I was also disappointed that the final scene between Ted and Liz never happened. She didn’t visit him in Florida, though he called her various times from prison there. There is no evidence that he wrote “Hacksaw” on the visiting room window to anyone visiting him. This was merely a part of the script meant to ratchet up the drama. Finally, the timing of Carole Boone’s pregnancy was wrong. She didn’t give birth to their daughter Rose until October 1981, several months after Bundy was found guilty a second time. The movie shows only his first Florida trial and Carole was definitely not pregnant during that time.

In the dentist’s chair

In conclusion, though an exciting film, it is still mostly fiction, despite being drawn from Liz Kloepfer’s book. Director Joe Berlinger had the chance to dispel a great deal of Bundy myths in the making of his film, but he chose to romanticize him instead. Unfortunately, that makes it harder for writers and others in the media to present a true picture of a killer who was less charm than violence, less pretty boy than monster. Ironically, Berlinger directed the Netflix documentary about Bundy, “Confessions of a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” This film is actually very well done and factual and I would recommend it over “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” any day.

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 Quote Analyzed

“I don’t like being locked up for something I didn’t do, and I don’t like my liberty taken away, and I don’t like being treated like an animal, and I don’t like people walking around and ogling me like I’m some sort of weirdo, because I’m not.” 

Long before Ted Bundy admitted to committing several murders for which he was charged, he denied every single charge against him, including kidnapping and murder. He was innocent, dammit, and had clearly been arrested on trumped-up charges! He threatened police and jailers over his reputation being smeared and shouted out during his trials, denying any accusation of wrong-doing.

Bundy in prison in Florida.
Bundy in prison in Florida.

Like any sociopath, Bundy was all about appearances. Despite him having very little depth of character, he was used to showing his “good guy” image to the world. He simply couldn’t stand the idea of people seeing him in a negative light. To admit guilt was to admit being less than perfect. It’s also a lot harder to charm people if they’re already wary of you. If nothing else, Bundy was a master manipulator.

Bundy was also an addict. He was addicted to murder, rape, and the power they afforded him in his private life. To be in prison for any amount of time was to deny him his addictive substance. Very few women were around him while he was locked away and it helps explain his 2 successful escapes from prison in Colorado.

It took over a decade before Bundy gave up on trying to convince people of his innocence. By then, his execution was near and he had no more appeals. He no longer had to worry about what people thought of him or whether he was reviled by humanity for his evil deeds. He confessed to several murders as his mask of innocence fell for the last time and humanity breathed a sigh of relief.