Book Blurb No. 6 ~ Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me

Since I’ve been home sick ( Not Covid, thankfully) I decided to tackle some books on my TBR list and I have to say, I didn’t find Ted Bundy that frightening until after reading this.

Ann Rule gives a frightening insight to what it was like to live in the northwest during the 1970’s, during Bundy’s reign of terror. She had personally known Ted through her work at the Crisis Center and had kept in contact with him during his incarceration in Utah and Colorado. For a while, she was his main confidante, even knowing that she was working with Police and working on a book about him. In a way, I believe he knew that he could count on Ann to tell the truth. And I believe she did.

For me it wasn’t the fact of what he’d done that I found frightening, but the way that he was so convincing of his innocence that at one point I even thought ‘Is he really guilty? Maybe this is just a consistent case of wrong place wrong time?’ I can understand Rule’s guilt in believing that her friend and colleague could have done these things. We don’t like to think that people in our everyday lives are capable of such evil. But given the evidence, timeline and corroborations with witnesses, character testimony and Ted’s history with women; they definitely got the right guy.

Bundy had a type. Young and beautiful brunettes or blondes with their hair parted down the middle, educated and of upper middle class background. Majority of them had been experiencing some sort of personal or romantic crisis. Many had been in the comfort of their own home. Some had not been far from home or in broad daylight. The fact that Ted was so averagely attractive allowed him to blend in with crowds. In a time with no cell phones, it was easy to hide. Drivers licenses with photo ID were not yet in existence. He could be anyone he needed or wanted to be at the time.

Ted’s tactics of questioning the evidence, doubting the police and the evidence, and taking such control of his own case that you had to think that this guy wouldn’t have gone to this level if he weren’t innocent, right? Wrong. Ted was a narcissist. His educational background in psychology and law just made him more dangerous. He maintained his innocence even after receiving his death sentence.

Ted was intelligent. He didn’t have the highest IQ but he had studied psychology and law, and worked as a social worker and campaigned for the Republican Party. He had a reputation, an impressive one at that. The judge who had sentenced him to the chair had even admitted that he would have been a great attorney.

“Take care of yourself, young man. I say that to you sincerely; take care of yourself, please. It’s a tragedy for this court to see such a total waste, I think, of humanity that I have experienced in this court.”

You’re a bright young man. You would have made a good lawyer and I would have loved to have you practice in front of me, but you went another way, partner. Take care of yourself. I don’t feel any animosity toward you. I want you to know that. Once again, take care of yourself.” – judge Edward Cowart

He had fired his own defense attorney and had taken the lead in court. He said “No one has much more at stake than I.”

Ted struggled with his relationships with women. He had chased after a girl whom he knew was out of his league. And then once he lost her, he began to become the man he believed she had wanted. I’m 1969, he met Liz, a single mom who worked as a secretary at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He juggled relationships and was unfaithful and manipulative. He expected loyalty when he gave none back. He would be extremely loving and caring one moment, and then cold and distant the next. He and Liz had almost married at one point in their six year relationship.

Ted was just as dependent, if not more, on Liz as Liz was to him. Liz was key to his image as a man who had never laid a hand on a woman, nor a child. He and Liz had dreams of starting a family, buying a house and having a dog. Ted treated Liz’s daughter as his own. Having Liz is on his side meant that he was innocent. He needed someone in his corner. He had even written to Rule asking her for her confirmation in her beliefs that he was innocent. He needed others to play into his fantasy that he did not do this. He was not ready to face the demon that had taken over.

Bundy was put to death by electric chair on January 24th, 1989.

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