louise cowell

TED BUNDY: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

In 2008 Ann Rule published one final chapter to her book “The Stranger Beside Me” (originally published in 1980). In this chapter she answers commonly asked questions to the best of her ability with the knowledge she has obtained over the years. 

 Who was Ted’s biological father? 

This has never been absolutely established. His mother, Eleanor Louise Cowell, said simply that Ted’s father was a “sailor.” His birth certificate listed his father as Lloyd Marshall, thirty, an Air Force veteran, a graduate of penn state university. Jack Worthington was another name listed as his father. Born at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont, on November 24, 1946, Ted had “illegitimate” stamped on his birth certificate. Many feel that he was a child of incest, fathered by his mother’s father, a man known for his violent temper. To the best of my knowledge, blood samples were never taken to establish or refute this. DNA testing was fifty years in the future. Ted had many names: Cowell, Nelson, Bundy, and all the names he stole from other men to protect his identity when he was on the run. 

 Did Ted Bundy really father a child in prison? 

Yes, I believe he did. A frequent visitor to Raiders Prison in Starke, Florida, told me that prisoners in the early 1980s pooled their money to bribe guards to allow them intimate time alone with their female visitors. Whoever won that lottery did have enough privacy and time to impregnate a wife or girlfriend. Furthermore, the baby girl born to Carole Ann Boone is said to resemble Ted a great deal. 

 Where are Carole Ann Boone and her daughter now?

 I have always tried not to know anything about Ted’s ex-wife (who divorced him before he was executed) and child, feeling that if I had no information, I could never accidentally tell anyone in the media details that would invade their privacy. I have heard that Ted’s daughter is a kind and intelligent young woman– but I have no idea where she and her mother may live. They have been through enough pain. 

 Where are Meg Anders and her daughter, the child who looked upon Ted as a father figure back in the seventies? 

I have also attempted to know very little about Meg and her daughter, who is now around forty. Meg wrote a book, using the pseudonym “Elizabeth Kendall” many years ago. Entitled “The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy” and published by a small Seattle press that no longer exists, it has been out of print for years. I was surprised recently to receive a phone call from Liane Anders, Meg’s daughter. Ted had hurt her emotionally, too. In the tangled way humans respond to trauma, Liane said she felt a lingering guilt about the young women Ted killed– as if there might have been some way she could have stopped him from killing. I pointed out that she should have no responsibility whatsoever for what Ted did. She was only a little girl when it all happened, a child who once loved and trusted him. Perhaps one day, she will write about her feelings, and I hope that “Elizabeth Kendall” will see that her book is reissued. 

 Was Ted Bundy ever cleared of homicides he was suspected of? 

Perhaps once or twice– officially. I believed that he had killed Katherine Merry Devine after picking her up in the University District in December 1973– and so did her parents and many detectives. But there was a “sleeper” suspect that Thurston County, Washington, sheriff’s detectives were also watching over the twenty-eight years her murder went unsolved. His name was William E. Cosden and he had a record for rape and a doubtful acquittal on rape and murder charges back in Maryland. In March 2002, DNA retrieved from Katherine Merry’s body and clothing was compared to Cosden’s and it was a definite match. Cosden had believed he skated away clear. He had been visiting relatives who owned a service station in Olympia when the fourteen-year-old hopped down from the ride she had gotten from Seattle. He met her there in the gas station/truckers’ stop, and she trusted him. Cosden is now safely locked away in prison. 

 Wasn’t Ted Bundy really nice…. underneath? 

No. 

 Were you ever afraid when you were with Ted Bundy– especially all alone at the crisis clinic all night long? 

Again, the answer is no. I had always prided myself on my ability to detect aberrance in other humans– both because I had that innate skill and through experience and training. And I have berated myself silently for a long time because I saw nothing threatening or disturbing in Ted’s façade. He was very kind to me, solicitous of my safety, and seemingly empathetic. 

 The only clue I had was that my dog– who liked everyone– didn’t like Ted at all. Whenever he bent over my desk at the crisis clinic, she growled and the hackles on her neck stood up. The lesson is clear: pay attention to your dog! 

 Don’t you think that Ted Bundy should have been kept alive– and studied by psychiatrists while he served life in prison? 

No, I don’t. Ted would have found a way to escape again, and he would have been more dangerous than ever. He fooled any number of intelligent, experienced people– including myself– and he was fully capable of doing it again and again. That was too big a risk to take. 

 What was Ted’s I.Q.? 

It was 124 on the Standard Wechsler-Bellevue. Enough to graduate from college and obtain further degrees. However, he never tested at the genius level. 

 Where is Ted Bundy buried? 

No one but those closest to him knows. His body was cremated, and he had asked to have his ashes scattered in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. This was probably a wise choice, as a recognizable grave would be in danger of being desecrated. 

 I have read in numerous print (that) in July 1986, Bundy’s execution was stayed just fifteen minutes before it was to take place. And then again in October, his execution was stayed just seven hours before. Are these accounts accurate or just media sensation? And equally important, if Ted Bundy had only fifteen minutes or seven hours to live, why did he not confess until January 1989? Did his attorneys assure him that he would not be executed? Why did he wait and not pull this card in 1986? How did he know he wouldn’t be executed then? 

First of all, he did not come within fifteen minutes of execution in July 1986; it was fifteen hours. He did come within seven hours of dying in November that year. His attorneys had filed eighteen appeals. I think he had begun to feel invincible– that there would always be another chance. He could not have known absolutely, however, that he wouldn’t sit in Old Sparky on each date set. He took a chance, and he won again. However, neither I nor anyone else could say then– or now–what Ted was thinking. And this brings us to the most omnipresent question of all: What was Ted Bundy really like? I don’t know. He was so many things to different people. He was an actor, a liar, a thief, a killer, a schemer, a stalker, a charmer, intelligent but not brilliant, and doomed. I don’t think even Ted knew what he was really like. 

 -Ann Rule September 2008 from “The Stranger Beside Me”

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If he killed all those lovely young women–we have several beautiful daughters of our own, we know how we would feel and its a terrible thing. And he wasn’t raised that way! He was raised in a good, loving, caring family. Dang it! We still love and care for him, but we want to know: what caused this?”

- Ted Bundy’s mother always protested her son’s innocence and refused to believe that he committed such atrocious crimes. She was convinced that her son’s happy Christian upbringing meant that he was exempt from becoming one of America’s most notorious serial killers.

Ted Bundy had an unusual childhood.  He grew up thinking that his mother Louise Cowell was his sister and his grandparents were his parents, a farce that the Cowell clan arranged to avoid the scandal of an illegitimate child being born to a young, unwed woman.  Ted’s grandfather Samuel Cowell, the man who filled the role of father in his earliest years, was an abusive bully and bigot who regularly beat his wife and the family dog and once threw his daughter Julia down a flight of stairs for oversleeping.  Gradually, Cowell’s violence escalated.  As the atmosphere in the house grew more and more tense, the impressionable child developing within its toxic influence began demonstrating strange behavior, such as surrounding his then-teenage aunt Julia with knives while she was sleeping. 

In 1950, when Ted was four years old, Louise abruptly changed her surname from Cowell to Nelson and left her home in Philadelphia to live with her cousins in Tacoma, Washington.  She took Ted with her, which no doubt set off some alarm bells in his head as to who his mother really was.  A year after the move, Louise fell in love with a military cook named Johnnie Culpepper Bundy.  The two married in May, 1951, and Johnnie formally adopted Ted.  In the years that followed, the couple added four more children to their clan, and Johnnie made a concentrated effort to establish a bond with his adoptive son, taking him on camping trips and other father-son activities.  However, Ted steadfastly spurned all advances, regarding Johnnie with open contempt that often manifested itself in outright insolence because his stepfather was uneducated and made little money.  To Ted, who coveted wealth and refinement above all things, Johnnie was an embarrassment.  

Ted was a sensitive child, shy and insecure in his interactions with other children.  Friends noticed that the tiniest slight unraveled him, and that he had a violent temper that was easily roused.  As he entered into adolescence, these problems only grew more pronounced, until his sophomore year of high school when he finally (in his own words) “hit a wall” in his social development, experiencing a sudden and extreme alienation from his classmates. “I wasn’t sure what was wrong and what was right,” he would later explain about this private crisis.  “All I knew was that I felt a bit different.”   Ted’s uneasiness with relationships led him to spend large amounts of time by himself, when he’d brood over his social failings and supplement his lack of experience with the opposite sex through fantasies, which gradually became violent.  To facilitate these fantasies, he searched detective magazines, crime novels, and true crime documentaries for tales of sexual brutality, particularly accompanied by illustrations of dead bodies.  He also began roaming the neighborhood at night, peering in windows to watch women undressing and retreating into the woods to take off his clothes.  Slowly, this deviant behavior would evolve into sexual gratification achieved through the assault and murder of young women.

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On November 24, 1946 Theodore Robert Cowell, weighing 7 lbs and 9 oz, was born at The Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. He was left there for adoption for 3 months before his grandfather, Samuel F. Cowell, insisted Louise bring him home. Ted was then raised to believe that his mother Louise was his sister and his grandparents were his parents. 

According to Ted’s great aunt Virginia Bristol: “When I heard Louise was ‘not home’ I knew things were not right. Next thing I heard was that Sam and Eleanor had adopted a boy. I was smart enough to know damn well they weren’t adopting this baby. No adoption agency would’ve given them one; Elanor wasn’t well enough to take care of one! I knew it had to be Louise’s baby. But they wanted to cover it up. All we ever got was evasions. I had a very secretive brother. (MacPherson 1989, 145)  From “Ted Bundy: A Visual Timeline” 

Some odd quotes about Ted Bundy

“His siblings were never turned off by the notoriety that visited our house after the arrests. He was still their hero.” - Eleanor Louise Cowell, Bundy’s mother.

“Ted was the best damned Christmas tree lights salesman I’ve ever seen!” - High school friend and colleague.

“People in the depths of despondency would call and say they were killing themselves and Ted would would talk them out of suicide.”- Julie Thumb, author.

“He was empathetic, he was sympathetic, he had a gentle voice. He was so understanding, and he was good at keeping people alive… Which is ironic in retrospect.” - Ann Rule, author and friend.

Ted bundy facts -
“Bundy was born in 1946, the illegitimate child of 22 year old Eleanor Louise Cowell, a girl from a strict family. His father was an Air Force Veteran called Lloyd Marshall, who Ted never knew.

Bundy was led to believe that his mother was in actual fact his sister, to cover up the family’s shame, and didn’t find out the truth until later in his life.

When Bundy was four years old he moved with his mother to Tacoma, Washington to live with relatives, and his surname was changed from Cowell to Nelson. A year after the move to Washington, Bundy’s mother married an army cook by the name of Johnnie Culpepper Bundy, from whom Ted now takes his surname.

Bundy had four younger siblings, who he was often required to babysit. Ted never really took to his new father, despite attempts on behalf of Johnnie Bundy to raise him as his own. The only man Bundy ever really respected was his grandfather from Pennsylvania, a violent man who often hit his wife, and who Bundy was angry about having been moved away from.

As a child, Bundy alleged that he was molested by a male relative, and that his mother showed him no affection. He was a shy boy and was often teased by bullies in his junior high school, who pulled many pranks on him. At a young age he began to mutilate animals and spy on young females, a result of an accidental glimpse of a young girl undressing in a bedroom window.

However, this shows only the dark side to Bundy’s childhood. He had interests in skiing, and at high school his interest in politics really began to take off. He was a remarkably bright student who graduated high school in 1965, and won a scholarship to the University of Puget Sound, later transferring to Washington. He supported himself through university by working small jobs such as waitering.

He worked as a volunteer at a suicide hotline, and being a handsome man, began dating a society girl named Stephanie Brooks in 1967. Unfortunately for Bundy she called off their engagement, devestating him.

It was also at this time that Bundy found out the true nature of his parentage, and that the woman he had always believed to be his sister was, in fact, his mother. This news, along with the break up of his relationship with Stephanie caused a change in Bundy. He became much more confident, and began to dominate social interactions.

Bundy began to send out applications to law schools, at one of which, with his excellent past education record, he was soon accepted, going on to defend himself in court.”

When Ted ‘Theodore’ Bundy was born on November 24 1946 to an unwed mother, Louise Cowell, he was immediately adopted by his grandparents and his bastard status kept secret. His mother had to pretend to be his older sister, and throughout his childhood he was referred to as a 'late baby’.

Bundy’s grandfather was a racist with a violent temper, and Ted adored him. Together the two would go out sledding, fishing, and cart racing, and during these outings the elder Bundy would fill little Ted’s ears with tirades against blacks and women, and even told him that he beat his wife solely to 'keep her in line’.

Ted only found out about his illegitimate status as an adult, when he recieved a copy of his birth certificate in the mail. When confronted Louise adamantly refused to name his true father, and to this day Bundy’s true parentage is a mystery.

The childhood home of Ted Bundy in Tacoma. Although Bundy was born in Vermont, he and his mother moved to live in Philadelphia for the first few years of his life. In 1950, when he was four years old, they moved to Tacoma Washington to live with relatives. Here, Louise Cowell had her son’s surname changed from Cowell to Nelson.

In 1951, Louise Cowell met Johnny Culpepper Bundy at an adult singles night held at Tacoma’s First Methodist Church. In May of that year, the couple were married, and soon after Johnny Bundy adopted Ted, legally changing his last name to “Bundy”.