Written by: Stephanie Pislis
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer Tapes is a fairly recent addition to Netflix’s documentary sub genre. Having premiered on January 24th, 2019, the Bundy Tapes is a four-part short series that primarily focuses on audio recordings of interviews that were had with the killer while he was detained on death row.
For those of whom who aren’t familiar with the infamous Bundy, to be put simply, Bundy was a heinous murderer. His crime spree spanned from 1974-1978 in which he was found guilty of the rape and murder of over 35 young women. If this isn’t atrocious enough, Bundy was also convicted of necrophilia and pedicide (i.e. the murder of children). During the 1970s, the term serial killer was a fairly new and terrifying concept. With a forensic approach that was quite minimalistic compared to today’s technology, and without the assurance of handy communication devices, being a solitary young woman was a dangerous and frightening thing.
TED BUNDY WAS FOUND GUILTY OF RAPE, MURDER, NECROPHILIA AND PEDICIDE
Bundy was described by many as a charismatic, clean-cut, articulate and an intelligent young man. He received an undergraduate degree in psychology and was also studying law. With charisma being one of his strong points, as is often the case with many serial killers, Bundy was able to easily steer his victims into his hellish plans.
His first victim, Lynda Ann Healy, was a 21-year-old undergraduate student and morning radio broadcaster. Bundy had entered her dorm room which was located in the basement and beat the woman to death and carried away the body, leaving little to no evidence for investigators to work with. Healy’s disappearance initiated Bundy’s spree, with female college students disappearing at a rapid rate of approximately one per month.
On July of 1974, Bundy abducted two young women in broad daylight at Lake Sammamish State Park. After gathering information from eye witnesses, police investigators finally had some pertinent information to work with. Witnesses described the mysterious man’s physical appearance, stated that he was driving a tan Volkswagen and, most importantly, said that the man had introduced himself as Ted.
TED BUNDY’S TRUE CRIME WAS THAT HE DROVE A TAN VOLKSWAGEN
Some months later, another incident occurred. However, this time, the lucky victim managed to escape with little to no harm. Soon after this incident, Bundy, by fluke, was stopped by police for driving with his car lights off. Upon stopping Bundy and searching through his vehicle, the officers discovered suspicious items including, a ski mask, nylon stockings, a pair of handcuffs and an icepick. Bundy was then identified by Carol DaRonch, the woman who had previously escaped from Bundy’s malicious abduction.
While being detained in Utah State Prison, Bundy managed to escape, not once but twice. During his escape, he managed to commit further crimes. He was eventually caught and held in stricter confinement, and now, on death row at Florida State Prison. Bundy, now awaiting his death sentence, had come to an agreement with the authorities, agreeing to tell his story in exchange for a complete re-evaluation of his crimes, believing that he would undoubtedly be proved innocent. This however, is a clear oxymoron. How could Bundy possibly narrate the horrific events that took place without compromising his innocence? Journalist Jamie Michaud, the interviewer behind the Bundy tapes, was the man tasked with attempting to extract this information from the killer. After many hours of trying to get Bundy to confess, Michaud was at a standstill and did not know how to further proceed. However, one evening Michaud had thought up a brilliant plan. He would ask Bundy to describe the events as he thought they occurred, essentially from a third person perspective.
Coming to an agreement with the terms, and with his background in psychology, Bundy approached the topic with an analytical third person perspective, describing how he assumed the events unfolded. Doing so of course allowed him to avoid admitting to the crimes while still managing to get the story out.
Having dabbled in law, Bundy desired to be his own lawyer and tried his very best to avoid the death penalty at all costs. He went as far as disclosing certain locations where cops could find the remains of the dead women. All this was to no avail as Bundy was executed by means of the electric chair in Florida State Prison on January 24th 1989. 30 years later, to the date, the Ted Bundy tapes were released on Netflix. Like all serial killers of the 20th Century, Ted Bundy will always be a story to remember of how evil and demented people can be.
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Most of his victims were so badly decomposed, autopsies revealed little information. But in one case where the victim s body still yielded some forensic evidence, police determined she d been kept alive for days while Bundy repeatedly raped and strangled her. Other women s bodies showed evidence of freshly shampooed hair and newly painted fingernails. Police believe Bundy did this. You will not hear most of these facts in Conversations With a Killer. They were left out in favor of scenes with church elders, family and friends saying how normal, how handsome Ted was. Or, in the case of episodes three and four, an inordinate number of scenes covering Bundy s complaints about jail. Knowing what Bundy did to an untold number of women, the documentary s time spent on these moments like the one where Bundy bemoans his daily cheese sandwich are sickening. Who benefits from mentioning Bundy s sandwich preferences? Who benefits from humanizing any bit of this monster s life?