I thought I knew everything there was to know about infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, arguably the most homicidal murderer in the last 50 years or so.
I was wrong….so very wrong.
On January 24, Netflix premiered a four-part documentary series on Bundy entitled, ‘Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes’, in which the man himself virtually tells his own life story in the form of a series of taped audio interviews that were recorded by a reporter who had access to Bundy while he was in prison. Interspersed with interviews by all sorts of law enforcement types, lawyers, and even one woman who managed to escape the lunatic’s grasp – one of very, very few fortunate souls to do so – the series is can’t-miss for those who are true crime buffs.
As it turns out, the release of the documentary series also happened to land on the 30th anniversary of Bundy’s execution, as Ted “rode the lightning” on January 24, 1989.
Popular culture and the wealth of information that's out there in the world allows us to know so much about historical figures, and being a follower of true crime and learning what makes humans do the things they do, I thought that I’d known my fair share about Ted Bundy and his long history of very depraved and very, very, very wrong things that he did in his dark time on this earth.
The documentary went about ten layers deeper than most people probably know about the man. It truly shows just how much of a sick, monstrous, arrogant, and evil being that Bundy was; most would say 'human being', but there was very little that was actually human about him.
Bundy may be one of the most well-known serial killers in modern history, but he’s certainly not alone. Some other notable names include:
John Wayne Gacy – The Killer Clown. If those three words aren’t scary enough, perhaps even scarier is the fact that Gacy was such an incredible actor and a master manipulator that no one ever suspected that he – a dedicated volunteer and an outstanding businessman in his community – could be capable of such monstrous things. But he was, and Gacy eventually met his maker in 1994 by lethal injection after being convicted of 33 murders and sentenced to death for 12 of them.
David Berkowitz – The infamous ‘Son of Sam’. Berkowitz terrorized New York City in the late 1970’s and eluded the biggest police manhunt in the history of the city, all the while killing six people and wounding seven others with a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver. He also left letters mocking the police that were publicized in New York newspapers. Eventually, after a year of keeping residents in a panic, Berkowitz was caught and to this day, is still alive and serving six life sentences.
There are others. Countless others. Sordid, dark histories of people who fell off humanity’s radar and were unable to turn back. The kind of people that prove that while the creatures we looked for in the closet or under the bed as kids weren’t real, there are indeed monsters in the world, and they just happen to walk on two feet.
I should know, because I found myself sitting next to someone who some call a monster to this day.
I’ve talked a number of times about my dealings in covering the Brigitt Blanchard murder trial back in 2011. Blanchard was faced with murder charges after stabbing her boyfriend Rick Murphy to death in Broderick a year earlier.
What I’ve never really talked about is the fact that I sat next to Blanchard in a public setting in the time between her killing Murphy and the discovery of his body.
I used to cover local court proceedings in town, and as it happened, I was in the Outlook courtroom on another Thursday morning back on March 11, 2010. A few minutes into the morning, the woman who would become widely known as Brigitt Blanchard walked in, sat down between me and a local farmer, and was mainly quiet and kept to herself, save for asking me the time.
No one in the room could have possibly imagined that this unassuming woman had literally just ended a man’s life a handful of hours earlier in one of the most gruesome ways possible. It was almost 24 hours later before Murphy was found in his Broderick home, and when I realized I had sat next to someone who had done *that* to another human being, I thought I was going to throw up.
There’s a statistic I read online recently that claims the average person walks past at least 16 murderers in their lifetime. I don’t know if I fully believe that, but I can say that I was seated next to one for a couple of hours on one brisk, pre-spring morning almost a decade ago.
Sometimes, the monsters can be very real.
They may even ask us the time.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.