Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Only Living Witness: The True Story Of Ted Bundy

The Story Page 12

Bundy never elaborated on what that decision was. He wrote that he took a long walk and came home reconciled to this new knowledge. "It may have gone something like this: `I am who I am, and what I am I owe to my Mom, Dad, Granddad and others who raised me.' (Not necessarily profound, but not a bad beginning for a young kid.) Why be concerned about someone I never knew? My Mom loved me enough to give birth to me, care for me and love me. This seemed to be more than enough."

However, Bundy's onetime fiancée, Liz Kendall (a pseudonym) reported the discovery a little differently. Ted's cousin John taunted him about his illegitimacy, Kendall recounted in her book, Phantom Prince. According to her, Bundy at first angrily refused to believe his cousin, and would not believe him until John produced the birth certificate himself. Kendall wrote that Bundy was furious with his mother for causing him such humiliation.

Terry Storwick's unclouded recollections probably are as reliable as any. He is the first person with whom Ted shared his knowledge. "Ted never told me how he discovered he was illegitimate," Storwick recollected. "We were in high school and were down at my parents' beach place talking about some personal subject. It might have had to do with how he was arguing with his dad. He just said, `Of course, you know that's not my real father.' It was a bell ringer! A lot of things fell into place for me right then and there. I said, 'Well, why is your name Bundy?' He went on to tell me that he'd been born in Philadelphia. Very vague stuff. The rat didn't marry his mother and such. I think he was wondering how I was going to think about him. It seemed to me that this was kind of like being adopted, or something. So, I said. 'There are people who love you now.' I think I said I thought it was no big deal."

"But he said something to the effect that for him it made a big difference. This was important to him. It wasn't just something to be swept under the rug. When I made light of his situation, he said, 'Well, it's not you that's a bastard.' He was bitter when he said it.''

Following discovery of his illegitimacy, Ted's attitude toward Johnnie hardened into outright defiance. "Ted's mother loved him very much," Terry Storwick told us. "I'm sure that she protected him from Johnnie's temper. It wasn't that Johnnie was an unreasonable man; I think his temper was a reaction to Ted's animosity."

The schism between man and boy was expressed in Ted's sudden refusal to call Johnnie "Dad," after having done so for years. He began calling Johnnie "Father," and then, finally, "John." "You know, Ted was way ahead of Johnnie when it came to intellectual things," said Storwick. "He could just talk him into holes in the ground, leave him no way out but to use his body. Johnnie is a man of few and simple words, and Ted was his match by the time he was in the sixth grade. 

A couple of times I thought his dad was going to kill him. The anger was there, you know. "Back then, John Bundy was a wiry little sucker, well muscled. I remember one particular occasion at their lake place. He was out cutting wood or something. Ted was, I guess, showing off for me smart assin'. John took a swing at him. If he would have connected, he would have laid Ted flat on his ass. He had a temper as quick as Ted's."

The first sign of serious problems in Ted's inner world was a sudden and complete halt to his social development. It was a quiet crisis, easily missed by others, but acutely perplexing, and painful, to him. "In junior high school, everything was fine," he told me. "Nothing that I can recall happened that summer before my sophomore year to stunt me, or otherwise hinder my progress. But I got to high school and I didn't make any progress." He sounded genuinely perplexed. "How can I say it? I'm at a loss to describe it even now. Maybe I didn't have the role models at home that could have aided me in school. I don't know. But I felt alienated from my old friends. They just seemed to move on, and I didn't. I don't know why, and I don't know if there is an explanation. Maybe it's something that was programmed by some kind of genetic thing. In my early schooling, it seemed like there was no problem in learning what the appropriate socials behaviors were. It just seemed like I hit a wall in high school."

I asked Bundy if he took these issues to his mother or a counselor to discuss them. "It never crossed my mind," he answered. "I didn't think anything was wrong, necessarily. I wasn't sure what was wrong and what was right. All I knew was that I felt a bit different."