Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Only Living Witness: The True Story Of Ted Bundy

The Story Page 13

For Terry Storwick, his friend's social withdrawal was all the more mysterious for the fact that Ted was so bright and amusing. "He was a lampooner. He had the darts, you know," Storwick said. "He was very funny, and very much on the mark. To me, he just seemed wonderfully subtle. He could make me laugh with a gesture, or one or two words, where I'd need sentences and pictures and diagrams to get the same thing across. I took this to be a token of his intelligence.

"He didn't have the confidence, however, to follow it up. He could have been a really strong influence on a lot of people if he had had the self confidence to go along with the intellect. It seemed to me that he was just tongue-tied in social situations. It didn't have to be girls; meeting new friends, meeting new people from another school was a difficult thing for him to do."

Decades later, Storwick could see in his mind's eye Ted "walking down the hall with that half-aggressive, half-hopeful expression. I'm sure he was slighted a lot. At least in my circle of friends, it was important to be popular. We'd be standing in the hallway and someone would come up to me and say, `Hey, we're going to have a party Friday. Can you come over?' Ted would be standing there and he wouldn't be asked. It wasn't that he was singled out for ridicule, but you have to remember that Ted was a very sensitive person very sensitive."

Ted Bundy had but a single date throughout his three years at Woodrow Wilson High School in Tacoma. He told me that he would have liked to go out more, but he never could tell if a girl liked him, so he assumed she did not. "I'm particularly dense, or insensitive, not knowing when a woman's interested in me," he explained. "I've been described as handsome, and all this shit, or attractive. I don't believe it. It's a built-in insecurity. I don't believe I'm attractive."

Sex baffled him. When his buddies talked about girls and what they were doing with them, or wished they were doing with them, or lied about what they were doing with them, Ted listened without comprehension, he told me. "I had trouble grasping any of it. It kind of went over my head."

He felt at ease in only two environments the ski slopes and the classroom. "I spoke up in class," he explained. "It's a formalized setting, and the ground rules are fairly strict. Your performance is measured by different rules than what happens when everybody's peeling off into little cliques down the hallway." Because he was articulate and cultivated an image of serious-mindedness to hide his loneliness, Bundy was regarded as scholarly by the other students at Wilson. Yet for all his seeming seriousness of purpose, his grades were only good, not great. He left high school with just above a B average, good enough to earn Ted admission to Uncle Jack's school (by then renamed the University of Puget Sound), together with a small scholarship.

Outwardly, conditions seemed ideal for this bright, attractive young man to step forward into the world, to overcome his shyness, and to seize this opportunity. Few people at Wilson High would have been surprised to hear that he eventually went on to law school, and became a rising star in the local Republican firmament.

The closer people felt to Ted, the surer that likelihood seemed. Yet the next thing that many of his boyhood acquaintances would know of the diffident boy with the half-hopeful expression was that police suspected him of a string of hideous murders. They'd sort back through their memories, trying to recall something odd or different about him, something identifiable in his past that would help explain this tragedy. They couldn't. Not even Bundy's closest friend, Terry Storwick, can connect the Ted he knew with what Ted became. As we spoke, Terry's eyes teared up at times with the pain of memory. Aloof though Ted was, the two boys felt a bond, even a debt on Terry's part; Ted once saved Terry's niece, Wendy, from drowning.

"There is no way," Storwick said, his voice breaking, "that the person I grew up with could have done the things they said he did. And there's no way for me to reconcile the image of the mass murderer and the kid who came running to my back porch when the first snow fell in November, all excited to go skiing. In between those two images, something happened. Definitely, something popped."

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