Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Only Living Witness: The True Story Of Ted Bundy

The Story Page 5

Hugh and I followed a tortuous route to this confrontation, a journey that began in 1978 with a call from Kathy Robbins, my agent. Kathy told me that Ted Bundy, the noted alleged murderer, wanted to tell his story in a book.

At the time, I was working for Business Week magazine. Years before, I had covered several murders and kidnappings while working for Newsweek magazine, most notably the 1973 Houston, Texas, case of homicidal pedophile Dean Corll, the notorious Candy Man, who with two young accomplices, tortured and murdered as many as thirty small boys. Serial killers, however, were hardly my forte.

After some reflection, I called Hugh in Dallas, where he was then based as chief investigator for the ABC newsmagazine 20/20. I had worked for Aynesworth in Houston when he was the Newsweek bureau chief there. He had assigned me to the Corll case; through it and several other stories Hugh taught me a good deal of what I know about reporting. Given the sheer complexity of the Bundy story unlike other such crime sagas it stretched across both time and geography and would involve reporting in several states Hugh was the perfect partner. His reportorial experience with criminals and cops extended back to the Clutter family murder case: Dick and Perry, and their 1959 slaughter of the west Kansas farm family that Truman Capote turned into his masterpiece, In Cold Blood. Aynesworth covered much of the bizarre story for UPI.

Without much hesitation, Hugh agreed to take on Ted's story with me, both of us unprepared for where it would lead us.

The first surprise was mine:

Ted, it turned out, had grown up not five miles from where I was raised. We had a number of mutual acquaintances. Moreover, we were both born in Burlington, Vermont; Bundy in 1946, I in 1948. While still quite young, both of us were moved by our mothers from Vermont to Tacoma, Washington. Ted at the time was an only child. I was the youngest of four. Neither of us knew his natural father, although unlike Ted I was born within wedlock.

We both attended Tacoma public schools, were swept by the same local fads, later drank the same regional beer and knew the same kinds of girls. We were both blue-eyed and of the same general height, weight, frame and coloring. And we were both left-handed.

I once ran down these curiosities to my sister, Susan. "Well, have you ever killed anyone?'' she asked.

"No,'' I said.

She laughed. "That's what Ted says.''

Thanks, Sue.

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