Stephanie was a woman of high class, and she rarely had to worry about money. As a result, she preferred dating men who were either abundantly wealthy or born into a high social status. One must wonder, then, just why she chose to date an anti-social, local guy named Ted Bundy. Throughout their lengthy relationship, she held onto a growing suspicion that something was simply off about him. As time went on, she had a growing speculation that “he used people” and “took advantage of them,” and these feelings would only heighten over the years.1 Little did she know that her boyfriend would eventually cause her a great amount of harm and distress, and would go on to become one of America’s most famous serial killers.2
Ted Bundy had a largely uninteresting upbringing. Due to his introverted nature, he essentially went through high school without stopping to look at the world around him. Although one of his classmates had described him as an attractive and gentlemanly person, many of them are quick to admit that he kept to himself, that they never really saw him with a girl.3 Still, Ted kept up a lively social life, making friends that were generally active in school clubs. However, Ted did not want to join any of these because he was too shy. According to his close friends, Ted was an honor roll student, regularly making A’s and B’s in many of his classes.4 Overall, Ted’s high school experience was quite uninteresting; he was little more than a small fish in a pool of about seven-hundred and forty members in his graduating class.5 Wanting desperately to stand out from the crowd, Ted immediately jumped on a scholarship that offered him a chance to study in the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma City upon graduating from high school. He was determined to make something of himself, and, although he valued his friendships in high school, none of them really lasted after his first year of college.6 College life proved exceptionally draining on Ted, and, as a sophomore, he quickly found himself yearning for a change of scenery. Accordingly, he transferred to the University of Washington, where he eventually met a woman who he would later describe as “the epitome of his dreams.”7 The first time the two students met was in MacMahon Hall, right in the middle of the University of Washington. Before they had even exchanged words, Ted knew he wanted to be with her. Shaking off his shy nature, Ted would often ask Stephanie for rides to the local ski summits, as she owned a car and enjoyed skiing as well, and they naturally began to spend more time together. As things intensified between the two, Ted fell madly in love with her. According to Ted, “Stephanie was like no girl he had ever seen before, and he considered her the most sophisticated, the most beautiful creature possible.”8
Although they eventually went on countless dates and spent many months together, it was not to last. Indeed, after almost two years of love, Stephanie abruptly broke off the relationship with Ted. She told Ted that he simply didn’t “fit in her world,” citing his constant tendency to lie as one of the main reasons she fell out of love with him. Needless to say, Ted was devastated by the death of the relationship. Almost immediately, he began trudging through college as a heartbroken and defeated character. No amount of depression, however, could destroy his fascination for tall, intelligent, long-haired girls. After a couple of years, Ted found another woman, one not as pretty, rich, or young as Stephanie, but one that nevertheless helped him fill the void that his “soulmate” had left in his heart. Her name was Meg Anders, and she was a divorcee with a daughter. Her father was a doctor and she was a secretary at the college, so she lived comfortably, and the idea of wealth proved too attractive to turn down in Ted’s eyes. Meg made a habit of lending Ted money for schooling and helped him out with anything that he wanted. After a while, Meg began to take notice of his abusive nature, and started to worry that her family’s money alone drew Ted to her. What Meg did not suspect, however, was Ted’s rekindled interest in his ex. After spending some time communicating with Stephanie, the two would meet up once again on a business trip that Ted had planned. For all Meg knew, Stephanie did not exist.9
The day that Stephanie broke up with him was the day that Ted pledged to win her back. He vowed to let nothing stand in his way, and soon became obsessed with the idea of self improvement.10 The shy, meek boy who originally had no direct plan with his career used the death of his relationship with Stephanie to grow into an honor roll student, one who would gain a principal law school recommendation from his professors. One in particular, Professor Ronald E. Smith, saw great potential in a young Bundy, writing, “Indeed, I would place him in the top 1% of undergraduate students with whom I have interacted both here at the University of Washington and at Purdue University. He is exceedingly bright, personable, highly motivated, and conscientious. He conducts himself more like a young professional than like a student.”11 Not only did Ted begin excelling in school, but he also began to excel in everything he put his mind to. Indeed, he quickly became an impressive feature of the Washington State political circles, growing into a famous member of the college Republican interest group. He would even be commended by the police department, as he once famously ran down and returned a stolen item to its owner, and saved a child from drowning. On top of it all, he also worked for a suicide hotline and saved many lives.12 He was caring, calm, and always seemed to have the right words to say. He represented, in the minds of many, the very idea of the perfect man, and Stephanie would soon see that.13
Ted was certainly something of a mastermind. Every part of his life was adapted to help him play the role that he knew Stephanie would show favor to. Once they met up again, they did not back down. At the end of it all, he had successfully rekindled the fire of love within Stephanie once again. As they spent more time together, she completely fell for him. He was frequently taking her to expensive restaurants, and he constantly introduced her to people of higher social and financial status. After a while, Ted even brought up the topic of marriage, and, much to his surprise, she was all for it. Stephanie was astonished by the newfound maturity that Ted seemed to have found in their time apart, and was positive that they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. Much to her dismay, however, she began to take notice of a change in Ted. His obsession with marriage and its implications seemed, overnight, to be replaced with seeds of doubt and indecisiveness. He stopped showing physical affection towards her, and began to remove himself from her emotionally. Stephanie soon found herself utterly confused, as the man who had put wonderful images of marriage in her imagination had almost refused to talk to her in the span of a few days. Eventually, he told her that there was another woman. He informed her that the “other woman” was forced to have an abortion because of him, who called him frequently, and who would never leave him alone. Claiming that this interference was something that the couple couldn’t overcome, he blatantly told Stephanie that things were simply not going to work out between them. Stephanie was appalled by the fact that the once adoring and devoted person she had grown to love had so quickly been replaced by a character marked by absolute apathy. Following the destruction of the relationship, she called Ted in a fury, upset that he had not even offered an explanation as to why he left her so suddenly. When it was finally his turn to talk, he simply answered, “Stephanie, I have no idea what you mean…” and rapidly hung up.14 As she sat the phone down, a tremor ran through her body as she truly realized that she did not even know the person whom she had spent so many years with.15 Was her fear out of place or uncalled for? Imagine, for a second, that the person you believed you were going to spend the rest of your life with, the person that you believed loved you with all their heart, suddenly refused to have anything to do with you without any explanation.
We will never find out who Ted really was. Ted had worked hard to become the exact man he knew Stephanie would fall head over heels for, just to drop her and make her feel like nothing. He had been willing to go through so much pain as long as he could be in the position that Stephanie held during the beginning of their relationship. Ted was undoubtedly a mysterious man: he had two lives going on at the same time and neither woman held the least bit of suspicion. He was able to hide certain areas of his life from whoever he wanted without batting an eye. Indeed, he had entire groups of friends that never knew a thing about other areas of his life. And as if those facts alone weren’t enough, he also had a knack for creating extremely believable lies.16 His character and actions have left social scientists with many unanswered questions. Did he have multiple personalities that he only brought out when he wanted? Was it his plan all along to drive Stephanie to fall in love with him, only to break her heart like she so mercilessly had done to him before? Revenge, is that what he craved? Is that why he would later rape and murder countless women that bore some resemblance to Stephanie? Ted Bundy was a man of charm, brilliance, and extreme intelligence, traits mirrored in his many accomplishments, but what he eventually used these astounding characteristics for was what most greatly bewildered everyone.