Catholic Morality


Confessions of a Murderous Rapist

The media world-wide  have spoken of Ted Bundy, sentenced to death for 28 murders of women and young girls. Ted Bundy was executed on January 24, 1989, by electric chair in Starke Prison, Florida, U.S.A.  The following interview which took place a few hours before his death was done by Dr. James Dobson and reveals in particular the nefarious influence of pornography in the making of a serial killer.  This interview is published with the permission of Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995-0001, U.S.A. and is taken from the video tape available from this organisation.


Interview of Ted Bundy

by Dr. James Dobson

Dobson.           Ted, it is about two thirty in the afternoon, you are scheduled to be executed tomorrow morning at seven o clock, if you don't receive another stay.  What is going through your mind?  What thoughts have you had in these last few days?

Bundy.             I won't kid you to say that it's something that I feel that I'm in control of, or something that I've come to terms with, because I haven't.  It's a moment-by-moment thing.  Sometimes I feel very tranquil, and other times, I don't feel tranquil at all. What's going through my mind right now is to use the minutes and hours that I have left as fruitfully as possible and see what happens.  It helps to live in the moment, in the sense that we use it, productively.  Right now I'm feeling calm in a large part because I'm here with you.

D.         For the record, you are guilty of killing many women and girls.

B.         Yes, yes, that's true.

D.         Ted, how did it happen?  Take me back.  What are the antecedents of the behaviour that we've seen? So much grief, so much sorrow, so much pain for so many people.  Where did it start.  How did this moment come about?

B.         That's the question of the hour and one that, not only people much more intelligent than I have been working on for years but one that I've been working on for years to try to understand  it.   Is there enough time to explain it all? I don't know. I think I understand it though, understand what happened to me, to the extent that I can see how certain feelings and ideas developed in me to the point where I began to act out on them; certain very violent and very destructive feelings.

D.         Let's go back then to those roots .  First of all, you, as I understand it, were raised in, what you consider to have been, a healthy home.

B.         Actually...

D.         You were not physically abused, you were not sexually abused, you were not emotionally abused,

B.         No, no way.  I mean, that's part of the tragedy of this whole situation, because I grew up in a wonderful home with two dedicated and loving parents, and one of five brothers and sisters.  A home where we, as children, were the focus of my parents’ lives, where we regularly attended church; two Christian parents who did not drink, they did not smoke, there was no gambling, there was no physical abuse, or fighting in the home.  I'm not saying this was Leave it to Beaver...

D.         Perfect?

B.         No, I don't know if such a home exists but it was a fine solid Christian home, and no-body should, I hope no-one will, try to take the easy way out and try to blame or otherwise accuse my family of contributing to this, because I know, and I'm trying to tell you, as honestly as I know how, what happened. I think this is a message I want to get across.  As a young boy, and I mean a boy of twelve, or thirteen certainly, that I encountered, outside the home again, in the local grocery store, the local drug store, the soft-core pornography, what people call soft-core, but as I think I explained to you last night, Dr. Dobson, in an anecdote that, as young boys do, we explored the back roads and side-ways and byways of our neighbourhood and oftentimes people would dump the garbage and whatever they were cleaning out of their house.  And from time to time, we'd come across pornographic books of a harder nature than, more of a graphic, you might say, a more explicit nature than we would encounter in, say, your local grocery store.  And this would also included such things as, let's say, detective magazines and more.......

D.         Those that involve violence.

B.         Yes.  And this is something that, I think I want to emphasise, is the most damaging kinds of pornography in my - again, I'm talking from personal experience - hard real personal experience.  The most damaging kinds of pornography are those that involve violence, sexual violence, because the wedding of those two forces, as I know only too well, brings about behaviour that is just too terrible to describe.

D.         Now, walk me through that.  What was going on in your mind, at that time?

B.         OK.  Before we go any further, I think -  it's important to me that people believe what I'm saying -  to tell you that I'm not blaming pornography.  I'm not saying that it caused me to go out and do certain things.  I take full responsibility for whatever I've done and all the things that I've done, that's not the question here.  The question and the issue is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mould and shape the kinds of violent behaviour...

D.         Fuelled your fantasies...

B.         Well, in the beginning, it fuels this kind of thought process.  Then, at a certain time, it's instrumental in, what I would say, crystallising it, making it into something which is almost like a separate entity inside.  And at that point you're at the verge, or I was at the verge, of acting out on this kind of, these kinds of things.

D.         Now, I really want to understand that.  You had gone about as far as you could go, in your own fantasy life, with printed material and video and film.

B.         Film, magazines, what have you. 

D.         And then, there was the urge to take that little step or big step over to a physical event.

B.         It happens, it happened in stages, gradually, it doesn't necessarily, not to me at least, happen overnight.  My experience with, let's say pornography generally, but with pornography that deals on a violent level with sexuality, is that, once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction, like other kinds of addiction,  you would keep, I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, most graphic kinds of material.

            Like an addiction you keep craving something which is harder, harder, something which gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far... It reaches that jumping-off point where you begin to wonder if, maybe, actually doing it will give you that which is beyond just reading about it or looking at it.

D.         How long did you stay at that point before you actually assaulted someone?

B.         You see... that is a very delicate point, in my own development, and we're talking about something which I either reached the point, or a grey area that surrounded that point, over the course of a couple of years.

D.         You don't remember.... How long?

B.         Well, I would say a couple of years, and, what

 was dealing with, there were very strong inhibitions against criminal behaviour, violent behaviour, that had been conditioned into me, bred into me, in my environment, in my neighbourhood, in my church, in my school.  Things which said: “No, this is wrong”. I mean, even to think of it is wrong, but certainly to do it is wrong.  I'm on that edge and at last, what will I say, the last vestiges of restraint, the barriers to actually doing something were being tested constantly, and assailed, through the kind of fantasy life that was fuelled largely by pornography. 

D.         Do you remember what pushed you over that edge?  Do you remember the decision to go for it?  Do you remember where you decided to throw caution to the wind?

B.         Again, when you say ‘pushed’ ... I know what you're saying... I don't want to infer again that I was some...

D.         Yes, I know...I understand ...

B.         ...helpless kind of victim. And yet, we're talking about an influence... that is the influence of violent types of media and violent pornography which was an indispensable link in the chain of behaviour, the chain of events that led to behaviours, to the assaults, to the murders and what have you.  It's a very difficult thing to describe, the sensation of reaching that point where I knew that something had, say, snapped, that I knew that I couldn't control it anymore.  That these barriers that I'd learned as a child, had been instilled in me, were not enough to hold me back with respect to seeking out and harming somebody.

D.         Would it be accurate to call that a frenzy, a sexual frenzy?

B.         Well, yes. That's one way to describe it.  A compulsion, a building up of this destructive energy.  Again, another factor here that I haven't mentioned is the use of alcohol.  I think that what alcohol did, in conjunction with, say, my exposure to pornography, was that alcohol reduced my inhibitions.  At the same time, the fantasy life, that was fuelled by pornography, eroded them further.

D.         In the early days, you were nearly always about half-drunk when you did these things, is that right?

B.         Yes, yes.

D.         And was that always true?

B.         I would say that was generally the case, almost word for word, without exception.

D.         If I can understand it now, there's this battle going on within. There are the conventions that you've been taught, there's the right and wrong that you learned as a child, and then there is this unbridled passion fuelled by your plunge into hard-core violent pornography and those things are at war with each other.

B.         Yes.

D.         And then with the alcohol diminishing the inhibitions, you let go?

B.         Well, yes.  You can summarise it that way and that's accurate, certainly.  And it just occurred to me that some people would say : “ Well, I've seen that stuff and it doesn't do anything to me”.  I can understand that, virtually everyone can be exposed to so-called pornography and while they're aroused to it, they're not going to go out and do anything wrong.

D.         Addictions are like that, they affect some people more than they do others.  But there is a percentage of people affected by hard-core pornography in a very violent way and you're obviously one of them.

B.         That was a major component and I don't know why I was vulnerable to it.  All I know is, it had an impact on me that was just so central to the development of the vile behaviour that I engaged in.

D.         Ted, after you committed your first murder what was the emotional effect on you?  What happened in the days after that?

B.         Again... please understand, that even all these years later, it’s very difficult to talk about it, and reliving it, through talking about it, is difficult, to say the least, but I want you to understand what happened  It was like coming out of some kind of horrible trance or dream.  I can only liken it to after... - I don't want to over dramatise it, but - to have been possessed by something so awful and so alien, and then the next morning wake up from it, remember what happened and realise that basically, I mean in the eyes of the law, certainly in the eyes of God, you're responsible.  To wake up in the morning and realise what I had done, with a clear mind and with all my essential moral and ethical feelings intact at that moment...absolutely horrified that I was capable of doing something like that.

D.         You really hadn't known that before?

B.         There is just absolutely no way to describe. First, the brutal urge to do that kind of thing and then, what happens is, once it's been more or less satisfied and recedes, you might say, or spent, that sense, that kind of energy level recedes.  I basically became myself again.  I want people to understand this too, I'm not saying this gratuitously because it's important that people understand this.  Basically I was a normal person.  I wasn't some guy hanging out at bars or a bum, or I wasn't a pervert in the sense that, you know, people look at somebody and say: “I know there's something wrong with him, I can just tell.”  I mean, I was essentially a normal person and I had good friends, I led a normal life except for this one, small but very potent and very destructive segment of it,  that I kept very secret, very close to myself and didn't let anybody know about it.  And part of the shock and horror for my dear friends and family, years ago when I was first arrested was that there was no clue.  They looked at me and they looked at the, you know, the 'All-American boy'.  I mean, I wasn't perfect, but I want to be quite candid with you, I was OK. 

D.         OK.

B.         I was.  The basic humanity, the basic spirit that God gave me was intact, but unfortunately, it became overwhelmed at times.  People need to recognise that it’s not some kind of...  that those of us who are...  who have been so much influenced by violence in the media, in particular pornographic violence, are not some kinds of inherent monsters.  We are your sons and your husbands, and we grew up in regular families.  And pornography can reach out and snatch a kid from any house today.  It snatched me out of my home twenty, thirty years ago, as diligent as my parents were.  And they were diligent in protecting their children.  And as good a Christian home as we had, and we had a wonderful Christian home.  There is no protection against the kinds of influences that are loose in the society that tolerates...  

D.         You feel this really deeply, don't you?  Ted, outside these walls, right now, there are several hundred reporters that wanted to talk to you, and you asked me to come here, from California, because you had something you wanted to say.  This hour that we have together is not just an interview with a man who's scheduled to die tomorrow morning.  I'm here and you're here because of this message that you're talking about right here.  Do you really feel that hard-core pornography and the doorway to it, soft-core pornography, is doing untold damage to other people and causing other women to be abused and killed the way you did?

B.         Listen, I'm no social scientist and I haven't done a survey.  I mean, I don't pretend that I know what John Q Citizen thinks about this, but I've lived in prison for a long time now and I've met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me and without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography, without question, without exception, deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction to pornography.  There is no question about it.  The FBI's own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornography.

D.         That's true.

B.         And it's real.  It's true.

D.         Ted, what would your life have been like without that influence?    You can only speculate.

B.         Well, I know it would have been far better, not just for me, and, excuse me, for being so self-centred here, it would have been a lot better for me and lots of other people.  I know there are lots of other innocent people, victims and families.  It would have been a lot better, there's no question about that.  It would have been a fuller life, certainly a life that would not have involved, I'm absolutely certain, would not have involved this kind of violence that I have committed.

D.         Sure. Ted, if I were able to ask you the kind of questions that are being asked out there, one of the most important as you come down to perhaps your final hours:  Are you thinking about all those victims out there and their families...?

B.         Well...

D.         ...who are so wounded.  You know, years later, their lives have not returned to normal, they will never return to normal.

B.         Absolutely.

D.         Are you carrying that load, that weight?  Is the remorse there?

B.         Again, I know that people will accuse me of being self-serving but we're beyond that now, I mean, I’m just telling you how I feel but, through God's help, I've been able to come to the point where I, much too late, but better late than never, feel the hurt and the pain that I am responsible for.  Yes, absolutely.  In the past few days, myself and a number of investigators have been talking about unsolved cases, murders that I was involved in and it’s hard to talk about all these years later because it revives in me all those terrible feelings and those thoughts that I have, steadfastly and diligently dealt with and, I think, successfully, with the love of God.  Yet, it has reopened that and I felt the pain and I felt the horror again of all that.  And I can only hope that those whom I've harmed, those whom I've caused so much grief, even if they don't believe my expression of sorrow and remorse, will believe what I am saying now: that there is loose in their towns and their communities, people, like me today, whose dangerous impulses are being fuelled, day in and day out, by violence in the media in its various forms, particularly, the sexualised violence.  And what scares me, and looks like coming into the present now - because what I'm talking about happened twenty, thirty years ago, that is, in my formative stages - and what scares and appalls me, Dr. Dobson, is when I see what's on cable TV!  Some of the movies, I mean, some of the violence in the movies, that come into homes today, was stuff that they wouldn't show in X-rated adult theatres thirty years ago.  This stuff...

D.         The Slasher Movies...  Is that what you're talking about?

B.         ...that stuff is, I'm telling you from personal experience, the most that is graphic violence on screen, particularly, as it gets into the home.  The children who may be unattended, or unaware, that they may be a Ted Bundy who has that vulnerability to that predisposition to be influenced by that kind of behaviour, by that kind of movie, that kind of violence.  There are kids sitting out there, switching the TV dial around and come upon these movies late at night or, I don't know when they're on, but they're on and any kid can watch them.  It's scary when I think what would have happened to me if I had seen them, I'm scary enough.  I mean, I just ran into stuff outside the home but to know that children are watching that kind of thing today or can pick up their phone and dial away for it or send away for it!

D.         Can you help me understand this desensitisation process that took place?  What was going on in your mind?

B.         By desensitisation - I’ll describe it in specific terms - is that each time I harmed someone, each time I killed someone, there'd be this enormous amount, especially at first, enormous amount of horror, guilt, remorse afterwards, but then, that impulse to do it again would come back even stronger.  Now, believe me, the unique thing about how this worked, Dr. Dobson, is that I still felt, in my regular life, the full range of guilt and remorse about other things, regret and...

D.         Do you have this ‘compartmentalised’?

B.         This ‘compartmentalised’, very well focused, very sharply focused area, where it was like a black hole, it was like a crack and everything that fell into that crack just disappeared.  Does that make sense?

D.         Yes, it does.  One of the final murders that you committed, of course, was, apparently, little Kimberly Leech, twelve years of age.  I think the public outcry is greater there because an innocent child was taken from a playground.  What did you feel after that?  Were there normal emotions three days later?  Where were you, Ted?

B.         I can't really talk about that, right now.  That's, that's too painful.  I would like to be able to convey to you what that experience is like, but I can't... I won't be able to talk about that.

D.         OK.

B.         I can't begin to understand, well, I can try but I, I'm aware that I can't begin to understand the pain that the parents of these children, and these young women that I harmed, feel and I can't restore really much to them, if anything, and I don't pretend, and I don't even expect them to forgive me.  I'm not asking for it.  That kind of forgiveness is of God and if they have it, they have it and if they don't, they don't.  Well, maybe they'll find it some day.

D.         Do you deserve the punishment the State has inflicted upon you?

B.         That's a very good question.  Now, I'll answer it very honestly: I don't want to die.  I don't want to kid you.  I deserve certainly the most extreme punishment society has, and I deserve, I think society deserves, to be protected from me and from others like me, that's for sure.  I think what will come of our discussion is, I think society deserves to be protected from itself because, as we've been talking, there are forces loosened, in this country particularly, again, this kind of violent pornography, where, on the one hand, well-meaning decent people will condemn the behaviour of a Ted Bundy while they're walking past a magazine rack full of the very kinds of things that send young kids down the road to be Ted Bundy's  That's the irony.  We're talking here, not just about more, what I'm talking about is beyond retribution, which is what people want with me, going beyond retribution and punishment, because there is no way in the world that killing me is going to restore those beautiful children to their parents and correct, and soothe the pain.  But I tell you, there are lots of other kids playing on the streets around this country today, who are going to be dead tomorrow and the next day and the next day and next month, because other young people are reading the kinds of things, and seeing the kinds of things, that are available in the media today.

D.         Ted, as you would imagine, there is tremendous cynicism about you on the outside and, I suppose, for good reason.  I'm not sure there's anything that you could say that people would believe, some people would believe...

B.         Yes.

D.         ...and, yet you told me last night, and I heard this through our mutual friend John Tanner, that you have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and are a follower and a believer in Him.  Do you draw strength from that as you approach these final hours?

B.         I do.  I can't say that being in the valley of the shadow of death is something that I've become all that accustomed to and that I'm strong and nothing's bothering me.  Listen, it's no fun.  It's kind of lonely and yet, I have to remind myself that everyone of us will go through this some day, in one way or another, and countless millions who have walked this earth before us.  So this is just an experience which we'll all share.

D.         Yes.


Politicians,  will you allow the rise of other Ted Bundy's generated by the permissiveness of actual laws?

Publishers, will you provoke in your customers these thoughts leading to sexual violence, occasioned by your videos, magazines, newspapers and books full of erotic elements?

Teachers, will you put within the reach of your pupils libidinous ideas and images which may lead them to vice?

Parents, will you open the door of your homes, through books, videos, T.V., radio and literature, to a lewd influence which can but harm your children and yourselves?

No! We must react in destroying all pornography from our cities, schools and homes because “people are more easily reduced into slavery by pornography than by Miradors” (Solzenitsyn).


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