Posted: March 30th, 2022

Ted Bundy’s involvement and motivation in crime

Ted Bundy: The Serial Killer


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Theodore Robert Bundy who is commonly known as Ted Bundy is one of the most renowned serial killers in the history of the United States. Actually Bundy is regarded as the most notorious serial killer and rapist in America’s history, especially during the late 20th Century. Prior to his death in an electric chair, Bundy confessed to 36 murders though it is unclear the actual number of crimes he committed as part of his legacy of horror. Bundy conducted his crimes during the 1970s and usually targeted young women who he assaulted and murdered. Notably, Ted Bundy’s highly publicized trial that culminated in his death sentence made him popular despite his long list and history of brutal acts and crimes.


Ted Bundy’s involvement and motivation in crime can be traced back to his childhood, which was characterized with difficulties and strained relationship with his stepfather. As a child, Bundy was shy, which made him a constant target of bullying, especially from his stepfather. However, he was described as a charming, intelligent, and articulate individual who was seemingly stable (Crime Museum, n.d.). These traits and social skills not only enabled him to enjoy a seemingly successful college career but also acted as important factors towards his ability to develop ordinary relationships with women. Moreover, Bundy used these traits and social skills to prey on college campuses in various parts of the country including Washington, Utah, Colorado, and Florida. Through his charm, articulation, and intelligence, Ted Bundy got close to his victims that he raped, strangled, killed or mutilated. Apart from displaying lopped off heads in his apartment, Bundy slept with the corpses of his victims until they were unbearable because of putrefaction. Most of the criminal’s victims were young women who had seemingly broken off their relationships with him.


Ted Bundy’s crimes were appalling in nature because of the nature and extent of his brutality. These crimes were essentially rape and murder, which were carried out in different ways including through strangling or mutilation. His success in carry out a trail of these appalling brutal acts was fueled by his ability to avoid detection. When he was initially questioned by law enforcement officers after committing a crime, Bundy was left off the hook because he seemingly did not suit the mold of a serial killer or an individual with capability to conduct such crimes. In another incident, Bundy avoided detection and probable death sentence in 1977 by jumping out of an open window of Pitkin County Jail when being tried in Colorado for murder. Even though law enforcement officers arrested him 8 days later, he managed to escape again by creating a hole in the ceiling of his cell. Therefore, Bundy initially avoided detection and prosecution through his intelligence and escapes.


However, he was finally arrested, charged, and found guilty of rape and murder in 1978 following a check on his license plates by Pensacola police, which revealed that his car was stolen. These law enforcement officers also conducted an examination of teeth impressions, which was found to match bite wounds in one of his victims in Chi Omega. Despite his attempts to defend himself through several attorneys, Bundy was found guilty of a series of rape and murder incidents and eventually electrocuted in 1989, a decade after his arrest.


Ted Bundy’s involvement in crime and way of thinking and behavior can be explained through social-structural theories of crime. The two theories of crime that are applicable in his situation are Informal Social Control Theory and Social Learning Theory. Informal Social Control Theory postulates that criminal behavior is a by-product of incomplete or inadequate socialization whereas Social Learning Theory suggests that crime is motivated by adequate socialization towards incorrect values and norms (Vito & Maahs, 2011, p.172). Inadequate or incomplete socialization are evident in Ted Bundy’s early life due to lack of attention from a young mother who is allegedly his sister and depressed grandmother. This lack of attention was geared towards protecting the family name but resulted in rejection and emotional separation from the family, which acted as Bundy’s motivation for criminal activities. Actually, Bundy engaged in crime as a means of expressing his frustration with rejection and emotional separation from the family. Adequate socialization towards incorrect values and norms are evident in Bundy’s rejection by his father, which was characterized by psychopathic and violent characteristics. In essence, Bundy’s motivation for crime was influenced by the violence he was subjected to by his father, which he considered normal.




Crime Museum. (n.d.). Ted Bundy: November 24, 1946 — January 24, 1989. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from


Vito, G.F. & Maahs, J.R. (2012). Criminology: theory, research, and policy (3rd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.

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