Known as a fast-talking ladies man who manipulated as many as 30 young women into following him to their deaths throughout the 1970s, it didn’t take long for Bundy to become one of the most well-known serial killers within the country. Even after his trial and conviction, Bundy continued to be a fascinating individual within the eyes of the public and was subjected to rigorous psychological study up until his execution.
On January 24, 1989 Bundy was put to death by the state of Florida. His body was cremated shortly thereafter and his ashes were scattered within the cascade range of Washington State, as per his request. Approximately a year later, reports about the disembodied spirit of Ted Bundy continuing to roam the grounds of the Florida State Prison in which he had spent his final years began to emerge.
As originally reported by The Weekly World News – a satirical tabloid newspaper known for its outrageous and mostly made-up stories – an unidentified prison guard allegedly told the publication that he regularly encountered Bundy sitting in the electric chair. The report also claimed that Bundy had been sighted roaming the halls by other inmates and could be heard howling through the corridors.
The story took off and has been rehashed as fact throughout paranormal websites and discussion boards across the web. In 1999, The Weekly World News decided to print a follow-up to the Bundy’s ghost story. This time the newspaper suggested that Bundy’s ghost was on the loose and picking up where he left off in life. 11 women were claimed to have been kidnapped and murdered, and the mastermind behind it all was none other than the notorious Ted Bundy, back from the dead and hellbent on revenge – in Europe never-the-less.
The wild claims contained within the checkout lane tabloid were sure to get a few smiles, but for those who truly are haunted by Bundy, the outlandish headlines were no laughing matter.
Susan Denton is one of these women. She had been asleep the night Bundy stormed Florida State University’s Chi Omega house. She awoke to find her sorority sisters loaded onto gurneys and taken to a hospital. Four women would be dead, and in their wake would be survivors, like Denton, who have since been forced to struggle with the memories of that night.
Karen Sparks, Another woman who was believed to have been attacked by Bundy early in his career, was beat in the head with a lead pipe as she slept in her bed. Bundy then sexually assaulted the young woman with a speculum, causing serious internal damages to her genitalia. In addition to her life-threatening injuries, Sparks suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the attack.
Rhonda Stapley is the latest woman to claim that she too is haunted by Bundy’s legacy. She says that she was attacked by Bundy in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1974. Stapley remembers Bundy offering her a ride as she waited at a Salt Lake City bus stop. Stapley agreed to get into the car with the charming stranger. As Bundy turned off the engine of his Volkswagen Bug he leaned into Stapley, She says at first she believed that he was leaning in for a kiss. In an instant Bundy’s demeanor had changed. He looked at her and said, “Do you know what? I am going to kill you now.” Bundy grabbed Stapley by the throat and strangled her until she lost consciousness. She awoke shortly after the altercation and fell into a stream where she was able to float to safety.
Since her encounter with Bundy, Stapley says she has tried her best to forget the memory of her attack, but the PTSD she suffers as a result of the altercation with Bundy has been a lifelong struggle.
Then there are the victim’s families, left without the loved ones that Bundy selfishly stole away from them. Even at Bundy’s execution there were vendors in the prison parking lot selling t-shirts, stickers and other souvenirs to commemorate the occasion. The carnival-like atmosphere was distasteful to parents like Vivan and Dale Rancourt, whose daughter was discovered to have been murdered by Bundy when he confessed to her murder while in prison.
Up until his final weeks, Bundy attempted to manipulate families of cold case victims whom he was a suspect in their murders, by offering a deal that if they could petition the courts to postpone his execution, that he would give them details of their missing loved ones. For these families left with a lack of closure and a sense of uncertainty, the real impact Theodore Robert Bundy left on their lives is far more haunting than any silly tabloid ghost story.
Whether they survived an attack, lost a loved one, or never fully received the closure that they deserved, these people all share a common bond. All of these people will forever be forced to live with the haunting legacy left to them by a sadistic sociopath who saw others as nothing more than his own personal toys to play with.