Writing About Ted Bundy Came as a Real Surprise

By Kevin M. Sullivan

It’s true…I never intended to write about the serial killer, Ted Bundy.  I knew who he was, and had some basic knowledge of the case; that is, Bundy began murdering women in Washington State, but had also killed in other states such as Utah and Colorado, and of course, was put to death in Florida for murders committed there.  And this was, in essence, the sum total of my knowledge about him.

However, in March 2005, my friend, James Massie, invited me to have dinner with him and his friend Jerry Thompson when Thompson and his wife were scheduled to come to Louisville in May of that year, and I accepted. And what I thought would be a nice dinner that might turn into a possible interview with Jerry, ended up creating an abrupt change in both my literary career as well as my life.  And it all had to do with something Jerry was bringing with him.

It should be noted that Jerry Thompson was a retired homicide detective from the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and in that capacity, ended up being the lead detective for the Bundy case in Utah.  Moreover, it would be Jerry Thompson that would pull Ted Bundy out of the shadows and introduce him to the world as the elusive killer from the Pacific Northwest and now Utah that the authorities had been looking for, but without success.  It was a revealing that was long overdue, and Jerry Thompson was at the head of it. 

But it wasn’t just meeting and interviewing Jerry that led to my 14-year journey into the life and murders of Ted Bundy.  It was what Jerry brought with him: the actual murder kit once belonging to Bundy that the killer forever lost after his August 1975 arrest in Granger, Utah.  That kit contained first, a brown leather gym bag that held the implements, and the implements were as follows: a ski mask, an ice pick, a flash light, an electrical cord, rope, a bed sheet torn into strips with FBI evidence tags still attached, two different right-handed gloves, and a box of Glad trash bags.  Missing from the bag were three items: the Sears model 6577 short crowbar and the handcuffs (both in the Utah court system), and a pantyhose mask that Jerry Thompson carried to Florida during Bundy’s trials there (and no doubt today is being housed in the real evidence archives storage in Tallahassee). Not a part of the kit, but still placed within it, were FBI evidence tins (a picture of these can be seen in my book, The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History), containing the pubic hair of some of Bundy’s victims, and the head hair of Carol DaRonch.

Because the Thompsons were in Louisville for a couple of days, they turned the bag over to Jim, and he allowed me to bring it to my house one evening where I photographed it and closely examined all the items.  And if that wasn’t surreal enough, when the Thompsons were leaving, we met with them one more time, and in the midst of our conversation, Jerry gave me and Jim each one of the Glad trash bags from Ted Bundy’s murder kit. I then asked the retired homicide investigator if he would write a letter of authentication, and he agreed. And while I was able to interview Jerry Thompson that night, and that article was published in Snitch, a weekly print crime newspaper, it would be having that murder kit in my home, and having that Glad trash bag from Bundy’s car, that would lead me to write a biography of Bundy, titled The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History, which was published in August of 2009.  That in turn, produced three companion volumes: The Trail of Ted Bundy: Digging Up the Untold Stories, published in 2016; The Bundy Secrets: Hidden Files of America’s Worst Serial Killer, in 2017; and Ted Bundy’s Murderous Mysteries: The Many Victims of America’s Worst Serial Killer, published 2019.  And topping it off in this now five-volume set is (working title), The Encyclopedia of the Ted Bundy Murders, published later this year or early 2020.  And after writing some 1300 pages about this most infamous serial killer, I know it’s time to move on!  

Copyright 2019 by Kevin M. Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

A writer of history and true crime, Kevin M. Sullivan is the author of 15 books, a former investigative journalist for both print and online media, and is a recognized authority on serial sex killer, Ted Bundy. Indeed, his “breakout” book, The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History, published by McFarland in 2009, was the catalyst that brought him much attention in the true crime world, leading to numerous radio programs and contacts from documentarians both here in the United States and the United Kingdom. Portions of this work also appear in the college textbook, Abnormal Psychology: Clinical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders, published by McGraw-Hill in November 2012.

Some of his published works are as follows: Kentucky Bloodbath: Ten Bizarre Tales of Murder from the Bluegrass State; Shattering the Myth: Signposts on Custer's Road to Disaster; Vampire: The Richard Chase Murders; Custer's Road to Disaster: The Path to Little Bighorn; Unnatural Causes, written with co-author, Gregg Olsen; The Trail of Ted Bundy: Digging Up the Untold Stories; The Bundy Secrets: Hidden Files on America's Worst Serial Killer; Through an Unlocked Door: In Walks Murder; and Ted Bundy's Murderous Mysteries: The Many Victims of America's Most Infamous Serial Killer, published April 21, 2019. His final book in the Ted Bundy series, The Encyclopedia of the Ted Bundy Murders, will be released later this year or early 2020.

Kevin has also been a guest on documentaries pertaining to serial sex killer, Ted Bundy, on REELZ, HLN (CNN's Headline News), the Oxygen Network, and ABC's 20/20 program.

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