Ted Bundy Speaks - How Pornography Creates
Ted Bundy's Final Interview
Ted Bundy, an infamous serial killer, granted an interview to psychologist
James Dobson just before he was executed on January 24, 1989. In that
interview, he described the agony of his addiction to pornography. Bundy
goes back to his roots, explaining the development of his compulsive
behavior. He reveals his addiction to hard-core pornography and how it
fueled the terrible crimes he committed.
A road that leads to nowhere
When Ted Bundy was thirteen years old, he discovered ďdirty magazinesĒ
in a dump near his home. He was instantly captivated by them. In time,
Bundy became more and more addicted to violent images in magazines and
videos. He got his kicks from seeing women being tortured and murdered.
When he tired of that, there was only one place his addiction could go -
from fantasy to reality.
Bundy, a good-looking, intelligent law student, learned to lure women
into his car by various forms of deception. He would put a cast on his
arm or leg, then walk across a university campus carrying several books.
When he saw an interesting coed standing or walking alone, heíd
ďaccidentallyĒ drop the books near her. The girl would help him gather
them and take them to his car. Then he would entice her or push her into
the vehicle where she was taken captive. After he had molested the girl
and the rage of passion had passed, she would be killed and Bundy would
dump her body in a region where it would not be found for months. This
went on for years.
By the time he was apprehended, Bundy had killed at least twenty-eight
young women and girls in acts too horrible to contemplate. He was
finally convicted and sentenced to death for killing a twelve-year-old
girl and dumping her body in a pigsty. After more than ten years of
appeals and legal maneuvering, a judge gave the order for Bundyís
execution. That week, he asked an attorney to call me and request that I
come to Florida State Prison for a final interview.
When I arrived, I discovered a circus-like atmosphere outside the
prison. Teenagers carried signs saying ďBurn, Bundy, Burn,Ē and ďYouíre
Dead, Ted.Ē Also in the crowd were more than 300 reporters who had come
to get a story on the killerís last hours, but Bundy wouldnít talk to
them. He had something important to say, and he believed the media
couldnít be trusted to report it accurately. Therefore, I was invited to
bring a camera crew to record his last comments from death.
Iíll never forget that experience. I went through seven steel doors and
metal detectors so sensitive that my tie tack and the nails in my shoes
were enough to set off an alarm. Finally, I reached an inner chamber
where Bundy and I were to meet. He was brought in, strip-searched, and
then surrounded by six prison guards while he talked to me. Midway
through our conversation, the lights suddenly went dim.
Ted said, ďJust wait a moment, and they will come back on.Ē
I didnít realize until later what had happened. The prisoner knew that
his executioners were testing the electric chair that would take his
life the next morning.
Ted Bundy wanted to tell the world about pornography
What was it that Ted Bundy was so anxious to say? He felt he owed it to
society to warn of the dangers of hard-core pornography and to explain
how it had led him to murder so many innocent women and girls. With
tears in his eyes, he described the monster that took possession of him
when he had been drinking. His craze to kill was always inflamed by
violent pornography. Quoted below is an edited transcript of the
conversation that occurred just seventeen hours before Ted was led to
the electric chair.
James C. Dobson: It is about 2:30 in the afternoon. You are scheduled to
be executed tomorrow morning at 7:00, if you donít receive another stay.
What is going through your mind? What thoughts have you had in these
last few days?
Ted: I wonít kid you to say it is something I feel Iím in control of or
have come to terms with. Itís a moment-by-moment thing. Sometimes I feel
very tranquil and other times I donít feel tranquil at all. Whatís going
through my mind right now is to use the minutes and hours I have left as
fruitfully as possible. It helps to live in the moment, in the essence
that we use it productively. Right now Iím feeling calm, in large part
because Iím here with you.
JCD: For the record, you are guilty of killing many women and girls.
Ted: Yes, thatís true.
JCD: How did it happen? Take me back. What are the antecedents of the
behavior that weíve seen? You were raised in what you consider to be a
healthy home. You were not physically, sexually or emotionally abused.
Ted: No. And thatís part of the tragedy of this whole situation. I grew
up in a wonderful home with two dedicated and loving parents, as one of
5 brothers and sisters. We, as children, were the focus of my parentís
lives. We regularly attended church. My parents did not drink or smoke
or gamble. There was no physical abuse or fighting in the home. Iím not
saying it was ďLeave it to BeaverĒ, but it was a fine, solid Christian
home. I hope no one will try to take the easy way out of this and accuse
my family of contributing to this. I know, and Iím trying to tell you as
honestly as I know how, what happened.
As a young boy of 12 or 13, I encountered, outside the home, in the
local grocery and drug stores, softcore pornography. Young boys explore
the sideways and byways of their neighborhoods, and in our neighborhood,
people would dump the garbage. From time to time, we would come across
books of a harder nature - more graphic. This also included detective
magazines, etc., and I want to emphasize this. The most damaging kind of
pornography - and Iím talking from hard, real, personal experience - is
that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those
two forces - as I know only too well - brings about behavior that is too
terrible to describe.
JCD: Walk me through that. What was going on in your mind at that time?
Ted: Before we go any further, it is important to me that people believe
what Iím saying. Iím not blaming pornography. Iím not saying it caused
me to go out and do certain things. I take full responsibility for all
the things that Iíve done. Thatís not the question here. The issue is
how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and shape the
kinds of violent behavior.
JCD: It fueled your fantasies.
Ted: In the beginning, it fuels this kind of thought process. Then, at a
certain time, it is instrumental in crystallizing it, making it into
something that is almost a separate entity inside.
JCD: You had gone about as far as you could go in your own fantasy life,
with printed material, photos, videos, etc., and then there was the urge
to take that step over to a physical event.
I was a normal person. I had good friends. I led a normal life, except
for this one, small but very potent and destructive segment that I kept
very secret and close to myself.
Ted: Once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of
addiction, you look for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds
of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is
harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the
point where the pornography only goes so far - that jumping off point
where you begin to think maybe actually doing it will give you that
which is just beyond reading about it and looking at it.
JCD: How long did you stay at that point before you actually assaulted
Ted: A couple of years. I was dealing with very strong inhibitions
against criminal and violent behavior. That had been conditioned and
bred into me from my neighborhood, environment, church, and schools.
I knew it was wrong to think about it, and certainly, to do it was
wrong. I was on the edge, and the last vestiges of restraint were being
tested constantly, and assailed through the kind of fantasy life that
was fueled, largely, by pornography.
JCD: Do you remember what pushed you over that edge? Do you remember the
decision to ďgo for itĒ? Do you remember where you decided to throw
caution to the wind?
Ted: Itís a very difficult thing to describe - the sensation of reaching
that point where I knew I couldnít control it anymore. The barriers I
had learned as a child were not enough to hold me back from seeking out
and harming somebody.
JCD: Would it be accurate to call that a sexual frenzy?
Ted: Thatís one way to describe it - a compulsion, a building up of this
destructive energy. Another fact I havenít mentioned is the use of
alcohol. In conjunction with my exposure to pornography, alcohol reduced
my inhibitions and pornography eroded them further.
JCD: After you committed your first murder, what was the emotional
effect? What happened in the days after that?
Ted: Even all these years later, it is difficult to talk about. 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 horrible
trance or dream. I can only liken it to (and I donít want to
overdramatize it) being possessed by something so awful and alien, and
the next morning waking up and remembering what happened and realizing
that in the eyes of the law, and certainly in the eyes of God, youíre
responsible. To wake up in the morning and realize what I had done with
a clear mind, with all my essential moral and ethical feelings intact,
absolutely horrified me.
JCD: You hadnít known you were capable of that before?
Ted: There is no way to describe the brutal urge to do that, and once it
has been satisfied, or spent, and that energy level recedes, I became
myself again. Basically, I was a normal person.
There are those loose in their towns and communities, like me, whose
dangerous impulses are being fueled, day in and day out, by violence in
the media in its various forms - particularly sexualized violence.
Ted: I wasnít some guy hanging out in bars, or a bum. I wasnít a pervert
in the sense that people look at somebody and say, ďI know thereís
something wrong with him.Ē I was a normal person. I had good friends. I
led a normal life, except for this one, small but very potent and
destructive segment that I kept very secret and close to myself. Those
of us who have been so influenced by violence in the media, particularly
pornographic violence, are not some kind of inherent monsters. We are
your sons and husbands. We grew up in regular families. Pornography can
reach in and snatch a kid out of any house today. It snatched me out of
my home 20 or 30 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, there is no protection against the kinds of influences that
are loose in a society that tolerates....
JCD: Outside these walls, there are several hundred reporters that
wanted to talk to you, and you asked me to come because you had
something you wanted to say. You feel that hardcore pornography, and the
door to it, softcore pornography, is doing untold damage to other people
and causing other women to be abused and killed the way you did.
Ted: Iím no social scientist, and I donít pretend to believe what John
Q. Citizen thinks about this, but Iíve lived in prison for a long time
now, and Iíve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence.
Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography
- deeply consumed by the addiction. The F.B.I.ís own study on serial
homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is
pornographers. Itís true.
JCD: What would your life have been like without that influence?
Ted: I know it would have been far better, not just for me, but for a
lot of other people - victims and families. Thereís no question that it
would have been a better life. Iím absolutely certain it would not have
involved this kind of violence.
JCD: If I were able to ask the kind of questions that are being asked,
one would be, ďAre you thinking about all those victims and their
families that are so wounded? Years later, their lives arenít normal.
They will never be normal. Is there remorse?Ē
Ted: I know people will accuse me of being self-serving, but through
Godís help, I have been able to come to the point, much too late, where
I can feel the hurt and the pain I am responsible for. Yes. Absolutely!
During the past few days, myself and a number of investigators have been
talking about unsolved cases - murders I was involved in. Itís hard to
talk about all these years later, because it revives all the terrible
feelings and thoughts that I have steadfastly and diligently dealt with
- I think successfully. It has been reopened and I have felt the pain
and the horror of that.
I hope that those who I have caused so much grief, even if they donít
believe my expression of sorrow, will believe what Iím saying now; there
are those loose in their towns and communities, like me, whose dangerous
impulses are being fueled, day in and day out, by violence in the media
in its various forms - particularly sexualized violence. What scares me
is when I see whatís on cable T.V. Some of the violence in the movies
that come into homes today is stuff they wouldnít show in X-rated adult
theatres 30 years ago.
JCD: The slasher movies?
Ted: That is the most graphic violence on screen, especially when
children are unattended or unaware that they could be a Ted Bundy; that
they could have a predisposition to that kind of behavior.
JCD: One of the final murders you committed was 12-year-old Kimberly
Leach. I think the public outcry is greater there because an innocent
child was taken from a playground. What did you feel after that? Were
they the normal emotions after that?
Ted: I canít really talk about that right now. Itís too painful. I would
like to be able to convey to you what that experience is like, but I
wonít be able to talk about that. I canít begin to understand the pain
that the parents of these children and young women that I have harmed
feel. And I canít restore much to them, if anything. I wonít pretend to,
and I donít even expect them to forgive me. Iím not asking for it. That
kind of forgiveness is of God; if they have it, they have it, and if
they donít, maybe theyíll find it someday.
JCD: Do you deserve the punishment the state has inflicted upon you?
Ted: Thatís a very good question. I donít want to die; I wonít kid you.
I deserve, certainly, the most extreme punishment society has. And I
think society deserves to be protected from me and from others like me.
Thatís for sure. What I hope will come of our discussion is that I think
society deserves to be protected from itself. As we have been talking,
there are forces at loose in this country, especially this kind of
violent pornography, where, on one hand, well-meaning people will
condemn the behavior of a Ted Bundy while theyíre walking past a
magazine rack full of the very kinds of things that send young kids down
the road to being Ted Bundys. Thatís the irony.
Iím talking about going beyond retribution, which is what people want
with me. 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 there are lots of other kids playing in streets around the
country today who are going to be dead tomorrow, and the next day,
because other young people are reading and seeing the kinds of things
that are available in the media today.
JCD: There is tremendous cynicism about you on the outside, I suppose,
for good reason. Iím not sure thereís anything you could say that people
would believe, yet you told me (and I have heard this through our mutual
friend, John Tanner) that you have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus
Christ and are a follower and believer in Him. Do you draw strength from
that as you approach these final hours?
Ted: I do. I canít say that being in the Valley of the Shadow of Death
is something Iíve become all that accustomed to, and that Iím strong and
nothingís bothering me. Itís no fun. It gets kind of lonely, yet I have
to remind myself that every one of us will go through this someday in
one way or another.
JCD: Itís appointed unto man.
Ted: Countless millions who have walked this earth before us have gone
through this, so this is just an experience we all share.
Ted Bundy was executed at 7:15 am the day after this conversation was