By the end of Ted Bundy’s notorious crime spree throughout the 1970s, his victims numbered over 30 — and that’s just the crimes he confessed to or could be conclusively linked to. America’s most infamous serial killer is getting the true crime biopic treatment in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, with Zac Efron portraying Bundy. Along with Netflix’s true crime docuseries Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, these new pop culture phenoms are forcing us to look again at this murderer — and to question why we keep coming back to his story.
Fortunately, his story does have an expected conclusion. After multiple trials and convictions, Bundy was finally sentenced to death for some of his murders in Florida. Technically, he was given three death sentences for three separate crimes, but the one that legally led to his actual execution was handed down on February 10, 1980, as his sentence for the abduction and murder of Kimberly Leach. Bundy then spent the next nine years on death row. He spent significant time there being interviewed, where he discussed his crimes and personal feelings about them; recordings of these conversations formed the basis of the Netflix miniseries.
Bundy’s actual execution got tied up in the courts for years. The appellate court stayed his execution in order to review the original case on several technicalities. If not for that, he would have been executed in 1986. Ultimately, though, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Bundy, the Supreme Court declined to review the case, and a new execution date was set: January 24, 1989. Bundy attempted a plea for clemency, but it was rejected. The morning of his scheduled execution date, he was put to death by electric chair; across the street from the prison, hundreds of revelers celebrated his demise. He was cremated and his ashes scattered somewhere in the Cascade Mountains, as per his wishes. After taking so many lives, the final death Bundy’s crimes caused was his own.