Theodore Robert Bundy, one of America's most notorious serial killers, was
put to death in Florida's electric chair yesterday as 17 witnesses watched
from less than 10 feet away.
Bundy, 42, was pronounced dead at 7:16 a.m., after being electrocuted by a
2,000-volt charge that witnesses said lasted about one minute.
"He was calm, but was visibly shaken," said Randy Mackey, a state representative who said Bundy also looked him in the eye and nodded.
Bundy was strapped into the electric chair at 7:04 a.m. A metal cap with wires coming out of it was placed on his shaved head, and the right leg of his dark blue trousers was rolled up to allow officials to hook up metal straps.
Tom Barton, superintendent of the Florida State Prison, asked Bundy if he had any last words. The killer hesitated. His voice quavered. "Jim and Fred, I'd like you to give my love to my family and friends," he said.
Jim Coleman, one of his lawyers, nodded. So did Fred Lawrence of Gainesville, Fla., a Methodist minister who had spent the night with Bundy in prayer.
Barton placed a final call to Gov. Bob Martinez to check for any last- minute stays. There were none.
After speaking with Martinez briefly, Barton nodded to an anonymous executioner who flipped the death switch.
Witnesses said Bundy's fists clenched while the electricity bolted through his body. Then he fell limp.
After the one-minute charge of power, two prison doctors checked Bundy's pulse, flashed a small light into his eyes, listened for a heart beat and pronounced him dead.
Bundy was executed for the 1978 murder of Kimberly Diane Leach, a 12-year- old from Lake City, Fla. Her body was found in a pigsty months after her abduction. He was also convicted and sentenced to death for the 1978 murders of two Chi Omega sorority sisters at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
But he has confessed to at least 30 other slayings across the country.
Jim Sewell, chief of police in Gulfport, Fla., said Bundy was submissive during his last minutes of life.
"I was thinking that Ted was no longer in control. He was being controlled. The Ted Bundy who was always confident and manipulated the
criminal system was no longer doing that. That was the first time I'd seen that," said Sewell, who investigated the Leach case and the Chi Omega sorority murders.
Sewell was one of 17 witnesses. Twelve were law enforcement officials or politicians from Florida; the remainder were journalists.
In a videotaped interview released late yesterday, Bundy described how his
violent sexual fantasies had been heightened by hard-core pornography.
In an hour-long interview Monday with James Dobson, a religious psychiatrist who served on a federal anti-pornography commission, Bundy said that scenes of sexual violence in pornographic magazines crystallized his youthful fantasies and he soon became addicted to violent pornography. But over a period of time, pornography no longer satisfied him, and he began wondering what it would be like to carry out his urges.
"You keep craving something that is harder . . . something which gives you a greater sense of excitement," he said on the videotape. He said finally, ''I couldn't hold back anymore."
Outside the prison, about 250 spectators gathered in a field across the street. Separated by prison officials, more than 200 proponents of the death penalty stood in one fenced-in portion of the field, adjacent to about two dozen death-penalty protesters.
The protesters quietly held up signs saying, "Why do we kill people to show that killing is wrong?" and "All life is sacred." Minutes before the scheduled execution, they lit candles and said prayers.
Their counterparts were boisterous, chanting, "Fry Ted," singing songs and cheering.
One man drove up in a pickup truck that had a mannequin strapped into a wooden chair on the truck bed. The mannequin had a hubcap on its head and jumper cables attached to its wrists.
"I did this because of all the notoriety Bundy's been getting. Nobody has given attention to the girls. Nobody knows the names of those dead girls scattered all over the country. I did it in respect to them," said Bob Reeves, 43, who lives in nearby Gainesville.
Until about 15 minutes before the execution, the Rev. Cain Turner of Gainesville was the only death penalty opponent standing on the far side of the field.
In the last few days of his life, Bundy spent hours in confession with investigators from four states and a specialist on serial killers from the FBI. When it was over, the FBI's Bill Hagmeier spoke with State Attorney Jerry Blair about Bundy's final toll.
In addition to the three Florida murders, Bundy confessed to 13 killings in Washington state, Utah and Colorado, Blair said. Bundy provided information that may never be confirmed on 14 more cases - in Washington, Idaho, California, Utah and Vermont.
"They can conclusively tie Bundy with 16 homicides, and there's another 20 where he was the most probable suspect," said Blair. All the cases involved young women.
But none of the cases was in Philadelphia, according to Polly J. Nelson, one of three attorneys who represented Bundy. Nelson said yesterday that Bundy told a psychiatrist on the eve of his execution that he had not committed any murders in the Philadelphia area.
Speculation about a Philadelphia connection arose after Art Norman, a forensic psychologist in Portland, Ore., who conducted extensive interviews with Bundy, stated that Bundy had told him of committing murders in the Philadelphia area.
Norman, who worked on Bundy's appeals at Florida State Prison in 1986 and 1987, said the serial killer told him that the murders occurred around the time he was attending Temple University - from January to May of 1969.
However, Nelson said in a telephone interview she did not believe there was any foundation to the reports.
"It's not true," Nelson said. "We had our psychiatrist there yesterday (Monday), and he (Bundy) spoke for some time with him. He has not revealed anything about Philadelphia. He was there at Temple but he mentioned no murders."
Nelson said yesterday that Norman had last seen Bundy about two years ago - during a period when Bundy talked about himself in the third person, exaggerated what he had done and threw in misleading details.
"In the last few days, though, he was thorough and honest, as much as he could be, as far as I can tell," Nelson said. "Yesterday (Monday) he was asked by our psychiatrist about Philadelphia. And he said it wasn't true."
Bundy's body was taken away from the prison in a white hearse. Prison officials said it would go to a funeral home in Gainesville, where a medical examiner would write a death certificate. Gene Williams, director of the Williams-Thomas Funeral Home, would not disclose the funeral arrangements for Bundy.
Bundy had been on Florida's death row for 10 years for both the Leach murder and the Chi Omega slayings. His execution was the 20th performed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.