One Lawman's Unsettling Memories of Charming Serial Killer Ted Bundy

Law enforcement agencies frequently share wanted posters via social media — so the recent presence of one on the Morgan County Sheriff's Office Facebook page doesn't qualify as a surprise.

But the man at the center of it certainly did.

The person seen in multiple images on the graphic, on view below in its entirety, is Ted Bundy, among the most notorious and prolific serial killers of the past half-century, he's thought to have killed at least thirty women in Colorado and elsewhere, and the actual number could be considerably higher.

Even though Bundy had a knack for slipping away from authorities, there's no reason to worry about him being on the loose. He was put to death in Florida's electric chair in January 1989.

Why, then, did the sheriff's office display the poster? Morgan County Sheriff Jim Crone sees it as a historical artifact that gave him the opportunity to share a cautionary tale.

According to Crone, he recently stumbled upon the item among some old papers and recalled the strange way it came into his possession. The poster — which Crone says originated in Colorado rather than from the FBI or any of the other states in which the killer plied his deadly trade — was given to him back in 1977. At the time, Bundy had been recaptured after he escaped from an Aspen courthouse by jumping from a second-story window.

Bundy was subsequently housed in the Garfield County Jail, and after Crone looked in on the prisoner, who gave him a jaunty smile and wave (he was known for his charm, which he put to lethal purposes), a deputy gave the young lawman the wanted poster as a souvenir.

"We don't need it anymore," Crone remembers the deputy saying. "We got him."

Not for long. Bundy escaped again shortly thereafter, prompting the production of many more wanted posters until he was arrested in Florida circa early 1978. While he was on the loose, he attacked and/or killed several more victims.

Below, see Crone's account of his encounter with Bundy, which concludes with his reminder that "stranger danger" is far less common than violence associated with acquaintances. That's followed by the complete poster.

He was probably the ultimate "stranger danger" in modern history. Ted Bundy savagely murdered dozens of women (including children) across the U.S., some of them in Colorado, in the 1970's and 80's.

I saw this wanted poster of Bundy the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, while Bundy was in custody there, in December of 1977. Another deputy and I were there to pick up a prisoner to take back to Morgan.

Bundy had been jailed in Pitkin County for a murder committed there, but he was suspected of several others. He escaped from the the old jail at the courthouse in Aspen (actually got to see from where a couple of years ago) and was caught a few days later where he was housed in the more secure facility in Glenwood Springs.

When I commented on this wanted poster a deputy showed me the cell where Bundy was housed, as we walked through the jail to get our guy. I peeked in the window of his cell and there sat Bundy, on his bunk, pecking away on a typewriter (he was probably a better attorney than most of the people who represented him over the years).

Bundy looked up, smiled and gave me a wave. The deputy gave me the poster when we were leaving since they didn't need it anymore. Bad karma. Bundy escaped from the Garfield County Jail a couple of days later.

Unfortunately Bundy carried on his rampage of rapes and murders over the next few years before he was finally captured in Florida, tried for some of his crimes there, and ultimately executed in the electric chair.

As I studied the behaviors of violent offenders over the years, Bundy came up often. He was not just an accomplished savage rapist and murderer, he was smart and more cunning than the vast majority of offenders out there.

As brutal and violent as Bundy was, there are hundreds...yes, HUNDREDS...more like the United States. And though these people are the ones that pop up in movies and in our nightmares, I have to remind people, unfortunately, but as realistic as it is, we are far more likely to be victimized by those we know, and trust. Not by a good-looking charming guy with their arm in a cast.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts