AP Was There: Exclusive interview with serial killer
EDITOR’S NOTE — On July 24, 1979, serial killer Ted Bundy was convicted by a jury in Miami of the murder of two sorority sisters in a rampage a year earlier. Three days later, Associated Press reporter Dan Sewell sat down with Bundy in the Dade County Jail for an exclusive interview. The AP is republishing Sewell’s story as the 30th anniversary of his execution is marked by a new Netflix documentary series on the killer (available now) and last month’s premiere of a biopic about Bundy — played by Zac Efron —at the Sundance Film Festival.
Killer confident after conviction
July 27, 1979
By DAN SEWELL
MIAMI (AP) — Theodore R. Bundy, unshaven but relaxed and self-confident, said Friday he was shaken by his conviction in the murder of two sorority sisters but it’s “only the beginning of a long battle.”
“I was surprised and I was disappointed. I was prepared for the guilty verdict, but this is going to create a lot of headaches ... a lot of appeals,” Bundy said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
It was the first time Bundy had been interviewed since his conviction Tuesday night in the savage slayings of two Florida State University coeds and brutal beatings of three others.
“I know I’m innocent, certainly the verdict hasn’t changed my mind about that. I’m innocent, and that’s what’s going to keep me going through all this,” Bundy said at the Dade County jail.
He grinned, saying, “I haven’t lost any sleep about the verdict. I’m not trying to sound callous ... I’m very confident we have a good appeal.”
Bundy, 32, repeated his prediction that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if he gets the death penalty. The same jury that convicted him after a 4 1/2 -week trial will hear testimony Saturday and Monday before recommending life in prison or death. The judge is not bound by the jury’s recommendation.
“I’ve gone through this experience now ... for 12 months. I guess that qualifies me as a veteran,” Bundy said. “I’m physically exhausted ... For the past couple of days, I’ve just been sleeping -- 10 to 12 hours a day. I’m still recovering.”
Bundy, a one-time law student, took a strong role in his own defense. “I worked hard ... I was sleeping four hours a night,” he said.
He said he’s been helping his court-appointed attorneys get ready to face Judge Edward Cowart and the jury for the sentencing.
Asked what he expected from Cowart, Bundy said, “I would be kind of stupid to tell the judge what I expect of him because it might raise his hackles to the point that he would decide to do it.”
Only a majority vote by the 12-member jury is needed for its recommendation. But no matter what the jury decides, the judge has the final decision on life or death for Bundy. Cowart, 54, has three times sentenced men to death, once over a jury’s recommendation of leniency.
Bundy has been surrounded by publicity for two years, since the FBI said the Tacoma, Wash., resident was wanted for questioning in 36 sex-related murders around the country.
Bundy has been indicted in the murder of a nurse in Colorado and a 12-year-old girl in Lake City, Fla., and was convicted of kidnapping in Utah. His conviction Tuesday was for the murder of Chi Omega sorority residents Lisa Levy, 20, and Margaret Bowman, 21.
He has not been charged in any of the other cases cited by the FBI.
Because of the publicity, Bundy said the defense chose the jury carefully and “we thought we had an untainted jury.”
“I’m at a loss for words to guess what it was that caused them to return a verdict so quickly,” he said of the 6 1/2 hours of deliberations. “I don’t know what persuaded them to act so swiftly. I don’t know what they were paying attention to.”
Bundy said he felt “the most serious omission that we made was not developing the photographic evidence.”
Prosecution testimony from dental experts involved impressions of teeth marks found on Miss Levy’s breast and buttocks. Experts said the marks matched Bundy’s teeth.
Bundy has claimed that photos taken of him after his 1977 arrest in Pensacola, Fla., show his teeth were not chipped at that time. He said he chipped his teeth after the arrest. Photos have been subpoenaed from the Pensacola News-Journal.