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Bundy’s Final Confessions: Gamble Or Sincere?

January 24, 1990 GMT

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ The motive behind a series of final-hour confessions by serial killer Ted Bundy remains a mystery today, the first anniversary of his death in Florida’s electric chair.

Homicide investigators still question whether Bundy’s confessions in 23 killings in Washington state, Idaho, Utah and Colorado shortly before his execution were merely a desperate gamble to prolong his life.

An investigator with the attorney general’s office in Washington said Bundy was trying to ″save his neck″ by exchanging information for time.

″He had two things in mind. One was to get law enforcement to intervene with the governor by saying he’d been cooperative and we need more time and the other was to play on the sympathies of the victims’ relatives to have them contact the governor and speak on his behalf,″ said Bob Keppel, who interviewed Bundy in the days before the execution.

But Dennis Couch, a Utah investigator, said by the time he talked with Bundy 36 hours before the execution, the serial killer ″looked like a whipped puppy.

″I had the feeling that he knew he was defeated and it was the end of the line,″ said Couch, of Salt Lake County. ″I felt at the time that he was sincere in trying to find the bodies for the families.″

In the end, the confessions won the former law-school student no extra time.

He was strapped into electric chair on Jan. 24, 1989, for the 1978 kidnaping, rape and murder of a 12-year-old Lake County girl. Her body was found in an abandoned pigsty. He also was condemned for the slaying of two young women in a sorority in Tallahassee.

Diana Weiner, an attorney who arranged the final interviews with investigators, said the day before his death Bundy filed a written request for a 30- to 60-day extension with the governor’s office. He had offered to fully answer questions of investigators and be examined by doctors and psychiatrists in hopes they could better understand his behavior, Weiner said.

″He wanted to die having left a more full understanding with the public of what the underlying factors were in his behavior so that we as a society ... would be able to take steps to prevent the kind of behavior he committed,″ she said.

Gov. Bob Martinez, who signed the death warrant Jan. 19, did not respond to the request.

Investigators in Idaho, Washington and Utah said the information given by Bundy in his final days has not led them to any more bodies but helped tie Bundy to killings and disappearances.

″I think he just confirmed what circumstantial evidence we in the state of Washington assumed all along - that he was the killer. We did not find any remains,″ Keppel said.

Keppel said Bundy admitted to 11 slayings in Washington, but they had only tied him to eight.

Bundy also told Utah authorities where he left three bodies.

″I wish we could have found something - some kind of remains of some bodies. That’s the frustrating part about the whole thing. I had a lot of hope there,″ Couch said.

Jim Whitehead, chief of the Idaho Bureau of Investigation, said Bundy confirmed the slaying of a 12-year-old Pocatello girl, who authorities had suspected he had killed. Bundy also told officers about the slaying of a hitchhiker near Boise. No bodies were found.

He also confessed to killings in Colorado.

The FBI is working with local law enforcement agencies to try to develop a time line by tracking Bundy’s travels using credit card receipts, arrest records and other documents.

Bill Hagmaier, supervisory agent for the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime in Quantico, Va., said the profile and time line should be completed in two months.

Hagmaier, who sat in on all the final law enforcement interviews, said Bundy gave information until minutes before his death. He confessed to 23 killings and gave information that authorities said might link him to other cases.

″The bottom line was, he said, ’I did it because I enjoyed doing it and I wanted to do it,‴ Hagmaier said of Bundy’s motives for the killings.

″If there were two things that Bundy did in 10 years he spent on death row - one was try to understand himself and others like him and the other was to trying to prolong his life,″ he said. ″He was a student of his own behavior.″