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Death Row Inmates Had Mixed Feelings About Bundy

January 28, 1989 GMT

STARKE, Fla. (AP) _ Ted Bundy was well-liked by many fellow death row inmates, but some believed that his death might paradoxically be a good thing for them, two of Bundy’s former inmate neighbors say.

James Doug McCray, who has been on death row for 14 years, said some Florida State Prison inmates expressed hope that Bundy’s death last Tuesday would satisfy a public desire for executions and cause support for the death penalty to recede.

″I think over the years with the ‘Kill Bundy’ syndrome, I think what has developed on death row is sturday.

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Another inmate once housed next to Bundy, Michael Bruno, said there were varied opinions about Bundy’s fate.

″A lot of people didn’t like him. A lot of people thought he was all right,″ said Bruno, who has been on death row since October 1987. ″Really, when it comes to sex crimes - toward women and children - it’s not looked good upon by other inmates.″

Bundy, 42, was executed for the February 1978 murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach of Lake City. He was also sentenced to death for two other murders in Florida, and authorities say he confessed in his last week to more than 20 murders in other states. In all, Bundy is a suspect in more than 100 murders and disappearances.

Both Bruno and McCray said they liked Bundy and enjoyed living in cells next to him. McCray said he lived next to Bundy for about two years. Bruno said he was housed next to Bundy for six months.

Bruno, 37, said he and Bundy would play handball together in the prison exercise yard, and Bundy always was respectful to Bruno’s relatives when they came to visit.

Although the inmates never discussed Bundy’s cases with him, McCray and Bruno said they were surprised to hear him confess to being a killer during an interview taped shortly before his execution. By that time, Bundy had been moved to another area of the prison.

″I find it hard to believe - it’s not the same Ted Bundy,″ Bruno said. ″Even when he started confessing to all these things, I couldn’t believe it.″

McCray, 39, who was sentenced for the rape and murder of a 64-year-old woman in 1973, said he would talk into the early hours of the morning with Bundy and found him to be witty and bright rather than the killer he confessed to be in his final days.

″The Ted Bundy I knew here at FSP (Florida State Prison) for 11 years was not that person that committed those crimes,″ McCray said. ″I never viewed Ted as a seething psychopath.″

Bundy, who once attended law school and worked for the Republican Party in Washington state, was sometimes harassed verbally by other inmates, many of whom are black and poor, McCray said.

″Black men viewed Ted as being a disciple of the system, the very system which we are fighting, because he had grown up with all of the advantages,″ McCray said. ″Therefore, a grotesque form of resentment occurred.″