As much as we may hate to admit it, we are all secretly fascinated, to some extent, by murder documentaries, whether it’s to find out how and why they did it, how they got away with it for as long as they did, or even how they eventually slipped up. In this sense, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is a murder documentary enthusiast’s dream, the four-part Netflix documentary exploring the crimes committed by the infamous serial killer in America during the 1970s, his kill count amounting to over thirty women before he died by the electric chair in January 1989.
“Much of the narration [is] Bundy’s own words as he essentially psychoanalyses his own murders, yet never actually confesses”
The documentary is comprised of a variety of resources relating to the case. Photos of Bundy, and of his victims, along with television news broadcasts reporting on the string of murders, made up the resources from the time, while interviews with those involved with Bundy, comprised the recent resources used to craft the documentary.
These interviews were with various people, including the likes of Al Carlisle, a psychologist tasked with examining Bundy, Michael Minerva, one of Bundy’s defence lawyers, and even Bundy survivor, Carol Daronch, who managed to escape Bundy’s car after being kidnapped. The tapes referred to by the title of the documentary are those recorded by journalist Stephen Michaud, who Bundy requested meetings with while on death row in the hopes that he would be able to tell his side of the story. These tapes provide an additional voice over to the documentary, much of the narration in Bundy’s own words as he essentially psychoanalyses his own murders, yet never actually confesses.
“It is believed that the remains of several of the young women are yet to be discovered, even now”
The main subject of the documentary is obviously the murders Bundy committed, the number of which he astonishingly had to guess, although his first was University of Washington student, Lynda Ann Healy, and his last was twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach. All the murders followed the same sort of pattern; the bodies actually found were badly beaten and showed signs of having been sexually molested, although it is believed that the remains of several of the young women are yet to be discovered, even now.
“He planned an, unbelievably, successful escape from the courthouse, running away for six days before returning to custody”
The various trials of Bundy also play a major role in the documentary. For example, Bundy was tried in Utah for the attempted kidnapping of Bundy survivor, Carol Daronch, leading to him being found guilty. It was in prison that Bundy was arrested again for the murder of Caryn Campbell in Colorado, and transported there, where he planned an, unbelievably, successful escape from the courthouse, running away for six days before returning to custody.
Yet this was not the only time Bundy escaped, later escaping for a total of forty-six days, during which he committed further murders before finally being arrested in Florida. These murders included those of two girls from the Chi Omega sorority in Florida, Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy. On these bodies, bitemarks were found, which served as the most incriminating evidence against Bundy at the Chi Omega trial in 1979, which led to him being sentenced to the electric chair. This makes way for the last episode of the documentary to explore his time on death row.
“Viewers come to realise the extent to which Bundy truly was an evil genius”
The documentary is extremely informative, with over four hours of material supplied through interviews, tapes recordings and other resources. It could, therefore, be considered quite a heavy watch with a lot of people to keep track of, but it is a documentary, and Bundy did kill a lot of women. It also must be said that all the information supplied is extremely interesting, as viewers come to realise the extent to which Bundy truly was an evil genius. The documentary certainly makes way for the highly anticipated film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, starring Zac Efron, which is to be released in cinemas later this year.
Featured Image courtesy of RadicalMedia and Netflix via IMDb.