Here’s Exactly What Happened To Ted Bundy In The Electric Chair

Here’s Exactly What Happened To Ted Bundy In The Electric Chair


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  • Ted Bundy was executed via electric chair on January 24, 1989.

  • The infamous serial killer, who murdered more than 30 women, was sentenced to capital punishment in Florida State Prison.

  • Ted Bundy had been given the death penalty three times before he was finally executed.

Ted Bundy was one of the most notorious serial killers in history. He murdered more than 30 women between the years of 1974 and 1978, according to Biography.

In 1989, The 42-year-old "lady killer" was sentenced to capital punishment—a.k.a. the death penalty—in Florida after confessing to his murders. (And it wasn't even the first time: Bundy had been sentenced to death three times before he was finally executed.)

When the time came, Bundy died by electrocution after less than two minutes in the electric chair, Tim Swarens, a reporter who witnessed the execution, reported to The Daily Beast. The famed electric chair would be the last thing Bundy touched during his life, but it wouldn't be the last the world would hear from him.

On the 30th anniversary of Ted Bundy's death, Netflix released its docuseries, Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, and also dropped Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, which focuses on Bundy’s life and crimes, as told from his girlfriend’s perspective. The film, which stars Zac Efron as Ted Bundy and Lily Collins as his girlfriend Liz Kendall, provides a dramatized take on the real-life events and sparked a posthumous pop culture phenomenon.

Now, with Netflix’s recent release of two new Jeffrey Dahmer (another notorious serial killer) series, discussions about Bundy and his death have started circulating on the internet and social media platforms once again.

Here’s everything we know about the killer’s final few moments. The full story is pretty disturbing, so buckle up for this next part.

How was Ted Bundy caught?

Ted Bundy was caught in Florida in February of 1978 after a Pensacola police officer thought his car looked suspicious. The officer discovered stolen plates, along with a stolen license, and arrested the serial killer, per ABC News.

Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images

The arrest took place after the Chi Omega sorority house murders, and his murder of a 12-year-old girl, according to ABC News.

How did he die?

Ted Bundy died by electric chair on January 24, 1989.

"Ted Bundy jerked back, appearing startled, when he first saw the electric chair inside the execution chamber at the Florida State Prison," Swarens wrote in The Daily Beast 30 years later. "I watched, along with 41 other witnesses, as one of America’s most notorious serial killers was strapped into the wooden chair, known by the macabre nickname of 'Old Sparky.'"

In a book by crime writer Ann Rule, The Stranger Beside Me: The True Crime Story of Ted Bundy, Dr. Clark Hoshall, who was also present during Bundy’s death, recalled: "Bundy was uneasy and failed to keep eye contact before his death. A leather strap extended from below the right side of the lower jaw diagonally across his face and was secured tightly above the left ear. The head strap compressed the nose laterally and squeezed Bundy’s left eyelids together. His right eye was open and looking straight forward."

In Swarens' description, a metal cap was also placed on Bundy's head, and his face was covered with a black, leather veil. No one then could see Bundy's face when the prison superintendent Tom Barton spoke briefly on the phone with Gov. Bob Martinez. After the phone call, Swarens recalled, "Barton then nodded to a black-hooded executioner standing behind a partition."

The anonymous executioner pushed a button. "Bundy’s head jerked as 2,000 volts hit him. His body stiffened and pressed against the chair back," Swarens wrote.

After less than two minutes, the executioner turned off the electric current. All that was left of Ted Bundy was a "body slumped against the leather straps."

He was pronounced dead at 7:16 a.m. after a paramedic checked for a heartbeat, per The LA Times.

Were there photos of his body?

Yes, there were photos of Ted Bundy's body after the execution that have been re-circulating on the Internet and on social media platforms.

What was Bundy’s final meal before facing the electric chair?

The night before his death, Bundy called his mother twice but refused to pick a final meal.

In fact, he barely touched the standard steak, eggs, hash browns, and toast that he was served, per All That’s Interesting. So, Bundy died with an empty stomach.

What were Bundy's last words?

According to Swarens, as the electric chair was being prepared for Bundy, he "peered through a Plexiglas window at the witnesses who faced him" and said, "It’s all right." Then, at 7:05 a.m., Bundy was asked if he had any last words. Looking at his attorney, Jim Coleman, and a Methodist pastor, Fred Lawrence, he said, "Jim and Fred, I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends."

What happened to Bundy’s body after his death?

After Ted Bundy’s execution, his brain was removed from his body to study. Scientists hoped they’d find an abnormality to explain his violent behaviors, but nothing was detected, per All That’s Interesting.

The rest of his body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered throughout the Cascade Mountains in Washington, as Bundy requested. This is the same location where he discarded at least four of his victims, the same source reported.

Should Bundy be remembered?

Some, including Swarens, don't believe that someone like Ted Bundy, who could commit such heinous crimes, deserves to be remembered. Others, however, think you can always learn something valuable from the darkest moments in history.

In response to this criticism, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile's director Joe Berlinger said in a previous statement to Buzzfeed News that the film "is a serious portrait of how Bundy deceived the people closest to him and his manipulation of the American media allowed him to flourish and evade detection and capture for so long." He also made clear that "our film in no way glorifies Bundy or his atrocious acts."

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