Ted Bundy: Early years and beginning of serial killer's sadistic behavior

He was born on Nov. 24, 1947, and would become one of the most infamous, serial killers of all time. Theodore "Ted" Bundy, would forever be known as a name associated with fear, terror and the hatred of women. But what happened to turn an innocent, newborn child into a sadistic killer? Were there signs in Ted Bundy's early years of the horrors that were to come?

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

News Footage: Ted Bundy Archives
His mother, Eleanor "Louise" Cowell Bundy, was unwed and pregnant in the 40s. She gave birth to Theodore Robert Cowell in Burlington, Vermont, while living at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers. While Ted Bundy's birth certificate originally listed a man named Lloyd Marshal as his father, his biological father's identity has yet to be verified. There are numerous rumors that circulate Bundy's parentage, including the possibility his mother's father (maternal grandfather) could be his father and that he was the product of incest. While it is unclear who Ted Bundy's father was, what is certain is his childhood included a great deal of uncertainty.

After Ted's birth, Louise Cowell returned to her parent's, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell's, house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her parents assumed the role of Ted Bundy's mother and father, and Louise was delegated the role of sister. One can only imagine how strange this situation was for Louise, but could it have resulted in the raising of a man hating, sadistic serial killer? After all, Louise moved away from the home with Ted when he was only four-years-old. Many single mothers live at home with their child for the first early years and move away. If that was what it took to create a serial killer, there'd be undoubtedly many more horrific cases of murder and mayhem.

So what did happen in Bundy's early life that set him on such a terrifying path? What caused Bundy to become the evil monster that murdered more than 30 women in cold blood?

According to Ann Rule's book The Stranger Beside Me Louise Cowell moved to Tacoma, Washington, to stay with family  members and begin a new life for herself and Ted. She legally changed Ted's last name to "Nelson," apparently to keep others from thinking he was illegitimate. It was in Tacoma, Washington, that she met and fell in love with Johnnie Culpepper Bundy. The two married on May 19, 1951, and the couple would have four children together.

According to the book The Only Living Witness, the turmoil that surrounded Ted's early years, the questioning regarding his parents, and the move away from his grandparents in Philadelphia, contributed to the psychopathy the young boy would later display.

On page 56 in the book below, there is a passage that refers to the Bundy's family suspicion that Ted Bundy's father may have been his maternal grandfather. Referring to the story Louise Cowell told regarding Ted's father, it reads, "Much later, family members would express open doubts about this story, directing a defense psychiatrist's attention to Louise's violent, possibly deranged, father Samuel Cowell."

The Many Faces of Ted Bundy (11/24/47-01/24/89)