Six years with a serial killer: The story of the woman who dated Ted Bundy
Is it possible to fall in love with a serial killer? That’s the question posed by Elizabeth Kloepfer’s six-year relationship with Ted Bundy, which coincided with his brutal killing spree across a number of US states.
Bundy confessed to the killings of 30 women and girls between 1974 and 1978 but he was also a suspect in a number of other cases. His long-term relationship with Kloepfer is the focus of a new film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, which is now streaming on NOW TV and showing in Irish cinemas.
The film is based on Kloepfer’s biography, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, which tells the story from her perspective.
Meeting Ted Bundy
Kloepfer first met Bundy in a bar in 1969. The recently-divorced college graduate had just moved from Utah to Seattle with her two-year-old daughter, Tina. She was working as a secretary while Bundy was a psychology graduate who planned to go to law school.
“The chemistry between us was incredible,” she later revealed in her book. They danced, drank, laughed and went back to Kloepfer’s place that night. It was to be the start of a volatile but long-lasting relationship.
Bundy started spending most nights at Kloepfer’s place. He would often drive her to work and drop Tina to school in the mornings. They soon started to resemble the traditional family unit that Kloepfer badly craved.
“At last,” she later wrote. “I finally did something right.”
The couple would soon fall into a cycle of jealousies, fights and reconciliations but they constantly gravitated back to each other. She seemed incapable of breaking free of Bundy’s orbit, even as she started to understand his true nature.
The monster beneath
“I can count on two fingers the times that Ted threatened me or was the least bit violent to me,” Kloepfer later revealed.
The American public also found it hard to imagine that Ted Bundy was capable of his crimes when he went on trial. This educated, handsome charmer didn’t seem like a monster who could rape, abuse and kill innocent young women.
Bundy often stole things and behaved erratically but Kloepfer never imagined that he would be involved in the disappearance of a growing number of women in the Seattle area. However, there were some red flags during their time together.
In her book, Kloepfer recalls going rafting together on Yamina River, where the water was “so cold it hurt.” Bundy suddenly shoved her into the icy water and didn’t move or speak as she clung to a rope at the edge of the raft. His face remained blank and expressionless as she struggled to climb back in without any help. He later dismissed it as a joke.
Kloepfer’s suspicions were first aroused when she saw a police sketch of the main suspect in the disappearance of Denise Naslund and Janice Ott. The sketch closely resembled her boyfriend, the suspect drove a Volkswagen like Bundy’s, and witnesses said he introduced himself as Ted.
Witnesses also reported that this “Ted” wore a cast and Kloepfer remembered finding some plaster of Paris in one of Bundy’s drawers.
She soon started to question other objects she found in his possession, like a hatchet under his car seat. A suspect in another case used crutches and she recalled seeing crutches in Bundy’s place. Kloepfer also found a surgical glove in his pocket and a meat cleaver in his home. Then there was his tendency to disappear or to take sudden, long distance trips.
Doubts crept into her mind. Bundy always had an answer but she couldn’t shake off a “dreadful feeling” that he was involved.
Kloepfer went to police with her nagging doubts in 1974, while the killings were still happening. The police told her that they’d already eliminated Bundy as a suspect.
When Bundy moved from Seattle to Utah for college, the couple drifted apart but stayed in touch. When women started to go missing in Utah, Kloepfer’s suspicions were reinforced and she contacted the police again in 1975. Initially, they dismissed her once again.
The chilling untold story from the perspective of Ted Bundy's long-term girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer Zac Efron & Lily Collins in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil & Vile. 3 May. Get ready!Posted by NOW TV on Monday, April 8, 2019
Eventually, authorities would realise that he was their man and the noose would close in on Bundy. Throughout this time, Liz struggled with her nagging doubts over his innocence. She initially cooperated with the police investigation. However, she also supported Bundy as he faced charges of kidnapping and murder. They continued to exchange passionate letters and phone calls after his initial convictions.
She slowly realised that her suspicions were justified as the evidence against Bundy became undeniable and he stopped pleading his innocence. In one of their last phone conversations, Bundy told her that the urge to kill was a “force building in me” that he couldn’t contain.
He even admitted that he’d once “felt it coming on” in her apartment and tried to kill her in her sleep by blocking the damper in her fireplace. Luckily, Kloepfer woke up before she succumbed to smoke inhalation.
She eventually distanced herself from Bundy, who was executed by electric chair in 1989.
“In spite of all the destruction he has caused around him, I still care what happens to Ted,” she said in her book. “I have come to accept that a part of me will always love a part of him.”
Watch the new film now
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile features Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, Lily Collins as Elizabeth Kloepfer and a talented supporting cast that includes John Malkovich, Kaya Scodelario, Haley Joel Osment, Jim Parsons and James Hetfield.
The film focuses on events from the viewpoint of the woman who loved Bundy, even as all her instincts warned her that something was wrong. Indiewire describes it as a “rare film about a criminal that offers human details without humanising a man who so many agree was a monster.”
Stream Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile on NOW TV. Start your 14 day free trial today.