A psychiatrist who examined Ted Bundy as part of a last-ditch attempt to save him from execution concluded that the confessed serial killer probably started developing psychological problems as an infant.
Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis, of New Haven, Conn., said Bundy first lived in the home of his maternal grandparents in Philadelphia, with a grandfather who was "an extremely violent and frightening individual."The grandfather would kick dogs, swing cats by their tails, beat people who angered him and read pornography voraciously, she said.
Lewis interviewed Bundy on Monday as his attorneys tried unsuccessfully to prove he was mentally incompetent to be executed.
Lewis' findings were published in detail in Tuesday editions of the Seattle Times, offering a possible glimpse into the mind of a man linked to as many as three dozen killings in the West and in Florida. In the days before he died, Bundy confessed to 23 deaths.
Lewis said a cousin told her that when Bundy was a preschooler, he used to sneak into a greenhouse where his grandfather's pornography was kept and read it. Hours before his death, Bundy, 42, said that pornography fueled his violent thoughts toward women.
Bundy exhibited bizarre behavior at his grandparents' house, the psychiatrist said. At age 3, he appeared several times at the bedside of his 15-year-old aunt, lifting the covers and placing butcher knives beside her.
Lewis said Bundy's maternal grandmother had been hospitalized more than once for psychotic depression and had undergone electroshock therapy. Later in life, the woman had a severe phobia against leaving her house.
Such things could indicate Bundy had a genetic predisposition to mental illness, Lewis said.
"The whole family felt that (Bundy's mother) Louise Bundy and her son had to be rescued from the home," a family member told Lewis.
In the interviews with Lewis, Bundy repeatedly said he had only fond memories of his grandfather, apparently blocking out incidents described by other family members and indicating to Lewis that Bundy had been "horribly traumatized" as a child.
She said Bundy, born Theodore Robert Cowell in a Burlington, Vt., home for unwed mothers, finally moved with his mother to Tacoma, where other relatives lived. There, his mother met and married John Bundy, a hospital cook, and John adopted Ted.
Lewis determined Bundy suffered from a "bipolar mood disorder," or a manic-depressive illness that produced violent mood swings in the convicted killer. At a moment's notice, Bundy could switch from euphoria and compulsive talking to anger followed by long periods of sullen silence, she said.
Bundy almost certainly suffered from this disorder at the time of his Florida trials for killing two Florida State University women in Tallahassee and 12-year-old Kimberly Leach in Lake City. Bundy was executed for the latter crime.
As evidence of Bundy's mood swings, Lewis showed the court a doodle she found in one of Bundy's college notebooks. It showed two faces: one normal, the other enlarged and with Dracula-like teeth.
Lewis said Bundy not only didn't recall the doodle, he tried to explain it away by saying he was probably on drugs when it was drawn.
An example of Bundy's mood swings occurred when an investigator was in Bundy's cell in Florida, Lewis said. The investigator told her that during a normal conversation, Bundy suddenly "became weird on me . . . did a metamorphosis, a bit of a body and facial change, and . . . almost an odor emitted from him."
The investigator said the incident lasted about 20 minutes, during which there was a "change of personality with extreme tension. I was afraid of him . . . it was very scary."
On the day the Leach girl's body was found, Bundy flew into a rage in his cell, Lewis said. "He was pacing . . . muttering things . . . hyperventilating."
U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp, who heard Lewis' findings, also heard some strong dissent.