Here is a transcript of executed killer Ted Bundy's interview with religious broadcaster James Dobson of Pomona, Calif. The interview, taped Monday afternoon, was released to the news media Tuesday afternoon after Bundy was put to death in Florida's electric chair.
Dobson: You are scheduled to be executed tomorrow morning at 7 o'clock if you don't receive another stay. What is going through your mind? What thoughts have you had these last few days?Bundy: I won't kid you to say that it's something I feel I have control of, or something I have come to terms with, because I haven't. It's a moment-to-moment thing. Sometimes I feel very tranquil and other times I don't feel tranquil at all.
What's going through my mind right now is to use the minutes and hours I have left as fruitfully as possible and see what happens. It helps to live in the moment in the essence that we use it productively. Right now I am feeling calm and in large part because I am here with you.
Dobson: For the record, you are guilty of killing many women and girls. Is that correct?
Bundy: Yes, that's correct.
Dobson: Ted, how did it happen? Take me back. What are the antecedents of the behavior that we've seen? So much grief, so much sorrow, so much pain for so many people? Where did it start, how did this moment come about?
Bundy: That's the question of the hour and one that not only people much more intelligent than I will be working on for years but one that I've been working on for years and trying to understand. Is there enough time to explain it all, I don't know. I think I understand it though, what happened to me to the extent that I can see how certain feelings and ideas have developed in me to the point that I began to act out certain very violent and very destructive feelings.
Dobson: Let's go back then to those roots. First of all, as I understand it, you were raised in what you considered to have been a healthy home. You were not physically abused, you were not sexually abused, you were not emotionally abused.
Bundy: No. No. And that's part of the tragedy of this whole situation. Because I grew up in a wonderful home with two dedicated and loving parents, as one of five brothers and sisters, a home where we as children were the focus of my parents' lives, where we regularly attended church, two Christian parents who did not drink, they did not smoke, there was no gambling, no physical abuse, not fighting in the home.
I'm not saying this was "Leave It To Beaver." I don't know that such a home exists, but it was a fine, solid Christian home and nobody, I hope no one will try to take the easy way and try to blame or otherwise accuse my family of contributing to this because I know, and I am trying to tell you as honestly as I know how what happened.
This is the message I want to get across, that as a young boy, and I mean a boy of 12 or 13 certainly, that I encountered, outside the home again, in the local grocery store, in a local drug store, the soft-core pornography that people called soft core. As I think as I explained to you last night, Dr. Dobson, in an anecdote, as young boys do, we explored the back roads and sideways and byways of our neighborhood and often times people would dump the garbage and whatever they were putting out of their house. And from time to time we would come across pornographic books of a harder nature than, of a more graphic, explicit nature than we would encounter at the local grocery store. And this also inclouded such things as detective magazines.
Dobson: Those that involved violence?
Bundy: Yes, yes, and this is something I think I want to emphasize is that the most-damaging kinds of pornography, and again I'm talking from personal experience . . . are those that involve violence and sexual violence. Because the wedding of those two forces is, as I know only too well, brings out the hatred that is just, just too terrible to describe.
Dobson: Now, walk me through that, what was going on in your mind at that time?
Bundy: Before we go any further, I think it's important to me that people believe what I am saying. I tell you that I am not blaming pornography. I am not saying that it caused me to go out and do certain things. And I take full responsibility for whatever I have done, and all the things I have done. That's not the question here.
The question and the issue is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and shape the kinds of violent behavior . . . .
Dobson: It fueled your fantasies, didn't it?
Bundy: In the beginning it fuels this kind of thought process, then at a certain time, it is instrumental, I would say crystalizing, making into something which is almost like a separate entity inside. At that point, I was at the verge of acting out in this kind . . .
Dobson: Now, I really want to understand that. You had gone about as far as you could in your own fantasy life with printed material, or printed and film . . . and then there was the urge to take that little step, or big step over to a physical event?
Bundy: And it happened in stages, gradually. It didn't necessarily, not to me at least, happen overnight. My experience with pornography generally, but with pornography that deals on a violent level with sexuality, is once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction like other kinds of addiction, I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material.
Like an addiction, you keep craving something that is harder, harder, something which, which gives you a greater sense of excitement. Until you reach a point where the pornography only goes so far, you reach that jumping off point where you begin to wonder if maybe actually doing it would give you that which is beyond just reading it or looking at it.
Dobson: How long did you stay at that point before you actually assaulted someone?
Bundy: Well, yeah. That is a very delicate point, by the way in my own development. We're talking about something . . . about having reached the point or gray area that, that surrounded that point over a course of years.
I would say a couple of years. What I was dealing with there was very strong inhibitions against criminal behavior or violent behavior that had been conditioned into me, bred into me in my environment, in my neighborhood, in my church, in my school, things that said, `No, this is wrong. Even to think of it is wrong, but certainly to do it is wrong.' I'm on that edge, I would say the last vestiges of restraint, the barriers to actually doing something are being tested constantly, assailed through the kind of fantasy life that was fueled largely by pornography.
Dobson: Do you remember what pushed you over that edge? Do you remember the decision to go for it, do you remember you decided to throw caution to the wind?
Bundy: When you say pushed, I know what you're saying. I don't want to infer again that I was some helpless kind of victim in that we're talking about an influence that is an influence of violent types of media, violent types of pornography . . . indispensible in the chain . . . of events that led to the behavior . . . the assaults, the murders.
It's a very difficult thing to describe, the sensation of reaching that point where I knew that, that something had say snapped, that I knew that I couldn't control anymore, that the barriers I had learned as a child, had been instilled in me, were not enough to hold me back in respect to seeking out and harming somebody.
Dobson: Would it be accurate to call that a frenzy, a sexual frenzy?
Bundy: Yes, that's one way to describe it, a compulsion . . . a building up of this destructive energy. Another factor here I haven't mentioned is the use of alcohol. What alcohol did in conjuction with exposure to pornography is alcohol reduced my inhibitions at the same time the fantasy life that was fueld by pornography eroded them further.
Dobson: In the early days, you were nearly always about half drunk when you did these things, is that right?
Dobson: Was that always true?
Bundy: I would say that that was generally the case.
Dobson: All right, if I can understand it, there is this battle going on within, there are the conventions that you have been taught, there's the right and wrong that you learned as a child, and then there is this unbridled passion fueled by your plunge into hard-core, violent pornography and those things are at war with each other? And then with the alchol diminishing the inhibitions, you let go?
Bundy: Yes, and it's accurate. It just occurred to me that some people will say that `Well, I've seen that stuff and it doesn't do anything to me.' And I can understand that. Virtually everyone can be exposed to pornography and while they are aroused to one degree or another, they do not go out and do anything wrong.
Dobson: Addictions are like that. They affect some people more than they affect others. But there is a percentage of people affected by hard-core pornography in a very violent way and you are obviously one of them.
Bundy: That was a major component and I don't know why I was vulnerable to it, all I know is that it had an impact on me that was just so central to the development of the violent behavior that I had reached.
Dobson: Ted, after you committed your first murder, what was the emotional effect on you? What happened in the days after that?
Bundy: (long pause) Please understand, that even all these years later it is very difficult to talk about and reliving through talking about it is difficult, to say the least, but I want you to understand what happened. It was like coming out of some kind of horrible trance or dream. I can only liken it to after, I don't want to overdramatize it, but to having been possessed by something so awful and so alien, then the next morning wake up from it, remember what happened and realize that basically, I mean in the eyes of the law and certainly in the eyes of God, you were responsible; to wake up in the morning and realize what I had done and with a clear mind and all my essential moral and ethical feelings intact at that moment, absolutely horrified that I was capable of doing something . . . .
Dobson: You really hadn't known that before?
Bundy: There is just absolutely no way to describe first the brutal urge to do that kind of thing and then what happens is once it has been more or less satisfied and recedes, you might say, or spent, that energy level recedes and basically I became myself again.
I want people to understand this too, and I'm not saying this gratuitously because it's important that you understand this. But basically, I was a normal person, I wasn't some guy hanging out at bars, or a bum. I wasn't a pevert in the sense that people look at somebody and say I know there is something wrong with him, you can just tell. I was essentially a normal person. I had good friends, I led a normal life, except for this one, small but very potent and very destructive segment of it that I kept vey secret and close to myself and didn't let anyone know about. And part of the shock and horror to my dear friends and family years ago when I was first arrested was there was no clue. They looked at me and they looked at the All-American boy. I wasn't perfect, but I was OK. I was. The basic humanity and the basic spirit that God gave me was intact, but unfortunately became overwhelmed at times.
And people need to recognize it's not some kind of . . . those of us who are or who have been so much influenced by violence in the media, in particular pornographic violence, are not some kind of inherent monsters. We are your sons and we are your husbands and we grew up in regular families. And pornography can reach out and snatch a kid out of any house today. It snatched me out of my home 20, 30 years ago and as dedicated as my parents were, and they were diligent in protecting their children and as good a Christian home as we had, and we had a wonderful Christian home, there is no protection against the kind of influences that are loose in society that tolerates . . . .
Dobson: You feel this really deeply don't you? Ted, outside these walls, right now, there are several hundred reporters who wanted to talk to you and you asked me to come here from California because you had something to say. This hour that we have together, is not just an interview with a man who is scheduled to die tomorrow morning. I am here and you are here because of this message that you are talking about here. You really feel that hard-core pornography and the doorway to it, soft-core pornography, is doing untold damage to other people and causing other women to be abused and killed the way you did others?
Bundy: Listen. I'm no social scientist and I haven't done a survey, I mean I don't pretend that I know what John Q. Citizen knows about this, but I have lived in prison for a long time now, and I've met a lot of men who were motivated to violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography, without question; without exception, deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction. There's no question about it. The FBI's own study on serial homicide shows that the most-common interest among serial killers is pornography.
Dobson: That's true. Ted, what would your life have been like without that influence? You can only speculate.
Bundy: (tears) Far better not just for me, and excuse me for being so self-centered here, but it would have been a lot better for me and lots of other people and lots of other innocent people, victims and families, it would have been a lot better. There's no question there would have been a fuller life, certainly a life that would not have involved, I am absolutely certain, a life that would not have involved this kind of violence.
Dobson: I'm sure, Ted, if I were able to ask the questions that are being asked out there, one of the most important as you come down to your final hours: Are you thinking about those victims out there and their families who are so wounded and years later their lives have not returned to normal and will not return to normal? They will never return to normal. Are you carrying that load, that weight. Is there remorse there?
Bundy: Again, people will accuse me of being self-serving, but I am just telling you how I feel. Through God's help, I have been able to come to the point where I much too late, but better late than never, feel the hurt and the pain that I am responsible for. Yes, absolutely. In the past few days myself and a number of investigators have been talking about a number of unsolved cases, murders that I was involved in.
It's hard to talk about all these years later because it revives in me all those terrible feelings and thoughts that I have steadfastly and diligently dealt with and I think successfully, and yet its reopened that and I felt the pain and I felt the horror and I can only hope that those who I have caused so much grief, even if they don't believe my expression of sorrow, will believe what I am saying now; that there is loose in the towns and their communities people like me today whose dangerous impulses are being fueled day in, day out by violence in the media in various forms, particularly sexual violence. And what scares me and it's coming to the present now because what I am talking about happened 30, 20, 30 years ago in my formative state. And what scares me, Dr. Dobson, when I see what's on cable TV, some of the movies and some of the violence in the movies that comes into homes today, the stuff that they wouldn't show in X-rated adult theaters 30 years.
Dobson: The slasher movies is what you're talking about.
Bundy: That stuff is, I'm telling you from personal experience, is the most graphic violence on screen, particularly as it gets into the home to children who are unattended or unaware that they may be a Ted Bundy who has that vulnerability, that predisposition to be influenced by that kind of behavior.
There are kids out there switching the TV dial around and come upon these movies late at night, or I don't know when they are on, but they're on and any kid can watch them. It's scary when I think what would have happened to me if I had seen them, and it's scary enough, I just ran into stuff outside the home.
But to know that children are watching that kind of thing today or can pick up their phone and dial away for it or send away for it.
Dobson: Can you help me understand this desensitization process that took place? What was going on in your mind?
Bundy: About the desensitization, I would describe it in specific terms is that each time I'd harm someone, each time I would kill someone, there would be anenormous amount, especially at first, an enormous amount of horror, guilt, remorse afterward, but then the impulse to do it again would come back even stronger.Now, believe me, I didn't...The unique thing about how this worked, Dr. Dobson, is I still felt in my regular life the full range of guilt and remorse about other things.
Dobson: But you had this compartmentalized.
Bundy: This compartmentalized. very well focused, very sharply focused area that was a black hole that was like a crack and everything that fell into the crack hole just disappeared. Does that make sense?
Dobson: Yeah, it does. One of the final murders that you committed, of course, was apparently Kimberly Leach, 12 years of age, I think the public outcry was greater there because an innocent child was taken from a playfround. What did you feel after that? Was there normal emotions three days later? Where were you, Ted?
Bundy: I can't really talk about that.
Dobson: That's too painful.
Bundy: I would like to be able to convey what that experience is like, but I can't be able to talk about it.
Bundy: I can't begin to understand, I can try, but I'm aware that I can't begin to understand the pain the parents of these children (inaudible) feel, and I can't restore really much to them if anything and I won't pretend to. And I don't even expect them to forgive me and I am not asking for it. That kind of forgiveness is of God. If they have it, they have it. If they don't maybe they'll find it someday.
Dobson: Do you deserve the punishment the state is inflicted upon you?
Bundy: That's a very good question and I'll answer it very honestly. I don't want to die, I'm not going to kid you. I kid you not. I deserve, certainly the most extreme punishment society has and I think society deserves to be protected from me and from others like me, that's for sure. I think what I hope will come of our discussion is I think society deserves to be protected from itself. Because as we've been talking there are forces loose in this country, particularly again this kind of violent pornography where on the one hand well-meaning decent people will condemn the behavior of a Ted Bundy while they're walking past a magazine rack full of the very kinds of things that send kids down the road to be a Ted Bundy.
We're talking here not just about more, what I'm talking about is going beyond retribution, which is what people want with me; going beyond retribution and punishment because there is no way in the world that killing me is going to restore those beautiful children to their parents and correct and soothe the pain but I'll tell you there are lots of other kids playing in streets around the country today who are going to be dead tomorrow and the next day and the next day andf the next month because other young people are reading the kinds of things and seeing the kinds of things that are available when the media took over.
Dobson: Ted, as you would imagine there is tremendous cynicism about you on the outside and I suppose for good reason. I'm not sure there is anything that you could say that people would believe, some people would believe.
Dobson: And yet you told me last night, and I have heard this through our mutual friend (State Attorney) John Tanner, that you have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, and are a follower and believer in him. Do you draw strength from that in these final hours?
Bundy: I do. I can't say that...being in the valley of shadow of death is something that I've become all accustomed to and that I am strong and there is nothing bothering me. Listen, it is no fun. It gets kind of lonely, and yet I have to remind myself that every one of us will go through this some day in one or another and countless millions who have walked this Earth before us have. So, this is just an experience which we all share, and here I am.