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Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy evaded police for years. Then he made one small mistake.

The world’s obsession with serial killer Ted Bundy has reached fever pitch following January’s documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and Netflix’s new Bundy biopic, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil & Vile.

We’ve learned about Bundy’s horrific crimes, his escapes from prison and his family left behind. But what the Netflix biopic documents in detail is the very simple, very small mistake Bundy made that ultimately led to his capture.

Despite a number of murders and disappearances in 1974 in Washington and Oregon, it wasn’t until Bundy moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for law school in mid-1975 that he was on the police’s radar.

ted bundy netflix
Ted Bundy confessed to 30 homicides. Image: Getty.

In the early hours of the morning, Bundy was driving in his Volkswagen Beetle with his lights off when a police officer noticed. Bundy disobeyed his order to stop and was arrested.

And that is when police discovered a gym bag containing a number of suspicious items in the car: A ski mask, ice pick, torn sheets and handcuffs that looked just like those used to restrain Carol DaRonch, a woman Bundy kidnapped who managed to escape.

Bundy had attempted to drastically alter his appearance, but DaRonch was still able to pinpoint him instantly. That was the moment police were able to connect Bundy to the unsolved killings in Washington and Oregon.

But of course, it wasn't as simple as that.

Ted Bundy is one of the most well-known American serial killers of the 20th century. Image: Getty, 1978.
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The felon elected to serve as his own attorney during a preliminary hearing in Aspen, Colorado in 1977 and was therefore excused by the judge from wearing handcuffs and leg shackles.

During a court recess, Bundy requested to visit the courthouse's law library to research his case.

Somehow, he was left alone and while concealed behind a bookcase he opened a window and jumped out from the second story. He was missing for six days before one again being pulled over for traffic misdemeanours, as police officers had spotted the car he was driving weaving in and out of traffic.

Bundy escaped custody a second time on December 30, 1977, when most prison staff were on Christmas break and nonviolent prisoners were on furlough with their families.

He broke into the chief jailer's apartment and changed into normal clothing. He then walked out the front door to freedom.

Despite being on the FBI's most wanted list, Bundy evaded capture for 46 days.

During this second escape, Bundy sexually assaulted and murdered Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy, assaulted Kathy Kleiner and Karen Chandler, and murdered a 12-year-old girl.

His final act as a fugitive came after another interaction with a traffic cop. Pensacola police officer David Lee pulled Bundy over after a police check showed the Volkswagen Beetle he was driving was stolen.

After a scuffle, Lee arrested Bundy, unaware at the time that he was on the most wanted list.

Bundy was charged and found guilty of murdering Bowman, Levy and 12-year-old Kimberley Leach. For each murder, he was sentenced to death.

Bundy was executed on January 24, 1989 at the Florida State Penitentiary.

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