true crime

Inside the unlikely friendship of serial killer Ted Bundy and true crime author Ann Rule.

In the 1970s, notorious serial killer Ted Bundy used his charm and good looks to lure at least 30 women to their deaths in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Florida.

His horrific crimes are now the subject of two different Netflix shows. The movie, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, stars Zac Efron as the callous killer; and the docuseries Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, pieces together archival footage and audio recordings of Bundy on death row.

But years before these projects, former police officer turned crime reporter, Ann Rule, who knew Bundy, wrote one of the seminal books about his crimes: The Stranger Beside Me.

It gives one of the clearest glimpses into Bundy’s life and how he was able to fool even those closest to him into thinking he was a stand-up guy.

Watch the official trailer for Netflix’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile below. Post continues after video…

Rule met Bundy in 1971 when they both volunteered at Seattle’s Suicide Hotline Crisis Centre.

Rule remembers Bundy was personable, bringing her a cup of coffee on her first night in the job. She recalls that he gestured at the rows of telephones and said: “You think we can handle all of this?”

“As it turned out, we made a good team,” Rule writes. “Working side by side in the cluttered two rooms on the top floor of the building, we seemed to be able to communicate in emergencies without even having to speak.”

She says charming, handsome and well-spoken – qualities he would later use to gain the confidence of his victims. The pair quickly became good friends.

She wrote: “I liked him immediately, it would have been hard not to.

“He always insisted on seeing me safely to my car when my shift was over in the wee hours of the morning.

“He often told me, ‘Be careful. I don’t want anything to happen to you.’

“As far as his appeal for women, I can remember thinking that if I were younger and single or my daughters were older, this would be almost the perfect man.”

Author Ann Rule wrote The Stranger Beside Me, about her friendship with Ted Bundy. Image: Getty.
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Rule also wrote about how Bundy helped her to come to terms with her divorce. She and her then-husband had decided to separate after he was diagnosed with cancer, and Bundy had been fully supportive.

She writes that Bundy said:" But it's his choice, isn't it? If he seems well, and if your being together is an unhappy situation for both of you, then you have no guilt. He's made the decision. It's his life, and, especially when he might not have that many years ahead, it's his right to decide how he wants to spend them... You both deserve to get on with your lives."

It was in 1973 that Bundy began killing and a year later, Rule was working with police again, following the bloody path of a killer who preyed on young women - Bundy's crimes.

Rule remembers the moment a witness reported hearing the suspect identify himself as "Ted" who drove a Volkswagen. Concerned that it sounded a bit like her old friend, she called an officer she knew.

"I don’t really think this is anything, but it’s bugging me. His name is Ted Bundy. B-U-N-D-Y. Call me back. OK?"

ted bundy
"His name is Ted Bundy. B-U-N-D-Y. Call me back. OK?" Image: Getty.
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When her call was returned, the officer said: "Would you believe he drives a 1968 bronze Volkswagen Bug?"

Unfortunately, the police didn't take Ann's tip as seriously as they should have.

Unbeknownst to Rule, Bundy continued to kill, and the pair remained friends.

Even after Bundy was initially arrested for kidnapping in 1975 in Salt Lake City, Rule had lunch with him in Seattle while he was out on bail, sceptical of his involvement.

"When this is all over, I'll take you out to lunch," Bundy had told her.

By this point, Rule wasn't completely convinced of his innocence, and it was the last time she would see him while he was a free man.

In 1976, Bundy was convicted of kidnapping and police began to build the murder case against him.

Even then, Rule continued to write to Bundy and visited him in prison. She even sent him $20 so he could get his hair cut.

But after Bundy escaped prison and was re-arrested in Florida after committing a further three murders, Rule finally cut ties with him.

She wrote the Stranger Beside Me in 1980, and it has since sold over two million copies.

When Bundy was executed in 1989, Rule added a postscript that read: "I felt sick when Ted was executed - but I would not have stopped it if I could. He was going to get out, and he would have killed again and again and again."

In an interview with CNN in 1999, Rule said: "People like Ted can fool you completely. I’d been a cop, had all that psychology but his mask was perfect.

"I say that long acquaintance can help you know someone. But you can never be really sure. Scary."

In her career, Ann Rule wrote 35 true crime books, many of them bestsellers. She died in 2015 of congestive heart failure. She was 83.

Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile are both available to watch on Netflix now.

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