Who Was Diane Edwards, Ted Bundy's First Girlfriend, And How Did Their Breakup Impact Him?

“The relationship I had with Diane had a lasting impact on me,” Bundy admitted. After their breakup, he waited years to take his revenge on her.

By Gina Tron

People often internalize breakups, sometimes in unhealthy manners. But what happens when you mix run-of-the-mill emotional angst with the psychotic tendencies of a serial killer?

For Ted Bundy, he obsessed over one relationship, his first ever, and its ending. He allowed it to have a lasting effect on his self-esteem and he responded to it with some pretty spiteful actions.

The Netflix docuseries, “Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” which was released Thursday on the 30th anniversary of Bundy’s execution, features never-before-heard death row interviews with Bundy recorded by journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth in 1980. It also explains the serial killer’s relationship with his first girlfriend, Diane Edwards.

“The relationship I had with Diane had a lasting impact on me,” Bundy said in the tapes.

He then went on to describe her attributes in the most typical Bundy fashion: by focusing in on the superficial ones.

"She's a beautiful dresser, beautiful girl. Very personable. Nice car, great parents,” he said. “So you know, for the first-time girlfriend, really that was not too bad.”

He said he and Edwards spent a lot of time driving around, and making out, in her "nice car."

“Mumbled sweet nothings into each others’ ears and told each other how much we loved each other,” Bundy reflected.

The docu-series describes Edwards as a “classy person” and it also explains that Bundy, who came from a less-than-affluent family, wanted desperately to be part of the “upper class.” Edwards came from a wealthy California family.

Ann Rule’s 1980 true crime book about Bundy entitled “The Stranger Beside Me: The True Crime Story of Ted Bundy” explains how Bundy first met Edwards in the spring of 1967 while they were both enrolled at the University of Washington.

“He saw a woman who was the epitome of his dreams,” Rule wrote. “[Edwards] was like no girl he had ever seen before, and he considered her the most sophisticated, the most beautiful creature possible.”

Bundy said she preferred football jocks so he hesitated to ask her out but they eventually bonded over their mutual love of skiing. Even though he thought she “outclassed him,” she was into him. They soon fell in love and Rule believes that he lost his virginity to her.

While the two were in love, Bundy had fallen harder than her. Rule described Edwards as “pragmatic” and “she sensed that Ted was foundering, that he had no real plans or real prospects for the future.”

At the time Bundy was working a variety of menial, low-paying jobs to get through college, and wasn't sure what his major should be. That was not enough for Edwards.

“Consciously or unconsciously, [she] wanted her life to continue as it always had. She wanted a husband who would fit into her world in California. She just didn’t believe that Ted Bundy fit that picture.”

She also found him “very emotional and unsure of himself,” Rule wrote. “But, more than that, she had a niggling suspicion that he used people, that he would become close to people who might do favors for him, and that he took advantage of them.”

Bundy believed his lack of money was a contributing factor to the end of their relationship, which was at that point long-distance. Edwards had graduated the University of Washington in 1968 and had moved to San Francisco for a job.

"I experienced any number of insecurities with Diane. There were occasions when I felt that she expected a great deal more from me than I was really capable of giving. I was not in any position to take her out and squire her around in the manner that she was accustomed or buy her clothing.”

Bundy said that while he and Edwards were in a long-distance relationship she began writing less and he grew “fearful” about what she was doing with her time.

Later that year, she dumped him and Bundy was devastated.

"I had this overwhelming feeling of rejection," he said. Soon, he admitted that he began to desire to get "some sort of revenge on Diane." 

The breakup’s effect

“By God, if it took whatever he had, he was going to change,” Rule wrote in her book, detailing how Bundy handled the breakup. “By sheer force of will, he would become the kind of man that the world, and particularly [Edwards], saw as a success.”

First off, he became adamant about attaining more status.

“She inspired me to look at myself and become something more,” Bundy said in the tapes.

At the point of their breakup, he wasn’t enrolled in school anymore but afterward, he re-enrolled at the University of Washington to study psychology. And he appeared to be doing well.

Bundy even met another woman, Elizabeth Kloepfer, who became his long-term girlfriend.

By 1970, he was even hailed a hero by the Seattle Police Department when he apparently saved a 3-year-old from drowning, according to Rule.

He also became active in politics. Bundy was conservative, a Republican who was all for Richard Nixon (he referred to those opposed to the Vietnam War as “delinquents”) and he started to work for the party. 

As Michaud explained, politicians were appealing to Bundy because they were all about image.

“That’s perfect for him because he doesn’t have to be real,” he said.

The docu-series explains how Bundy would attend political events, full of “influential people” and he’d always fit in.

Bundy said that while working on a political campaign for Washington's then-Gov. Daniel J. Evans, he felt that he found the life he wanted.

But Bundy was still obsessed with Edwards, years after their breakup.

Rule, who was friends with Bundy before he was ever even arrested for the series of killings he committed, said that he confided in her in 1972 that he was still in love with Edwards despite them breaking up in 1968 and despite the fact that he was in a relationship with someone else.

“Do you think she might love me again if I sent her a dozen red roses?” he asked, despite the fact that he was in a long-term relationship with Kloepfer. Bundy described Edwards as “the only woman I ever really loved.”

About that revenge...

In 1973, Bundy spent a few days with Edwards and even appeared to reignite their relationship. But it wasn’t sincere. It was ultimately a maneuver simply to hurt her.

“By the late summer of 1973, Ted Bundy had begun to be somebody. He had worked, planned and groomed himself to be the kind of man that he thought [Edwards] wanted,” Rule wrote.

That year, he was even accepted into a law school, which he later dropped out of.

He visited California on a business trip and contacted Edwards. They met up and “she was amazed at the changes four years had wrought in him (she had seen him once in 1968, a year after their breakup when Bundy failed to rekindle their flame).”

They went out to dinner and soon were an item again. Edwards was impressed. She even flew out to Seattle to visit him. He never mentioned that he already had a girlfriend there. He wined and dined her and they talked about their wedding plans.

“She was confident that they would be married within the year,” Rule wrote.

After the holidays of 1973, Edwards flew to Seattle again, and Bundy became cold and evasive over their plans to marry.

“He had chased after her for six years,” Rule wrote. “Now, he seemed uninterested, almost hostile. She had thought they were engaged, and yet he had acted as if he could hardly wait to be rid of her.”

With no explanation for the change of heart, Edwards wrote a letter to Bundy asking what happened. He didn’t write back. By mid-February 1974 she called and yelled at him for his behavior.

“His voice was flat and calm, as he said, ‘[Diane,] I have no idea what you mean.”

Then, he hung up.

That same year, Bundy started committing his first documented attacks on women, though it's possible he began killing earlier in life. In January, he bludgeoned an 18-year-old University of Washington student as she slept with a metal rod from her bed frame so badly that it resulted in permanent disabilities. By Feb. 1, he had already abducted and killed Lynda Ann Healy, a college student known for her morning radio weather ski report. By the middle of the year, college students in the area were vanishing nearly once a month.

He ultimately confessed to 30 murders between 1974 and 1978, though the true number of his victims may well be higher.

As for Edwards, she “concluded that Ted’s high-power courtship in the latter part of 1973 had been deliberately planned, that he had waited all those years to be in a position of where he could make her fall in love with him, so that he could drop her, reject her, as she had rejected him,” Rule wrote.

She was married to someone else by Christmas 1974. 

[Photo: Getty Images]

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