Ted Bundy has been many things: boyfriend, aspiring attorney, murderer and rapist, but there’s one role he played in life that has largely been kept out of the public eye.
Bundy the big brother.
Before the arrests and convictions, Bundy had been a devoted big brother, taking his younger brother Rich Bundy on camping trips and spending weekends with him.
“We were more than just brothers, you know, we were close friends,” Rich Bundy said in the upcoming Amazon Prime docu-series “Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer” premiering Friday. “I looked forward to spending time with him, which I did a lot of.”
But when Ted was linked to the murders of dozens of women across the country—Rich was left reeling after discovering that the man he had once admired had been keeping deadly secrets.
“He really looked up to him and loved him desperately and was kind of ruined by this,” Trish Wood, director and producer of the film said on an upcoming Oxygen Martinis & Murder podcast. “He still struggles … with the betrayal of trust and having looked up to someone as a hero who turned out to be a monster.”
Although Rich Bundy has never given an interview before about his brother, Wood said Rich made the decision to participate in the docu-series for Bundy’s victims.
“He wishes he had known more about his big brother who he worshipped as a little boy and looked up to and his trauma is vast and deep and irreparable, in my view, but he wanted to step forward for the women,” Wood told Oxygen.com.
Rich was just a child when he frequently joined Ted for the weekend in Seattle or Utah to enjoy bonding time with his big brother.
Rich compared their bond to that of “Wally and the Beaver,” making a reference to the once popular 1950s sitcom “Leave it to Beaver.”
In one photo in the docu-series, a young Rich can be seen sitting around a camp fire while Ted adds more logs to the fire. Rich estimated he was about 8 or 9 years old when the photo was taken.
The pair also often joined Ted’s then-girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall, known at the time as Elizabeth Kloepfer, and her daughter Molly on rafting trips or other outings around Seattle.
“Ted just adored Richard,” Kendall recalled in the series. “(He) always wanted to take him places and do things with him.”
When Ted moved to Utah to attend law school, Rich continued the trips to visit his brother but recalled one trip that was suddenly cut short with little explanation from Ted.
“He sent me home early,” Rich said in the series. “I was really upset with him because it was out of the blue.”
Ted gave Rich vague excuses telling the young boy that things were just really tough at the time — but Rich now wonders if the sudden end to the trip was due to more sinister reasons.
“I think that he felt his urges coming on, knew he was about to go murder somebody and he had enough responsible attitude to get me out of the picture,” he said in “Ted Bundy: Falling For a Killer.”
While the pair waited at the airport for Rich’s flight home, Rich remembers looking at Ted and seeing a look on his face that looked like Ted was “horrified and disgusted by something,” but he never knew what his brother had been thinking at the time.
When Bundy was convicted in 1976 of the attempted kidnapping of Carol DaRonch and later escaped from jail after being extradited to Colorado to stand trial for the murder of Caryn Campbell, Rich Bundy continued to believe in his innocence calling himself “stupid and naïve.”
At the time, he compared his older brother to the fictional Dr. Richard Kimble of the television series “The Fugitive” who had been wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder.
“At the same time, part of me was blocking it out going, ‘dude, whatever it is, you can’t do nothing about it, only gonna ruin your life,’” he said in the series. “Part of me was trying to protect myself from all the pain by saying, ‘Man, just go outside and ride your skateboard. F**k him.’”
More than four decades after Bundy’s dual life was exposed, Rich Bundy remains haunted by the truth and struggles with trusting others, Wood said.
“Nothing is trustworthy when your main family member that you love and worship turns out to be a monster and he’s been kind and loving to you. How can you ever go forward in life and trust?” she told Oxygen.com.
Today, Rich continues to struggle with depression in a “debilitating” way that often leaves him unable to leave the camper where he lives for days at a time.
“I don’t recommend it to everyone, to live your life precariously, but if I know I have enough to keep shelter and food for my cat and I, that’s the most important thing,” he said.
When asked to look at the photo showing Rich and Ted by the campfire all those years ago, Rich told producers of the docu-series it wasn’t a photo he would ever want to have.
“There’s no joy in it, absolutely none,” he said.
The positive memories Rich once had about his older brother have now been tainted by the murders Ted Bundy carried out. Authorities believe Ted killed at least 30 women across the country before he was apprehended for a final time in Florida and sentenced to death.
“He could do a million of these,” Rich said while holding the photo of the pair up, “but it doesn’t outweigh one, just one of the victims.”
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