Elizabeth Kendall once wrote of serial killer Ted Bundy that a “part of me will always love a part of him,” but nearly four decades later, Bundy’s long-time love says she feels very differently.
Kendall wrote the line in her 1981 memoir “The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy” while reflecting on the couple’s lengthy relationship just a year after Bundy was sentenced to death for killing 12-year-old Kimberly Leach.
In a newly reissued version of the memoir, Kendall called her words “cringeworthy” and said she was still in “denial” at the time about who Bundy really was.
“In the years since the book was published, I’ve worked on knowing and accepting the totality of Ted,” she writes now. “It’s been harder than hell.”
It took years for Kendall to reconcile the memories of the man she had viewed as a compassionate and understanding partner with the monster that authorities believe killed at least 30 women. Many of the murders occurred while Bundy was maintaining a loving relationship with Kendall.
“In the beginning, if I let my guard down for a minute, I’d recall the Ted who I thought I loved and had fun with,” she wrote. “My mind could run with that endlessly—he was smart, he made me laugh, our chemistry was good, and on and on. I would have to go through the brutal litany of facts about what he did to remember the truth.”
One of the more disturbing examples of the dual life Bundy seamlessly led include the day he kidnapped and killed two women and then later took Kendall to dinner, she said. On another occasion, he took her family out for pizza while they were in town visiting, and then left to find a woman to kill.
“As I write this, the facts are so unspeakably awful; I don’t know why it took me so long to accept the truth, but it did,” she says.
Bundy and Kendall began dating in 1969 after meeting at a Seattle bar and remained together for years, with Bundy even serving as a father figure for her young daughter, known in the book as Molly Kendall. (Kendall was known as Elizabeth Kloepfer, her former married name, while she dated Bundy but has since opted to use the pen name “Elizabeth Kendall” after deciding to change her legal name for privacy reasons.)
The couple often spent their time exploring the city’s parks and lakes, cooking dinner at home or taking Molly on adventures throughout the town.
“Talking and eating and taking care of Molly and sleeping together all flowed along so effortlessly that we had become a family,” she wrote of their life together, calling Bundy her “prince.”
But there were times when Bundy would become distant or disappear for extended stints and the couple would argue.
Although Kendall said she was blinded by the love she felt for Bundy, she did have some suspicions and reached out to law enforcement on multiple occasions to name him as a possible suspect after a string of college co-eds began to disappear near their Seattle home and a sketch emerged of a man named “Ted” who drove a Volkswagen bug.
Wracked with guilt, Kendall later dismissed her suspicions after noting Bundy’s calm demeanor, loving interactions with her family and charming persona. Law enforcement officers also told her they had checked into Bundy and didn’t believe he was involved, providing her with some peace of mind, according to the book.
The pair would continue their courtship for years — continuing to communicate with one another even after Bundy was convicted of attempted kidnapping for trying to abduct Carol DaRonch from the parking lot of a Utah mall.
Bundy had proclaimed his innocence to her despite the conviction and he often penned long love letters to her from behind bars.
But she would learn the devastating truth after Bundy was captured in Florida after his second escape from prison.
He called her on the phone and confessed that he was sick and controlled by a force he couldn’t contain.
Kendall now said she continued to stay in the relationship after having reported him to police because she was an “emotional mess” who was driven by her feelings of love for Bundy and hoped she had been wrong.
After years of self-reflection and therapy, she would come to realize that she had only known a small part of Bundy and that he was “rapidly being overtaken by the rageful sexual deviant in him.”
When Bundy was executed in 1989—years after the pair had last communicated—she described it as an “emotionally blank” day for her.
“I don’t remember anything I did that day,” she wrote. “I’ve never believed in capital punishment, but I hoped Ted’s death brought closure to the people who loved the women he killed and to those women who survived.”
The re-release of the memoir, which has been updated with new chapters from Elizabeth and a chapter from her daughter Molly, coincides with the upcoming Amazon Prime docu-series “Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer” premiering Jan. 31. Both women also participated in the upcoming series.
As for her own romantic life, Kendall said after several relationships, she has realized that she is happier on her own.
“I have many women friends, and those deep relationships mean the world to me,” she wrote. “And I can’t overstate the healing power of the animals in my life, especially my beloved cats, who bring much love and comfort to me every day.”
She is also glad to have escaped her time with Bundy with her life—something she acknowledges many of the women who crossed his path were not so fortunate to do.
“I am grateful that my daughter and I survived him,” she wrote.
Get all your true crime news from Oxygen. Coverage of the latest true crime stories and famous cases explained, as well as the best TV shows, movies and podcasts in the genre. And don't miss our own podcast, Martinis & Murder!