Molly Kendall watched Ted Bundy manipulate her mother for years.
So, when she found one final letter from the notorious killer to Elizabeth Kendall in the mailbox just before Bundy was scheduled to die in the electric chair, she knew her mom could never see it.
“It was like this person over thousands of miles had been able to intuit what she would have wanted to hear and there was no way I was going to let him have that hook into her again, there was no way,” Molly said in the Amazon Prime docu-series “Ted Bundy: Falling For a Killer,” which premiered Friday.
Molly took the letter—in which Bundy claimed to have found God and be working on his spirituality—and burned it in the fireplace without ever telling her mother it had existed.
“She’s got a piece of her that responds to him, and I didn’t want to see that piece be exploited again,” Molly said of the bold decision. “I watched that throughout this entire journey.”
Bundy and Elizabeth, known then as Elizabeth Kloepfer, began dating in 1969 after meeting at a Seattle bar. The couple often spent time together exploring the area’s lakes, cooking dinner, visiting local taverns or taking in the city with Elizabeth’s daughter Molly, who was just 3 when the pair began to date.
Elizabeth soon found herself deeply in love with the aspiring attorney.
“We did fit together well,” she wrote in her memoir “The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy. “I believed that the man should be the leader in the relationship, and Ted liked to lead. I liked his protectiveness of me and Molly, both emotionally and physically.”
But the relationship was also punctuated by frequent arguments and Bundy’s tendency to disappear for days at a time.
After two women disappeared from Lake Sammamish State Park on July 14, 1974 and a sketch of a possible suspect named “Ted” began to circulate, Elizabeth began to suspect that Bundy could be involved.
She reported him to authorities multiple times as a possible suspect in a string of murders in Washington and Utah—but his seemingly calm and loving demeanor when they were together always convinced her that her suspicions were wrong.
“The initial calls had cleared him, so that would sort of tamp down her feeling that something was wrong but then, kind of like this weird whack-a-mole game she’d have another bad feeling and something would happen that would allow her to push it back down. So, she was in this strange, weird limbo between romance and fear about what he was,” Trish Wood, the producer and director of the docu-series told Oxygen.com.
Even after Bundy was convicted of kidnapping Carol DaRonch in 1976 and sent to a Utah prison, Elizabeth would continue struggling to reconcile her love for Bundy with the heinous acts he was suspected of committing.
The emotional bond between the pair continued as Bundy was extradited to Colorado for the killing of Caryn Campbell, who disappeared from a ski lodge in January 1975 after leaving her fiancé in the lobby to go get a magazine, according to the Coloradoan.
Reflecting on her decision now to stay with Bundy despite suspecting him of carrying out the murders, Elizabeth said in her memoir that she was an “emotional mess” and had hoped she was wrong.
“This choice has been hard for me to comprehend and accept, so I understand why people find it strange,” she wrote in a new chapter of the memoir re-released earlier this month.
Bundy later escaped the Colorado jail and fled to Florida, where he viciously beat and killed two sorority sisters at the Chi Omega sorority house and kidnapped and killed 12-year-old Kimberly Leach.
After getting arrested by Pensacola Police, Bundy called Elizabeth and confessed that he had been controlled by a dark force.
“Once I got off the phone, I just felt like I was glad to know the truth but I also felt like the truth was just so ugly,” she said in the docu-series. “I felt very upset and very desolate that this was true, that this man I knew did these things. Not only did I know him, I loved him, so it was very difficult.”
In the years that followed, Elizabeth tried to put the relationship behind her and embarked on a journey of self-improvement and spiritual development. She stopped drinking, took classes, prayed and meditated.
“The number one thing that has allowed me to find peace after the catastrophe of Ted Bundy is my spiritual life,” she wrote in her book.
Molly, who had also struggled with the devastating reality that the man she had always viewed as a father figure was a prolific serial killer, also finally had her life on track and was going to community college when the final letter from Bundy arrived.
“I had moved back home with my mom and I was doing rather well, for the first time since this all transpired, and I came home from school one day and there was a letter from the jail and it wasn’t addressed to me, but I opened it anyways,” she said.
Molly decided to burn the letter, but Bundy’s last correspondence would not remain a secret.
After he was executed in 1989, one of his attorneys called Elizabeth to tell her Bundy had wanted her to know that he had really loved her and Molly. She also asked why Elizabeth never responded to Bundy's final letter.
“I guess I could have lied and said it was lost in the mail, but I didn’t,” Molly said in the docu-series. “I told her I burned it and she accepted it very quietly but I could tell it hurt her heart that I had robbed her of this closure, this last interaction, but I wasn’t sorry. I am not sorry at all and I am especially not sorry that he went to his death wondering why she never wrote back.”
Over the years, Elizabeth has had to deal with her own guilt about allowing Bundy to be a part of her daughter’s life.
“As a mother, you’re trying to give your daughter the best life ever, but you know what I really brought into her life was rapes and murders and lies and craziness,” she said in the series.
Molly, however, said she doesn’t blame her mom for what happened.
“You know, nobody sets out to drag their child through this and it has to be a terrible feeling that this all went so wrong and I know that she did the very best that she could and I don’t have any feelings of blame or anything like that about it,” she said in “Ted Bundy: Falling For a Killer.” “It wasn’t her fault, but it was a really challenging time for me.”
Wood told Oxygen.com she believes the women have been able to maintain a close bond over the years, in part because of the trauma they both endured.
“I think they love each other very much. I think that the shared trauma was a bonding for them. I think Molly is a really highly emotionally evolved human being and a great, great person who loves her mom and has learned to understand how it happened,” she said of the relationship between Bundy and Elizabeth.
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!