Many women who crossed Ted Bundy’s path never lived to tell about it, but there are two women close to the law school student-turned-serial killer who escaped the relationship with their lives.
Bundy’s long-time girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall and her daughter Molly spent countless hours with Bundy in the years before he was arrested, living a seemingly normal family life. The trio spent time exploring Seattle-area lakes, sharing dinners and birthdays and taking trips to the zoo or park.
(Elizabeth Kendall was known at the time by her former married name, Elizabeth Kloepfer, but later opted to change her name for privacy reasons and now uses the name “Elizabeth Kendall” in the media.)
Bundy even taught Molly how to ride a bike.
But beneath the surface, the charismatic law student was leading a dark double-life. Authorities believe that Bundy killed at least 30 women—luring many by pretending to be injured or asking for help before overpowering and killing them.
More than five decades after Kendall first met Bundy in 1969, Liz and Molly are speaking out about their life with Bundy before his arrest and why they believe they never became one of his victims.
“Whatever transpired at the beginning of his interaction with my mother put her in a different category and I think our placement in his life kept us safe. People knew he was involved with us,” Molly said in an episode of ABC’s “20/20” on Friday.
Liz said she believes it may have been the affection Bundy felt for her and Molly that ultimately saved them.
“I hate to even say this because it makes him sound normal, but I do think he loved us,” she said on “20/20.”
Molly also referenced a story from one of Bundy’s attorneys that may give insight into why the Kendall women did not end up on Bundy’s victim list.
“He said Ted told him that he would play games with mice and he would let some of them live and let some of them die and to me, that’s us,” she said. “We’re just these mice that were allowed to live.”
But while Liz and Molly survived the relationship with Bundy, in her memoir “The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy,” re-released last month, Liz wrote that Bundy once confessed that he had tried to kill her.
“Well there was one time when I was really trying hard to control it, so I’d been staying off the streets and trying to feel normal,” Bundy said, according to the book. “But it just happened that I was sleeping with you at your house when I felt it coming on.”
The confession took place after Bundy called Liz from a Florida jail to tell her he had been apprehended after an escape from authorities in Colorado. He admitted during the same call that he had been driven by a dark force he could not contain.
Bundy went on to tell Liz how he'd closed the damper on her fireplace so that the smoke couldn’t go up the chimney, put a towel under the crack of the door and then left her in the apartment.
“I remembered that night well,” Liz wrote in the book. “I’d been pretty drunk by the time we climbed into the hide-a-bed in front of the fireplace. I woke up briefly as Ted was leaving, and he told me he was going to his house to get his fan because the fireplace was backed up.”
But Bundy never returned and Liz soon “couldn’t breathe” in the apartment.
“My eyes were running, and I was coughing,” she wrote. “I jumped out of the bed and threw open the nearest window and stuck my head out.”
Liz was able to clear the smoke from the room and confronted Bundy the next day about why he never returned, but never imagined that he had sinister motives that night.
“There were two Bundys,” author Kevin Sullivan, author of “The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History,” said on “20/20.” “The only people who ever saw the diabolical Bundy were his victims.”
Molly and Liz both share more details about their life with Bundy in the Amazon Prime docu-series “Ted Bundy: Falling For a Killer,” which premiered last week. The five-part series tells the story of Bundy’s crimes through the female perspective, including interviews with past victims, investigators and others who interacted with the killer.
“I want people to come away from the series and say clearly he hated women,” producer and director Trish Wood said during an upcoming Oxygen Martinis & Murder podcast. “We need to really internalize that. That’s why he was killing women. We don’t need a big, old fancy psychiatrist to tell us why. He killed women because he hated them and he wanted to obliterate them, that’s kind of what the series jumping off point is.”
Bundy was executed in 1989.
Nearly 30 years later, Liz and Molly are grateful they escaped their time with the killer with their lives intact.
“I feel grateful not to have been harmed when I see what the big picture was here,” Molly said on “20/20.” “I don’t feel sorry for myself. I actually feel very grateful to be alive and really grateful to have my mom here alive.”
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