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Calling All True Crime Lovers: Your Phantom Prince Is Here

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at C of C chapter.

We all know the name Ted Bundy. The Campus Killer, considered the “glamor boy” of murder, took courtrooms in the late 1970’s by storm. We all know what he did. We’ve heard of his alluring charisma. His daring prison and court escapes are still discussed to this day. But, who was Ted Bundy as a person? What was life with Ted like when he could control his murderous urges. These questions can be answered in the Phantom Prince, a memoir by Elizabeth Kendall, Bundy’s girlfriend of 6 years, while he was actively killing. She never suspected Ted of his sinister deeds until the death of Janice Ott hit the news. After hearing the story and the description of the killer from witnesses, she  actually was the one that went to the police with Ted Bundy’s name.

Some oversight

To Elizabeth Kendall, she fell in love. She was in a loving relationship with someone who she saw herself marrying. Of course he had his flaws, but as she highlights several times throughout the book, that she did as well. Unlike most documentaries or writings about Bundy, Kendall’s work only briefly touches on his past, only slowing down to talk about what she deemed important to his demise. Specifically, he found out from a family member, who wasn’t his mother, that John Bundy wasn’t his real father. Kendall credited this as the beginning of his mistrust and disdain for women. The book opens up instead, with a brief account of Kendall’s own past. Who she was, her past relationships, how she was raised. She talks about how she and Bundy met in 1969  and how like any relationship starting out, she wasn’t sure of him at first but came to miss him and want him in her life. She explains how Bundy immediately took on a fatherly role to Molly Kendall, Elizabeth’s daughter from a previous marriage. Kendall expresses that, after a while, she didn’t feel safe unless Bundy was there. He was her protector, the love of her life in many ways. It was around 1972 when she said things had made her worry. She noticed things that didn’t add up. He wasn’t always truthful about law school and when he was starting. She noticed more of an arrogance about him, especially concerning his work into getting into law school. Her view of him makes a very clear shift around this time.

In 1972, the disappearance of Denise Naslund and Janice Ott in Washington was spreading all over the city. When Kendall heard witness descriptions, white, young, tall male, possibly having a type of accent, charismatic, etc. We all know the descriptions of the killer. Her fears rocketed when she heard the witnesses name the man as “Ted”. She felt wrong and conflicted for thinking that the man who had been amazing to her had anything to do with the disappearance of a young woman. But then more disappearances were reported. Kendall discusses how she wouldn’t have been suspicious if it weren’t for what she called “coincidences.” She either didn’t know where Bundy was the night of the disappearances or she knew for a fact he was in the areas they happened. She began to anonymously call the police and tip lines. She only gave her name as “Liz” and didn’t tell them the entirety of the relationship she and Bundy shared. When police told her they had looked into Bundy and didn’t find much, her fears never truly dissipated. She was still wary of him and very confused why she still felt this way. When she was with him now, she found herself looking for reasons to believe her suspicions, but she only saw her boyfriend, the man she had been wanting to marry for years. She could never see him as the killer. So, why couldn’t she shake this feeling that he was involved?

Well, we all know her gut feeling was correct. 

When Bundy was finally arrested after what he claimed to be for possession of burglary tools, Kendall’s retelling shift’s from her relationship to her leaving it. She knew the truth he wouldn’t tell. Throughout her rising suspicions and during Bundy’s arrest, Kendall struggled with alcoholism. The latter half of the book is her recovery from not only addiction but also from the lies she was living. After his arrest she felt relieved until  he escaped the second time in the same state as her, but she shortly learned that he had made it to Florida. She provides the letters he sent her, trying to express his love but what she took as a ploy to gain support for his side. She learned to distance herself from him. She parallels her distancing from Bundy to her distancing from alcohol. As she gained sobriety, she started seeing herself as a person without Bundy. She struggled to ignore letters and phone calls, but she visited him in prison only twice. Until one phone call. Bundy called very close to the end of their contact and basically confessed to the crimes, claiming to be sick. She could finally know for 100% fact that every suspicion she had of  him wasn’t merely just a weird feeling,  but that they were all true. After his final sentencing, she managed to ignore him almost  all together, only using the news to keep tabs on what was happening. The memoir ends with her talking about what got her through the end of Bundy: her daughter, sobriety, and God.

My Reactions

This memoir has to be one of the best I’ve read in a while. It’s definitely the most shocking. I found myself not wanting to do anything other than reading just so I could finish it. Anytime I had free time, the book was in my hand. Before class and work, during work on occasion. I was staying up late to read it because it just had me wrapped! I finished it in about 3 days. If I didn’t have obligations, like class, work and sleeping, it probably would have only been one day!. The fact that it was all true makes it that much more enrapturing. Kendall gives a one-of-a-kind perspective on a monster that she knew as a person. You’d think that after finding out who he was, she would run the other way and never stop. However, as you’ll read, that’s much easier said than done. She discusses how hard it was to just turn away from the man she was in love with, the one who also claimed to love her, because of something so sudden and so unbelievably extraordinary. 

The book gives amazing insight into the actual person behind the depravity and monstrosity we all know as Ted Bundy. I would highly recommend reading this book if you are interested in true crime, psychology, or even just looking for something that will hook you from the first few pages.

Closing note

I know it seems like I’ve been talking about how this book humanizes Ted Bundy. That is not at all what the goal of this review is in the slightest. While this book does show the more human side of Bundy,  that he was capable of being loving and caring, it should not take away from what else he was capable of: horrendous torture and killing. Kendall was simply another woman manipulated by Bundy’s charm and near the end of their relationship, she was just lucky enough to not meet the same fate as the others.

Arwen Jeger

C of C '25

Heyo! I'm just a gal that loves to read, watch movies, and explore the world around me. If you ever need a good book or show to get into, or just a solid piece of advice, I got your back!