New Ted Bundy Documentary Hits Close to Home

*Light Spoilers Ahead*

I’ve always been an avid consumer of true crime, whether in the form of television shows such as NBC’s Dateline or books such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. There is something simultaneously fascinating and disturbing about hearing the stories of those intimately involved with the investigations and trials of crimes that are often so gruesome it’s difficult to believe they actually happened. Accordingly, I was intrigued and eager to watch when Netflix recently released a documentary on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, entitled Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.

The documentary is split into four episodes which trace through Ted’s life from childhood to his execution in the electric chair but focuses mainly on his killing sprees in the Northwest, Colorado, Florida and his subsequent trials. However, what makes the documentary unique is implied within its title; it contains numerous snippets of Ted himself speaking on the nature of his crimes, at first in the third person and refusing to admit guilt to resigned from his own perspective. The tapes were recorded by journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth while Ted was on death row in a Florida state prison, and they provide an element of irrefutable truth that is not only crucial to the documentary’s credibility but makes each episode all the more riveting to watch.

Though I was entertained by the series, I also found the accounts of Ted’s crimes quite frightening, especially as a college-aged girl fitting the profile for the majority of his victims. As image after image of Ted’s 30-some victims came onto the screen, I felt a connection to them by virtue of our shared stage of life that I’ve seldom before experienced while watching a true crime show. I imagined the lives they must have been leading, not so different from my own, and what it was must have been like for their friends and families to see the life of their daughter, sister, girlfriend or best friend suddenly and unexpectedly cut short. Particularly upsetting was the recollection of Ted’s abduction and murder of a 12-year-old girl. More than anything, this documentary reminded me not to take my own life for granted, and to appreciate each day. Knowing that monsters like Ted have existed and still do exist is motivation to not only stay as safe as possible, but to continue to speak out against senseless violence, and especially violence against women.

Overall, I would recommend Conversations with a Killer to anyone, but especially to fellow fans of true crime. Though I was often saddened by their content, I was also fascinated by the tapes of Ted, which are a testament to the talents and tenacity of Michaud and Aynesworth. Well-made and engaging, this documentary deserves viewers if not because of its primary subject, because of its presentation of his victims. Their faces and stories should be known—and never forgotten.

 

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