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The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy

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Ted Bundy was America's first celebrity serial killer, and one of the most chilling enigmas in criminal history. Handsome, boyish and well-spoken, a law student with bright political prospects, Bundy was also a predator and sexual deviant who murdered and mutilated at least thirty young women and girls, many of them college coeds but at least two as young as twelve.

345 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1983

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Stephen G. Michaud

22 books69 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 228 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,178 reviews9,217 followers
June 13, 2019
The world according to Ted Bundy :

People disappear every day. It happens all the time. .. I mean, there are so many people. It shouldn’t be a problem. What’s one less person on the face of the earth, anyway?

Or, say, in his case, 30 less? What he is saying here is – get over it, so people like me like to kill women now and then. Why make such a big deal about it? He was kind of irritable. He thought the rest of humanity was being ridiculously sensitive about a few girls. But he did acknowledge that he saw things differently to the rest of us.

Guilt. It’s this mechanism we use to control people. It’s an illusion. It’s very unhealthy. I’m in the enviable position of not having to deal with guilt.

Ted is suddenly the Bad Person of the Month, what with Zac Ephron in the new movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and the documentary Conversations with a Killer - that one is based on the book of the same name, also written by the authors of The Only Living Witness and the taped conversations with Ted are the basis of this book too.


Why is Bundy so famous? It’s because of three things :

1. His crimes really were revolting.
2. His victims were young white women
3. He wasn’t a lowclass scumbag, he was a nicely spoken middleclass educated charming scumbag.

Regarding point 2, if the victims had all been non-white prostitutes, we would have heard a lot less about Ted Bundy. The names of let’s say Gary Ridgway and Randy Kraft don’t ring out like Ted’s. They killed twice as many victims, at least, but Gary merely killed prostitutes, and Randy killed young men. The press just aren’t that interested in that stuff. The press loves young white women, the younger the better.

But lest I sound too contemptuous, there was also the business of the charming. He seemed to be able to charm the young women of America right off the street and into his car. It was eerie how he did it. A lot of that was down to wearing a fake cast and pretending to have a broken arm and needing help to carry stuff to his car and then having a crowbar placed just right under the driver’s seat.


According to Ted, he was a normal sane person but he had what he called an “entity” inside him. The authors rather horribly call this “the hunchback”. As in “we caught a glimpse of the hunchback that day”. They probably wouldn’t use that term nowadays. You probably know this, but the authors were journalists who got to interview him for hours and hours and couldn’t get him to talk about the crimes because he was afraid of incriminating himself & was saying he was totally innocent of everything but car theft; so the authors had a lightbulb moment and said to Ted we know you have thought about these crimes deeply, so to help us understand, could you please speculate on the individual who might have committed them? So with this device, this thinnest of subterfuges, he was off and running. He speculated every which way. He described the murderer always in the third person :

What really fascinated him was the hunt, the adventure of searching out his victims. And, to a degree, possessing them physically, as one would possess a potted plant, a painting or a Porsche.

The authors asked him was there ever an occasions when he – sorry, when the murderer – might have decided NOT to kill a woman he was with.

Yes, Ted said, he remembered – sorry, he imagined this person once picked up a girl in a bar, say, and brought her back to his apartment :

Throughout the evening they engaged in voluntary sexual activity, and throughout the evening he felt himself being tested, debating with himself whether to kill her or just to let the situation run its course normally…. At certain parts of the evening he felt himself on the edge of taking her life. But the justifications were not there.


Bundy was on the run twice and found that if he kept looking, he was bound to find a parked car or a van with the keys still in the ignition.

Who does that??

Answer : Americans in the 1970s.


There was a horrendous brutal night when he had escaped prison for the second (!) time when he broke into a sorority house, attacked 5 girls sleeping in their beds and killed two of them. He would never talk about that, even in the third person. That one was even a bit much for Ted Bundy. But he did jovially suggest to one of the authors that

If you want your book to really sell, maybe I should write the first chapter – about Chi Omega. I’m the only one that can do it. The only one.


This is a very straightforward telling of a very tangled tale. Recommended for true crime junkies and criminal psychology students and anyone wishing to find an example of misogyny in its purest form.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,214 reviews1,121 followers
February 2, 2019
Ted Bundy is all the rage these days, between a Netflix doc and a movie starring Zac Efron(which was filmed about 15 minutes from my house). Good Ole Teddy Bundy is making a comeback.

But Why?

I love True Crime and the biggest category of TC is Serial Killers. John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, BTK, and the latest member The Golden State Killer. Of all the serial killers in modern times(Jack the Ripper is obviously the GOAT) Ted Bundy may be the most famous serial killer. Before reading this book I didn't know much about him but while reading this book I Googled news articles about him and everyone seemed to paint the same picture. They all said Bundy was clean cut, polite, charming and highly intelligent.

I hate to burst the bubble but Nah Son!

Bundy was awkward, immature, and not very bright. He failed at everything he ever did. He barely graduated High School, he flunked out of several colleges, and he wasn't even good at being a serial killer. The fact that he was able to kill for so long had less to do with his Great Intelligence than it did police incompetence.

Bundy was executed 30 years ago on January 24, 1989, its estimated that Bundy killed between 18-40 young women and 1 little girl. Kimberly Leach was 12 years old and in 7th grade when she was kidnapped, brutally raped, and killed. She is also the one victim Bundy never wanted to discuss. He became visibly uncomfortable when she was mentioned.


Because she didn't fit the image he had created as a handsome, charming, and appealing celebrity. Its an image that the media ate up and still seems to believe. Ted Bundy wasn't and isn't a sex symbol. Ted Bundy isn't a some cool guy. He was a violent sexual sadist, who brutally raped, tortured and killed dozens of women. And he had no remorse.

Don't get me wrong I "enjoyed" the book and I will be watching the Netflix doc and maybe the movie. Bundy was and continues to be a fascinating "person" but he shouldn't be treated like a celebrity.
Profile Image for Ann.
63 reviews4 followers
March 17, 2009
I remember in grade school, one of my best friends' mom and my mom were very close. Her sister was missing, and I vividly remember the day her mom came by my home, crying, and reciting the story to my mom. They had found her daughter up the canyon, the details were very brutal. After some time, it came to light that she was a victim of Ted Bundy. I had a fear of him when the killings were going on in my area, then to find he had killed a friend, escalated the fear until he was caught. I read this book some years later, and I have to say of all books written on Bundy, this one was the best.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
628 reviews4,257 followers
May 17, 2020
“We are your sons and we are your husbands and we grew up in similar families.”

The Stranger Beside Me remains my favourite Bundy book, but for those whose Bundy itch can never be scratched, The Only Living Witness is well-worth your time!

Quite a significant part of it is in Bundy’s own words, as the authors recorded their interviews with Bundy and included these conversations in the book. It’s obviously incredibly interesting to hear details directly from the man himself, but at times his thoughts can become meandering to the point where they’re almost non-sensical. It’s also irritating as he talks about the killer in third person, since for most of the book he is denying his involvement in any of the murders.

Otherwise the detail is GREAT. Events are relayed chronologically for the most part, and I really enjoyed learning exactly what Bundy got up to during his two escapes from prison. His journey through the mountains near Aspen, Colorado, for example. Fascinating stuff!

One thing that was a little strange - I was taken aback when I learnt that the authors were involved in arranging Ted’s marriage to Carole Boone. Like wtf. If I’ve interpreted it correctly, they both paid for the wedding rings... from TIFFANY, no less. This just blew my mind!

Overall, I would thoroughly recommend to all true crime fans! It’s well-written and well-researched, incredibly readable, and that’s really all I want from my true crime! 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Danie Tanaka.
48 reviews41 followers
June 9, 2012
This book was truly the most anyone has gotten out of Ted Bundy out of his own words about his crimes. I was bored with the rehashing over the victims (no disrespect, I just had read quite a few times before). What really intrigued me were his dialogues with the author. The author and his fellow investigator in 1980 (one year before I was even born) was trying to get Bundy to talk about his victims. They wasted a lot of time by asking questions. Then the author and his investigator about to stop the project realized they were frustrated because Ted Bundy was acting like a 12 year old boy stuck in a grown man's body. And they wondered if maybe that might not be the key to helping him talk. So they started a game of "Lets PRETEND...YOU KNOW WHAT THE KILLER WAS THINKING". In doing that, he opened up for the only time in his life. And through this "game" just like a child he really believed no one would think HE had done these things even though he had details of the crimes he spoke that no one else could possible have!! The only type of person that could believe in such a thing would be a vastly immature juvenile. His revelations into the development of the psychopathic mind were incredible and something that no one else put someone who went through it could describe. After Bundy stopped talking they took their recordings to forensic psychiatrists asking what he thought and if their impressions were accurate--that somehow Ted Bundy stopped maturing at about 12 years old or so. The shrink agreed and told him that this was probably as close to a truthful self portrait in his own words of Ted Bundy that anyone was ever going to get. That made this book startling and compelling. I just wish there was more of that. I know you need to recognize the victims. I'm not a groupie. I'm just trying to understand psychopathology. And Ted Bundy opened up more than most of his kind. And he also did what Mrs. Hahn from the Goodbye Door did. He described his need to kill, his psychopathology as an "entity" inside him. A compulsion that was hard to control and as the record shows he failed to control in society all to often which is why he wished to stay locked up (but not be executed). After his last escape, he truly did feel like he wanted to live behind bards because the control he used to have over his psychopathology had completely dissolved. At it was against women where his violence and murderous rages were prone to strike. I'm not saying he didn't deserve execution or not. That was not my choice to make. And as a woman, I feel safer knowing there is one less person like him no longer in this world to be honest even if there has been plenty to replace him in the ensuing years.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,675 reviews1,607 followers
August 27, 2019
The first half of this book tells us about the details of the cases and they are explained excessively to us. The authors used a third person device to get Ted Bundy to open up and talk about his crimes. Bundy never really confessed, he really only speculated during the countless interviews with the authors. Bundy was certainly more than than just a twisted individual. The authors have extensively researched and interviewed this despicable man. A very interesting read.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Mirror Books and the authors Stephen G. Michaud & Hugh Aynesworth for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Diane in Australia.
668 reviews788 followers
December 31, 2018
Very good book. Stephan spent many hours talking with Ted. Ted refused to talk in the first-person about his crimes, but he was willing to talk about a supposedly fictitious 'someone' who did these things.

Stephan wrote, "After three days, the first and most important link between us had been forged. Ted was no longer dodging me; he now was going to lead me back along his path to serial murder. He was comfortable behind his veil of fiction. To him, what he'd said already and what he'd soon tell me was not a confession. It couldn't stand the test of admissibility in court, and thus it was outside his definition of guilt. In truth, he was telling me nothing concrete enough to implicate him directly in anything. Yet the narration was to be too seamless, the descriptions too detailed and consistent, for this to be anything but the truth. The hunchback had begun to emerge.

I was anything but comfortable. As the spring of 1980 wore on, Ted and I were locked together in that stuffy yellow room. He showed very little recognizable emotion and often paid little attention to me -- for which I was grateful."

Ted - "I think you could make a little more sense out of much of this if you take into account the effect of alcohol. It's important. It's very important as a trigger. When this person drank a good deal, his inhibitions were significantly diminished. He would find that his urge to engage in voyeuristic behavior, or trips to the bookstore, would become more prevalent, more urgent. It was as though the dominant personality was sedated. On every occasion he engaged in such behavior, he was intoxicated."

Ted - "What happened was this entity inside him was not capable of being controlled any longer," Ted went on, "at least not for any considerable period of time. It began to try to justify itself, to create rationalizations for what it was doing. One element that came into play was anger, hostility. But I don't think that was an overriding emotion when he would go out hunting. On most occasions, it was a high degree of anticipation, of excitement, or arousal. It was an adventuristic kind of thing.

The fantasy is always more stimulating than the aftermath of the crime itself. He should have recognized that what really fascinated him was the hunt, the adventure of searching out his victims. And, to a degree, possessing them physically, as one would possess a potted plant, a painting or a Porsche. Owning, as it were, this individual."

5 Stars = Exceptional. It made a significant impact.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,143 reviews62 followers
August 21, 2012
Warning - do not read this book during an unexpectedly warm period of weather as you will end up sweating and gasping in bed all night due to your insistence at making sure the house is completely sealed up, and what will turn out to be the sound of your cat in the kitchen will have your heart nearly stopping every five minutes in fear that it's actually someone breaking into your house.

A well written, compelling and completely terrifying look at the life and crimes of Ted Bundy, one of the world's most notorious serial killers, the authors could have been forgiven had they gone down the tabloid route - after all, a case where the killer represents himself in court and gets to interrogate his own surviving victims is pretty sensational in itself, before you add in the jailbreaks and the horror of his crimes, but instead they chose the far more interesting path and focus on the personality and 'psychopathology' of the killer - sometimes in his own words (which had a lot to do with my not being able to sleep afterwards).

Bundy managed to escape from jail twice in the course of his murderous career - leading to the infamous Chi Omega killings - and one of the things this book really brought home to me was how each time he was caught it was largely due to his own blundering (seeming like he almost wanted to get caught) rather than due to any brilliant deductions on the part of the police. In fact, Ted's name had come up many times in the early course of the investigations and was never followed up. This, and Bundy's assertion (amongst others) that "there are a lot of people who are not in prison, a lot of people who are not in prison, who were far more successful than I" went a long way towards giving me a serious case of the wiggins.

Essential reading for true crime junkies - but make sure you have someone to stay with you for a while afterwards!

Profile Image for MadameD.
375 reviews14 followers
April 20, 2022
Story 5/5
Narration 5/5

This is the best story about Ted Bundy I read, so far.
Profile Image for Maede.
266 reviews384 followers
September 17, 2017
4.5 ستاره

اولین بار که سراغ مطالعه درست راجع به "تد باندی" رفتم اولین گزینه پیشنهادی همه جا کتاب "آن رول“ بود. "آن" به خاطر آشنایی نسبتا مختصری
که با" باندی" داشت و شغل خبرنگاری، اولین و معروف ترین کتاب رو در این باره نوشته، ولی زمانی که می خوندمش حس می کردم با اینکه سعی کرده همه چیز رو توضیح بده ولی انگار خودش هنوز درگیر طلسم باندیه. انگار از درون باور نکرده که اون مرد آروم و خوش برخورد این قاتل هولناکه و به همین دلیل هم انگار کلی از مسائل راجع به شخصیت باندی رو نادیده گرفته

اما این کتاب نقطه مقابل بود. نویسنده ها باندی رو در بدترین شرایطش ملاقات می کنند. باندی ای که بسیار شبیه به خود واقعیش هست. تد این بار بعد از مدت ها تصمیم داره صحبت کنه، پس به حالت شخص سوم شروع به تعریف کردن چیزهایی می کنه که تا به حال از زبون خودش شنیده نشده. لا به لای این حرف ها روال تبدیل تد از یک انسان به یک هیولا رو میشه پیدا کرد. محرک هایی که به یک درون بیمار کمک کرده. پورن و الکل. راه طولانی ای که از نگاه کردن به زن ها از پشت پنجره و دنبال کردنشون شروع میشه و به دزدیدن و تجاوز و کشتن اون ها ختم میشه

یکی از قسمت های جالب، بررسی مشکلات و عقده های کودکی تد هست. اینکه بر خلاف ادعای خودش کودکی شیرینی نداشته و حتی احتمالا مورد تعرض قرار گرفته و شاید همه چیز از اینجا شروع شده

در کل از لحاظ اطلاعات و نشان دادن چهره واقعی باندی به شدت بهتر از کتاب قبلی بود. برای من که در این کتاب ها دنبال روند تغییر و تاثیرات جامعه و دلایل این اتفاق ها هستم توضیحات عالی ای داشت

درسته که این افراد از درون تفاوت هایی با بقیه دارند ولی اینطور نیست که یک روز بیدار بشن و تبدیل به موجوداتی بشن که در آخر هستن. کم کم این راه رو طی می کنن و از کاتالیزور های مختلفی استفاده می کنند. از طرز فکر جامعه و ساده ترین روابط انسانی سوءاستفاده می کنند و در آخر تبدیل به چیزی می شن که تصور وجودش هم وحشتناکه
تد باندی یه نمونه ی اغراق شدست. ولی نمونه های کوچکترش دائم در حال اتفاق افتادنه و ما هنوز درست نمی دونیم چرا. از اون بدتر، یاد نگرفتیم که چنین آدم هایی گوژپشت های زشت و عجیبی نیستند که تنها زندگی می کنند. ممکنه یک مرد با زن و بچه باشه که فاجعه ای مثل "آتنا اصلانی" رو می سازه. سال هاست باید تعریف هامون رو عوض کنیم

ریویو ای که برای کتاب اول نوشته بودم
The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story
Profile Image for Jill Hutchinson.
1,445 reviews105 followers
May 2, 2013
I wonder how many books have been written about serial killer, Ted Bundy?.....I was lucky enough to choose this one as it contains interviews with Bundy which are very revealing about his persona. He killed approximately 30 young women but refused to admit it even when a deal for him to escape the death penalty was offered by the State if he would confess. But, Bundy thought he was smarter than the legal system and although he attended law school for a short time, was not a good student, another thing he would not admit. He even took the role of his own defense attorney for a while but that did not work out. So he played to the press, to the court, to the jury and especially the media. He simply wanted to be famous.....but famous only as a man who was used by a legal system that needed a scapegoat for the string of murders. But then became quite miffed when Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer's victim count exceeded his (even thought he declared he didn't kill anyone). He actually spoke with investigators regarding the Green River killings as an "expert". An interesting look at a man who was so separated from the reality of his crimes that he only acknowledged them on the eve of his execution. He has gotten credit over the years for being a clever, extremely intelligent criminal but this book refutes that image. He was a twisted, evil man who was lucky to escape justice as long as he did. Disturbing.
Profile Image for Kaelie.
110 reviews
March 19, 2008
A chilling, well-written and surprisingly unsensationalized account of Ted Bundy's murders and police efforts to find him. The authors do not dwell on the tabloid aspects of his crimes, but spend time examining Bundy's psychological make up and speculating on whether he was just lucky, or whether he was in actuality an almost-flawless killing machine. They made the point that the police never caught Bundy until he allowed himself to be caught, which was interesting.
Profile Image for Rachelle.
313 reviews75 followers
July 27, 2020
"He shattered the comfortable preconceptions about the sort of person capable of such monstrosities, presenting the world a figure both gross to contemplate and wholesome to behold; a likeable, loveable homicidal mutant."

First true crime of 2020! What a great pick.. this book dives deep into a case I felt I already knew very well... turns out there is always more to learn.
Profile Image for M.N. Cox.
Author 1 book53 followers
March 14, 2022
“Ted Bundy’s wearying saga of waste, failure, and death had one villain and no heroes.”

Many consider Ted Bundy as a “quintessential” serial killer in all his pathological, skin crawling, predatory infamy. I think this book gives as thorough a picture as any could of the man behind the shameful crimes, and it does so by linking evidence, information from people who knew Bundy, and material given by Bundy himself in taped interviews with the journalists, Hugh Aynesworth and Stephen G. Michaud. Interestingly, the authors used a version of good cop, bad cop through the conversations they had while Bundy was on death row in Florida in the 80s.

This is not the first time Michaud and Aynesworth have written books on Ted Bundy and I was unsure whether there was anything new in this version. I read one review that felt this was a rehash of their old book, though I can’t confirm that. If it is, the authors and publisher should be clear about it. Having said that, I haven’t read the other books but I can say I found this one detailed. worthwhile and well-written (hardly a given with true crime books). I learned a lot of things about Bundy’s life, death, and about the lives he destroyed through this book.

The book makes for harsh and frightening reading at many points. If I were Michaud or Aynesworth I’d probably need to make money from the books to pay for therapy because I think it’s one thing to sit safely at home reading, but another thing entirely to hear it straight from the killer. I know it’s the job of a journalist but I felt sorry for what the authors went through. I think it was Aynesworth who described feeling sickened by Bundy’s diatribes but having to cover it up in order not to deter him from continuing. He later vomited and drank in his room until he fell asleep. It would unnerve and chill the soul.

Bundy’s ideas were given obliquely with him telling the interviewers what he thought a third person might do, or might have done. He flatly refused to incriminate himself until the last week before his execution when he finally made some open statements of guilt. You have to remind yourself he’s a manipulative liar. Still, there seems to me to be a lot to learn from the exchange of information between Bundy, Michaud and Aynesworth.

There were moments that didn’t sit well with me regarding the writers. First, the title refers to Carol DaRonch who escaped Bundy’s car in Utah in 1975 but having that in the title suggests that the book is focused more on DaRonch and it's not the case. Next, the authors paid for the gold wedding rings that Bundy and Carol Boone used to get hitched while he was in prison. I get that if you’re working with a serial killer, there will be grey areas, but they knew he was guilty, so…grr. Another time I cringed when the authors wrote “In the deluge of tips and hysterical outpourings from frightened women…” Really? Hysterical is such a loaded word. Finally, moving on from the writing and on to the legal system itself: Bundy was able to examine his own victims in court because he was representing himself. It just seems OUTRAGEOUS. No wonder they call the law an ass.

I don’t believe Bundy was the ultimate intelligent killer based on the detail given in this book. Under the surface, I think he was a sad man addicted to violence against women leading him to take brazen chances which, when they paid off for him, helped secure his mythology. It was a fascinating book though, and I’m glad to have a more realistic picture of Ted Bundy.

Thanks to publisher, Mirror Books, the authors, and NetGalley for my copy of the book in return for honest review.

P.S. I have to say this: I will never understand the Bundy groupies. I have tried, for interests' sake, to put myself in their shoes. To imagine finding a serial killer attractive - not necessarily Bundy. I have failed.
Profile Image for Ruthy lavin.
426 reviews
August 29, 2019
An interesting version of the story of Ted Bundy.
This book is certainly well written and horribly fascinating, yet I found the very long chapters were way too crammed with sometimes poorly constructed information and recounted interviews, and found myself regularly having to take breaks just to give my brain a rest.
Shorter, more chronological chapters would have been much better.
There’s no doubt that this is one of the best books I’ve read about Bundy, but I would have liked a further chapter discussing the legacy he has left behind, his non-abating popularity, and whether or not the families of his victims have found some semblance of justice since his execution.
3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Janel.
511 reviews91 followers
February 6, 2020
Where do you even start when reviewing a book like this? You can’t call this book an enjoyable one, it will upset you – the lives lost, the futures stolen from these women. It will disturb you – that one person could possess the evil to commit such horrendous crimes. It will confuse you – that some people believed in this man’s innocent, one to such lengths that she married him. It will have you questioning “the system” – could the police forces have worked together in a productive manner to catch him sooner? Could the underlying mental health issues have been found sooner? Would it have made a difference? It will anger you – at the privilege afforded this man, so much so he was able to escape custody, twice!

There’s no doubt you will experience a range of emotions as you read this book, but what you will not once experience is the glorifying of a serial killer – no romantic portrayal, no entertainment factor. Instead, a well-written, comprehensive account – to the extent that you’ll be inclined to agree with the New York Daily News, that this is “One of the 10 best true crime books ever written.”

There’s a wealth of literature on Bundy, some written by those closest to him, but what these two authors present is a well-researched account – Michaud and Aynesworth have done an excellent job with this book. Their other book, Conversations With a Killer, gives readers an insight into the mind of a serial killer, in his own words, and it’s well worth reading, but if you’re looking for a detailed account of Bundy’s life, crimes and capture, then this is the book you should read.

*My thanks to the publisher (Mirror Books) for providing me with a copy of this book*
Profile Image for Metatron.
89 reviews30 followers
October 11, 2013
Excellent book.

It's bizarre to admit, but while reading this book it's as if I felt close to Ted. I can almost feel sympathy for him. What if he was a tormented soul? He knew he was evil, but maybe deep down he had a dab of good in him. If you notice, the police and FBI didn't do a good job on capturing him. Ted simply made a stupid mistake, or got pulled over for driving too fast and they'd take him to the station after seeing his burglary tools. They had an extremely difficult time by trying to connect him with the killings, and it's as if Ted didn't want to die, but he didn't want to cause more harm/grief either and he knew he was a danger to society. He got caught by his own exploits that sometimes seemed intentional, and when asked about the Chi Omega killings, if he committed them, he simply said: "Look for it. The evidence is right there!"

Ted was a true puzzle. The shameful thing about him dying is that we'll never be able to solve that puzzle. It startles me how someone so very attractive, so charming, so seemingly nice, intelligent and with so much future ahead could turn into such a repulsive being. He said he had a good childhood. He was socially awkward in school, but aren't we all at one point? He had a decent life, so trying to understand why he killed is senseless, because maybe there isn't even a reason as to why he killed. Maybe he just liked it. He just liked and enjoyed it as a hobby as I'd enjoy playing video-games or sleeping on a rainy day. Reading a good book, drinking coffee and petting my dog are my pleasures; murdering were his. Having pleasures or liking them does not mean they are right, however. I'm clarifying that.

All in all, I believe Michaud did an excellent job on writing this book. It truly gives you some insight as to how Ted was. He (Michaud) describes the occurrences very well and realistically; all with a touch of suspense and dilemma, keeping it highly interesting.

Ted was a very intelligent man, and the special thing about him is that he saw things so very differently from the rest of us. How would I enjoy to speak with him.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
41 reviews7 followers
June 10, 2011
This was the first Ted Bundy book I read out of 3 so far and I think it's my favorite one. It's detailed but not graphic about his crimes and the authors have a good cop/bad cop thing going which is cool. This book really allows you to get into the mind of a infamous serial killer.
Profile Image for Mara.
400 reviews275 followers
October 27, 2013
Read this right after The Last Victim, and decided I needed a break from true crime... When Ted Bundy starts to come off as a quotidian character you know you've reached criminology saturation...
Profile Image for Nicole.
867 reviews318 followers
August 5, 2020
This was a really fascinating and comprehensive true crime book about the Ted Bundy case.

Ted Bundy is one of the most well known Serial killers to have ever existed, yet even if you've read previous books about him or watched documentaries, I guarantee that you will learn something new from this book about the case.

Told in chornological order, this book is told by 2 journalists who got to spend 150 hours interviewing him on death row.

The amount of detail in this book was very impressive. Clearly, a lot of time and research has gone into this book.

It covers everything from this childhood to this death, not just the killings, so you really get an great insight into the case by reading this book.

It took me quite a while to read because it's so detailed and can be quite mentally draining to read but its definitely worth it if you like true crime

TW: real life descriptions of murder, violence, torture, rape and sexual assault
Profile Image for Fishface.
3,069 reviews221 followers
January 22, 2016
As usual, this focuses too much on the killer and not enough on the victims, but maybe the authors had no choice in the matter. The other main frustration is the way the authors say over and over that the killer is mentally ill, and that all the experts agree on that, but they never tell you what his diagnosis is supposed to be. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating and compelling read. I long for an updated edition that might fill in the information the killer revealed in his last-minute confessions.
Profile Image for Sarah Faichney.
745 reviews18 followers
October 4, 2021
The most comprehensive book I've read on Ted Bundy. Includes interviews, court transcripts and information pertaining to police procedure and forensic science. In "The Only Living Witness", Michaud and Aynesworth provide a chilling but factual deconstruction of Bundy. The book uses his own words throughout, gleaned from a series of interviews with the authors. I can only imagine how harrowing the whole process was for them.
Profile Image for Tiger Gray.
Author 1 book30 followers
March 7, 2015
Everyone who studies or reads a lot of true crime has their pet case, the one they feel compelled to research to the point of obsession. For me that case is Ted Bundy's. I feel that unlike Charles Manson, he made an entire country question everything they thought they knew about dangerous criminals. At least for the privileged sections of U.S. society, so sure they were safe in their enclaves, Ted Bundy took their innocence and hcanged investigative technique forever.

Since I have read nearly every book on Ted Bundy out there, some interesting quirks become apparent in this one. There are at lest three insults aimed directly at Ann Rule, author of The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story . I would dearly love to know what that enmity is about, as the authors describe her as gullible, unreasonable, and essentially shrewish. Of course I'll probably never get the story there but I feel that their dislike isn't really warranted. Her book about Bundy is excellent and personal; it's not meant as a journalistic tome, not really.

As to the content of the book it's very good, incorporating as it does interviews with the man himself. The other books I have read skimp on the horror, but through these talks with Bundy this novel doesn't shy away: Denise Naslund and Janice Ott were likely raped and killed together, one being forced to watch as the other one was murdered. Julie Cunningham was allowed to believe she could escape, only to be chased down by Bundy so he could rape and strangle her. He kept Kathy parks alive and conscious for an hours long drive in the back of his VW. This information is not for the faint of heart.

With that in mind, the authors apparently think nothing of first describing how Kim Leach, a twelve year old girl, was found: her body on all fours and slumped over, strongly implying Ted was raping her from behind when he slit her throat with a hunting knife, and then during the trial for her murder, providing wedding rings so Ted could marry his sweetheart, Carole Ann Boone, on the strand. In the entire time I've been studying this case, I've often found that move the most repulsive, that these people could twist the only justice Kim would ever receive for their little tawdry spectacle. And Aynesworth and Michaud apparently thought nothing of contributing to it. People insult Ann Rule for sending him commissary money, but I find that far more reasonable than buying this scumbag wedding rings so he could pervert Kim's trial and visit indignity on her and her family one last time.

The authors likewise cement their status in my mind as questionable people when they refer to Ted's compulsion to kill as "the hunchback." Surely there were less loaded terms to use; even Ted calls it his "entity" or "his problem." Or they could have simply referred to it as a demon, a spirit, whatever, without contributing to the notion that physical disfigurement leads to disfigurement of the soul. He then goes on to use the word "prudes" to describe some of the victims. I can only think of poor Susan Rancourt when the authors use this, a studious, responsible girl who took care of herself and showed respect to her parents. So this brilliant, kind girl was snatched away, subjected to incomprehensible torture, murdered, and then dumped in a special spot s Ted could come back and rape her corpse, but the best descriptor the author can think of to describe her and girls like her is "prude."

That said if you are fascinated by Bundy then you can't miss out on this book. It had details I didn't know despite reading several books on this subject. It includes large sections in Ted's own words, and it's a look in to his stunted psyche that isn't to be missed:

"II mean, there are so many people. It shouldn't be a problem. What's one less person on the face of the earth, anyway?""

"...and the grounds where you kill them or leave them become sacred to you, and you will always be drawn back to them."

Ted: "With reference to, to, uh, oh, what's her name?"
HA: "I think it's Parks."
Ted: "Parks. Terrible with names. And faces..."

"I need some goddamn special attention! I demand it!"

"Guilt. It's this mechanism we use to control people. It's an illusion."
Profile Image for Greg Carmichael.
6 reviews1 follower
September 22, 2007
Like a lot of people, when it comes to serial killers, I find Ted Bundy to be most fascinating. When I consider Jeffery Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy, it doesn’t seem to be too far of a stretch to believe that they could commit such horrific crimes. After all, they look like murderers, right? But with Bundy, the image the public got was just the opposite. Intelligent, eloquent, witty and handsome, he seemed like anything but a predator.

The most interesting thing about this book was that it revealed Bundy to be much more of an “ordinary” serial killer than he appeared to be. We got the charming image for two reasons—first, Bundy, unlike most of us, performed best in custody and under pressure. He loved the camera, the attention and verbally sparring with authority. Second, the media chose to perpetuate this image alone because it made for a great story despite the fact that it was only part of the picture. Hence, Bundy became a celebrity with the ironic twist that many of his adoring young fans were the very type upon whom he would have preyed. Yet as a free man, the real Bundy emerged. In the midst of his killing sprees he revealed a side that was depressed, confused, and angry. Witnesses who narrowly averted his grasp describe him as anything but charming and intelligent—instead he came across as creepy and obsessive.

I admit that with a subject like this, I tend to be satisfied with the A&E Biography version of the tale. I don’t need to know every detail about every victim and trial—just give me some insight into the man and I’m content. At over 300 pages, the subject got a little tedious for me after a while, but that is probably a matter of my taste over any fault of the book. For those who are interested, the writing is excellent. The style doesn’t suffer the usual reporter-turned-author shortcomings and while it is adequately descriptive it is not gratuitously graphic. Another thing that kept me interested more than most books like this was varied format—Michaud and Aynesworth rely on research, court testimony and interviews with Bundy himself to draw a complete picture of a man who was just as flawed as any other psychopath.
Profile Image for Bro_Pair أعرف.
93 reviews227 followers
June 11, 2015
I blame Truman Capote for the predicament an honest true crime writer faces today. Sure, you could hew to the truly trashy low road, like any number of authors did in recounting the strange case of Ted Bundy, but the quality of most of those books seems plodding at best. You could shoot also for the high road, the "literary" true crime story, but in many respects, this is even more aggrieving; "The Executioner's Song," while good, is 1,000 pages long, and unnecessarily so, "In Cold Blood" seems mostly like the fabrication of a big city grifter, and the recent and much beloved "Serial" podcast is a formless, lifeless shaggy dog whose doleful subject is probably completely guilty as charged. So what to do?

Well, the answer is to write something like this book. It would make sense that the best book on Bundy would be by two journalists. But what grace the story is told with! Structurally, it is brilliantly plotted -- the revelations of Bundy's life, cutting back and forth to his jailhouse perdition, his escapes, his hunting, his pursuit, his final explosion. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say I can't recall reading a true crime book more insightful into the nature and thoughts of a psychopath -- "The Killer Inside Me" by Jim Thompson being a fictive equal. Great book; but it will stick with you.
Profile Image for Hannah.
25 reviews26 followers
February 12, 2018
the problem with this book is that hearing ted's own words creates this sense that i am learning, which seems deeply unfair to his victims. much of the time his confidence is infuriating but then he'll reveal what an insolent and stunted person he was and i get a bit of relief. i hate that by peeling back all these layers and hearing him meditate on the nature of the monster he is i was feeling more enlightened. i don't want to say i'm enlightened to what he was - but i will admit that the work stephen michaud accomplished with this book was a grasp on the boggling concept of how one person could exist and thrive on murder. michaud seems to share my feelings as a reader. he seems to also be deeply disturbed by not only ted, but the perverse fascination that ted elicits. it's a hard line to follow. the last thing i'll say is that like ted himself, there are many facets and views of the story. there are so many ways to tilt the situation. i think that's why it is unfair for people to say that books such as these and SBM can't share space in the canon as accurate portrayals. form-wise they're apples and oranges. content wise, and contextually, they're both invaluable and offering honest takes of one particularly vile individual.
Profile Image for Aya Hamouda.
38 reviews42 followers
August 12, 2018
This is One of My all-time favorite true-crime books . It's by far the best book on "Bundy", chiefly because of the authors' genius idea to have Bundy "speculate" about how the murders were done.

This book was truly the most anyone has gotten out of Ted Bundy out of his own words about his crimes. What really intrigued me were his dialogues with the author. The author and his fellow the investigator in 1980 were trying to get Bundy to talk about his victims. They wasted a lot of time by asking questions. Then the author and the investigator were about to stop the project realized they were frustrated because" Bundy " was acting like a child stuck in a grown man's body.
And they wondered if maybe that might not be the key to make him talk . So they started a game of "Lets PRETEND...YOU KNOW WHAT THE KILLER WAS THINKING ".

In doing that, he opened up for the 1st and the only time in his life. And through this "game" just like a child he really believed no one would think HE had done these things even though he had details of the crimes he spoke that no one else could possible have!!
Profile Image for Shacoria.
517 reviews6 followers
September 28, 2013
This book is really interesting. It was very intense at times and it was heartbreaking to hear about the way ted murdered these women and it was especially sad to hear how he murdered a 12 year old little girl. On the other hand it was fascinating to read things from Ted's point of view. I'm really glad that the author didn't try to present Ted as some sort of likable character, because when you look at all the pain he inflicted it is impossible to have any sort of sympathy for him. One thing I will say is that i found the title of this book a bit misleading. The title makes it sound as though the book will be written about one of the people who survived an attack by Ted, but it is actually more about Ted than anyone else.
1 review
August 9, 2017
To me this book is perfect True Crime, from the pacing and the way it's structured, to the insane way they trick Bundy into talking about the murders. A great look at just such a fucked up and insane story…
"Just one of those people who cast weird vibes at you. He usually wanted to tell us how great he was. He wanted people to acknowledge that he was a great person. Apparently no one ever had."
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