When Elizabeth Kendall approached Ted Bundy in a Seattle bar in 1969, she thought she’d found a man who had it all.
Smart, sweet and charming, Bundy, then a psychology student at the University of Washington, wooed her. He also insinuated himself into her family, helping Kendall — a single mom — take care of her 3-year-old daughter, Molly.
The couple dated for five years, and the relationship was largely happy.
All the while, increasing numbers of young women began turning up murdered and raped throughout multiple states.
In 1974, after learning that police were searching for a suspect who drove a white Volkswagen Beetle (as Bundy did) and introduced himself as “Ted” to his victims, Kendall called police. She confessed her fears that her boyfriend might be the killer they were looking for.
“I still have a sense of disbelief that this man that I loved and that seemed to be a great guy could go out and do such horrific things,” Elizabeth Kendall says on a special episode of “20/20” on ABC, which airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET and also features her daughter, Molly Kendall. “It’s just so hard to accept.”
The mother and daughter spoke out for the first time in 40 years for Amazon Original’s five-part docuseries, Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer, available Friday on Amazon Prime Video.
TONIGHT on ABC: Ted Bundy | Now finally, his longtime girlfriend & her daughter reveal their haunting story. The stunning new interview and 20/20 Event Special airs TONIGHT at 9|8c on ABC. pic.twitter.com/axmj4xbJPO— 20/20 (@ABC2020) January 31, 2020
Kendall says she thought she’d marry Bundy one day, admitting, “I always felt loved,” though she notes, “But with Ted, it’s impossible to tell. It could’ve been love, it could’ve been just another manipulation.”
She still has photos of her years with Ted — and their complicated relationship inspired her memoir, The Phantom Prince.
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Though Kendall says she feels a strong sense of guilt for letting Bundy into the lives of her and her daughter, she’s thankful they survived — and she hopes to use their profound experience to help others overcome trauma. “I hope [others] will see that it’s possible to have terrible, traumatic experiences and it’s possible to rebuild your life,” Kendall says, according to ABC.
“I mean, it's hard to find words for how devastating it is.” Serial killer Ted Bundy’s ex-girlfriend and daughter break their silence to @arobach and why they think he spared them. https://t.co/Ss2JrozDBM pic.twitter.com/0FkGSpMfaT— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 31, 2020
Bundy was arrested in 1975, and after two dramatic prison breaks and many years behind bars, he was executed in Florida in January 1989. Before his death, Bundy confessed to more than 30 homicides that he’d committed in seven states between 1974-78.
“I hate to even say this because it makes him sound normal, but I do think he loved us,” Kendall admits.