Ted Bundy’s longtime girlfriend and previous fiancée, Elizabeth “Liz” Kloepfer, vanished from public view about 40 years ago.
Before that, she published The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, a book about her traumatic six-year relationship with the famed serial murderer, who had a double life as a loving spouse and a horrible serial killer. (Bundy finally acknowledged to killing 36 women across many states in the 1970s, while experts and close associates believe the true number was closer to 100.)
The 183-page book, written under the pen name Elizabeth Kendall and released in 1981, recalls the night she and Bundy met in a Seattle tavern in 1969 and the hot-and-cold romance that ensued. It finishes with the emotional phone calls Bundy made to her from jail before his death. The novel is about love and vulnerability, not murder. Kloepfer was 36 years old at the time, and Bundy was on death row.
Kloepfer was drawn to Bundy because she was lonely, and he cared for her
When Kloepfer went from Ogden, Utah to Seattle to try to change the path of her terrible life, she described herself as a shy, insecure, and lonely single mother who was divorced and battling alcoholism. She yearned to be loved and married and to provide a father for her baby daughter, Tina.
She obtained a position as a secretary at the University of Washington Medical School. Her buddy advised her to find a babysitter and go out for a couple of drinks at a neighborhood pub one night. Given her financial situation, it was something she never did.
Kloepfer claims in her book that she was attempting to avoid a suspicious person in the pub when she noticed Bundy sitting alone and approached him. She replied to him, “You look like your best friend just died.” They started talking. The chemistry was instant, and the conversation flowed smoothly. Bundy ended up spending a platonic night at her place, but they soon became a relationship.
“‘Here,’ I replied as I handed Ted my life. ‘Take good care of me.’ He helped me in many ways, yet I became increasingly reliant on him. “When I felt Ted’s love, I felt like I was on top of the world; when I didn’t feel anything from Ted, I felt like I was nothing,” she wrote in the book.
Bundy and Kloepfer almost married despite their turbulent relationship
She described his affections for her as “strong but inconsistent.” “We’d be having a good time when a door would slam and I’d be out in the cold until Ted was ready to let me back in.” I’d spend hours trying to figure out what I’d said or done wrong. “And then, all of a sudden, he’d be warm and loving again, and I’d feel needed and cared for,” she wrote.
One of the stories in the book takes place in February 1970, when Kloepfer informed Bundy that she preferred to refer to him as “my husband Ted” rather than “my boyfriend.” They went to court, borrowed $5 from a friend, and obtained a marriage license. Kloepfer urged him to take his belongings out of the flat a few days later before her conservative parents came to Seattle for a visit. Ted became enraged, and she recalls him stating, “If you’re that concerned about what your parents think, you’re not ready to marry.” He ripped up the license and went away.
Kloepfer suspected Bundy of criminal activity
Things began to become bizarre in 1974 when news reports arose of two women being murdered and raped in the neighborhood. Witnesses cited the name “Ted” as well as a Volkswagen, similar to the one Bundy drove. Kloepfer was skeptical yet hesitant to think Bundy could murder.
When she questioned him about some odd behaviors, such as finding a meat cleaver on his desk, a medical glove in his coat pocket, or driving hundreds of miles to Colorado one night to de-stress from work, he used his brains and charm to get out of it.
She eventually took the painful decision to go to the police and betray the guy she loved. They didn’t believe Bundy was the murderer, so she stayed with him and never informed him she’d gone to the cops.
Bundy attempted to assassinate Kloepfer
Ted’s professional transfer to Olympia, then to Utah, strained their relationship. They saw each other less and less, and began dating other people, but remained in contact. Even from jail, his love letters and phone calls drew her back in. “Ted’s letters made me feel loved,” she said in her letter.
When news stories of missing women began to appear in the different places Kloepfer was living, he became increasingly persuaded he was responsible and addressed the police again in 1975. This time, the information she supplied was important in charging Bundy with the killings.
One of the most dramatic instances in the book is when Bundy contacted Kloepfer from his Florida jail at 2 a.m. According to the book, he admitted that he attempted to avoid her when he “felt the power of his sickness building in him,” but couldn’t resist his need. He even tried to kill Kloepfer once, he informed her. He had closed the fireplace damper to prevent smoke from rising up the chimney and had placed a towel in the door breach to keep the smoke inside the flat.
“I recall that night vividly,” Kloepfer wrote. “My eyes were watering and I coughed.” I rushed out of bed, opened the nearest window, and poked my head out. After I had recovered a little, I opened all the windows and doors and did my best to put out the fire. I chastised Ted the next day for not returning with the fan.”
Kloepfer describes Bundy as “warm and loving” despite the fact that he was a serial murderer
They divorced forever, and Ted Bundy married Carole Ann Boone, a mother of two whom he’d previously dated, during the punishment phase of his murder trial in 1980. In 1982, she gave birth to a daughter, Rose, and listed Bundy as the father.
Kloepfer noted that she struggled to accept that the guy she loved was also the one who perpetrated all of these killings. She has fought drinking, struggled to get connected to others, and depended on her religion to lead her through difficult times after their divorce. “My spiritual development is extremely important to me right now.” I make an effort to conduct my life in accordance with God’s will. “I pray for Ted, but he sickens me,” she remarked. “The tragedy is that this warm and loving man has been driven to kill.”
The limelight Kloepfer avoids is set to beam on her once more. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, a film about Bundy’s atrocities portrayed from Kloepfer’s point of view, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival – nearly 30 years after Bundy was executed by an electric chair. Zac Efron plays Bundy, while Lily Collins plays Kloepfer.