Ted Bundy, Joe Berlinger, Seattle discussed on All Of It
Welcome back to all of it on WNYC. The term serial killer was coined in the nineteen seventies. A source of oh theft, the nation and repulsion the subject has been covered in many films. But have you ever seen a film where the serial killer, essentially, narrates his own story the net flicks docu series conversations with a killer at the Ted Bundy tapes tells the tale of bundy's life, featuring selections for more than over one hundred hours of tape conversations with a killer. He doesn't his own voice never heard before by a public audience. It's really next level in terms of true crime, TV the tapes, providing unsettling backdrop to the life and crimes of Bundy, an aspiring lawyer, he used his charm and good looks to lure more than thirty women to their deaths in the nineteen seventies conversations with a killer. The Ted Bundy tapes premiers on Netflix tomorrow, January twenty four th and its director and executive producer. Joe Berlinger is here with us now. Nice to see you. So why have we never heard these tapes before? Well, I would say ninety percent of the tapes. We haven't heard before a little bit. Has been released here and there, but Stephen Michaud, the author Hugh Ainsworth, they wrote a book conversations with a killer based on these tapes, and they just kind of sat on it and Michaud reached out to me couple of years ago. And you know, he's who was a fan of my true crime documentaries and asked if I was interested in in it, and I mean, honestly, initially, I was not sure I was because there's awful lot abundant material out there. But when I heard these tapes, they were absolutely chilling. And I thought it provided a unique way to tell the Bundy story to the comprehensive story of Bundy through his own words, you kind of entered the mind of the killer and. I don't wanna say you understand why he does what he does. But you get a sense of who he is. And I think that's the that's the the troubling enduring lesson of Bundy, and why we are always so fascinated by him because he defied all the stereotypes of what a serial killer is, you know, we want to think that a serial killer is is some weird social outcasts. Buffalo treat or exactly as as Bundy himself said in these tapes, you know, you know, killers don't come out of the shadows. With long fangs with blood dripping off their chin. They are your brother your father, people you loved and lived with. And that's what makes it so damn frightening. And and when you listen to these tapes, you see his charm, you see his thinking you see his intelligence. I mean, he's he's talking about horrible things. But that's I think why we're so fascinated in these because we want to think that you're safe because oh, there's the serial killer. I can see him over there. So I can avoid him. But they're these people are not avoidable. And you know, like, the priest who commits pedophilia or you know, any any kind of people who do evil things. But then, you know, put on a good face serial killers are no different. Why did Bundy wanna talk to these two reporters? Specifically, what was it about them? Well, interestingly. Bundy thought. As you see in the tapes, he actually talks about these things in the third person that is the wildest thing because he didn't want to implicate himself because he was still in Bundy uniquely once serial killers are caught they generally love to talk about their crimes and spill the beans, but Bundy, one of the terrifying things about Bundy is that he denied his crimes. To his friends and loved ones during the trials throughout the entire appeals process. And it wasn't until a few days before his execution that he started doling out information in in a, you know. No. Attempt an ill-fated attempt to try to extend his life by giving information. So that these cases, you know, these these cold cases could be closed but Bundy. You know? He was looking to tell the story, basically, you know, and he wanted the case reinvestigated. And so it was kind of this odd reason for for doing the book because he was continuing to pretend to these authors that he was innocent. And he wanted a reinvestigation of the case. And so Steven and Hugh didn't believe necessarily the Bundy was innocent when they started the project, but they thought if he's telling the truth, that's one heck of a story if this guy that everyone thinks is this horrendous serial killer is actually innocent. And if he's lying that's interesting too because we have access to him. So why they chose him? They don't even know, but they did. And so they started this project and after a couple of months. Seve Michelle did most of the interviews and Hugh Ainsworth went out to the Pacific northwest to do the reinvestigation. And of course, the reinvestigation just confirmed his guilt, but Stephen was growing frustrated with bundy's kind of vanity talk and beating around the Bush and not really getting to the courthouse. I bet his childhood how he's he was great catching frogs, and he sort of just decided he wants to he wants to control the narrative, and he's trying to manipulate the interviews -actly. And then and then Bundy sorry, Michelle Stephen Michaud has this epiphany because a serial killer, ultimately is an extremely narcissistic person who loves to regale about their crimes, that's how they derive satisfaction. And so he asked. He suggested that that Bundy be an expert witness to talk about these crimes and to provide insight, you know, so that Stephen could write about the crimes, but use use Bundy as kind of an expert knowing full well that he was actually the killer, and that his eyes lit up bundy's is lit up. He cradled the tape recorder and off you went, and he just couldn't resist himself talking about every detail of the crimes giving information that only the killer would know but talking in the third person, which is fascinating. Because of course, he didn't want to implicate himself because he was still going through the process. My guess is Joe Berlinger he is the director and executive producer of the net. Flicks docu series conversations with a killer. The Ted Bundy tapes, I'm curious when you heard all these tapes, I I don't know what it's hindsight. If it's with the audio version sentences about listening with hindsight. He sounds creepy to me when you. When you listen to him, you listen to talk, you think all that is creepy guy. But I'm wondering what you thought like every normal. He is he doesn't really sound normal to me. But I have all this information about him. So what is talking about is absolutely chilling, but the but the manner in which he does it. I mean, obviously, it's creepy, but you can understand how you know, his Miami trial. He represented himself. Look the court allowed him to represent himself, which was crazy. It was the first nationally televised murder trial. So there was a ton of media coverage, and he just kind of lit up, and you see in these tapes, the, you know, the sad waste of life. Because he's intelligent. You see how he charmed people? I mean, there's little moments in the tapes, where he you know, he's jokingly. You know, Stephen Michaud Asif minds if he smokes a cigarette and there's a joke about cancer. And then he he without skipping. A beat continues his narrative about, you know, hunting hunting women and what he's looking for. I just found them. You know, the thing about Bundy was he was incredibly believable. You know, one of the most fascinating is one of the one of the most fascinating things for me about the whole Bundy saga is his initial Pacific northwest killings because he killed in the Pacific northwest, Utah Colorado, but his initial killings were in and around Seattle and his initial killings were at night waiting for a lone female walking on the college campus completely isolated because that's that's easy. He then emboldened himself in Seattle and went to a place called lake sammamish state park, and in the course of one day, he he abducted and killed two women and the ruse was he were. A cast and he walked around to a lot of women and say, hey, you know, you're taking advantage of their of of the female nurturing instinct of allowed to say that people take up the right way. And he was taking advantage of that instinct by asking women to help him load, a boat onto a Volkswagen, and he talked to enough people at that park has he ended up getting to victims. But several other women just said, they weren't interested. But enough witnesses to these conversations enabled the police to be able to put together a composite sketch. They heard the name Ted, and they heard Volkswagen. So there was an article in the Seattle newspaper with this composite sketch a few days after the abductions saying, hey, there's a guy named Ted. He looks like this. He drives a VW and all of Ted's friends recognized him or the the sketch was enough of a resemblance that they teased him about the resemblance and say God, isn't that funny guy named Ted? You have a VW he has a VW. Kind of looks like you. But nobody would even think, oh, gee, maybe you're responsible, and that's because of this believability that he had which which I think comes through in those tapes. He's he's he's sincere and believable and that that is utterly chilling. In fact, my I'm also doing a scripted movie that premiered at Sundance called extremely wicked. That is the Bundy story as well as ACA FRANZ planning to Ted Bundy, he looks so much like, it's really creepy. How much test? Looks like Ted Bundy it is. And and it's coincidental that these two projects came together at the same time. It's like the weird universe. Tapped me on the shoulders. And for some reason, you're the guy that's all stories in two thousand nineteen but that movie focuses exclusively on that relationship. And and you see the whole Bundy saga through the perspective of the girlfriend who thought for six years she was living. Can you imagine living with a guy who at night is is stealing away and killing women, but he's such a wonderful boyfriend and wonderful surrogate father to your young child from another relationship that you just even though there were a few clues along the way she just couldn't imagine that this guy was anything other than her wonderful boyfriend. And I think you see that in these tapes that you understand his intelligence his planning his conning and his utter evil nece, no remorse. I mean, that's the thing up until you know, he gave. Shortly before his execution. He gave a final interview on television with his Reverend Dobson declaring that pornography made him do it. And you know, he was tearful. But to me that was to most experts that was just, you know, crocodile tears, and he was trying to extend his life by becoming useful to the religious. Right. Who were you know, trying to fight this growing phenomenon pornography? Something I also thought was quite interesting in the film, and you get a sense of that Ted Bundy would have been caught so much so much more quickly today absolutely idea, the the silo wing of police forces in Seattle, and Colorado and Florida that he was able to exist as a whole the person holder state and no-one communicate about this serial killer who seemed to match the profile across different states. Yeah. No. That's a great point. It's fascinating. I mean, actually the three times Bundy was apprehended once in Utah once in Colorado. After his first escape and finally in Florida, which led to his Florida trials each time. He was apprehended. It wasn't because of amazing detective work. It's because he was driving stolen vehicles erratically and the police pulled him over in each of those instances, not even knowing who they had in the car. They just saw car being driven erratically. So I've always felt like if he was a better driver. He might never have been caught. But that's not to say that these were bad police detectives, I mean, I think in each case in Seattle in Colorado and in Florida there was dedicated people doing their best. But it was a very different time in history. You know, forensic evidence wasn't what it is today. DNA evidence didn't exist. There was no central database. Police departments didn't communicate with each other routinely. I mean sobbing crimes was you know, weren't even fax machines was like rotary phones and hitting the streets. And and Bundy was always one step ahead of them. And in fact, there's a. Common misconception with Bundy that profiling is what FBI profiling is what caught Bundy, but it's just the opposite the other when when when Bundy escaped from Colorado and went to Florida he became an interstate fugitive. The FBI gets finally gets involved, but the basically the utter failure of the FBI and law enforcement to bring him to Justice much earlier is actually what caused the FBI to realize they needed to create a profiling unit. And so Bundy was interviewed after his incarceration by an FBI agent named Bill hag Meyer, who you see a fictionalized version of that in mind hunter on the Netflix series is profiling was created, but it's out of the utter failure of the F B I to bring Bundy to Justice that actually caused profiling as we know it today to to have been created Joe Berlinger the name of the film is conversations with a killer. The Ted Bundy tapes the docu series, which starts on Netflix tomorrow. There is a woman featured in this docu series who I understand had to be convinced to speak out is this Carol. Carol Durant is one of she's she's Ted Bundy, she's one of the few people to have escaped Monday fascinating. And very important. You know, Carol Durant was a eighteen year old going to shopping mall in in Utah outside of Salt Lake in the suburb and Bundy changing his MO. That's the other interesting thing about Bundy, he constantly changed his way of sometimes he feigned having a broken, arm and needing assistance. Sometimes he feigned being a police officer, which he did in this particular case, she was shopping at a mall Bundy approaches her. She was the classic Bundy victim long, Dr in a long dark hair parted in the middle attractive college age that was his his his typical victim Bundy approaches. Her says, hey, do you own this in this car? She said, yes. Because obviously Bundy watched your park the car. Well, we have a report we have an incident where somebody we think broke into your car, and we need to determine if anything's missing they go to the car. She's feeling a little odd about it. But she has no reason to question authority. And she says or he said, do you mind coming down to the station with me, you know, we need to get a description and need additional information and she was compliant, and they go over to his car, and it's VW bug which she thought was so at that point. She says can I have some identification. He flashes a badge. She had no reason to question it again again, very different era. So he gets into the car with her, and he's she's smells alcohol on his breath and starts to put things together. And he is going in the opposite direction of the police station..