"I am constantly thinking about, imagining, and reading about a violent serial killer," E.J. Hammon writes in her blog, Confessions of a Bundyphile. In a recent phone interview with Refinery29, Hammon, who is based in North Carolina, confessed she thinks of Bundy all the time — while she's driving, while she's getting ready for her office job. "I was in the shower the other day thinking about the Polaroids," Hammon said, referring to the never-found box of photographs of his victims that Bundy mentioned during his death row confessions.
Such is the mind of the internet's self-proclaimed Ted Bundy expert, and keeper of a meticulous blog that is both a collection of Bundy apocrypha, like his yearbook posts and prison drawings, and a series of logical reappraisals of Bundy's killings and trial. In the posts, Hammond must temper her decades-long Bundy fascination with understandable disgust for his crimes — a proxy balancing act for those of us who consume true crime entertainment, like the recent Netflix documentary series Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.
Hammon's journey toward adopting the moniker "Bundyphile" began 20 years ago, when she first picked up Ann Rule's book The Stranger Beside Me, a harrowing account of the crime writer's former acquaintanceship with Bundy (in one of life's more darkly ironic twists, Rule and Bundy worked at a suicide hotline together). With that, Hammon descended into the rabbit hole of serial killer obsession, and still hasn't left. "Part of my interest in serial killers initially came from a fear of serial killers. Not understanding them, and not knowing if I could be a target, particularly as a woman. The more I learned, the less afraid I was," Hammon explained.
After reading several more books about Bundy, Hammon decided to start her own blog dedicated to him in 2009. Since starting the blog, Hammon has become a figure in the thriving true crime online community and wrote the third season of the Criminology podcast on Bundy. We spoke to Hammon about the forces behind Bundy's recent pop culture resurgence, Bundy's "groupies," and the life of a so-called Bundyphile.
Refinery29: You know a lot about Ted Bundy. Is there a go-to Bundy fact you like telling people?
E.J. Hammon: "Especially in this political climate, I like talking about how he was an active member of the Republican Party. He was working for a Republican candidate, and he even went and spied on his Democratic opponent, as if it were nothing. He recorded part of their conversations. I think he would’ve been an amazing politician. He did what he wanted. He didn’t feel guilty for anything. He could’ve really, really gone far in the world of politics if he hadn’t been obsessed with murder.”
Why did you start writing about Bundy ten years ago?
"It was kind of an attempt to get some information out there for people to read about. When I’d research online, I couldn’t find a lot of details about Ted. There were a few overviews of what he did and who he was, but I like tackling different part of his life. There’s not much information about them — but there’s a lot of interest."
When did you start calling yourself a Bundyphile?
"A few years ago. It stemmed from people reaching out to me and asking questions about him, realizing that I’d studied him a great deal. I’m a self-proclaimed expert. I feel as though I know enough information about him that I can be sought out in order to give at least ideas of what he may have done."
What parts of his life do you particularly focus on?
"I really enjoy his relationships with with the women and men in his life. We don’t have any record of him killing a male. What his relationship to men meant versus his connection to women and his reliance on them. He was both attracted to and repelled by women. He fought attraction to his victims, but he’d also dispose of them. A literal attracting and repelling."
It’s interesting, when we use the word "enjoy" in this arena. Like when someone says they “enjoy” true crime. Do you ever feel like that’s not the right verb? What is it that keeps you coming back to Bundy, if not enjoyment?
"I know what you mean. 'Enjoy' sounds like it’s a happy thing. A lot of women like learning about serial killers. Part of it is from fright: It’s a way to determine if we’re in danger, if we need to make changes to our lifestyles. There’s also a sense from a lot of women who want to fix or help somebody who’s a criminal. You have that type of 'groupie' who feels a connection [to the killers]."
Have you ever experienced an attraction to Bundy?
"I have never felt an attraction to Bundy. It may just be his physical looks aren't attractive to me. But knowing what I know about him — the fact that he’s a brutal killer — I'm not drawn to him. There are other serial killers that I’ve found attractive. Paul Bernardo is very attractive. He’s also terrifying. I try to keep that in check. There are some women who are drawn to these killers in a way that I could never understand."
How do you interact with the "groupie" side of the Bundy fascination spectrum?
"I have interacted with individuals who would’ve loved to have gone on dates with him, and be his girlfriend or wife. When some people don’t say anything bad about him, I know that we’re not going to get along. I try to keep it civil. I don't understand it, but everybody has their own unusual ideas or turn-ons. I choose to keep it in a logical, scientific world and hopefully more people will appreciate the blog because it comes across that way. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about the purpose of the blog. I don’t want anyone to think of him as a hero, because he’s not."
This is a man whose entire life is defined by brutality against women. How do you think we should be approaching learning about serial killers with care to the victims?
"We should treat [serial killers] no differently than we should treat anyone else accused of a crime. The idea that they were 'larger than life' does not help us. It makes us seem like they were some misunderstood person who didn’t want to do what they did. They knew what they were doing was wrong.
"Part of the reason I write the way I write, the blog that I write, is for the victims. So that the information out there doesn’t glorify him. He did very real damage to individuals that will never see their loved ones again. They're the ones we should be thinking of."
What’s your mind like during those phases when you're thinking about Bundy a lot?
"I think about things he said or did, or little details that were no discussed, and put them in a different perspective. Turn them over in my mind as if I were an investigator. That’s more or less what I do when I think about him."
Will your obsession with Bundy ever fade?
"It’s been 20 years and it really hasn’t. I don’t think that it will. There’s always going to be some mystery to him. He apparently took Polaroids of his victims, which he was able to destroy before the police could find them. Some of his victim's bodies are missing. One example would be Lynette Colver in Idaho. He said he threw her body in the river; she’s never been found. There are other women he’s suspected to have killed, and we’ll never know what happened to them. There are a lot of things that we’re never going to know. We’re never going to see inside of him. We’ll want to know more."
How do you feel knowing so many more people will be exposed to his story?
"I’m really excited about them. I think that his story needs to be told much more often. He becomes a myth, in a sense. He becomes a larger than life figure, whereas he was just a guy who was running around killing people, not some amazing person. He wasn’t that smart. He wasn’t a genius. I’m hoping that these movies about him will be truthful and not make it seem like he was more than who he was."