Content warning: The following post contains depictions of violence.
This isn't your typical love story. It isn't even a love story, really, but one of twisted psychological manipulation and deceit, of inexplicable strangeness. It's the story of how the serial killer Ted Bundy came to marry Carole Anne Boone while he was on trial for the kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old. While the new Netflix docuseries Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes goes into Bundy's crimes with meticulous detail, Boone's involvement in his life only figures as a small blip.
But before we can get to that courtroom proposal — which has a strange backstory of its own — we have to go back to the start of Bundy's killing spree, which eventually took the lives of at least 30 women.
In 1974, Ted Bundy was working at Washington State Department of Emergency Services in Olympia, WA. By day, Bundy was helping the search for the spate of women that had gone missing in Washington that year, disappearing at a rate of about one per month. By night, he was carrying out those murders — and propagating the very crimes his department tried to solve.
Carole Anne Boone, a twice-divorced mother who also worked at Emergency Management, knew nothing of Bundy's secret life. She just knew she liked him. “I liked Ted immediately. We hit it off well,” Boone said in the book The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy. “He struck me as being a rather shy person with a lot more going on under the surface than what was on the surface. He certainly was more dignified and restrained than the more certifiable types around the office. He would participate in the silliness partway. But remember, he was a Republican.”
Bundy and Boone formed an intense friendship, despite both being in other relationships. Bundy's girlfriend at the time was blind to her boyfriend's nocturnal deeds (but she later suspected him, and went to the police with her findings).
Bundy and Boone connected again in 1977, when Bundy was imprisoned in Utah. They exchanged letters, and she visited him in jail for seven days. According to Rolling Stone, she may have helped him escape the Utah prison and flee to Florida. In 1978, Bundy was arrested in Florida following the kidnapping and murder of Kimberly Leach and the Chi Omega sorority house murders. Boone moved to Florida to attend the trial.
Eventually, during the 1980 Orlando trial for the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, Boone herself took the stand — and it was to accomplish a very specific purpose. Boone wanted to get married to Ted Bundy. But how? She couldn't find a minister to perform the ceremony, and Bundy's defense attorney hoped to prevent the marriage. Plus, Bundy had already been sentenced to death for the Chi Omega murders, and was about to be found guilty for Leach's death.
Then, Boone found an arcane legal loophole that would make their marriage possible. According to Anne Rule's book The Stranger Beside Me, according to an arcane Florida law, "a public declaration, properly phrased, in an open courtroom in the presence of court officers would make the [marriage] ceremony legal."
So, Bundy, who was representing himself, rose to question Boone about their relationship. "I've never seen anything in Ted that indicates any destructiveness towards any other people," she told the jury. "He's a large part of my life. He is vital to me." That's when Bundy popped the question. Abruptly, Bundy said, "Do you want to marry me?" Boone responded in the affirmative. But Bundy botched the response: He said, "I do want to marry you," instead of using the correct terminology. After the prosecution questioned Boone (and tried to understand her psychology), Bundy proposed again — this time, he got it right. They were married. As Rule points out, the second anniversary of Leach's death was Bundy's anniversary. On February 10, 1980, Bundy was sentenced to death for a third time. He would be on death row for nine years.
At the start of his jail stay, he and Boone remained close. Allegedly, Boone would transport drugs to the prison for Bundy. Two years after he was locked up, Boone gave birth to their daughter, Rose. The prison in Starke, FL didn't allow conjugal visits at the time, but Anne Rule discovered that prisoners used to pool their money and bribe guards for impromptu conjugal meetings.
In 1986, Boone divorced Bundy and moved out of Florida with her two children, Rose and James. She never saw Bundy again. Somewhere, Bundy's 36-year-old daughter carries out her life.
Ted Bundy's family's whereabouts are unknown to the general public, but curiosity remains. For conspiracy theories, migrate over to the heated conversation on Life on the Row message boards.