Saying Goodbye to Real Evidence
Most folks who’ve read (or will read) my book on serial sex killer, Ted Bundy, have no idea that it was an odd fluke the book was written in the first place. It wasn’t a biography I was intending to write, and in fact, in my mind, there wasn’t any reason to be writing anything about this dead killer. For me, there wasn’t any real connection, except that I would talk about him occasionally with my friend, James Massie, as Massie was a personal friend of Jerry Thompson, the lead detective for the Bundy case in Utah. At least that connection made the subject a bit special.
However, my interest in the case picked up quite a bit in 2005, when Jerry and his wife came to town for a couple of days, and I was able to sit down with them over dinner. It was a good meeting, just the four of us, and because Jerry had brought Ted’s murder kit to Louisville to show it to Jim (who allowed me to see and handle it prior to our dinner), I was already in my own little surreal world concerning the Bundy case. But what I didn’t know, and never would have suspected, was that before the Thompsons left for Utah, Jerry handed Jim one of the large Glad Trash bags from Ted’s murder kit, and then also handed one to me!
After thanking Jerry profusely, I asked the retired detective if he’d write us a letter of authentication and he said yes. Jumping up from the table in the lobby of the hotel, I quickly grabbed a sheet of paper from the Breckenridge Inn front desk, and Jerry wrote out a brief note confirming the provenance of the item, and then signed it.
Now, dear reader, I am about to say something that might shock you: The ONLY reason I began a book on Ted Bundy was because of the Glad trash bag; that, plus having his entire murder kit on my dining room table the night after we met the Thompsons (yes, God forgive me, I tried on the mask while it was here, lol!). It wasn’t about meeting Jerry that caused me to launch myself into an in-depth and intense project lasting over two years. It was having real evidence within my hands that propelled me forward towards something that would produce not only a very good book about the killer, but unearthed vital and never before published information about some of the murders.
For the last ten years, the Bundy Glad trash bag has been sitting in a bank box, along with the signed letter from Jerry Thompson and some of the photos I took the night the murder kit was in my possession. Outside of occasionally sending out four or five small swatches of the bag to some of my true crime writing buddies, who usually frame such an odd and extremely rare piece of true crime history, it’s been sitting in the darkness of the bank vault. And only recently, did I decide this ought to change.
Of course, I’d been told by more than one person, that I could sell the bag and make a good deal of money from it. Or better still, I knew that I could cut the bag up into maybe a couple hundred swatches and sell them by providing each swatch with a copy of the letter of authentication. Oh, how lucrative it would be! But that isn’t me.
Believing it should go back to an institution in Washington State, I began searching for a proper home for it in the state where all of these terrible crimes began. True, it’s a macabre piece of history, but one worth preserving for future generations to view. In Washington D.C., Ted Bundy’s VW is on display at the crime museum in that city; and again, there’s nothing quite like real evidence to remind a forgetful public how real these things once were in our lives.
And it is for this reason that the new home of the Bundy Glad trash bag, taken from the killer’s car on August 16, 1975, will be the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum in downtown Seattle. And considering Bundy’s connection to the city, I think it’s the best place for this artifact to be.
I did keep a couple of small swatches for myself, as well as the small piece of the Glad box that came detached on the night I had the murder kit in my home, on what turned out to be the most surreal night of my life.