Bundy was born Theodore Robert Cowell, on 24 November 1946, in Burlington, Vermont. He was the illegitimate child of Eleanor Louise Cowell and an unknown man. The 21-year-old Cowell contemplated putting her
newborn son up for adoption, as it was scandalous at the time to have a child out of wedlock. She eventually reconsidered,
however, and eventually changed her and Ted's last name to Nelson, hoping that she would pass as either a divorcee or a widow.
While he was a young child, Bundy's mother moved in with her parents. Bundy was told that his grandparents were actually
his parents, and that his mother was an older sister.
In 1950, Cowell took Ted and moved to Tacoma, Washington. Before long, young Ted would acquire the surname that he would eventually make infamous. On May 19, 1951, his mother Louise married John Culpepper Bundy, a hospital cook, whom she had met at church.
In his adolescence, Bundy seemed, outwardly, to be a happy, normal child. He kept his grades up throughout his schooling
and was active in church and Boy Scouts. However, he admitted in an interview shortly before his death that he had always experienced confusion when it came to "normal"
people: "I didn't know what made people want to be friends. I didn't know what made people attractive to one another. I didn't
know what underlay social interactions." Bundy's criminal impulses soon manifested when he began peeping into women's windows
and shoplifting. He kept up his outward appearance, however, and graduated from high school in 1965, earning a scholarship to the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. University lore states that Bundy buried his first murder victim under the Thompson Fountain.
The extroverted Bundy did charity work and campaigned for the Republican Party as an adult. He also worked as a volunteer at a Seattle rape crisis center, alongside fledgling crime reporter Ann Rule who, ironically, wrote articles on the "Ted" murders that, unbeknownst to her, her young friend was committing. Years later,
Rule would write the definitive biography on Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me.