Quicklet on Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me

by Paul Kraly and Paula Kalamaras

What's in the book?

Quicklets: Your reading sidekick!

    • About the Book
    • About the Author
    • Overall Summary
    • The Final Chapter: 2009
    • Preface 1980, Chapters 1-5
    • Chapters 6-11
    • Chapters 12-17
    • Chapters 18-23
    • Chapters 24-28
    • Chapters 29-35
    • Chapters 36-40
    • Chapters 41-46
    • Chapters 47-Epilogue
    • Afterword, 1986
    • The Last Chapter-1989
    • Update Twenty Years Later: 2000
    • List of Important People
    • Notable Terms and Definitions
    • Interesting Related Facts
    • Sources and Additional Reading

Description

ABOUT THE BOOK

I should be grateful that I had a ringside seat to the monstrous scenario Ted Bundy acted out as...the “glamour boy of homicide”... I am not grateful. I would rather I’d never had a book of my own, much less twenty-nine and that Ted’s victims had lived...If only I had the power to make none of it real.” (The Stranger Beside Me xii-xiii)

The Stranger Beside Me is at once an autobiographical book and a true crime expose.  Published originally in 1980, nine years before Ted Bundy’s execution, it has been revised and updated in 1986, 1989, 2000 and in 2008-9 to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of Bundy’s execution.

The Stranger Beside Me  was the book that began Ann Rule’s successful career as a true crime writer. What makes the 20th anniversary reissue of the book so intriguing is that Ann Rule has returned to this seminal book, adding chapters and insight into her odd relationship with one of the United States’ worst serial killers, Theodore Robert Bundy or “Ted” as she calls him. While sitting next to Ted as they worked the phones on the night shift of a crisis center, Ann never had a clue about his disturbing double-life.  

What also makes The Stranger Beside Me  so intriguing is that while Ted is rampaging through his murders, Ann’s career is growing as well.

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

Meanwhile Bundy was getting references for law school from his Republican buddies and was about to leave Washington for Utah.

Commentary

These chapters are pivotal to the Bundy saga. Rule explains in exhausting detail, with names and dates, what was occurring in Washington at this time. From the task force to the witness statements, a clear picture of the killer and his victimology was beginning to emerge. In 1974, computers were not as accessible as they are now, so much of the comparison was done on hard copy and through manual labor.

This delayed results and enabled Bundy to act with impunity throughout the state, despite his name being sent to the authorities by Rule and even his girlfriend. By all appearances, Bundy was a smart law student with a bright future ahead of him. Even after he was apprehended, there was a kind of cult of Bundy that claimed his innocence. Even People Magazine raised doubts about his culpability and bought into the feeding frenzy that his trials became. These chapters begin to consolidate the evidence and reveal Rule’s interactions with police, and yet continue her willful blindness to the problem that was Bundy.

Chapter-by-Chapter Summary and Commentary

Summary

Chapter 12 begins with a recap of the four “Teds” considered suspects worthy of investigation. Since there were artist renderings of the suspect from Lake Sammamish,  several respected persons seemed to recognize Bundy as matching the drawing. This included his girlfriend “Meg Anders” (real name: Elizabeth Koepfler) who not only recognized the drawing, but knew of plaster of paris in her medicine cabinet and that her VW was used by her fiance Ted Bundy. She confided her fears to a friend and was encouraged to report Ted to the authorities. She was wracked with guilt over doing this and not letting Ted know.

While Meg was anguished over reporting her boyfriend (now a Utah law student) to the police, bodies were being found in the mountains throughout the late summer and early fall of 1974. Ted was settled in Utah, but traveled back to Seattle to finish some business and try to assure Meg of his affection, although not marriage. As he once told Ann Rule (much later after he was arrested):

“Why should I want to attack women? I had all the female companionship I wanted. I must have slept with half a dozen women that first year in Utah and all of them went to bed with me willingly.”

Nonetheless, Utah women started disappearing in the same way as they did in Washington. Starting in October 1974, young women were vanishing and their bodies found beaten and strangled. However, Ted made the mistake of allowing one victim to fight back and escape him.  Carol DaRonch was tricked by Ted posing as a policeman who claimed her car had been broken into, and he wanted her to come along and see what was taken. She agreed, but something about him made her wary. He tricked her into getting into his car, but she was still suspicious and when she saw he was not going to the police station, she tried to escape. He cuffed her...

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