During his Florida murder trial (as well as his other trials) serial killer Ted Bundy insisted upon his own innocence. But shortly before his 1989 execution, Bundy did confess to dozens of murders, despite previously pleading that he wasn’t guilty.
The Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile hacksaw scene didn’t happen in real life. But as the movie’s end credits noted, Bundy confessed to 30 murders. And as various news outlets (and the movie) reported, the true number of his victims was likely even higher than that.
If you stuck around during the Netflix movie’s credits, you saw the footage of the real-life Ted Bundy, which was absolutely chilling. Like Efron’s character in the film, Bundy laughed and smiled during the trial, despite the gruesome reality of the crimes he was accused of. And Bundy’s acting as his own lawyer didn’t exactly help things in the courtroom.
So, did Ted Bundy plead guilty or not?
As in Extremely Wicked, Bundy never gave a guilty plea during his trials. But as one of Bundy’s lawyers, Michael Minerva, explained in the Netflix documentary Confessions of a Killer — helmed by Joe Berlinger, who also directed Extremely Wicked — Bundy did consider a guilty plea, in order to avoid being sentenced to death. He decided not to plead guilty in court, though, rather choosing to criticize his own lawyers during the trial.
When did Ted Bundy actually confess?
Journalist Stephen Michaud talked to Bundy while he was on Death Row, and those interviews formed the basis for Confessions of a Killer. During Bundy’s conversations with Michaud, he started describing the killings in detail, in the third person. But he still didn’t go on to actually confess until his literal last days, Esquire reported. At that point, he confessed to investigators about 30 deaths he was responsible for, including eight murders in Utah.
From Michaud’s perspective, it sounds like Bundy still thought he might not receive the death penalty, even after the trials, so he maintained his innocence until almost the last second.
“His eventual execution was years and years away, he knew that,” Michaud told Esquire of the interviews. “He had some reason to think he might’ve beaten both cases against him.”
Bundy didn’t, though. And like in Extremely Wicked, there really were crowds cheering at the news that he’d been executed. The true body count behind Bundy’s killing spree may never be known, but he did admit his guilt before he was sent to the electric chair.
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