Journalist who watched Ted Bundy die slams media's interest in the serial killer, says he 'doesn't deserve to be remembered'
A journalist who was there when Ted Bundy was fried in the electric chair has now come out and slammed certain sections of the media for portraying the notorious serial killer as "charming and sexy", adding that the victims, as well as their families, deserve to be remembered. Tim Swarens, who is an opinion editor and columnist, was one of the 42 people who were present to witness Bundy's death by electrocution inside the Florida State Prison execution chamber on January 24, 1989.
Writing in The Daily Beast, Swarens said that that recent media interest in the serial killer 30 years after his death was "appalling". He wrote: "Bundy's sick and horrific story has again caught the attention of entertainers, journalists, and the public. And I was appalled once more. This time because the cycle of media exploitation was happening again."
Swarens comments on Bundy come after a four-part documentary was released by Netflix called "Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes". It aired on the streaming site on January 24, which was the 30th anniversary of Bundy's execution. The documentary focuses on the interviews that Bundy recorded with journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth while he was on death row.
The streaming giant has also bought the rights for the upcoming Hollywood feature film "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" starring Zac Efron as Bundy. The film has gained generally favorable reviews from its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Swarens has accused Netflix of "trying to work both sides of an ugly and exploitative street", first by producing the documentary and then immediately buying the rights for the film.
He also highlighted that the media recently has focused on Bundy and that it "isn't the first time that the entertainment industry and the news media have portrayed Bundy as charming and sexy", referencing the two-part TV movie called "The Delicate Stranger" which starred Mark Harmon, who is considered "the Zac Efron of his day". The film was released in 1986 while Bundy was still on Death Row.
Swaren wrote in the article: "He certainly wasn't as good-looking as the actors paid to portray him. His supposed charm was only one weapon he used to trap his victims. Sudden, overwhelming brutality was another." The journalist also said that Bundy, who was a failed law student, "wasn't particularly smart", and stated that he turned down a plea deal that could have saved his life and "unsuccessfully" acted as his own attorney twice.
Bundy's trial in the 80s was the first nationally televised trial in the history of the US. Swarens wrote that the case "fascinated TV viewers" and there were more than 200 reporters who covered the proceedings. The journalist wrote that Bundy was a "sociopath" and a "cruelly manipulative narcissist".
Swarens was selected to attend the execution after entering a lottery and recounted that the last words of the serial killer to Jim Coleman, his attorney, and Fred Lawrence, a pastor, before the man was hit with 2,000 volts, was: "I'd like you to give my love to my family and friends."
He wrote: "I was appalled by what I witnessed in that field. I didn't doubt then, or now, that Bundy deserved to be executed. His guilt was beyond doubt. He was manipulative and unremorseful to the end." Swarens did say, however, that he was not prepared for the crowd after he left the prison who were there in droves laughing, cheering, eating, and drinking while holing up banners to celebrate the serial killer's death.
He said that Bundy's death should be a time for reflection. Swarens wrote: "Ted Bundy's victims and their families deserve to be remembered and mourned. The man who caused so much pain and grief should be forgotten."