Today is my blog tour stop for The Only Living Witness. I was supposed to be posting a review but due to my current health issues I’m not able to do so. I think that I’m cursed when it comes to blog tours! Something always happens or comes up..
I’m providing you with an extract of the book so you can get a little taste of what’s inside!
No one seemed to notice that he was different, not like other children. His Aunt Julia would later report some scary episodes with knives, but otherwise he looked and acted like any other kid. He believed in Santa Claus, hated vegetables, and some-times-imagined ogres and scaly things crouching in his closet, waiting for night to fall.
But he was haunted by something else: a fear, a doubt – sometimes only a vague uneasiness – that inhabited his mind with the subtlety of a cat. He felt it for years and years, but he didn’t recognize it for what it was until much later. By then this flaw, the rip in his psyche, had become the locus of a cold homicidal rage.
He was born to a prim, modest department store clerk, the eldest of three daughters in the family of a Philadelphia nurseryman. Her story has always been that in 1946, fresh out of high school, she was seduced by Jack Worthington, a rakish veteran of the recent war, who hinted to her of an old-money pedigree. At least that’s what she claimed. Much later, family members would express open doubts about this story, directing a defense psychiatrist’s attention to Louise’s violent, possibly deranged, father, Samuel Cowell.
Whatever the truth, Louise was pregnant in an era not congenial to single young women in such a predicament. Nor was she insulated from her problem by family means. She braved her way through the first seven months of her term, before traveling north to the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. On November 24, 1946, she gave birth to her love child. Louise called him Theodore. She had always liked that name.
Just before his fourth birthday, Teddy and his mother left Philadelphia to join her uncle and his family in Tacoma, Washington. Ted told us that the move upset him. Either as a deliberate falsehood, or due to some trick of memory, he described his early days in Philadelphia as an idyll, saying he loved his grandfather Cowell and the comfortable old house where the family all lived together. He said he didn’t understand why he and Louise had to go live with great-uncle Jack, why Louise needed to get away, to start a new life. In light of what the family would later disclose, Ted’s recall becomes a mystery in itself.
He hated Tacoma at first. After Philadelphia, the Puget Sound mill town seemed raw and impermanent to him – just a jumble of ugly brown and gray buildings on a hillside jutting out into the frigid salt water of Puget Sound. Ted would outgrow his initial distaste for his new home, but he never got over an arrogant disdain for anything he regarded as common. This attitude was linked to how he felt about himself, his deep self-doubt, and also to his later conviction that life had wronged him.
Jack Cowell was only a few years older than his niece, Louise, and Teddy always called him uncle. A music professor at Tacoma’s College of Puget Sound, Uncle Jack was a man of both accomplishment and refinement. His gleaming dark piano, the classical music that filled the house, his air of cultivation, drew Teddy to him. Early on, he decided to pattern himself on Uncle Jack.
Louise went to work as a secretary at the Council of Churches office in downtown Tacoma. There she was befriended by a female coworker who coaxed the tentative newcomer into attending young adult nights at the First Methodist Church. One evening, Louise was introduced to John Culpepper Bundy, known as Johnnie, a soft-spoken native North Carolinian who recently had mustered out of the Navy in nearby Bremerton.
Johnnie’s drawl made him seem a little slow, a serious drawback as far Teddy would be concerned. He was unlettered, and his prospects in life were those of a modest southern country boy. With his Navy hitch over, Johnnie had decided to stay in the northwest. He found a job as a cook in a Veterans Administration hospital a few miles south of Tacoma. It turned out to be his life’s work.
From the start, Johnnie and Louise saw something special in each other. Johnnie was steady and uncomplicated, and he fulfilled Louise’s first and ultimate requirement by accepting both her and her son. She was also drawn to his mild disposition, although her son Teddy would later learn the consequences of provoking his quiet stepfather.
For Johnnie, Louise was a gentle, God-fearing woman whose history began on the night they met. He didn’t ask questions, and Louise did not go into details. From what Ted told us of his boyhood, he seems to have tried to block Johnnie, the interloper, from his mind. Clearly, Johnnie’s presence upset him. Ted remembered staging a scene in a Sears store parking lot and wetting his pants. He conceded that this tantrum and others probably were a result of his jealousy over Louise, and his fear that Johnnie’s advent would further disrupt his world.
Louise miscarried the summer following her May 1951 marriage to Johnnie. Then a daughter, Linda, was born in the last part of 1952. Here was another confusing mystery for Teddy. He didn’t know where babies came from or how they were made. But he knew it had something to do with Johnnie, and he believed throughout his entire life that Louise suffered a good deal at Linda’s birth. According to his mother, however, the pregnancy was uneventful.
Ted also told us that it was around this time that his parents broke him of the habit of crawling into bed with them when he grew frightened in the middle of the night.
The earliest evidence of Ted’s behavior outside the family comes from his first grade teacher, Mrs. Oyster. According to Louise, Teddy was very fond of Mrs. Oyster. On his report card, the teacher wrote Louise that Teddy grasped the numbers 1 through 20, knew the meaning of 100, was at ease before the class, and expressed himself well. Ted told us he was “unset-tled” when Mrs. Oyster left to have a baby and was replaced by a substitute teacher.
What do you think of it? Let me know below in the comments!
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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.
Stephen G. Michaud has written extensively on criminal justice topics. His previous books include Lethal Shadow, a study of sexual sadism, and The Only Living Witness, an acclaimed portrait of serial killer Ted Bundy that the New York Daily News listed as one of the ten best true-crime books ever.
Four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, bureau chief of both Newsweek and the Washington Times, and investigative team leader for ABC’s 20/20, Hugh Aynesworth was a thirty-two-year-old reporter for the Dallas Morning News when JFK’s visit to Dallas ended in tragedy. His coverage of the assassination, the trial of Jack Ruby, and the conspiracy flurry that followed earned him two Pulitzer nominations and recognition as one of the most respected authorities on the Kennedy assassination.