Elizabeth Kloepfer a.k.a. Elizabeth Kendall survived a relationship with infamous serial killer Ted Bundy and then wrote a revealing tell-all about it.
Ted Bundy’s infamous string of 1970s killings has immortalized him in American history as one of the most disarmingly charming and macabre murderers of the 20th century. But while his story has been told time and again, relatively little is known about those on the periphery of his life.
Such is the case with Ted Bundy’s girlfriend-turned-author Elizabeth Kloepfer a.k.a. Elizabeth Kendall.
Her relationship with Bundy has most recently been depicted in the Netflix-produced, Zac Efron-starring thriller, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. Kloepfer’s own memoir (published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Kendall) served as the basis for the film.
The 1981 book, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, chronicles the couple’s rocky relationship and was published eight years before Bundy was executed on January 24, 1989.
According to Esquire, she was entirely unaware of her boyfriend’s nightly bloodlust — until she saw a composite drawing of the primary suspect in several local murder in a local newspaper in 1974. The illustration included the name “Ted” as its only piece of information and immediately raised her suspicions.
Bundy’s murder spree, of course, was already well underway and would end with 30-something homicides across seven states. Though the true number of victims is unknown, Bundy confessed to 30 murders.
While much of Bundy’s life has been explored in true crime novels, fictionalized films, and the Netflix documentary, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, it is Elizabeth Kloepfer and her time with Bundy that can provide us with relevant context, background, and harrowing details previously unknown.
When Elizabeth Kloepfer Met Ted Bundy
Elizabeth Kloepfer first met Ted Bundy at the Sandpiper Tavern in Seattle. It was October 1969: the peace and love era was coming to an end and Charles Manson’s followers had committed the Sharon Tate murders two months earlier.
The 24-year-old secretary had just recently graduated from Utah State University. Unlike Ted Bundy, however, she wasn’t alone. Kloepfer was raising a two-year-old daughter by herself and had recently gotten divorced.
“The chemistry between us was incredible,” she wrote in her book. “I was already planning the wedding and naming the kids. He was telling me that he missed having a kitchen because he loved to cook. Perfect. My prince.”
Though the memoir was published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Kendall, her friend Marylynne Chino told KUTV in 2017 that Kloepfer did indeed have a relationship with Bundy. Chino’s accounts of her experiences with Kloepfer and Bundy in Seattle mirror those detailed in Kendall’s book.
“I’ve never forgotten this,” said Chino. “I walked in, and across the room, I saw Ted for the first time. I will never forget the look on his face, it wasn’t evil but he was staring nursing a beer.”
Kloepfer became Ted Bundy’s girlfriend soon after meeting at the Sandpiper Tavern and quickly noticed some strange items and behaviors. Chino revealed that Kloepfer called her one night to discuss what she had found.
“There were women’s underwear there and the plaster of Paris,” said Chino, referring to plaster used for construction that he’d stolen from a medical supply house. When Kloepfer asked Bundy about this, he threatened her life.
“She said ‘what is this?’ And he said to her, ‘if you ever tell anyone this I’ll break your effing head.”
Being Ted Bundy’s Girlfriend
The early days of Bundy and Kloepfer’s relationship were seemingly flawless. Once the handsome, well-dressed man across the bar asked her to dance, their fates seemed to be set in stone. Unfortunately, Kloepfer had no idea what she had gotten herself into — and how bad things would get.
The first night the couple spent together ended with Bundy cooking her breakfast the following morning. The thrilling new relationship was off to a great start, with the pair taking a trip to Vancouver the following weekend.
It only took a few months for Kloepfer to meet Bundy’s parents. The new couple and Bundy’s parents — army hospital cook Johnnie Bundy and Methodist church secretary Louise Bundy — had a delightful dinner at the killer’s childhood home.
“I loved her so much it was destabilizing,” Bundy told Stephen G. Michaud, whose interviews comprised the Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes narration. “I felt such a strong love for her but we didn’t have a lot of interests in common like politics or something, I don’t think we had in common.”
“She liked to read a lot. I wasn’t into reading.”
Elizabeth Kloepfer Becomes Pregnant
In February 1970, a mere four months after they had their first dance, the couple applied for a marriage license. She was no longer going to be Ted Bundy’s girlfriend, she was going to be his wife. But like numerous life-changing moments in Ted Bundy’s life, things didn’t quite go as planned.
“I had never been so happy, but it bothered me to be practically married to a man I wasn’t married to,” said Kloepfer about their relationship. “When I talked to him, he agreed now was the time to do it.”
Their trip to the courthouse was successful in garnering a marriage license but a few days later the couple had a substantial fight. It ended with Bundy ripping up the document. Nonetheless, the two continued working on their relationship and decided to stay together.
Kloepfer then became pregnant in 1972.
“Both of us knew it would be impossible to have a baby now,” she wrote. “He was going to start law school in the fall, and I needed to be able to work to put him through. I was distraught. I knew I was going to terminate the pregnancy as soon as I could. Ted, on the other hand, was pleased with himself. He had fathered a baby.” Kloepfer did, however, terminate the pregnancy.
Abuse And Death Threats
Kloepfer’s memoir published under the name Elizabeth Kendall contains numerous accounts of abuse she suffered thanks to Bundy. Though he didn’t physically assault her, his venomous verbal abuse was serious and disconcerting. His coiled-up rage showed its true face when Kloepfer confronted him about his stealing, which seemed to have become a habit.
“If you ever tell anyone about this, I’ll break your fucking neck,” he told her.
It didn’t take long after news reports of a suspect named “Ted” who drove a Volkswagen were a daily occurrence that Kloepfer suspected her lover of being a murderous sociopath. The disappearances, suspect descriptions, and a report claiming the man’s arm was in a cast were enough for her to alert the authorities.
Though Bundy’s arm wasn’t broken, her memory of the plaster of Paris in Bundy’s desk drawer confirmed her suspicions.
“He said that a person never could tell when he was going to break a leg, and we both laughed,” she wrote. “Now I keep thinking about the cast the guy at Lake Sammamish was wearing — what a perfect weapon it would make for clubbing someone on the head.”
When Kloepfer found a hatchet in his Volkswagen, Bundy waved her fears away by claiming he chopped down a tree at his parents’ cabin a week earlier. On August 8, 1974, however, the wary Kloepfer called the Seattle Police Department.
Though she confessed that her boyfriend matched the reported suspect description — that she found crutches in his room, similar to an unsolved attack involving crutches — she was essentially dismissed.
“You need to come in to fill in a report,” the police told her. “We’re too busy to talk to girlfriends over the phone.”
Kloepfer gave up and hung up the phone. When Bundy moved to Utah two months later, and disappearances began to sharply increase in the state, she tried once more. She called the King County Police, but to no avail: They said Bundy had already been cleared as a suspect.
A Close Call With Death
“There is something the matter with me… I just couldn’t contain it,” Bundy told Kloepfer over the phone while incarcerated in Florida. “I fought it for a long, long time…it was just too strong.”
Bundy had been arrested for the attempted kidnapping of Carol DaRonch in March 1976. While on trial, Bundy and Kloepfer maintained communication through an extensive series of passionate letters. She’d often visit him and truly believed his lies that he was innocent.
Kloepfer and Bundy’s parents sat in the courthouse together throughout the killer’s legal battles. When she joined Alcoholics Anonymous and became sober, however, she started emotionally detaching and physically distancing herself from him.
Eventually, she asked him if he ever tried to kill her.
Bundy admitted that he did, once. The urge to kill her took control of him one night when he went to her house and closed the chimney damper. He put a towel under the door and intended to let the room fill up with smoke as she was drunk and asleep.
Kloepfer explained in The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy that she remembered waking up one night in a coughing fit.
Elizabeth Kendall And Life After Bundy
In order to direct Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile without stepping on Kloepfer’s toes, Joe Berlinger made sure to discuss the project with her beforehand. Though hesitant, she agreed to sign off on the script. Both Berlinger and Lily Collins, who portrayed Kloepfer in the film, met with her.
“She was willing and passionate about meeting me — her and her daughter, too,” said Collins.
“She was very ambivalent,” Berlinger added. “I think that’s why the book continues to be out of print. She does not want the spotlight. For example, she didn’t want to come to Sundance. She doesn’t participate in the press. She wants to remain anonymous.”
“She trusts us with her story. She agreed to do the movie, obviously, so it’s not being done without her cooperation. I think she’s very ambivalent because she doesn’t want attention to herself today.”
Fortunately for Kloepfer, she’s lived a quiet, peaceful life ever since Bundy’s imprisonment and subsequent execution. After being Ted Bundy’s girlfriend, the decision to stay out of the media and have a calm life in Washington with her daughter seems fair, earned, and honest.