The Truth About Writer Ann Rule's Friendship With Ted Bundy

One of the most difficult things to understand about convicted serial killers is their ability to live double lives. On one hand, the public knows them only as depraved, sadistic killers who get stimulation from torment and murder. Still, other people know them as friends, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, uncles, cousins, and fathers, (not that all serial killers are men) and report being shocked when they learn that someone they thought they knew turned out to be an actual serial murderer. 

Ann Rule was one such person. According to The Washington Post, Rule was a former cop turned aspiring writer and a mother of four in a crumbling marriage when she started volunteering at a suicide crisis hotline once a week in 1971. That's where she met and befriended Ted Bundy, who was doing a paid work-study at the hotline toward his psychology degree, according to "The Stranger Beside Me."

In fact, though Rule knew Bundy for years and wrote the book "The Stranger Beside Me" about his crimes and their close friendship stemming from the crisis hotline, she wrote in 2008 in an update to her book that she didn't actually know what Bundy was "really like." 

"He was so many things to different people," she wrote. "He was an actor, a liar, a thief, a killer, a schemer, a stalker, a charmer, intelligent but not brilliant, and doomed. I don't think even Ted knew what he was really like." 

Rule remained friends with Bundy until the end

Ann Rule and Ted Bundy became fast friends. According to The Washington Post, she wrote in "The Stranger Beside Me," "I liked him immediately ... As far as his appeal to women, I can remember thinking that if I were younger and single or if my daughters were older, this would be almost the perfect man." 

Maybe that's why Rule continued to give him the benefit of the doubt — even as a former law officer who was following the ongoing stories in the Pacific Northwest about a killer who was preying on women. Rule wanted to write a book on the murders. When she learned the killer's name was believed to be "Ted" and the description sounded like her friend, she told a cop acquaintance about Bundy. Yet, at the time, nothing came of her tip, The Washington Post reported. Rather, Rule actually took Bundy out to lunch after he was out on bond for kidnapping charges in 1975.

When he was finally convicted of the kidnapping in 1976, she visited him in prison, wrote him letters, and even gave him some money. After Bundy escaped police custody, twice, and made his way to Florida where he killed again and was ultimately convicted of murdering two women and a 12-year-old girl and sentenced to death, Rule was trying to help him avoid the death penalty, according to The Washington Post. 

Bundy stayed in touch with Rule

"And so Ted Bundy was my friend, through all the good times and the bad times. I stuck by him for many years, hoping that none of the innuendo was true," Ann Rule wrote in "The Stranger Beside Me." 

In Rule's defense, the odds of working on a book about a wanted killer and then having that killer turn out to be your good friend have to be astronomically low. "To write a book about an anonymous stranger is one thing. To write such a book about someone you have known and cared for for 10 years is quite another," Rule wrote. 

For Bundy, who knew she was working on the book, he also stayed in touch. Rule shared a bit of one of his letters in "The Stranger Beside Me" regarding the incredible happenstance of their friendship that coincided with Rule researching his crimes, not knowing her friend was the perpetrator. 

Bundy wrote to Rule, "You've called it Karma. It may be. Yet whatever supernatural force guides our destinies, it has brought us together in some mind-expanding situations. I must believe this invisible hand will pour more chilled chablis for us in less treacherous, more tranquil times to come. Love, Ted." 

Rule went on to write several more true crime novels and died in 2015 of natural causes, according to The New York Times. She was 83.