Recently, fellow author Kevin M. Sullivan sent me a piece of a green garbage bag. This might seem like a strange gift, but I was expecting it. With it was a letter of authentication and Kevin's photo on the left.
Some of you will know exactly what this is, but you probably won’t know that this very bag inspired research that turned up significant new information about one of America’s most notorious killers. I’ll let Kevin tell it his own way:
“When I awoke on the morning of May 29, 2005, I had no idea that a strange journey into the surreal awaited me later that day. The only thing I had on my schedule that Sunday was an informal dinner engagement with my friend, James Massie, and his friend, Jerry Thompson, a retired homicide detective from Salt Lake City, Utah.
“But Thompson wasn’t just any run-of-the-mill retired investigator, mind you. He’d been the lead detective in the Ted Bundy case pertaining to the murders in Utah. In fact, he was the man who’d yanked Bundy out of his shadowy realm of murder and introduced him to the world. So I knew the meeting would be interesting. It turns out, it was a lot more than just interesting. It literally influenced my life and work.
“What follows is from my book, The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History, which was launched on this very evening:
‘When the Thompsons arrived in Louisville, Jim called to tell me where and when we'd be having dinner. No sooner had I said, "Great!" than he'd interrupted me by saying, "He brought the bag..."
‘“What bag?” I asked.
‘"The bag Bundy carried ... I have it with me now in my truck!"’
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but I sure wasn’t going to miss an opportunity like this! Within a short time I met Jim and had a look at the murder kit of perhaps the most infamous serial killer in American history. Not only that, but the next night I was allowed to bring Bundy’s tools of the trade into my home for further examination and photographing. Again, from my book:
‘It was around 9:30 P.M. when I called my wife from the car and told her what I was bringing into the house, quickly adding, "Clear everything off the dining room table, as I'll be taking plenty of photographs."
‘As I closed my cell phone, I glanced at the bag lying next to me in the passenger seat and shook my head in amazement; after all, I thought, here I am driving through a neighborhood at night with the same bag Theodore Bundy carried as he went about similar neighborhoods years ago, trolling for victims.
‘"Truly bizarre," I mumbled to myself as each passing street lamp bathed the infamous satchel in an eerie light.”’
“But my journey into the surreal was not yet complete, for a special surprise awaited me as we visited with Jerry and his wife one more time before they headed back to Utah:
‘Yet imagine my surprise, when two days later as we were saying our goodbyes to Detective Thompson and his wife, he offered to give Jim and me each one of the Glad bags from Bundy's car. Not believing my ears, I said yes, and immediately asked if he would be so kind as to write us a letter of authentication. Within minutes I was carrying home (to the consternation of my wife) one of Bundy's tools of the trade.’
“What should I make of all this? What I didn’t know was that my life, in a literary sense, was about to be altered forever; and that my journey into the surreal would have nothing to do with what Jerry Thompson said to me. Rather, it would be the silent testimony of what he’d brought with him – the actual murder kit of Theodore Robert Bundy!
“I think I summed it up best in my foreword:
‘The events which led to the writing of this book are nothing less than surreal. To see them in retrospect leaves me, even now, with a sense that somewhere, and for reasons not fully understood, the proverbial unseen hand of providence began causing everything in my small universe to align itself so that a clearer and more informative picture could emerge of Theodore Robert Bundy and his many victims.’
“And so it was.”