But Kendall was not the only figure in Bundy’s orbit who believed, at the time, that he was innocent. “There were a lot of people saying, ‘This guy has been railroaded,’” Wood pointed out. “Her going back to Ted after his [arrest in the DaRonch kidnapping] always tormented her—and I think she might feel somewhat better about that now, given that she now realizes she was not the only person who was clinging to the notion that he could not have done it. I think that she was trying to figure out what the mechanism was that made her stick in it as long as she did.”
Kendall said that participating in the docuseries “gave me a perspective on the decisions I made, some of which are really hard to explain to other people because it was such an emotional time. I was just struggling with what was real and what wasn’t, as far as my relationship with Ted. Through this process, and I mean, it’s been a couple of years—it’s been a lot of thinking, thinking, thinking. I have just really reexamined everything.”
Kendall also recently revisited her 1981 memoir, The Phantom Prince, to make amendments for its rerelease this year. “Some of it just made me want to rip the page right out of the book,” she said. Kendall was sickened by the palpable affection she clearly still had for Bundy when she wrote the book.
“Doing the reissue gave me the chance to clarify things that are much clearer to me now,” she said. When writing the book, “I still viewed him as the Ted that I thought I knew, because I just couldn’t wrap my head around what they were saying he had done. And so many years later, after much counseling, praying, and growing, I’ve accepted that he is who he was accused of being. He’s a violent, rageful sexual deviant. I just could not wrap my head around that in the beginning.”
That said, she confessed, “I still have moments where I get confused. In the book there are a lot of pictures of me and Molly and Ted. I look at those and I remember how in love I was, and how I thought this was it—my life with my [future] husband and all this fantasy that I’d whipped up. It does come back in little, tiny slivers from time to time—but I just put the kibosh on that. In fact, it’s been one of the best things about participating in this docuseries and doing the book. It gives me perspective about how much I’ve changed. It also gives me perspective about how hard it was to make those changes, because to admit that he wasn’t who I thought he was was just devastating.”
It has been over 30 years since Bundy confessed to killing 30 women, shortly before his 1989 death by electrocution. But Kendall said she has no idea why the public is still so fascinated by him and his crimes. “I don’t understand this renewed issue in true crime either,” she said. She and her daughter have had long conversations about what to do with their Bundy artifacts—letters Bundy wrote Kendall and family photos featuring the murderer. The decision they’ve arrived at, though, is to do nothing. “Why would we want to put out into the universe more Ted Bundy,” she reasoned, “when he was just this horrible man who caused so much pain for so many families?”
Kendall hopes that viewers can move past Bundy like she did, and hopefully see her narrative as one of recovery. “No matter how messed up life gets, there are still ways to rebuild your life and make it meaningful,” she said. “I hope that that comes through in the docuseries, and in the book.”
Falling for a Killer did bring Kendall closer to closure. And she hopes that her story might even feel a little universal to audience members watching.
“This is kind of hard to even think about, but if you could put aside the fact that Ted Bundy was a terrible, murderous man, he was [also] a bad boyfriend,” Kendall said. “I hope that people—women—realize that they don’t need to settle. Some of the things were just plain, flat-out codependence on my part—accepting when things were going badly, thinking that it was something about me and that I needed to change. I hope that women don’t do what I did, which was just settle for being treated not 100% truthfully.”