Saturday, August 18, 2012

THINGS THAT YOU FIND WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE


This weekend I decided to straighten up the storage area in our detached garage. While digging through some old boxes I found copies of all the press releases I made during the Bundy investigation back in 1978. In The Last Murder I described how I, as press spokesman for the task force, touched off a media feeding frenzy with an ill-worded press release. In the book I said that I followed that misstep up with a press release announcing that there would be no more press releases. This shows how memories can morph over the decades. The final press release makes no mention of the fact that it was the final press release. I made an announcement about no further press releases when the final press release was published. Perhaps sometime in the future I will transcribe the press releases and publish them on this blog. 

I also found a treasure trove of old newspaper clippings about the case which I certainly could have used while I was writing the book. I left out a few of incidents which did not include me as a participant and for which I had no ready reference to cite in a footnote. Looking through the clippings, I found that some of them could have served as authority for the incidents.

Something else I found wouldn’t have helped at all with the writing of the book, but it brought back memories. My father was the institutional inspector at Florida’s Reception and Medical Center when Bundy was sent to prison. When Bundy was booked in after the Orlando death sentence, he made a copy of the booking photo and gave it to me. Praeger obtained another copy of that same photo from a different source and used it on the cover of the book.

Something else I found that would have helped to jog my memory was a collection of cartoons. Ellen Burgess, the deputy clerk who worked the trial, is a cartoonist. She drew a series of cartoons about various incidents that happened during the case, and they were uniformly funny. Some of the cartoons were inside jokes which would have been understandable only to the people involved in the trial, but others would be funny to anyone with a sense of humor. One cartoon that I didn’t have in the collection was a cartoon she did of all the key players in the trial. She passed it around and we all signed it. When Bundy found out about the cartoon, he put in to sign it also. I never got a copy of that particular cartoon, but a few months back, Mrs. Burgess and I got reconnected by email and she emailed me a copy. I think I have the full set of cartoons now.

There were a few other things, like a copy of the Indictment and a copy of the judgment and sentence, but the most interesting find was a copy of Bundy’s written offer to plead guilty in the Lake City case. It is unsigned, as I tore up the signed copy immediately after the plea fell through. I thought that all copies of the abortive plea offer had been destroyed, but obviously I was wrong.