Prison Pen-pal Letters Between Ted Bundy And John Hinckley Jr.




Theodore Robert Bundy (born Theodore Robert Cowell; November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989) was an American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. Shortly before his execution, after more than a decade of denials, he confessed to 30 homicides committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978. The true victim count remains unknown, and could be much higher.

John Warnock Hinckley Jr. (born May 29, 1955) attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981, as the culmination of an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. Reported to have been driven by an obsessional fixation on her, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has remained under institutional psychiatric care since then.

On September 30, 1996, The New York Times reported that “in 1986 [John W. Hinckley] exchanged letters with Theodore Bundy, a man awaiting execution for the murder of three Florida women… Mr. Hinckley wrote the prisoner to ‘express his sorrow’ for the awkward position he must be in.’ The Times was unaware, however, that on the day he was executed in 1989 Bundy had entrusted the correspondence to a Florida prison guard, Arvith Foat. Foat died in May 1996 but willed the letters to a distant relative, GQ writer at-large Scott Raab. What follows is an excerpt from the collected letters.



February 24, 1986

Dear Ted,

Please allow me to introduce myself – John W. Hinckley Jr., the slightly chubby loner who sought to impress the actress Jodie Foster by shooting President Ronald Reagan. In 1981, remember? Hi.

Anyway, I hope I’m not being rude, but I just saw the article about you in the Post, and I thought you could use a friendly word from someone who truly knows firsthand how tough it can be to stand up and tell the world, “Look, I’m really sorry, but I just went totally apeshit.”

The paper talks about how you didn’t want to plead insanity at your trial. (Hey, who does?) Like that means you weren’t nuts? (If you ask me, it proves it!) And how you were only doing it on appeal to escape the death penalty. (Duh.) Ted, I heard that same exact baloney, and I got so bummed that I tried to commit suicide three times. So what I really wanted to tell you is, don’t let the bastards get you down. You have as much right to appeal as anyone else, even if you killed and fucked a hundred dead girls. (But why am I telling you that? You went to law school!)

Good luck,

P.S. Did you ever see Taxi Driver?



March 15, 1986

Dear John,

What a delicious surprise! I certainly do recall you and your botched assassination. Of course, as a life-long Republican I objected to your choice of target, but I understand fully the impulse that drove you. Few emotions are so disturbing or so potent as unrequited love. Demonic rage, perhaps, but that’s it.

My sole quarrel is with your taste: The undeniably gifted Miss Foster is, by my admittedly quirky standards, slightly bony. (Flat as a pancake, we used to say.) As for Taxi Driver, I thought it all a tad lightweight. Despite the excellent work of the cast and the haunting Bernard Herrmann score, it failed to deliver the bite I was looking for at the climax.

I don’t imagine that you’re familiar with the work of Dostoyevsky, but if your hospital has any decent sort of library you ought to explore it. Begin with Crime and Punishment. It’s all there: the ravages of guilt and obsession, the debased intellect spiraling into madness and murder. You’ve lived the movie — now read the book! Ha-ha.

On a more somber note, I must ask that you refrain from profanity in any future letters. On that day two years ago when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, I took the trash out of my life. I can’t undo my past — I am sorry; I did go non compos mentis — but today I am His lamb. Look to Him, John. There are no loners in His flock.




March 21, 1986


I guess if you knew anything about women and how to make them happy, you wouldn’t be filing stupid appeals six years late to save your ass (sorry – rectum) from the electric chair. HA-HA-HA. I’m including a picture of Jodie so you can see how nuts you really are. I only have fifty-six left, but it’s worth it. This one’s from Carny. Did you see that? Or were you too busy raping and mutilating dumb girls? You think you’re so smart, but who’s going to Yale? Jodie Foster.

You know, when the newspapers said you were arrogant, I tried to keep my mind open. But I’m beginning to see that for once they were right.



P.S. I am NOT a loner anymore. My fiancee’s name is Leslie DeVeau, and I met her here.



April 2, 1986

My dear, demented Hinckley,

I don’t know what they’re putting in your pill cup, old boy, but one snide joke — for which I now hasten to beg your forgiveness — is no reason to un-holster your .22 automatic and strafe a crowd of suits. Take it from a fellow who on more than one occasion bit off more nipple than he could chew: Let go of the anger.

Thanks for the photo. I did see Carny — I’m a big Gary Busey fan — but I remember little of it, save for the haunting Alex North score. I can’t get it out of my head.

Say, isn’t your fiancee the gal who shotgunned her sleeping daughter, then turned the weapon on herself? Merely blew off part of her left arm, though, right ? Talk about a lid for every pot: What a miracle you two marksmen found each other. I myself got hitched back in ’81, to a sweet young lady named Carol Boone and haven’t regretted it for a moment. My only advice is to make certain the girl loves you for yourself. Most of them see a handsome face and never glance below the surface until it’s too late.




April 9, 1986

Dear Ted,

You’re so right about needing to let go of our anger. When we lash out, we don’t just hurt other people, we also hurt ourselves. The therapists tell me this all the time, but it means a lot more coming from you.

Did you ever see Bugsy Malone, with all the children dressed up like gangsters and the guns that shot whipped cream? If only we could be kids again, with whipped cream instead of bullets and Jodie in a little beige flapper dress. I’d never get angry

Your advice on marriage is good, too. Leslie just got out after four years. She says she truly loves me but she needs to try life on the outside and maybe play the field a little. I hate the idea of her dating other men, but I’ve learned here that she has the right to live her own life. Also, I don’t think that too many guys out there will want a one armed woman who killed her own child. I hope.

Your pal,



April 2 l, 1986

Dear John,

I received some most disheartening news this week — yet another ruling that I was competent at my trial and thus deserving of the death sentence. It’s always the same: The judge sees my grades, my Boy Scout merit badges, the pamphlet on rape prevention I authored when I served on the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Committee, and finds that I was sane. That these aged, black-robed cretins can’t grasp that a sane man could not have performed such unspeakable acts just slays me.

I indeed saw Bugsy Malone but found it cloying and disturbingly pedophilic at once. As you point out, however, the costumes were fetching, and I still can hear the haunting Paul Williams score.

Try not to fret about your fiancee’s need to test her wings. Surely you know the parable about the delicate butterfly held in a clasped pair of hands. Squeeze too hard and it dies. John, that butterfly is love. So spread your fingers, my friend; let Leslie fly. If love be true, she’ll return. If not, then she never really loved you, in which case you may hunt her down, throttle her and maul her cooling flesh to your heart’s content.




Boy, those two would have made quite the dynamic duo, outside their prison and mental hospital walls. I imagine them as sort of a Will Farrell & John C. Reilly film and TV comedy team. Too bad one of them decided to shoot a United States President, while the other raped and killed dozens of women and then defiled their corpses. It’s all about making the right decisions in life, kids. One little slip-up can really lead you down a rough patch of road.





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