Execution Tourism: The next trending niche?
Alcatraz East Crime Museum will capitalize on execution tourism with a Ted Bundy display for the 30th anniversary of the serial killer’s execution.
There is cemetery tourism, so why not execution tourism?
January 24, 2019 will be the 30th anniversary of the execution of one of the most well-known serial killers and rapists of the 20th century, Ted Bundy. There are several events taking place over the anniversary, including new items being made available to the public for the first time at Alcatraz East Crime Museum. The display, which will be in front of the famous 1968 Volkswagen Beetle already on view, will include letters, cards, photos, and a radio given to Bundy by his mother, that he kept until he was moved to death row. Available for only a limited time, this display will shed light on the private side of the notorious killer that haunted the country until his death.
“Ted Bundy has always held an extra fascination for our visitors, and many come specifically to see his Volkswagen Beetle, that was such a big part of his crime spree,” explains Rachael Penman, director of artifacts and exhibits at Alcatraz East Crime Museum. “Now museum visitors will have a glimpse inside his frame of mind in the years after his capture, and his relationships with his former girlfriend Liz, and wife Carole.”
To coincide with the anniversary, actor Zac Efron will star as Bundy in the new film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” which focuses on the major relationships in his life, Liz Kloepfer and Carole Ann Boone. The display reflects this narrative, with letters that give insight into the relationship between Bundy and Boone, and a fascinating letter from Bundy to Kloepfer.
The temporary display will feature a sampling of pieces from the museum’s extensive archive of personal correspondence between Bundy, Boone, and his defense attorney during the Kimberly Leach trial, J. Victor (Vic) Africano. The letters reveal the dedicated relationship between lawyer and client that stretched for nearly a decade, as well as Bundy’s personal feelings about his wife Carole, who he married in court during the Leach trial.
There has been much speculation about the relationship between Ted and Carole, however the letters reflect a close and affectionate relationship, and that Carole was deeply involved in his defense and maintained a friendly relationship with Africano. Carole’s letters are clearly optimistic, revealing a dry sense of humor. In October 1981, Carole gave birth to a daughter that she claimed was Ted Bundy’s. Referred to as Rosa in their letters, Bundy believed her to be his. The display includes a photograph of their daughter as a baby.
The public will also be able to view a letter from Bundy to Africano in September 1988, only four months before his execution. In it he pleads with his former lawyer to help argue inadequate defense as a last-ditch effort to spare his life.
The display joins the infamous 1968 Volkswagen Beetle Bundy owned and that is associated with numerous murders in Washington State and Utah before his arrest in a stolen VW in Florida. His VW later yielded important forensic evidence linking several of his murders.
“Ted Bundy is a household name because of the horrific nature of his crimes,” added Penman. “The public continues to be drawn to Bundy partly because of the questions his friendly and handsome façade brings out. The warning of “stranger danger” is something we always try to bring home to our visitors, but it goes beyond that because Liz stayed with him even after reporting him to the police.”
There are Ted Bundy artifacts on view in other galleries, including the typewriter he used in prison after his Florida arrest, and the dental mold of his teeth used to help convict him in the Chi Omega murders.
The museum is always adding to its collection and has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.