Ted Bundy Myths : The Riverman by Robert Keppel

As you might have noticed while watching documentaries or reading “The Riverman” is how Robert Keppel is off the mark on a lot of things concerning Bundy. The man was proved wrong many times but still spread his made-up facts. There’s the total body count of course, but also the VW bug picture at Lake Sammamish taken on July 14, 1974, the murder of Ann Marie Burr, the murder of Lisa Wick and Lonnie Trumbull, the murder of Katherine Devine,….

There’s little doubt Keppel hated Bundy and couldn’t see him objectively. He never believed a single word coming out of his mouth even when he was saying the truth (That’s how he described him : “A born killer, perverter, deluded, an offense to the soul”). He’s also a little too sure of himself concerning the case and he’s probably still fuming that he wasn’t the one who caught him and that to this day, outside of Bundy’s own confessions he has nothing to pin him on a Seattle area murder. Despite this he clearly enjoy the little fame he found and letting reporters believe he was the one who solved the case. He never corrected them when they called him the man who caught Bundy.

You’ll find a lot of instances of Keppel being dead wrong about Ted in “The Riverman” alone. Just a few examples :

Bundy was so severe a sexual deviant that he was probably unable to reach an orgasm unless his victim was dead or unconscious.” – That’s obviously wrong. He brought up to his apartment some potential victims while he was testing himself. He had sex with them and then let them go the morning after.

His car being pictured at Lake Sam. When Bob Keppel showed him the picture, Ted denied it was his car and the car picture had no ski rack on it while his car had and the license plate was different. More important is the disparity between the Lake Sam car and Ted’s car : The air slots at the back of the car are different. 10,000 people were present that day, 2 VW cars are pictured in one single picture, can you imagine the amount of VWs parked that day? 

Katherine Devine. She was murdered in December 1973. At the time Bob Keppel interviewed Ted in 1984 and then in 1989, her murder was still unsolved. Bob Keppel was persuaded Ted was the killer.

He showed him a picture of Kathy’s crime scene :

I felt suddenly as if he were alone with his thoughts, replaying an internal video of his murder, even with us there. (…) Dave reported the facts of the case while Ted stared down. My guess from his reaction was that Ted didn’t need the explanation. He patiently waited while Dave explained what he already knew.” and “I was astonished by Ted’s observations since I could hardly decipher from the photo what condition the clothing was in, let alone how the jeans were cut. He had to have been there. He was there, right then, in his memory.”

Well, her case was solved in 2002, and surprise, Ted wasn’t the killer. DNA testing had identified  William E. Cosden Jr as the killer. Cosden was already in prison for a rape sentence.

Ann Marie Burr. My post about her here.

Lisa Wick and Lonnie Trumbull. Keppel also believed Ted was probably the perpetrator of the crime, “He was working at a Safeway store near an apartment house where two stewardesses lived.” Well, dead wrong again. Ted didn’t start working there before 1968, 2 years after the murders. The MO fits the Chi Omega murders but not his early one. He was 19 at the time and hadn’t escalated to murder yet. He started with rape and tried to abduct a woman for the first time in 1969, but failed. He tried again in 1971. He actually struck a woman from behind this time but he ran away when she started screaming. The first time he admitted entering a woman’s house was in 1972, he tried to suffocate her but, again, ran away when she struggled.

Check out this great article about Wick and Trumbull by Tiffany Jean here.

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