Eleanor Louise Cowell later known as Louise Bundy, was born on the 21st of September 1924, in Philadelphia, she grew up in a close family and neighborhood with her parents and sisters. At an early age in her life, she had her own son too, out of wedlock.
However, this birth and the series of event that happened thereafter through the period of her life and the life of the son she bore who neither knew she was his birth mother for many years and grew up knowing her as his sister nor knew his real dad all his life, brought her to the public eye as the mother of one of history’s most talked-about sociopath and serial killer who stood by her son and defended him throughout his trials as a serial killer.
Name: Eleanor Louise Cowell Bundy
Date of Birth: 21st September 1924
Place of Birth: Philadelphia.
Date of Death: 23rd December 2012
Known For: Being the mother of the infamous sociopath and serial killer; Ted Bundy.
1. How Eleanor Louise Cowell Grew Up
She was born in Philadelphia where she also birthed her son. Her family life proved to be too difficult for her to raise a child as her dad was an abusive man, she and her younger sister, however, grew up sane while the rest of the family had questionable tendencies. Her mum was subjected to bouts of crippling depression for which she had to undergo electroconvulsive therapy as treatment. Her dad was known city-wide to be a violent, drunken man.
Eleanor’s father used to beat her mother, their dogs, their neighbors’ cats and she remembered him being racist, and sexist on top of being verbally abusive. However, he was the only male figure they had and Ted had just him to look up to while growing up. As a result, Ted clung to him and identified with Eleanor’s dad.
2. She was 22 Years Old When She Birthed Ted Bundy
On the 24th of November 1946, Eleanor Louise Cowell later referred to as Louise Bundy birthed a son at the Elizabeth Lund Home For Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont.
She was advised to give the child up in order to avoid the stigma of being a mother out of wedlock. In order to save face and that of her family, her parents took in her son and raised him as theirs.
3. Eleanor Louise Cowell Birthed A Psychopath
Eleanor’s son was named Theodore Robert Cowell or ‘Ted’ for short and when Eleanor married and her new husband adopted young Ted, he was given the last name ‘Bundy’.
Ted grew up believing that she was his older sister and this relationship was a complicated one which many biographers attributed to being the reason as to why Ted became a sociopath.
4. The Identity of the Father of Her Son Was Never Uncovered
To this day, the identity of the man who got Eleanor pregnant is still a mystery. Rumors had made rounds that it could have been anyone from an Air Force veteran named Lloyd Marshall who she was married to and has his name of Ted’s birth, to a Sailor and even down to her abusive father.
However, neither of these claims has been proven to be true and even the rumor about her dad was neither confirmed nor denied by the family.
5. Eleanor Noticed Her Son’s Sociopathic Behavior Early
This is owing to the fact that when Ted was three years old, he was caught smiling at the foot of Eleanor’s sister’s bed when she woke up one morning and found her bed covered in kitchen knives.
This was one of the first signs of his sociopathic tendency plus the fact that he was always moody and had begun to distance himself from the rest of the family at that early age.
Even when Ted was arrested on suspicion of burglary and theft at the age of 18, she passed it off and assumed that the behavior and drift were due to the fact that he missed Philadelphia and perhaps acted like any dotting mother would and only chose to see the good in her son.
She ignored the signs that something could be wrong with her son and refused to see that something more sinister could be going on under the surface.
6. Eleanor Louise Cowell Changed Her Name and Remarried
Eleanor changed her named to Louise Nelson and then moved to Tacoma, Washington from Philadelphia in 1950. She and Ted stayed with her cousins who lived in Tacoma.
The following year, Louise Nelson met a hospital cook at a singles night named John Bundy and she fell in love with him. Bundy was everything to Eleanor that her dad wasn’t and this facilitated her falling in love with him.
Eleanor and Bundy got married within a year and over a period of time. She had four more children with him. She became a housewife and performed her duties with passion and satisfaction. However, it bugged her to see young Ted drifting farther away from her and his family even though he had been adopted by Bundy and even shared his last name, and nothing she did or tried to do worked as he was unwilling to cooperate.
7. She Got a Job
Eleanor as a mother of five still got a job as a secretary at the University of Puget Sound in the mid-1970s and it was around this period that allegations about her son’s atrocities Ted Bundy began and turned her life upside down.
Ted Bundy briefly attended this University before transferring to the University of Washington where he studied Chinese and met his wife Elizabeth Kloepfer Kendall who he lived until his killing spree began.
8. Eleanor Always Supported Her Son And Insisted On His Innocence
While Ted Bundy’s sociopathic deeds were brought to the public during his court trials for all the murders he had committed, Eleanor Louise Bundy insisted that there was no way her son could have committed such heinous crimes. She insisted that he was innocent of all the claims and supported him with all her heart.
During an interview with the Tacoma News Tribune, she said that she remained supportive of her son and that there was no way he could have been the one going about killing women and young children.
Even after Ted confessed, Eleanor stood beside him and supported him. When Ted was accused of killing his 8-year old neighbor at the age of 14, she flew to his defense and swiftly refuted the speculations.
Even the morning of her execution, she told him during her call with him that “You’ll always be my precious son” and this was recorded. As a result, the general public would always remember her as the ‘dotting mother who supported a serial killer’ even though she had a reputation in her neighborhood as a ‘kind and loving woman’.
9. Surviving The Execution Of Her Son
Ted Bundy was convicted and executed by electrocution on the 24th of January 1989. On this morning, Eleanor spoke to her son twice as it would be the last time and after this, she and her husband, John Bundy had to deal with a lot of backlash and malicious comments from people because most people believed and accused them of knowing about Ted’s crimes and covered up for him.
Eleanor and John had move homes several times and even change phone numbers because they kept getting hateful calls and letters. She continued to play her dotting wife and mother role to her husband and the rest of her four kids and people who knew them considered them to be a very loving and likable family.
It is unknown to the public if she had any relationship with Ted Bundy’s wife and child after the incident but she and the rest of the family have kept a low profile and continue to remain relatively anonymous.
10. Making Amends and Her Eventual Death.
Eleanor Louise Cowell spoke to the mother of one of her son’s victims during a daytime TV show. On the day of her son’s execution, she agreed to talk with the show’s guest, Vivian Rancourt who was the mother of Susan Rancourt a woman who went missing until her skull was found and two days before the interview, Ted Bundy confessed to killing her.
Eleanor said she’d tell Vivian Rancourt how bad she felt and how sorry she was for what happened. The mothers were patched into the TV show via telephone with a live audience following, keenly.
Following the taunts and backlashes from people to Eleanor and her family, she remained unbothered by all those and soon after her son’s death, she joined her local church, the ‘First United Methodist Church’ and became an active member there working on outreach in her community and focusing on giving back until her death in 2012 at the age of 88.