Sunday, April 8, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: I'M NOT GUILTY


I’m Not Guilty
The Development of the Violent Mind: The Case of Ted Bundy
A Novel by Al Carlisle, PH.D.

Recently, I traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah for the World Horror Convention/Bram Stoker Awards.  It was an amazing experience to meet so many talented writers and artists, and listen to the minds of the masters in the field.  I sat in on a variety of lectures, went to the Salty Horror Film Festival (where I watched the award winning short film An Evening with my Comatose Mother) and took a writing workshop with Mort Castle where I practiced evoking truth in my fiction.

But one of the reasons I was drawn to the convention was that Al Carlisle would be speaking on the progression of serial killers and the ins and outs of multiple personality disorder. See, in addition to working on my thesis novel, I’ve been diligently researching an idea for a separate novel, and I thought that his lecture could help bleed some truth and realism into the character profile I’m working on. Also, for those of you that are unaware, I came very closer to majoring in forensic psychology, and even though I chose a more literary path, I still devour abnormal psychology articles and books on a regular basis. So when I found of that the lead psychologist on the Ted Bundy case was speaking at the event, I hoped on that plane quicker than you could say ‘serial killer.’

Before I get into the lecture though, here are some basic details about the case:

-Ted Bundy confessed to 30+ homicides before his execution in 1989.
-He is famous for his charming personality and his ability to lie and fool everyone around him. He would attack his victims at random (trolling, as he called it), and normally feign injury in order to entice them.
-Bundy became obsessed with his victims, and spent great amounts of time with the bodies after the murders. He would perform sexual acts on the corpses, and even claim that he bonded with them after they died, as if a part of their spirit became one with his.
-Bundy kept souvenirs. He decapitated at least 12 of his females, and kept their heads in his freezer, and when he grew tired of those, he would visit the dump sites, and spend time with his girls there.
- Oh, and Ted Bundy escaped from prison….twice.


Needless to say, Carlisle’s presentation was riveting.

I’ve read a lot about the minds of serial killers (Bundy in particular) and I’ve watched numerous documentaries on the subject as well, but there is something said for listening to someone in person who has actually been in contact and worked close with the killer. For instance, what really got me was when Carlisle talked about Bundy’s legendary charisma. Sure he knew that Ted was a cold blood killer, but he couldn’t deny that he liked the guy, and that’s why so many people couldn’t believe that Ted was capable of the murders.  In fact, that’s what hooked me with the case. I wanted to know how someone that was so obviously guilty, could (1) convince himself that there was nothing wrong with what  he was doing (2) charm everyone around him and (3) be as successful and skilled as he was in everyday life. Suffice it to say, I feel like I got all of my questions answered and it was a pleasure getting to meet Dr. Carlisle in person.

After the Q&A, I simply had to buy his book I’m Not Guilty- which might I add, I started and finished on the plane ride home.  The novel is essentially a mock interview comprised of the time he spent with the Bundy, detailing his life from childhood to execution. You learn about Ted’s insatiable need for pornography as a child (which he blames the murders on), his first rape attempt as a teenager, and then his steady decline into becoming the killer we know him as today. However, despite all the gore and psychological profiling, what I found to be most intriguing was learning about the relationships he had in life, particularly with Marjorie and Liz. Ted was incapable of letting himself be loved, and no matter how hard he tried, he could never break down the walls that closed him off to everyone around him. He would always be two people: Ted and the Entity, and as long as the Entity existed, the thirst for blood could never stop.

Curious yet?
If so, I’d HIGHLY recommend it, because there’s nothing scarier than getting inside the mind of a killer. And let me tell you something. Ted Bundy’s mind is simply horrifying, but he’ll try his best to convince you otherwise.