In late June 2019, I was perusing the finding aids at the Utah State Archives for Bundy research potential when I noticed a series titled Utah Department of Corrections, Inmate Services Prison Commitment Registers, series no. 80388. The records series included prison records and mugshots(!). My excitement at this potential discovery was quickly dashed however, as upon further investigation I discovered that the Archives did not have any Bundy prison records in its custody.
From my own current work in archives and records management, I surmised that if the records had not yet been transferred, they were probably still with their creator agency, or had been destroyed. In early July, I contacted the Department of Corrections on the off chance that they still had the prison records and mugshots from Bundy’s incarceration at the Utah State Prison in 1976. The Department’s records manager replied with the following photo scans attached to her email. I was in the grocery store at the time when I heard my phone ping, checked my email, and picked my jaw up off the ground.
As far as I am or anyone else I know is aware, these photos have never been published and probably hadn’t even been looked at since they were taken in 1976.
The first photo, taken on March 24, 1976, was Bundy’s first booking photo at the Utah State Prison, when he was assigned to the diagnostic evaluation unit for psychological testing before sentencing. The second set of photos were taken on July 6, 1976, after sentencing, when Bundy was officially transferred from the diagnostic unit to the state prison at Point of the Mountain, Utah. Note that he is still wearing his prison-issue DIAGNOSTIC t-shirt labeling him as a prisoner undergoing evaluation. It was probably removed and replaced with a prison uniform shortly after this photograph was taken.
There has apparently been some dispute about the origin of these photographs, and I’ve seen claims from others online that THEY actually found these photos. This is completely false information. Out of an abundance of transparency, I offer these screenshots of my July email correspondence with Kara, the records manager at the Utah Department of Corrections. Hopefully this clears up any misunderstandings regarding those claims.
Sadly, there are many unscrupulous people out there. On November 6, 2019 I finally posted these to a private Facebook group which I co-admin. Within a few hours they went viral. One particularly unethical person named “krebhends” on Reddit took one of these photos from the private group and posted it to Reddit, without any credit to myself for finding and sharing it, the Ted Bundy Research Group for hosting it, or the Utah Department of Corrections for providing it. Since then these photos, and that “stolen” one in particular, have exploded over the internet.
Oh well. It’s a losing battle at some point, and as I’ve discovered not everyone plays by the rules. I’m just glad to have played a role in these amazing, previously unpublished and unknown photographs once again seeing the light of day and being appreciated by the true crime community.