Molly Kendall loved Ted Bundy. From the ages of 3 through 10 years old, the little girl viewed him as the father she never had.
From 1969 until his arrest in 1975, he was her mother’s boyfriend and a constant presence in their Seattle, Washington, home. He took the child skiing, taught her to ride a bike and turned simple merry-go-round rides into fun games.
Molly had no way of knowing that her surrogate dad was also killing and raping university co-eds as one of the nation’s most notorious serial killers.
As described in “Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy” (Abrams) — a 1981 memoir written by Molly’s mom Elizabeth and being reissued in a new edition on Tuesday — Bundy could not keep things on the straight and narrow.
Even Molly was sometimes exposed to his sadistic side. Once, while she was swimming in the middle of a lake and running out of energy, Bundy kept cruelly inching his raft away from her. And she suffered his sexual predation. She writes in the new chapter to her mother’s book how, one night, he climbed into bed with her.
“You peed,” she blurted out, too young to consider the moisture to be anything else.
Another time, he and Molly engaged in a game of hide-and-seek. Bundy was easy to find, curled up beneath an afghan. But there was a surprise: He was naked and aroused.
“It was long after this that I figured out that penises were not always erections,” she writes.
Bundy was a sociopath but he was also charming, crafty and handsome.
“We loved Ted,” Molly writes of herself and Elizabeth. “He had been such a positive figure in our lives, such a help to [us], I did not want him to get in trouble … I did not want him to have to go away.”
Neither did Elizabeth, who knew nothing of his creepiness toward her daughter. She met Bundy in 1969, soon after moving from Salt Lake City to Seattle where she worked as a secretary at the University of Washington. Twenty-four at the time and recently divorced, she was intrigued by the bohemian spirit of the day. She was drinking beer with a friend at the Sandpiper, a local bar where the jukebox was stocked with songs by the Beatles, when a curly-haired man asked her to dance.
Bundy wooed her by taking care of her when she was sick and surprising her at work. They were soon spending most nights together and, as Elizabeth writes, “We made love every chance we got. I had never felt this close to any man before.”
Molly took to him just as quickly. “Talking and eating and taking care of Molly and sleeping together all flowed along so effortlessly that we became a family,” Elizabeth writes.
The two sides of Bundy are what Joe Berlinger, director of the films “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” and “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” described to The Post as “an inexplicable dilemma.
“He was a sociopath who could compartmentalize. He had a strong need to be a family member [but] he talked about a thing called ‘the entity.’ It was a voice in his head compelling him to kill. Then he could shut out [the murders] and have a normal life.”
In the course of researching “Extremely Wicked …,” starring Zac Efron as the killer, Berlinger brought actress Lily Collins, who played Elizabeth in the movie, to meet Molly and her mother and go through their old pictures.
Elizabeth Kendall (left) dated Ted Bundy for years, not knowing he was going out and killing co-eds. He was also a surrogate father to her daughter, Molly (right), who is now talking about that in the updated version of her mother’s 1981 book, “The Phantom Prince.”Keith Norton
“There were photos of them on ski trips, at birthday parties, taking pony rides,” the director remembered. “It was what you would expect from family photos — except the man of the family was Ted Bundy.”
But things weren’t perfect.
Beginning in the early 1970s, said Berlinger, “there was a growing number of things that didn’t make sense.” Elizabeth found house keys that did not belong to Bundy. In his car’s glove compartment, she stumbled across a knife. (Bundy insisted it was for self-defense.) His penchant for casually shoplifting everything from books to a TV became increasingly difficult to overlook.
His excuses turned less palatable in the summer of 1974, after the emboldened psycho murdered two women at Lake Sammamish. Wearing a fake cast and struggling to load a sailboat onto the roof of a Volkswagen Beetle, he had gained their sympathy and lured them into his clutches.
Local police were able to create a composite sketch of a man named Ted who drove a VW. Elizabeth saw the sketch and accompanying story in a Seattle newspaper and contacted police to say it sounded like her boyfriend.
We loved Ted. I did not want him to get in trouble … I did not want him to have to go away.
– Molly Kendall about Ted Bundy
Amazingly, she was rebuffed, twice. Finally, the cops went for her third call. Without being told what was going on, Elizabeth assisted police in an investigation that neared its conclusion in August 1975. That was when Bundy got arrested for evading authorities — with an ice pick, handcuffs, ski mask and pantyhose in his trunk — but released. Elizabeth only found out through the police. Bundy insisted it was too trivial to mention.
After he was identified in a police lineup by a victim had who gotten away, Bundy was charged in October 1975 with kidnapping and attempted homicide.
Elizabeth writes how, crying and drinking heavily to calm her nerves. she called her mother and said: “I wish I was dead.”
In the jailhouse love letters that flooded Elizabeth’s mailbox, Bundy was gushy and desperate. He wrote, “In this life we are fortunate to find one person to love and love completely. I am lucky because I love you in that way.”
Wracked with guilt, Elizabeth didn’t respond. It was only when an unexpected call arrived from prison that she blurted out the truth, revealing for the first time that it was she who had alerted the cops. Nonplussed, Bundy said: “If you told them the truth, then no harm has been done.”
Some two months after his arrest, Bundy was out on bond and staying with friends in Salt Lake City. That Thanksgiving, he made an unexpected visit to Elizabeth and Molly’s home, and the couple reconciled.
For next few months, they slept together and Bundy took to introducing Elizabeth as his fiancé.
She acknowledges being “a little bit scared.” But when a friend cautioned her against being vulnerable to a potential murderer, Elizabeth ignored the advice. Despite having played a role in his being arrested, she writes in the book, “If there was the slightest chance that he was innocent, I couldn’t and wouldn’t let go.”
The reunion was short-lived.
In February of ’76, a jury found Bundy guilty of murder and kidnapping. (He later confessed to more than 30 killings.)
In the memoir’s new afterward, Elizabeth writes that she had very little contact with Bundy after he escaped from prison in 1978 and murdered a pair of sorority sisters. She last communicated with him in 1986 and “briefly told him the reasons I fell in love with him when we first met.”
On Jan. 24, 1989, Bundy was electrocuted. In the book. Elizabeth describes it as “an emotionally blank day for me.” Finally having come to terms with the real man, she describes him as “gruesome.”
Molly writes about a last letter sent by Bundy to her mother in the late ’80s. The girl had found it in the mailbox upon returning home from community college. It was about his finding God and a quest for spirituality. She feared that it would once again rope Elizabeth into Bundy’s orbit.
“I burned that letter in the fireplace,” she writes. “I honestly would have taken him out back and shot him myself rather than let him hurt one more person.”