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Ted Reckoning: The story behind FEAR COLLECTOR

I was almost a victim of Ted Bundy.

My sister dated Ted Bundy. Briefly.

I’m pretty sure that Ted Bundy followed me in his VW.

As a crime writer from the Pacific Northwest, I’ve heard those – and other claims – more times than I could really count. The last one came from a banker just last week. A mere mention of Ted Bundy’s name always brings a shudder.

Sometimes, oddly, even a boast.

I get that. Our culture has morphed into equating infamy with being famous. Notoriety of any kind is better than anonymity. And, as far as real life boogie men go, Ted Bundy is the gold standard. He was blandly handsome, charismatic, clever, and twisted beyond words. He was able to walk among us without detection. Ann Rule, the great true crime writer, wrote about Ted in her first book, THE STRANGER BESIDE ME. She talked about “mask” of sanity and normalcy that Ted wore.

Crazy, dangerous and evil can be hidden behind a mask.

Over Christmas my grown daughters were visiting and I picked up a copy of US WEEKLY. I imagine now that if the magazine put up a row photos of serial killers and asked “Who wore it best?” Ted would be the winner, hands down.

There’s something about Bundy.

All victims of serial killers are someone’s daughter or sister. We all know this. What made Ted Bundy the grotesque superstar of killers wasn’t how many he killed, but the victims themselves. Nearly without exception, the victims were the girls next door. Young. Pretty. Sweet. If a college girl could walk across a parking lot without being accosted and killed by a stranger, then really, who was safe?

I have my own connection to Ted. The summer day two victims disappeared from Lake Sammamish not far from our home, my parents took our family there for a picnic. We didn’t stay because the park was so crowded there wasn’t a parking spot to be had.

I almost could have really truly barely crossed paths with Ted Bundy.

Years later, when I working on my first book proposals (LOVE BEHIND BARS: Stories of Prison Groupies and their Men), I wrote to Ted. He was on death row in Florida for the murder of a school girl in Lake City. Ted wrote back to me that while he appreciated my letter he had to “recline” (not decline) the offer and he signed it “Peace, Ted.”

I knew that a woman had fallen in love with Ted and married him on the witness stand. During the 1980s and ’90s talk TV was rife with shows that featured women in love with the Richard Ramirez (aka, the Night Stalker), the Menendez brothers. Even more recently stories have circulated about Scotty “Hottie” Peterson, who’d killed his pregnant wife Laci, and yet receives truckloads of love letters.

Ted’s case interested me above all others because of its lasting impact. Many of us in the Seattle area know the names of his victims. We’ve seen the families struggle with the aftermath. We know where he went to school. What political party he supported. And that he racked up anywhere from 30-100 murders in his vile crime spree.

But Ted’s legacy didn’t end with his crimes. It wasn’t over when Old Sparky zapped the life out of him in Florida’s death chamber.

Ted and his groupie-turned-wife had a child together. That’s right. I’ve often wondered what it would be like for any child of a serial killer to consider how twisted their branches on might be.

At its heart, Fear Collector is about two women. Grace Alexander is a Tacoma cop who’s grown up under the shadow of missing sister, Tricia. Her parents were convinced Tricia was a Ted victim, but her body was never found and the circumstantial evidence tying her to Ted was minimal at best. On the other side of town is Peggy Howell, Tricia’s best friend who, over time, became obsessed with Bundy.

And who had a son.

What to know more? As they say, read the book.


“Olsen writes rapid-fire page turners.” –SEATTLE TIMES

“Olsen will scare you — and you’ll love it.” — Lee Child

“You’ll sleep with the lights on after reading Gregg Olsen.” —Allison Brennan


Gregg Olsen has received numerous awards and critical acclaim for his writing. He’s also been a guest on Good Morning, America; CBS Early Show; Entertainment Tonight; CNN; Fox News; 48 Hours; and other national and international TV programs. The Seattle native lives in rural Washington with his wife and twin daughters.

To learn more about Gregg, please visit his website.