Ted Bundy is widely considered the most infamous serial killer in American history. A new Netflix series on Bundy, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, revisits the shocking case of Bundy’s numerous murders, trial and ultimate death sentence. Saint Leo University was lucky enough to host one of the top voices in the Florida trial.
How the Event Came Together
George “Bob” Dekle, who served as the prosecuting attorney in the Ted Bundy trial in Orlando, Fla., was recently the featured guest speaker at an event put on by Saint Leo University’s Lake City Education Center. The event was held at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.
“I had done this for Saint Leo several years ago,” Dekle recalls. “When all of this stuff about Bundy resurfaced and Netflix released the documentary series, they asked if I would come back and speak.”
It was center director Jessica Markham and Dr. Christine Sereni-Massinger, a Saint Leo criminal justice professor, who arranged this unique gathering.
“We reached out and he agreed to do this without hesitation,” Markham says. “He is local to Lake City.”
Looking Back at the Ted Bundy Trial and Case
Dekle recalls what his life was like during the Ted Bundy trial.
“It was definitely an ordeal,” he confides. “It was two years beforehand, then a month-and-a-half trial and then nine years of waiting before the execution. I was extremely glad when it was all over.”
While many have painted Bundy as being in a class of his own in terms of serial killers, Dekle describes him from the vantage point of someone who dealt with countless murderers throughout his career.
“He was handsome and well-spoken, but he was cut out like any other serial killer. I like to say he was remarkably unremarkable.”
Plus, Dekle asserts that H. H. Holmes may have been the most prolific serial killer. Holmes was suspected of around 200 murders in the Chicago area in the late 1800s.
Bundy confessed to 30 homicides that occurred between 1974 and 1978 in seven states. Some, however, claim he had a much larger resume of murders that were never proven. He was put to death by electrocution in Florida in January 1989.
Bundy’s last known victim was 12-year-old Kimberly Leach who was murdered in Lake City. It was this murder case in which Dekle was the prosecuting attorney. From 1975 through 2005, Dekle served as an assistant state attorney in Florida’s Third Judicial Circuit.
“Being a prosecutor made me feel like I was one of the good guys, but there was a tremendous amount of pressure at the same time.”
A Memorable Gathering
This Saint Leo event stood out to Dekle for several reasons.
“It was well attended and the crowd had lots of good questions,” he says. “I’ve given many talks on the Ted Bundy trial over the years, but for this one, the people seemed more engaged and inquisitive.”
He was also surprised to see some of those in attendance.
“There were actually several people there who had personal knowledge of the story. There was a woman who I hadn’t seen since she was in junior high who was a witness in the case at that time. She now works in law enforcement, and I think it was her experience as a witness that made her pursue that as a career. There were also a few others who had worked in the state attorney’s office at the time of the case.”
He has watched the Netflix documentary series for which he was interviewed and believes the presentation of the Florida trial was on point.
“I think the series gives you a pretty good handle on what Bundy was like,” he says.
Making a Difference
According to Dekle, there are several benefits to working in criminal justice for any prospective students who are considering this major and career field.
“If you like to wear a white hat, then I’d say go into law enforcement,” he says. “The reason I stayed in the criminal justice field for 30 years is because I felt like I was doing something to make the world a better place.”
Following his three decades handling legal cases, Dekle spent 10 years as a law professor at the University of Florida.
“I like to say there was basically zero pressure when I got to teach. I always told anyone who said teaching was difficult to go out and handle a murder trial.”