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Official: car is teaching tool Macabre museum in D.C. adds Bundy VW

  • McClatchy Newspapers
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, at 12:08 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, at 5:49 a.m.

WASHINGTON — It may not be the Lincoln Memorial or the Smithsonian, but the tan 1968 Volkswagen Beetle driven by Ted Bundy, one of the most prolific serial killers in history, is now a tourist attraction in the nation's capital.

The car, with spots of rust, missing trim, a cracked windshield and a somewhat tattered interior from where police tore it apart looking for evidence, sits in the lobby of the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.

A 1976 Utah vehicle inspection sticker issued by the Utah State Patrol is still attached to the windshield. The front passenger seat is missing. Bundy removed it to make room for the bodies of his victims.

Bundy, a native of Tacoma, Wash., drove the car as he preyed on women in Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Colorado in the 1970s. Police think he used the car to commit 11 kidnappings and murders. At one point, Bundy is thought to have killed one person a month.

After escaping from jail twice, Bundy was finally caught in Florida, where he eventually was convicted of brutally murdering two members of the Chi Omega sorority at Florida State University and a 12-year-old girl. He was executed in that state's electric chair in 1989.

Before his execution, Bundy reportedly admitted to 40 murders in a dozen states. Some people think he killed more than 100.

"I think it's creepy," Janine Vaccarello, the museum's chief operating officer, said of the car. "He is the most notorious (serial killer) ever."

The privately run museum, two blocks or so from FBI headquarters, offers visitors an up-close look at some of the nation's most infamous criminals and cases. It includes everything from Tennessee's electric chair, in which 125 men were executed; to Al Capone's jail cell; to a padlock used by escape artist Harry Houdini; to the studio for the television show "America's Most Wanted."

Bundy's Bug replaced a 1933 Essex-Terraplane auto that bank robber John Dillinger used for a getaway car.

Vaccarello acknowledged that some might find displaying Bundy's car macabre, but she said people remain fascinated by crime.

"Some people say it's distasteful, but it's an artifact like in any museum," she said.

The car also is a teaching tool, reminding people, especially young women, to be cautious among even the most charming and intelligent strangers, Vaccarello said.

"If that message gets out, that's great," she said.

"It's kind of eerie," said Curt Bailey of Madison, Wis., who visited the museum Monday morning. "It is a car of evil."

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