Was Ted Bundy Framed?

Ramon Salcido: "He used to send me some really cute things. He went on a shooting rampage; he killed his wife, his daughters, his sister-in-law and two of her kids. I think he tried to kill his mother-in-law and his other little girl, but they didn't die."

Charles Ng (25 kills involving snuff films, and ritual torture, ex-Marine): "He used to send me the most unbelievable origami, he was a really talented guy."

Herbert Mullin (13 kills, voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school): "I have some really groovy art from him; it's all kind of weird, Indian-sun-god-worshiping things."

Her favorite artist/killer?
The late Danny Rolling, snuffed in prison: "He wasn't a serial killer, he was a mass murderer. He was talented, really talented, and he was a really good songwriter, too. He could have been a lot more, but I guess when you're crazy . . ."

I asked her again about collecting Bundy. Said Debbie:
"Hey, have you heard about the mortician down here? This cat has everybody you can think of. If there is Ted Bundy art, he could tell you."

Meet Rick Staton. Until he quit dealing on a grand scale last year--"It became more work than it was fun, and I'm rearing a child. I didn't have time for it"--the Baton Rouge mortician was one of the world's leading purveyors of death-row art.

Staton says he had a mailing list of more than 200 names, including professionals, Hollywood glitterati, even journalists. He and a colleague have mounted three "phenomenally successful" shows of the stuff in Seattle, San Diego and New Orleans. It all began when he maneuvered his B-movie poster mail-order business onto the "ground floor" of row art collecting some six years ago. It all began, as you might guess, with Gacy.

"At first it was kind of cool and scary and fun and all that," admits Staton, "and after a while, it got to the point where he was calling my house every day, and he was one of the most obnoxious liars I've ever met. I'm just not into that sort of thing."

Well, nobody likes liars.
"I just like creepy, weird things, I guess. I wouldn't step on an insect or harm an animal, but I'm totally fascinated with the sickest of all creatures, that being child killers," he says. But he doesn't draw the line there when it comes to collecting.

"I guess my favorite is a painting on stretch canvas by Richard Speck. That was one of the things I tried for the longest time to acquire. I've got loads of Gacy stuff; he even did paintings of my son. I've got paintings and sketches by Henry Lee Lucas and his homo-cannibal-sidekick weirdo Ottis Toole. I've got some Manson sketches and some acrylic art that he's done. Most of what I've got by Manson is in the form of letters and locks of hair and Polaroids and business cards. I have a pretty crude--in fact, it's kinda funny, it's so bad--painting by James Earl Ray.

"Probably the best stuff I've got is by Elmer Wayne Henley [currently serving 594 years]. He'd been the henchman for this unbelievably sadistic child-killer named Dean Corll [27 kills, ultimately murdered by Henley] in Houston. I've got one Henley did of a forest fire, which may not sound very interesting, but it's one of the coolest watercolors I've ever seen in my life.

"Obviously, a lot of these guys don't really have any talent. Guys like Henley don't make the headlines and yet their work is so incredibly intricate and detailed, and they don't do gory or morbid themes. They do what most people would consider to be mundane subject matter, but at the same time very beautiful."

Yes, the catalogue goes on and on.
But we must get back to Michael and Raquel and whomever committed them to canvas.

"I'd love to see some of these paintings," gushes Staton. He asks for faxes of them, wants to A/B the Bundy signature with a known authentic one, begins dreaming up possible trades we might make--a Manson Polaroid and two Ramirez beheadings for one Bundy Raquel--who knows? "I personally don't know of any art that Bundy did, but I never corresponded with Bundy or too many people that did, so I really wouldn't know if he did or did not do any painting. Is it far-fetched? No, not at all."

So that's it.
Is some student-competent artist out there with the last name Bundy getting a big laugh out of this column, or are those two things leaning against a shelf of old National Geographics in my back room the handiwork of Burlington, Vermont's very own serial killer, Theodore Robert Bundy?

Says Staton:
"If they're real, then that was the best 12 dollars you ever spent."
--Gilstrap

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