This Bug is not one of those.
It's a grisly reminder of terrible acts committed,acts that stuck fear into the hearts of young women in the 1970s,especially those with long,dark hair parted down the middle.
At least 11 women rode and died in the dilapidated tan Beetle at the hands of Ted Bundy – one of America's most notorious serial killers.
The rust-riddled 1968 Beetle is now on display in the lobby of the National Museum of Crime & Punishment through May. It's replacing bank robber John Dillinger's 1933 Essex Terraplane getaway car,now on display at Baltimore Washington International Airport.
Bundy's car was the last ride for many young women. Police believe several were handcuffed,raped and strangled inside the car during the 1970s when Bundy was killing in Washington state,Idaho,Colorado and Utah. The car's interior was ripped out when police searched the Beetle,finding blood and hair samples from multiple victims.
Bundy was first arrested in the car in 1975 outside Salt Lake City. Police searched the vehicle,finding handcuffs,a ski mask,pantyhose with cutout eye holes,a crowbar and an ice pick. He was arrested on suspicion of burglary,but police later determined he was responsible for the string of murders.
Bundy escaped from prison twice,but was finally apprehended in Florida,where he was convicted for the murders of two members of the Chi Omega sorority at Florida State University and a 12-year-old girl. He was put to death in that state's electric chair in 1989.
At first glance,the car is unremarkable. It's missing bits of trim,the windshield is cracked and it's spotted with rust. It looks like one of the millions of VW Bugs that populated the roads in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Like his car,Bundy blended in and ensnared victims by gaining their trust,said Janine Vaccarello,the museum's chief operating officer at the car's unveiling Thursday.
“Ted Bundy was intelligent,attractive and charming,” Vaccarello said. “That's how he lured in his victims.”
Though he eventually confessed to more than 30 killings,the FBI believes the number may top 100,said Wyndell Watkins Sr.,a retired D.C. deputy police chief who spoke at Thursday's event.
Bundy used a similar pattern for his killings,often gaining sympathy from unsuspecting women by appearing injured. He wore his arm in a sling,used crutches or wore fake casts,then asked for assistance transporting items to or from his car,Watkins said.
Once the victim was near the vehicle,he would strike her with a crowbar,often hidden in the sling,and load the woman into the Beetle,he said. If she wasn't already dead,she would be handcuffed,raped and strangled. Bundy would dump the body,but return sometimes to engage in necrophilia,according to police reports.
“He went from being an amateur to the most prolific killer in American history,” Watkins said. “This guy was your worst nightmare.”
The museum is touting the Bundy car as an instrument to teach about the dangers of dropping your guard and the importance of being aware of your surroundings.
“It represents a warning that you really have to be careful,” Watkins said. “Never assume anything.”
The Beetle is part of the private collection of Arthur Nash,a New York-based archivist who collects unusual objects of historical interest. He bought the car from a pair of Salt Lake City sheriff's deputies after seeing an advertisement in the New York Times in 2002. Other items from Nash's collection – such as serial killer John Wayne Gacy's clown makeup box and an electric chair from Tennessee – are also at the museum.
The privately owned National Museum of Crime & Punishment opened in 2008 and is home to displays about some of the nation's most infamous crimes and criminals,in addition to the studio for TV's “America's Most Wanted.”