True-crime writer Ann Rule of Seattle, whose more than 30 books included a profile of a former co-worker, serial killer Ted Bundy, died at 83, the Associated Press reports. Rule’s first book in 1980, “The Stranger Beside Me,” profiled Bundy, whom she got to know while sharing the late shift at a Seattle suicide hotline. Bundy, who was executed in 1989 in Florida, confessed to 30 homicides in several states. She also wrote “Small Sacrifices,” about Diane Downs, an Oregon woman convicted of shooting her three children, killing one and seriously wounding two; “The Lust Killer,” about shoe fetishist and necrophiliac Jerome Brudos, of Salem, Or.; and “The I-5 Killer,” tracing the case of Randall Woodfield, a Newport, Or., high-school football star and former Green Bay Packers draftee.
Some 20 million copies of her books have sold. Rule said she was fascinated by killers' lives, going back to their childhoods to find clues to why they did what they did. She told the Seattle Times, “I wanted to know why some kids grew up to be criminals and why other people didn't. That is still the main thrust behind my books: I want to know why these things happen, and so do my readers.” J.B. Dickey, owner of the Seattle Mystery Book Shop, said Rule did more than 15 book signings in the store. “She was a very popular writer,” he said. “It's a difficult thing to say exactly why true-crime books are as popular as they are. I'm sure there's some type of grisly schadenfreude aspect to it.” Last April, Rule’s two sons were charged with bilking her out of $100,000.