Edmund Kemper

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Edmund Kemper
Mug shot of Edmund Kemper
Born Edmund Emil Kemper III
(1948-12-18) December 18, 1948 (age 67)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Other names Big Ed
The Co-ed Butcher
The Co-ed Killer
Height 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Weight 280 lb (127 kg)
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment
Conviction(s) Murder
Victims 10
Span of killings
August 27, 1964–
April 20, 1973
Country United States
State(s) California
Date apprehended
April 24, 1973
Imprisoned at California Medical Facility,
Vacaville, California

Edmund Emil Kemper III (born December 18, 1948), also known as the Co-ed Butcher or the Co-ed Killer, is an American serial killer, rapist, necrophile and cannibal who is known for having abducted and murdered several women in the early 1970s in Santa Cruz, as well as having murdered both of his paternal grandparents and his mother.

Born in California, Kemper had a turbulent childhood and moved to Montana with his mother at a young age after his parents separated before returning to California where he started his criminal life by murdering his paternal grandparents when he was fifteen years old. He was subsequently diagnosed as being psychotic and a paranoid schizophrenic before his conviction of murder as a criminally insane juvenile. Released at the age of twenty-one after convincing psychiatrists he was rehabilitated, Kemper was regarded as innocent and non-threatening by his young female victims, a façade he created using nonverbal cues to deceive them into entering his vehicle. He solely targeted young student hitchhikers during his killing spree, luring them into his vehicle and driving them to quiet, unfrequented areas where he would murder them before taking their corpses back to his home to be violated and desecrated, with Kemper often keeping the severed heads of his victims for several days before disposal. He then murdered his mother and one of her friends before turning himself in to the authorities. He was found sane and guilty at his trial, and requested the death penalty for his crimes, however capital punishment was temporarily suspended in California and he instead received eight life sentences, since when Kemper has been incarcerated in the California Medical Facility.

Kemper is noted for his imposing stature and high intelligence, standing 6-foot-9-inches (2.06 m) tall, weighing over 250 lbs (114 kg) and having an IQ in the genius range, attributes that left his victims with little chance to overcome him.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Edmund Emil Kemper III was born in Burbank, California on December 18, 1948, as the middle child and only son born to Edmund Emil Kemper II (1919–1985), who stood at 6-foot-8-inches (2.03 m),[3] and Clarnell Elizabeth Kemper (née Stage, 1921–1973), who stood at 6-foot (1.83 m).[3][4] Edmund Emil Kemper II was a World War II veteran who, after the war, tested atomic bombs in the Pacific Proving Grounds before returning to California where he then worked as an electrician.[5][6] Clarnell Kemper complained about his "menial" electrician job incessantly,[6] and he later stated that "suicide missions in wartime and the later atomic bomb testings were nothing compared to living with [Clarnell]" and that she affected him "as a grown man more than three hundred and ninety-six days and nights of fighting on the front did."[7]

Edmund Kemper III in his youth.

As a child, Kemper was intelligent but exhibited antisocial and psychopathic behavior such as cruelty to animals; with a ten-year-old Kemper burying a pet cat alive, and once dead, digging it up, decapitating it and mounting its head on a spike.[8][9] Kemper stated that when he killed the family cat, he had felt empowered after persuasively lying about it.[10] He later killed another family cat, and kept pieces of it in his closet until his mother found them.[11][12] He also acted out rituals with the dolls of his younger sister, Allyn Kemper, that culminated in him removing their heads and hands,[13] and held a dark fantasy life; demonstrated on one occasion when Kemper's elder sister, Susan Kemper, teased him and asked why he doesn’t try to kiss his teacher, he replied: "If I kiss her, I’d have to kill her first."[10][13] He also recalled that as a little boy, he would sneak out of his house and, armed with his father's bayonet, go to his second-grade teacher's house to watch her through the windows.[13] Kemper stated in later interviews that as a child some of his favorite games to play were "Gas Chamber" and "Electric Chair", in which he asked his sister to tie him up, flip an imaginary switch and then he would tumble over and writhe on the floor, pretending to be dying of gas inhalation or electric shock.[13] He also had near-death experiences as a child, once when Kemper's elder sister tried to push him in front of a train as a child, and another when she successfully pushed him into the deep end of a swimming pool where the young Edmund almost drowned.[14]

Kemper had a close relationship with his father and was devastated when his parents separated in 1957 and he had to be raised by his mother in Helena, Montana. He had a severely dysfunctional relationship with his mother Clarnell, a neurotic, domineering alcoholic who would constantly belittle, humiliate and verbally abuse him. Clarnell often made her son sleep in a locked basement because she feared that he would harm or molest his sisters,[15] and regularly mocked Edmund for his large size—Kemper stood at 6-foot-4-inches (1.93 m) by the age of 15[3]—as well as deriding his "weirdo" personality.[13] She refused to coddle him for fear that she would "turn him gay,"[16] and regularly told the young Kemper that he reminded her of his father and that no woman would ever love him.[8][17] Kemper later described her as a "sick angry woman,"[18] and it is postulated that she suffered from borderline personality disorder.[19] At age fourteen, Kemper ran away from home in an attempt to reconcile with his father in Van Nuys, Los Angeles.[10] Once there, he learned that his father had remarried and had another son. Kemper stayed with his father for a short while until the elder Kemper sent him to live with his paternal grandparents—Edmund and Maude Kemper—who lived on a ranch in the mountains of North Fork, California.[3][20] Kemper hated living in North Fork; he referred to his grandfather as "senile" and projected his hatred of his mother onto his grandmother, stating that she "was constantly emasculating [Kemper] and [Kemper's] grandfather."[21]

First murders[edit]

Maude Matilda Hughey Kemper
Edmund Emil Kemper

On August 27, 1964, Kemper's grandmother, 66-year-old Maude Matilda Hughey Kemper (b. 1897),[22] was sitting at the kitchen table working on her latest children's book when she and Kemper had an argument. Enraged by the argument, Kemper stormed off and grabbed the .22 caliber rifle which his grandfather had given him for hunting and, when Maude told him not to shoot any birds, he then fatally shot her in the head, before firing twice more into her back[23] – with some accounts claiming that Maude Kemper also suffered multiple posthumous stab wounds with a kitchen knife.[24][25] He then dragged her body out of the kitchen and into her bedroom, and when his grandfather, 72-year-old Edmund Emil Kemper (b. 1892),[26] came home from grocery shopping, Kemper went outside and fatally shot him in the driveway.[20] Kemper, having largely acted on impulse, was unsure of what to do next and called his mother in Montana, who urged him to contact the local police.[20] Kemper then called the police and calmly waited on the porch for them to come to the ranch and take him into custody.[27] When questioned by authorities, he said that he "just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma," and that he killed his grandfather so that he wouldn't have to find out that his wife had been murdered.[8][27] Psychiatrist Donald Lunde, who interviewed Kemper at length during adulthood, wrote that with these murders, "In his way, [Kemper] had avenged the rejection of both his father and his mother."[3] Kemper's crimes were deemed incomprehensible for a fifteen-year-old to commit, and court psychiatrists diagnosed him as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and as being psychotic before sentencing him to the criminally insane unit of the Atascadero State Hospital.[28]


At the Atascadero State Hospital, California Youth Authority psychiatrists and social workers strongly disagreed with the court psychiatrist’s diagnosis. Their reports stated that Kemper showed "no flight of ideas, no interference with thought, no expression of delusions or hallucinations, and no evidence of bizarre thinking"[28] and that he had retained his mental acuity from early childhood, testing at an I.Q. of 136.[27] He was re-diagnosed and stated as having just a "personality trait disturbance, passive-aggressive type,"[28] and, later on in his time at Atascadero, Kemper tested even higher at an I.Q. of 145.[29]

Kemper endeared himself to his psychiatrists by being a model prisoner and was even trained by the staff to administer psychiatric tests to other prisoners,[27][28] with one of his psychiatrists later commenting: "He was a very good worker and this is not typical of a sociopath. He really took pride in his work."[28] Kemper also became a member of the Jaycees while in Atascadero and stated that he developed "some new tests and some new scales on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory," specifically an "Overt Hostility Scale," during his work with Atascadero psychiatrists.[30] Kemper later admitted that being able to understand how these tests functioned allowed him to manipulate his psychiatrists, and said that he learned a lot from the sex offenders to whom he administrated tests; for example, he learned that it was important to kill witnesses after a rape.[28]

Release and time between murders[edit]

Kemper was released from Atascadero on his 21st birthday, December 18, 1969, after serving five years and proving to the parole board that he would be safe to release – in part being able to prove this as he had memorized the responses to 28 different assessment instruments for rehabilitation.[24] Against the recommendations of psychiatrists at the hospital,[3] he was released into the care of his mother, who had remarried and taken the surname Strandberg, at 609 A, Ord Street, Aptos, California, a short drive from where she worked as an administrative assistant at the University of California, Santa Cruz.[31] Kemper later demonstrated further to his psychiatrists that he was rehabilitated, and on November 29, 1972, his juvenile records were permanently expunged,[32] with the last report from his probation psychiatrists reading:

If I were to see this patient without having any history available or getting any history from him, I would think that we're dealing with a very well adjusted young man who had initiative, intelligence and who was free of any psychiatric illnesses ... It is my opinion that he has made a very excellent response to the years of treatment and rehabilitation and I would see no psychiatric reason to consider him to be of any danger to himself or to any member of society ... [and] since it may allow him more freedom as an adult to develop his potential, I would consider it reasonable to have a permanent expunction of his juvenile records.[33]

While staying with his mother, Kemper attended community college as part of his parole requirements and had hoped he would become a state trooper,[31] but was rejected because of his size—at the time of his release from Atascadero, Kemper stood 6-foot-9-inches (2.06 m) tall—which led to his nickname "Big Ed". Despite his rejection to become a state trooper, Kemper maintained relationships with Santa Cruz police officers and became a self-described "friendly nuisance"[34] at a bar called the Jury Room, which was a popular hangout for local law enforcement officers.[18] He also worked a series of menial jobs before securing employment with the State of California Highway Department (now known as Caltrans).[31] During this time, his relationship with his mother remained toxic and hostile, with mother and son having frequent arguments which their neighbors often overheard.[31] Kemper later described the arguments he had with his mother around this time, stating:

My mother and I started right in on horrendous battles, just horrible battles, violent and vicious. I've never been in such a vicious verbal battle with anyone. It would go to fists with a man, but this was my mother and I couldn't stand the thought of my mother and I doing these things. She insisted on it, and just over stupid things. I remember one roof-raiser was over whether I should have my teeth cleaned.[35]

When he had saved enough money to move out of his mother's home, he went north to Alameda, near San Francisco, and shared a small apartment with a friend. But he still complained of being unable to get away from his mother, with her regularly phoning him and paying him surprise visits,[36] and he often had limited funds which frequently caused him having to return to her apartment in Aptos.[31]

The same year he began working for the Highway Department, Kemper began dating a 16-year-old Turlock High School student who he would later become engaged to.[37] During this year, he was also hit by a car while out on his motorcycle which he had recently purchased. His arm was badly injured, and he received a $15,000 settlement in the civil suit he filed against the car’s driver. While driving around in the Yellow 1969 Ford Galaxie he bought with his settlement money he noticed a large number of young women hitchhiking, and began storing tools—including plastic bags, knives, blankets, and handcuffs—he thought he might need to fulfill his re-burgeoning murderous desires. For a period of time, he picked up girls and let them go—by his estimation, he picked up around 150 hitchhikers,[31] any of whom might have been chosen for his plan—and in doing so developed the nonverbal cues he would later use to ensnare his victims, before finally, he felt sexual urges to kill, which he called his "little zapples",[38][39] and he acted.[31]

Later murders[edit]

Between May 1972 and April 1973, Kemper embarked on a murder spree that started with two college students and ended with the murders of his mother and her best friend. Kemper would pick up female students who were hitchhiking and take them to isolated areas where he would shoot, stab, smother or strangle them. He would then take their lifeless bodies back to his home where he would perform fellatio on their severed heads, have sex with their corpses and then dissect and dismember them.[40] During this 11-month spree, he killed five college co-eds, one high school student, his mother and his mother's best friend. Kemper has stated in interviews that he would often go hunting for victims after his mother's outbursts towards him, and that his mother refused to introduce him to women on campus. He recalled: "She would say, 'You're just like your father. You don't deserve to get to know them'."[41] Psychiatrists and Kemper himself have espoused the belief that the young women were surrogates for his ultimate target, his mother, and that the acts committed to his mother's corpse which humiliated and degraded the woman who had previously humiliated and degraded him support this hypothesis.[42][43]

Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa[edit]

Mary Ann Pesce
Anita Luchessa

On May 7, 1972, Kemper was driving in Berkeley when he picked up two 18-year-old, hitchhiking Fresno State students, Mary Ann Pesce (b. 1953)[44] and Anita Mary Luchessa (b. 1953),[45] on the pretext of taking them to Stanford University.[46] After driving for an hour, he managed to reach a secluded wooded area, near Alameda, he was familiar with from his work at the highway department without alerting his passengers that he had changed directions from where they wanted to go.[36] Here he intended to rape them, but having learned from serial rapists in Atascadero that you should not leave witnesses, he instead handcuffed Pesce and locked Luchessa in the trunk, before stabbing and strangling Pesce to death and killing Luchessa in a similar manner.[3][41] Kemper later confessed that while handcuffing Pesce he "brushed the back of [his] hand against one of her breasts and it embarrassed [him]" before adding that "[he] even said 'whoops, i'm sorry' or something like that" after unintentionally grazing her breast, despite going on to murder her merely minutes later.[36] Kemper then put both of the women's bodies in the trunk of his Ford Galaxie and returned to his apartment, being stopped on the way by a police officer for a broken taillight but managing not to be detected for his more serious offence.[41] His roommate was not at home so he took the bodies into his apartment, there he took pornographic photographs of, and had sex with, the naked corpses while dismembering them. He then put the body parts into plastic bags, which he later abandoned near Loma Prieta Mountain.[41][46] Before disposing of Pesce's and Luchessa's severed heads in a ravine, Kemper engaged in fellatio with both of them.[3] In August, Mary Ann Pesce's skull was found up on Loma Prieta Mountain. An extensive search failed to turn up the rest of her remains or a trace of her companion.[46]

Aiko Koo[edit]

Aiko Koo

On the evening of September 14, 1972, Kemper picked up 15-year-old Korean dance student Aiko Koo (b. 1957),[47] who had decided to hitchhike to a dance class after missing her bus.[48] He again drove to a secluded area, brandishing a gun on Koo before accidentally locking himself out of his car, however Koo let him back inside—Kemper had previously gained the 15-year-old's trust while holding her at gunpoint—where he proceeded to choke her unconscious, rape her and then finish killing her.[32] He then packed her body into the trunk of his car, had a few drinks at a nearby bar—then exiting the bar and opening his trunk, "admiring [his] catch like a fisherman"[33]—and returned to his apartment where he again had sex with the corpse, before dismemberment and disposal of her remains in a similar manner as the previous two victims.[32][49] Aiko's mother, Skaidrite Rubene Koo, called the police to report the disappearance of her daughter and put up hundreds of flyers asking for information as to her daughter's whereabouts, but did not receive one word in response regarding her missing daughter's location or status.[46]

Cindy Schall[edit]

Cindy Schall

On January 7, 1973, Kemper, who had now moved back in with his mother, was driving around the Cabrillo College campus when he picked up 18-year-old student Cynthia Ann 'Cindy' Schall (b. 1954).[50] He drove to a sequestered wooded area and fatally shot her with a .22 caliber pistol. He then placed her body in the trunk of his car and drove to his mother's house. He kept her body in his room and hid it in a closet overnight, and when his mother left for work the next morning, he had sex with, and removed the bullet from, her body, before dismembering and decapitating it in his mother's bathtub.[51][52] He kept her severed head for several days, regularly engaging in fellatio with it,[51] before burying it in his mother's garden facing upward toward her bedroom – later remarking that his mother "always wanted people to look up to her."[51][53] He then proceeded to discard the rest of her remains by throwing them off a cliff.[49][52] Over the course of the following few weeks, all but her head and right hand were discovered and 'pieced together like a macabre jigsaw puzzle', with police and a pathologist determining she had been hacked to death, then sawed into pieces with a power saw.[46]

Rosalind Thorpe and Allison Liu[edit]

Rosalind Thorpe
Allison Liu

On February 5, 1973, after a heated argument with his mother,[52] Kemper left his house in search of possible victims. With heightened suspicion of a serial killer preying on hitchhikers in the Santa Cruz area, students were advised to only get into cars with University stickers on them, Kemper had such a sticker as his mother worked at UCSC.[18] He encountered 23-year-old Rosalind Heather Thorpe (b. 1949)[54] and 20-year-old Alice Helen 'Allison' Liu (b. 1952)[55] on the UCSC campus. According to Kemper, Thorpe entered his car first, which reassured Liu to also enter.[46] Kemper then fatally shot Thorpe and Liu with his .22 caliber pistol, wrapped their bodies in blankets, and was waved through the security gates owing to the fact that he had a university sticker.[52]

He again brought his victims' corpses back to his mother's house, beheaded them in his car and carried a headless corpse into his mother's house to have sex with. His neighbors' lights were on and they would only have had to walk past their window to catch Kemper in the act, but they did not.[52] He then dismembered the bodies, removed the bullets to prevent identification and, the next morning, discarded parts of their remains at Eden Canyon, near San Francisco, and other locations.[52] Remains were found at Eden Canyon a week after the murders, and more remains were found by hikers near Highway 1 in San Mateo County in March.[56] When questioned in a later interview as to why he removed his victim's head before having sex with the body, he explained: "The head trip fantasies were a bit like a trophy. You know, the head is where everything is at, the brain, eyes, mouth. That's the person. I remember being told as a kid, you cut off the head and the body dies. The body is nothing after the head is cut off ... well, that's not quite true, there's a lot left in the girl's body without the head."[51]

Clarnell Strandberg and Sally Hallett[edit]

Clarnell Strandberg, Kemper's mother.

On April 20, 1973, while waiting for his mother, 52-year-old Clarnell Elizabeth Strandberg (b. 1921),[57] to come home from a party, Kemper fell asleep and was then awakened by her arrival. While his mother was sitting in bed reading a paperback book she noticed Kemper enter her room and said, "I suppose you're going to want to sit up all night and talk now," Kemper replied, "No, good night!",[58] before waiting for her to fall asleep and returning to bludgeon her with a claw hammer and slit her throat with a knife. He then decapitated her and engaged in fellatio with her severed head before using it as a dart board; stating that he "put [her head] on a shelf and screamed at it for an hour ... threw darts at it," and ultimately, "smashed her face in."[30][59] He also cut out her tongue and vocal cords and put them in the garbage disposal. However, the garbage disposal could not break down the tough vocal cord tissue and ejected the tissue back into the sink. He later said: "That seemed appropriate as much as she'd bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years."[60] He then had sex with his mother's corpse, hid it in a closet and went out to drink.[61] Upon his return, he invited his mother's best friend, 59-year-old Sara T. 'Sally' Hallett (b. 1913),[62] over to the house for dinner and a movie. When Hallett arrived, he strangled her to death, decapitated her and spent the night with her exanimate body.[53] Kemper then stuffed her corpse into a closet in hopes that a double-homicide would draw less attention to him than a single-homicide of his mother, obscured any outward signs of a disturbance and left a note to the police reading:

Appx. 5:15 A.M. Saturday. No need for her to suffer any more at the hands of this horrible "murderous Butcher". It was quick—asleep—the way I wanted it. Not sloppy and incomplete, gents. Just a "lack of time". I got things to do!!![63]

Kemper then left the scene in Sally Hallett's car, driving eastward, leaving California and through Nevada and Utah.[61] He arrived in Pueblo, Colorado, and after not hearing any news on the radio about the murders of his mother and Sally Hallett, found a phone booth and called the police. He confessed to the murders of his mother and Hallett, but the police didn't take his call seriously and told him to call back at a later time. Several hours later, Kemper called again asking to speak to an officer he personally knew. Kemper then confessed to that officer of killing his mother and Hallett, and waited in his car for the police to arrive, arrest him and take him into custody, where he then also confessed to the murders of the six students.[56] When asked after his arrest what motivated him to turn himself in, Kemper said: "The original purpose was gone ... It wasn't serving any physical or real or emotional purpose. It was just a pure waste of time ... Emotionally, I couldn't handle it much longer. Toward the end there, I started feeling the folly of the whole damn thing, and at the point of near exhaustion, near collapse, I just said to hell with it and called it all off."[64]


Edmund Kemper in custody, towering above correctional officers.

Kemper was indicted of eight counts of first-degree murder on May 7, 1973.[65] He was assigned the Chief Public Defender of Santa Cruz County attorney Jim Jackson—who had defended John Linley Frazier and also been assigned to the Herbert Mullin case—but due to Kemper's explicit and detailed confession, his counsel's only option was to plead not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges.[65] Kemper twice tried to commit suicide in custody, surviving both times and his trial went ahead on October 23, 1973.[65]

Three court appointed psychiatrists found Kemper to be legally sane, with Dr. Joel Fort having looked at Kemper's juvenile records to examine the diagnosis that he was then psychotic. He interviewed Kemper at length, including under truth serum, and told the court that Kemper had also engaged in acts of cannibalism – Kemper allegedly sliced flesh from the legs of his victims then cooked and consumed these strips of flesh in a casserole.[42][65] Nevertheless, Fort determined that Kemper had known what he was doing in each incident, was thrilled by the notoriety of being a serial killer, and had been entirely aware that his actions were wrong.[65] California relied on the M'Naghten standard for sanity that was used throughout most of the country. According to the wording, this standard held that for a defendant to "establish a defense on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that at the time of committing the act the party accused was laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or as not to know that what he was doing was wrong."[66] Kemper appeared to have known that his acts of murder were wrong, and had also shown evidence of premeditation and planning.[65] Kemper himself took stand on November 1, and tried to convince the jury that he was insane based on the 'product standard' that his acts could only have been committed by someone with an aberrant mind.[67]

On November 8, 1973, the six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for five hours before finding Kemper sane and guilty of eight counts of first-degree murder.[20][67] He asked for the death penalty, requesting to Judge Harry F. Brauer: "death by torture".[68] However, with a moratorium placed on capital punishment by the Supreme Court at that time, Kemper instead received seven years to life for each count, with these terms to be served concurrently, and was sentenced to California Medical Facility for incarceration and medical observation.[67]


In the California Medical Facility, Kemper was incarcerated in the same prison block as other notorious criminals such as Herbert Mullin and Charles Manson. Kemper showed particular disdain for Mullin, who committed his murders at the same time in Santa Cruz as Kemper's in a psychotic belief that his crimes would prevent catastrophic earthquakes. Kemper described Mullin as "just a cold-blooded killer ... killing everybody he saw for no good reason".[64] However, Kemper himself commented on the irony of his "self-righteous talking like that [about Mullin], considering what [he had] done".[64] Despite this concession of hypocrisy, Kemper still tormented, manipulated and physically intimidated the diminutive 5-foot-7-inch Mullin – who he nicknamed "Herbie", a name Mullin despised. Kemper stated that "[Mullin] had a habit of singing and bothering people when somebody tried to watch TV, so I threw water on him to shut him up. Then, when he was a good boy, I'd give him peanuts. Herbie liked peanuts. That was effective, because pretty soon he asked permission to sing. That's called behavior modification treatment."[64]

Edmund Kemper in his office, scheduling other inmates' appointments with prison psychiatrists.

Kemper remains among the general prison population and is considered a model prisoner, being in charge of scheduling other inmates' appointments with psychiatrists, regularly reading books on tape for the blind and being a skilled craftsman of ceramic cups.[67] While imprisoned, Kemper has participated in a number of interviews, including a segment in the 1982 documentary The Killing of America,[69] as well as an appearance in the 1984 documentary Murder: No Apparent Motive, about serial killers and FBI Profilers.[70] His interviews are notable for their contribution to understanding the mind of serial killers, with FBI profiler John E. Douglas describing Kemper as "among the brightest prison inmates he ever interviewed"[1] and capable of "rare insight for a violent criminal".[71] Kemper is also very forthcoming about the nature of his crimes and has said that he participated in the interviews to save others like himself from killing as he regards himself as much of a victim as the deceased; stating at the end of his Murder: No Apparent Motive interview: "There's somebody out there that is watching this and hasn't done that – hasn't killed people, and wants to, and rages inside and struggles with that feeling, or is so sure they have it under control. They need to talk to somebody about it. Trust somebody enough to sit down and talk about something that isn't a crime. Thinking that way isn't a crime. Doing it isn't just a crime, it's a horrible thing, it doesn't know when to quit and it can't be stopped easily once it starts."[72] Nonetheless, Kemper has continued to display manipulative and potentially threatening behavior. On one occasion, when Douglas's colleague Robert Ressler was in a cell alone with Kemper, Kemper noticed the apprehension in Ressler after Ressler had pressed a hidden button repeatedly to call a guard to open the cell and had not received a response and calmly told him "Relax. They're changing the shift," but remarked: "If I went apeshit in here, you'd be in a lot of trouble, wouldn't you? I could screw your head off and place it on the table to greet the guard."[73] Ressler mentally sparred with Kemper, trying to buy time and hoping to give the impression that he had a way to defend himself against the then 300 lb (136 kg) Kemper. The prison guard eventually arrived and Ressler left unharmed, with Kemper displaying no physical aggression and stating afterwards that he was joking, but Ressler never entered a cell alone again with Kemper, and it became FBI policy to always interview serial killers in pairs.[74]

Kemper was eligible for parole in 2007, and again in 2012. On both occasions, he told the parole board he was not fit to return to society and was denied parole.[67] As of February 2016, Kemper is quoted by his attorney Scott Curney as feeling that 'no one’s ever going to let him out and he’s just happy going about his life in prison', with Kemper stipulating that he is uninterested in attending his next parole hearing in 2017.[75][76]

In popular culture[edit]



  • French author Marc Dugain published a novel, Avenue des géants (Giants Avenue), about Kemper in 2012.[79]



  • At the time of Kemper's murders, two other killers, John Linley Frazier and Herbert Mullin, were also perpetrating their own crimes in the area, resulting in Santa Cruz receiving the ignominious nickname as the “Murder Capital of the World” in the press.[46][80]


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  2. ^ "Assessment". crimelibrary.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Katherine Ramsland. "Edmund Kemper: The Coed Butcher". crimelibrary.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Ancestry of Edmund Emil Kemper III". wargs.com. 
  5. ^ "Edmund E Kemper - WWII Enlistment Record". mooseroots.com. 
  6. ^ a b Mikita Brottman (2002). Car Crash Culture. p. 106. ISBN 0312240384. 
  7. ^ Cheney, Margaret (1976). The Co-ed Killer. p. 8. ISBN 0-8027-0514-6. 
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  9. ^ Helen Gavin (2013). Criminological and Forensic Psychology. p. 120. 
  10. ^ a b c "Creating a Killer". crimelibrary.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2015. 
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  12. ^ Martingale 1995, p. 104
  13. ^ a b c d e Vronsky 2004, p. 259
  14. ^ Christine Ann Lawson. Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship. p. 141. ISBN 0765703319. 
  15. ^ Lawson 2002, pp. 129–131, 136
  16. ^ Mikita Brottman (2002). Car Crash Culture. p. 107. ISBN 0312240384. 
  17. ^ Vronsky 2004, p. 258
  18. ^ a b c Larson, Amy. "Santa Cruz Serial Killer Spotlighted In TV Documentary". KSBW. 
  19. ^ Lawson 2002, pp. 129–131, 136, 139, 141, 144 , 278
  20. ^ a b c d A&E Television Networks. "Edmund Kemper Biography". Biography.com. 
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