On the outside it seemed a harmless ride to the next destination, but inside was a murderous trap.
Ed Kemper’s car was a used yellow 1969 Ford Galaxie 500 with a black hardtop. The inside of the car was also black. He bought it with the money he received after suing another driver, a female, in the last of his motorcycle accidents, in which he broke his left arm.
Not long after he got the Ford Galaxie, he crashed the left rear fender in an accident. Kemper roughly patched the rear bumper and light himself. The car was still like that when Kemper was arrested.
While driving around, he noticed a large number of young women hitchhiking, and began storing plastic bags, knives, blankets, and handcuffs in his car. He then began picking up girls and peacefully letting them go—according to Kemper, he picked up around 150 such hitchhikers—before he felt homicidal sexual urges, which he called his “little zapples,” and began acting on them.
Ed Kemper modified and organized his car in five ways to easily carry out his atrocious crimes against six female hitchhikers.
1. Radio antenna
Kemper fitted his car, which from the outside closely resembled an unmarked police vehicle, with a radio transmitter, a microphone and a large whip antenna. He used this to listen in on police transmissions. But when he started on his deadly campaign, he realized that the car was too easily recognizable and removed the antenna.
2. Passenger door
Kemper would jam the passenger door to trap in his hitchhiker victims. Once they got in, he would pretend that their door was not shut properly. He would reach over and slip an object, most often a Chapstick tube, into the locking mechanism, making it impossible to open the door from the inside.
3. Driver’s seat
Kemper stored his .22-calibre automatic pistol under his seat while driving. Police had paid him a visit a few weeks before his arrest to confiscate his .44-calibre magnum, which was stored in the trunk of the car, amid his crimes due to concerns about his previous detainment at Atascadero. Kemper feared at that moment he would be caught, but he wasn’t.
4. The “A” sticker
Kemper’s Ford Galaxie had an “A” sticker on the back bumper. Clarnell Strandberg, giving in to her son’s urging, finally got him that “A” parking sticker for his car, which she was able to do by paying a slight amount extra for her own parking permit. The same sticker system was used on other UC campuses, including Berkeley, which proved convenient for Kemper. Strictly speaking, stickers were for the use of employees or students who had legitimate need to park near the campus buildings.
5. Trunk of the car
Kemper used the trunk for hiding his victims’ bodies after he killed them. He murdered two of them in there: Anita Luchessa and Cindy Schall. He also decapitated several of his victims in the trunk, before bringing their bodies inside the house, where he would abuse and dismember them. He kept his victims’ severed heads in the trunk, sometimes for a few days, before disposing of them whenever he could.
Please note that the car shown in the picture is not Kemper’s actual car nor is it the right model. The car pictured here is a 1967 convertible Ford Galaxie 500. Kemper’s car was a 1969 Ford Galaxie 500 with a hardtop.
Sources: Real Crime Magazine #009 / L’Ogre de Santa Cruz (S. Bourgoin) / The Co-Ed Killer (M. Cheney)