In Ed Kemper’s 1980 parole hearing, we learn that he suffers from an allergy to metals: “I have a medical order for a medical bed, for the extra length. I have an allergy to metals that’s been determined since last May to be an allergy to free nickel, which is a catalyst which, I understand, is used in a lot of alloys — almost all of the alloys in prison. In other, words, I’m allergic to being in prison, to slip it down to a very simple statement – handcuffs included.”
Source: Ed Kemper’s April 30,1980 parole hearing / Photo from the book Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021
These images were recently sent to us by a fellow researcher who has been in contact with the man appearing with Ed Kemper in the photos. Kemper and this man (who wishes to remain anonymous) were friends and co-workers at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. Taken in the 1980s, these pictures show a ceremony where Kemper is presenting an award and a certificate to his friend.
The man shared some of his memories about Ed Kemper:
“I do have memories about Ed. We worked side by side… well, together for years. He was the…I forgot the title, but he was like the boss. There was one guy under him, all the readers, and me. I worked in the back recording. See, Ed was kind of obsessed with getting as many hours in there as possible, effectively lowering your hourly pay. We were VOV, Volunteers of Vacaville, Blind Project, but Ed and the other guy and myself were paid, like, 30 bucks a month or something. So, his thing was if you worked a thousand hours that month you weren’t making much per hour. Anyway, I really enjoyed what I was doing there so I didn’t mind being there all the time.
“And there was no ‘free-staff’, no cops, nobody, maybe a few readers in insolated booths, and I had a good sound system, huge speakers, and copies of every cassette I could find, and Ed and I would crank our tunes and work, joke, whatever. We had breakrooms with couches and I would wrestle with his giant ass. He had me on a couch, folded in half, because as much as he joked about his weight and size, I don’t think he realized it. I was gasping, you know, Ed you’re gonna break me in half, before he got off me, and he was kinda bummed that he could have really hurt me. Which was always the reason we couldn’t live together. He asked me to move in, offering me the preferred lower bunk, and all I could think about was 340 pounds of Ed above me so I declined. You know, all in all, I liked the guy. He was extremely friendly, just so incredibly articulate, respectful, I never once saw the psycho side of him. We even spoke about his past…a lot, and he was so matter of fact about it, never emotional or upset.
“I’m just glad to be able to provide something that maybe wasn’t there before. It’s strange because I knew him as well as anybody, probably better than most, but I never saw him as anything but big ol’ Ed.
“And I know what you’re referring to regarding him no longer wanting to do interviews. This was when I was there, late 80’s. He was in like 60 Minutes with…oh boy, memory is failing me… Bundy or somebody, and when we watched it on TV, it wasn’t the same interview. They had taken all his replays out of context and made him look like an idiot. I remember him being very upset about it, saying that was it, no more.
“As for his music, I just remember that we had about the same tastes. Ohohih… he really liked Harry Chapin (Cats in the Cradle) because I had it on cassette and reel to reel and he was going to wear it out.
(Asked a question regarding Kemper’s ceramic mug hobby)
“You know, I remember him making them because he had a lot of followers and it seemed like he wanted to make one for every letter and/or package they sent. He got a lot of mail and was in the visiting room all the time and it seemed kind of excessive that he wanted to make and send one to each and every one of them. Sorry, I wasn’t involved in the hobby program at CMF and what I do remember is vague. I was aware of it but that’s about it.
“One thing that I found odd about him. As you know, Ed’s a big boy, 6’9” and 340 lbs when I knew him. You would think that a man that big in prison might have an attitude or be violent and dangerous. Not even in the least. I never saw anything like that. In fact, late one night I was in the back cleaning and erasing cassettes to be reused, I’m sitting on a tall stool when he walked in. Now in prison you never want to be accused of being an informant or working with the uniform staff, or acting as/wanting to be a cop. Well Ed’s whole life, at that point, was dedicated to the Project. He loved the program, he loved his job, he felt that he was a big part of it, which he was.
“But he also wore blue. So, he comes in talking about so and so wasting time at work, stealing tapes, office supplies, things like that. I said something regarding him not being a cop, stop acting like one. He said something that apparently hit a nerve and not thinking, I reacted. With me sitting on that tall stool, we were close to the same height, with him right behind me, I spun around and backhanded him. I immediately started shaking, thinking this giant can rip my head off. Ed pouted a little bit, got all dejected, and walked the other way. I really thought he was going to cry. I guess he’s only psychotic with college age females and older people like his grandparents, mother, etc. Not once did I ever see this. I would probably think about that.
“Haha! I just remembered something… I had a pet mouse. In my cell, he ran around free on top of the lockers. I had a wheel and a house and a maze of shoestrings hanging all over with socks hanging on them. He would cruise all over the shoe string highway, and the socks were a place to hide. Which is neither here nor there but I thought it was pretty cool. Well, we got Ed a mouse, too. At work we had them in like a glass fish aquarium filled with sawdust and wood chips, so we didn’t see much of them. So, we go to check on them or take them out or something, and we can’t find Ed’s mouse. We dug thru the wood and found his tail and hind legs. Turns out my mouse was a cannibal. I know, digging pretty deep for that one. That’s why I’m a plumber.”
Source: thanks to Diana S. for the photos and stories!