Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Arrest (Page 1 of 2)

Ed Kemper and cigarettes

Someone recently asked me if Ed Kemper smokes. He did smoke when he was young, at the time of his arrest and trial, as seen in the enclosed pictures. I don’t know if he continued smoking during his incarceration at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, or if he still does now. With his health issues, I wouldn’t think so.

Edmund Kemper III, 24, enjoys a smoke as unidentified detective adjusts his handcuffs after Kemper appeared in Pueblo District court extradition hearing. Kemper is being held by police in connection with eight California murders. (Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Kemper’s smoking was mentioned by reporter Marj von B in her interview with him in November 1973 just after his conviction on eight counts of first-degree murder:

When dinner was over, I said I must go and, when he got up and proceeded toward the door, I said, “Do you think you could knock on the window and get the jailer to spring me, Ed?” 

He laughed and replied, “I’ll try.” 

He stood in the doorway, his hair brushing the top of the door jamb, watching me leave, as if he were graciously bidding a guest goodbye from his home. 

He said to a deputy, “Could I have some matches?” (I had been lighting his cigarettes all afternoon with my lighter.) 

The sergeant on duty at the desk said to the deputy, “He can’t have any matches, but light his cigarette for him.” Kemper looked at me and grinned like a teenager. “Yesterday,” he said, “I had matches, but isn’t it funny when you’re convicted, you immediately become combustible.” 

Edmund Kemper III from Aptos, California dwarfs escort officer en route to his cell a the Pueblo City jail after being questioned by officials about the unsolved murder of 6 co-ed’s. Police said Kemper admitted to killing his mother and a friend on a phone call to Santa Cruz police.

Source: Front Page Detective Magazine, March 1974, by Marj von Beroldingen

1988 – Ed Kemper parole hearing

Convicted killer Edmund Kemper, left, testifies at his parole hearing on June 15, 1988. With him is his attorney, Richard Shore.

Vacaville – A parole date was denied on June 15, 1988 for serial killer Edmund Kemper, even though a prison psychiatric evaluation termed Kemper suitable for release.

Kemper, 40, is serving a life sentence at the California Medical Facility for murdering eight women, including his mother, in 1972-73. The law at the time provided for the possibility of parole on life sentences.

A three-member panel from the Board of Prison Terms rejected the psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Jack Fleming. Board member David Brown said Kemper poses an unreasonable risk to society.

Brown told Kemper his crimes “shock the public conscience.”

During an almost three-hour hearing, Kemper told the panel he did not practice cannibalism or perform sex acts on his victims when they were dead or dying. He said he made those confessions to police when he was tired and confused.

He did acknowledge that he beheaded seven of his victims, including his mother, Clarnell Strandberg, because of a childhood fascination with decapitation. And, he put his mother’s head on a mantle and threw darts at it.

Kemper buried the head of one of his young victims in the backyard of the house he shared with his mother in Seacliff. He pointed the face toward his bedroom, according to testimony at his trial in 1973.

He appeared surprised during the hearing by a letter written by a cousin, Patricia Kemper, urging the panel deny Kemper a parole date. Kemper said he had not known of such a letter.

In the letter, the woman said that as a child, Kemper mutilated the family cat. And, she said she watched him one day wait for hours with a rifle over a squirrel’s hole to blow its head off when it peeked out. He went on to kill his grandparents and then the seven women and his mother, she wrote.

She said Kemper was and still is a deeply disturbed person who will kill again if he’s ever released.

District Attorney Art Danner said he was shocked, but not surprised by the latest psychiatric evaluation of Kemper. Danner said Fleming’s report “flies in the face of everything known about Kemper.”

Danner told the parole board Kemper’s greatest danger is that he may some day con his way back out on the street.

He pointed out that Kemper had led psychiatrists and psychologists to believe he was no threat after a five-year commitment for killing his grandparents.

Even Kemper testified that he was shocked in the 1970s when two doctors would rule him sane and no danger to society, even after he had begun killing again.

He explained that he was sent to be interviewed by two doctors in Merced County in 1972 when he was seeking to have his conviction for killing his grandparents sealed from public view.

After meeting with the first psychiatrist, Kemper said, he went out and got drunk. “He thought I was Mr. Wonderful or something,” Kemper said. He knew after the first interview that he would be judged sane.

He said he went to the second interview, later in the day, “blasted off my tail on beer,” but the doctor didn’t notice.

The two psychiatrists wrote that Kemper posed no danger to himself or others.

Kemper hadn’t told them he had already begun killing again, just two days before and had driven to his interviews with a woman’s head in the trunk of the car.

He told the parole board he picked up more than 1,000 hitchhikers during his year-long murder spree. He did not say why he selected the victims he did, other than say the selection was random.

He said he only murdered the women hitchhikers because the women in his life, especially his mother, had caused his only grief.

Kemper talked at length about his mother and drunken fights he said they had after his release from custody after killing his grandparents.

Kemper said he returned from the California Youth Authority at age 20 with great hope for the future. He said his mother fought him every step of the way. “She was 6 feet tall and 220 pounds at the time of her death,” Kemper said, adding, “she was not intimidated by anybody.”

Kemper said he can’t simply explain why he murdered his mother to spare her from finding out that he was responsible for all the co-ed killings in Santa Cruz.

“There was love and there was hate,” Kemper said of his relationship with his mother.

“I didn’t want to put her through what I created,” he said. And even though he said she helped create what he was, “she was a victim and not a perpetrator.”

Kemper fled Santa Cruz County after killing his mother. He said he drove for four days, listening to the radio for news that police had a break in the case.

He said he had three guns and a knife in the car. “When I heard on the news there was a break in the case it would mean in a few hours I’d be dead,” Kemper explained.

He said he planned to stop the car as soon as he heard the bulletin. “I was going to get my weapons and go to high ground and attack authorities when they came for me,” Kemper said.

He said he believed at the time that he would have to be killed or he would keep on killing.

As it turns out, a showdown never happened. The bodies of his mother and her friend had not been found, and a panicked Kemper finally telephoned Santa Cruz police from Pueblo, Colorado, and confessed. Police there arrested him at a telephone booth.

Kemper’s last appearance before the parole board was in 1982. At the time, he had lost weight and looked noticeably different that at the time of his trial.

Now, he appeared to look more like the 6-foot-9, 280-pound giant of a man Santa Cruz residents remember.

In 1985, Kemper waived his right for a hearing, saying he was unsuitable for release. He did not say that this time, but did concede he does not expect to be released from prison anytime soon.

His next parole consideration will be in 1991.

Source: “Kemper parole denied – Psychiatrist says killer suitable for release”, by Mark Bergstrom, Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 16, 1988

A good horror story

In April 1973, following Kemper’s arrest, early on in his taped confession to police, Sergeant Aluffi asked Kemper to hold up because the tape had gotten “all messed up” in the recorder. Kemper then commented, “Oh, Jeez, wouldn’t this make a good horror story on tape?”

Source: The Co-Ed Killer, Margaret Cheney, 1976 / Drawing by David Jouvent from his upcoming graphic novel about Ed Kemper

Kemper conducts tour of graves

Edmund Emil Kemper III, a young giant who has confessed killing eight women, arrived home in Santa Cruz yesterday and immediately started taking investigators on a tour of grave sites.

Mass slayer Kemper led deputies with pinpoint accuracy to four remote sites where parts of bodies were recovered soon after he returned yesterday in custody from arrest at Pueblo, Colorado. Without the slightest hesitation, the hulking 280-pound, 6-foot-9 Kemper led officers along, off Summit Road, to a shallow grave, to the Lorna Prieta Mountain area, on Rodeo Gulch Road near Mountain View Road, and just above Boulder Creek. All four sites are within a 10-mile radius of Santa Cruz.

Officers said Kemper knew exactly where he was going yesterday. They didn’t have to look even an inch to one side of where Kemper directed them to dig. Kemper reportedly told deputies he knows the names of only five of the six victims. Since six have been found, there was speculation that one of those recovered might be Aiko Koo.

Driven from Pueblo, Colorado, where he was arrested Tuesday while confessing in a telephone booth to California authorities, he found 20 law enforcement officers waiting at the county line.

At the sight of all those police and their cars, a deputy said Kemper “just came unglued.”

“This is no circus to me, man,” Kemper said. “Get me the hell out of here.”

Kemper was transferred to a station wagon with four officers and proceeded to sites where bodies or parts of bodies could be found. Several of the victims had been carefully cut in parts or decapitated.

The first remains to be uncovered were believed those of Mary Anne Pesce, 18, Fresno, California, student, who disappeared last May. Her skull was discovered in a wooded area last August and Kemper indicated a point several miles away along the same mountain ridge where the torso lay in a shallow grave.

Anita Luchessa, 18, also of Fresno, was hitchhiking with Miss Pesce and the pair disappeared together. Kemper led the investigators to a ravine where he said he dumped her body. A pelvic bone was found, and a spokesman said animals might have carried off the rest of the body.

Kemper then showed the law enforcement officers a wooded area where he said he left parts of the body of Aiko Koo, 15, Berkeley, California. She disappeared September 15 on her way to a ballet lesson.

A handless arm was found, as well as a green plastic bag that had been ripped open. Kemper said he also left parts of Miss Koo’s body in another wooded area where investigators found pelvic bones and a rib cage.

Three months after Miss Pesce and Miss Luchessa disappeared, Kemper was found “normal” in an examination by two psychiatrists that led to a court order sealing his juvenile records.

Kemper spent five years in the Atascadero State Mental Hospital following his murders in 1964 of his grandparents at the age of 15. He was declared sane by the hospital, turned over to the California Youth Authority and eventually released.

From information given in the Tuesday phone call, Santa Cruz police found the nude and decapitated body of his mother, Mrs. Clarnell Strandberg, 52, in her apartment, and the body of a visitor, Sara Taylor Hallett, 59. Apparently, they were killed April 21.

Sources: The Press Democrat Sun, April 29, 1973 / San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, April 29, 1973

Ed Kemper mugshot – April 1973

This is probably one of the most famous pictures of Ed Kemper. This mugshot was taken on April 28, 1973, when he arrived in Santa Cruz, California, escorted by police after his arrest three days earlier in Pueblo, Colorado, where he had given himself up to local police, after the murders of his mother and her best friend.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Kemper press photo

The latest addition to my collection of true crime collectibles is this press photo of Ed Kemper after his arrest in Pueblo, Colorado, in April 1973. The text below the picture reads as follows:

Pueblo, Colo., Apr. 25 — Questioned in slayings — Edmund Emil Kemper III, 24, of Aptos, Calif., is taken to court in Pueblo, Colo., Wednesday after turning himself in to police. Kemper called police in California telling them of the murder of his mother and her friend. (See AP Wire Story) (AP Wirephoto)

“He seemed like kind of a momma’s boy”

Ed Kemper’s neighbour, Carla Gervasoni

Following Ed Kemper’s arrest on April 24, 1973 in Pueblo, Colorado, the media interviewed 20-year-old student Carla Gervasoni, Kemper’s upstairs neighbour on Ord Drive in Aptos, who stated: “Oh, he was kind of an odd man. He didn’t say much. He seemed like kind of a momma’s boy. I always was kind of afraid of him, actually. He scared me a lot. And I heard him and his mother argue quite a bit. All the time.”

Gervasoni added: “He was too quiet sometimes. He was always taking things, you know, back and forth. Guns. He had guns, that I saw. I guess that’s why I thought he was strange. He scared me.”

Source: Bay Area TV Archive – Edmund Kemper Murders Collection

Kemper shows burial sites

Source on Instagram: cerealkillerwithmilk

Shortly after his arrest, upon his return to Santa Cruz, serial killer Ed Kempelead police to the sites where he buried his victims. Kemper targeted young female hitchhikers, luring them off the road and into his vehicle. He would drive to a secluded spot to murder them, and then take their corpses home to dismember, desecrate, and decapitate them. Detectives said Kemper was extremely cooperative throughout the search.

Backseat of Kemper’s car

At first glance, the car looked generally clean inside and out. Investigation of Kemper’s car revealed blood stains in the back seat of the car and a dried puddle of blood underneath the back seat. A bullet was found embedded in the right-rear inside panel of the car. Kemper had murdered both Mary Anne Pesce and Alice Liu on the back seat.

Source: Register-Pajaronian, April 27, 1973, by Marj Von B

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