Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Clarnell Strandberg (Page 1 of 2)

Upcoming book about the Santa Cruz murders in the early 1970s

A new book by author Emerson Murray is currently in the works. The book will be about the murders committed in the early 1970s by John Linley Frazier, Herbert Mullin and Ed Kemper. Here is the description that can be found on the book’s website:

The Santa Cruz community looks back at the Frazier, Mullin, and Kemper murder sprees of the early 1970’s

Over 25 people murdered in just over two and a half years. What was happening in the small coastal town of Santa Cruz between October 1970 and February 1973?

John Linley Frazier’s home invasion murders of the Ohta Family and Dorothy Cadwallader in 1970 and the serial murder sprees of Herbert Mullin and Edmund Kemper left an impact on Santa Cruz that can still be felt today.

Local law enforcement, victim’s families and friends, classmates and acquaintances of the killers, local historians, voices from the past and present, and the killers themselves all come together to tell the horrific stories and explain why Santa Cruz was dubbed THE MURDER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD in the early 1970’s.

The book will feature new material in the Kemper case, including interviews with Detective Terry Medina and Public Defender James L. Jackson. It will also feature interviews with relatives of some of the victims, and with coworkers at the UCSC of Clarnell Strandberg and Sally Hallett. It will also include new information about Kemper’s young fiancee.

Girl’s courtroom gesture brings Kemper trial to a halt

A threatening gesture by a young woman spectator seated in the rear row of the court brought the Edmund Emil Kemper murder trial to a halt for almost half an hour this morning.

The incident occurred during the playing of a tape interview of Kemper by investigators in which Kemper had described the killing of his mother, Mrs. Clarnell Strandberg on Easter weekend.

Kemper, who had said yesterday he would rather not be present in the courtroom during the playing of the confession tapes, was not allowed to remain out of the courtroom. This morning when he came to court his attorney said Kemper had been taking tranquilizers.

Despite this, Kemper was showing obvious strain listening to his own voice on the tape, and a number of times he turned from the counsel table and scanned the spectator section. After one such look at the spectators, Kemper turned back quickly and motioned to his sheriff’s guard sitting nearby.

A whisper consultation took place and Kemper’s lawyer, Jim Jackson, got up and immediately went to the bench and whispered something to Judge Harry F. Brauer, who promptly called for a recess.

Later, Judge Brauer told reporters Kemper had said a young woman in the back row had looked at him and drawn her forefinger across her throat, in a throat-cutting type gesture.

Brauer gave Kemper time to calm down and then resumed the court session, continuing with the playing of the confession tapes.

Bailiffs searched for the offending girl but she apparently left the courthouse immediately following the incident.

*******

A few years ago, the Santa Cuz Ghost Hunters featured a story in one of their videos where a young woman named Sara interviewed her grandmother who turned out to be the young woman who made this throat-slashing gesture toward Kemper during the trial in 1973. This is what she said:

“The trial that you’re asking me about, Sara, was in 1973. And every morning, Alice Liu would wait on my husband and I with coffee and naturally, we knew her from the coffee shop. And when she was murdered by Edmund Kemper, I wanted to… I well… I wanted to be there and listen to the testimony, and it was just real graphic, so I don’t know whether I should tell you all about that…”

“Edmund Kemper got Alice Liu in his car when she was on her way to campus or coming back. He had his car rigged up in such a way that once you got in the passenger side, the handle would never for you to get out. She could never get out…”

“Picture this lovely little Oriental girl, 19, working hard in a little coffee shop. When he was describing all these things about Alice Liu, there was a break in the proceedings and when he comes in with his chains and he’s walking in, his eyes focused on me. And I told you I was so emotional with that horrible testimony, I said to him… and he focused on me, and I said [she whispers]: ‘I would love to cut your throat,’ and he went [she screams]: ‘Oohhh!’ And the bailiff saying: ‘What is it? What is it?’ And I had a dress with polka dots on it and the bailiff come over and said: ‘You’ve got to sit on the other side of the courtroom. You’ve upset Mr. Kemper.’”

Sources: Girl’s courtroom gesture brings Kemper trial to a halt, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von B, October 25, 1973 / Santa Cruz Ghost Hunters

“Of course, the personality is gone.”

Santa Cruz was plagued at that time with a series of bizarre unsolved murders, and warnings had been issued to students not to accept rides from strangers. But Ed Kemper’s mother had given him a university sticker for his car so that he could easily enter the campus to pick her up from work. This sticker gave women a sense of security when he offered them a ride. On February 5, 1973, he shot two more women [Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu] and brought them back to his mother’s house. He cut off one woman’s head in the trunk of his car, and when his mother went to bed he carried the headless corpse to his room and slept with it in his bed. Kemper 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. With a girl, there is a lot left in the girl’s body without the head. Of course, the personality is gone.”

Source: Excerpt from “Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters” by Peter Vronsky

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

Ed Kemper’s Christmas in 1963

On Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday in November) 1963, as Ed was not yet fifteen, he borrowed his mother’s car, without her permission, drove it to Butte, Montana. From there, he got on a bus and returned to Los Angeles and Dad. The father should understand, he felt, that it was his duty to support his natural son rather than his stepson. To Edmund’s joy, his father agreed to let him live with him. There followed a brief happy period which, in itself, was such a novelty that it scarcely surprised him when it came to a sudden ending.

During the Christmas holidays, Kemper Sr. took his son to visit his parents, who owned an isolated farm at North Fork, a small town in the foothills of the magnificent Sierra Mountain range. But the pastoral beauties of the place were lost on the teenage boy. For him, the farm came to seem like a prison or an old folks’ home and he felt bitterly betrayed when his father announced to him for the second time in less than three months that he was not going to return to Los Angeles at the end of the Christmas holidays.

Clarnell had spoken to her ex-husband on the phone to tell him about the Siamese cat episode (Kemper had killed the family cat and hid it in his closet). She warned him:

This Guy (Ed Kemper’s family nickname) is a really funny bird. And you’re taking a risk by leaving him with your parents. You may be surprised to wake up one morning to learn that they have been killed.

Eight months later, in August 1964, Ed Kemper would shoot both his grandparents to death.

When we examine Ed Kemper’s existence, it is interesting to note how crucial the holiday periods were: Thanksgiving & Christmas 1963, and Easter 1973. For someone like him, who felt rejected by his loved ones and by society, these moments of celebration could be extremely difficult and stressful times.

Sources: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz (Stéphane Bourgoin, 1998) / The Coed Killer (Margaret Cheney, 1976) / 1973 Ed Kemper mugshot

1981 – State Parole Board refuses to set release date for Kemper

The state parole board refused to set a release date for convicted mass murderer Edmund Kemper on Thursday, but commended him for his good behavior and psychiatric progress.

The three-member board ruled unanimously that the 32-year-old Kemper was not ready to have a parole date set because his crime staggers the imagination,” the Associated Press reported.

The board, however, did commend Kemper for his good behavior in prison and his work with a program which records books for the blind. It also noted he had made progress in his therapy sessions.

Kemper, who stands 6-feet-9, was convicted in 1973 of eight counts of murder for the slaying of his mother, her best friend and six co-eds.

During the trial, Kemper said the killings were his way of acting out homicidal and sexual fantasies from his early childhood. Kemper mutilated the bodies of most of his victims and also engages in sex with them.

During the two-hour hearing at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, Kemper agreed he was not ready for parole, according to Assistant District Attorney John Hopkins.

His appointed attorney, Steve Bedient of Sacramento, said Kemper would be asking for a release date in the future, however, “because of his progress in therapy,” Hopkins said.

Kemper, who wore prison garb and sported a close-cropped haircut, said he was gaining a better knowledge of himself through therapy.

He said he was reaching a better understanding of how he had both “love and hate feelings” for his mother, Hopkins said.

He also said he realized the women he had killed were surrogate victims – “they all led to the ultimate killing of his mother,” Hopkins said.

Kemper told the board that his old attitudes were “all woring.”

He said: “I have a very clear mind and unfortunately I was even foolying myself,” according to AP accounts of the hearing.

Kemper, who lived with his mother in Aptos and buried the head of one of his victims in the backyard, said to this day, however, he has never been able to resolve the murder of his grandparents within himself. Kemper murdered his grandparents when he was 15.

But he said little else about his grandparents’ deaths and refused to discuss details of his killings.

Kemper told parole officers Thursday: “My grandparents are still rotting in their graves. I am making attempts to resolve the hurt and hate in my family. They still don’t want to have anything to do with me.”

The panel asked if he had cannibalized or had sex with female victims after he killed them.

“What I was doing was perverse by anyone’s standards,” he said.

Kemper said he was driven to the murders out of hate for his mother and to make “a social statement.”

Prison records said Kemper was attracted to coeds at the University of California campus at Santa Cruz. He said his mother taunted him about the young women, holding them up as models of what he could never has as a wife.

He told the board his goal in life was “non-violence – within himself and with respect to others,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins opposed setting a release date for Kemper. “I would agree with Mr. Kemper that he is not ready for release on parole,” he said.

Kemper appeared to be more calm at this year’s hearing than in past parole hearings, said Hopkins. He appeared subdued and did not complain about the presence of several reporters as he had in past years.

Sources: Santa Cruz Sentinel & Register-Pajaronian, May 29, 1981 / Drawings of parole hearing ©Center for Sacramento History

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

“I could take her life.”

“I felt that I was going to be caught pretty soon for the killing of these girls, or I was going to blow up and do something very open and get myself caught, and so I did not want my mother—. A long time ago, I had thought about what I was going to do in the event of being caught for the other crimes, and the only choices I saw were just accept it and go to jail, and let my mother carry the load and let the whole thing fall in her hands, like it happened the last time with my grandparents, or I could take her life.”

Ed Kemper explaining one of the reasons he murdered his mother

Photo ©Joey Tranchina

« Older posts