Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Colorado

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 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)

Young giant readily agrees to extradition

A seemingly unconcerned young giant agreed yesterday to return to California to face charges of killing his mother and a family friend – two of eight women he confessed slaying in the Santa Cruz area in the past year.

Edmund Kemper, 24, a 6-foot-9, 280-pound labourer who killed his grandparents nine years ago, turned down a judge’s offer of an attorney and voluntarily signed papers allowing Santa Cruz authorities to fly him back from Pueblo, Colorado. [He was eventually driven back by car to Santa Cruz.]

Kemper, wearing a gray shirt and baggy blue jeans, refused District Judge Jack F. Feaby’s offer to appoint an attorney. “I don’t think it is necessary, your honor,” Kemper said, then signed six copies of extradition papers.

He laughed aloud on his way back to his jail cell when police lost the keys to his handcuffs. Kemper had asked them to remove the cuffs while he smoked.

“He was very cooperative,” District Attorney Peter Chang said after he and homicide detectives questioned Kemper for several hours about the killings.

Pueblo Police Chief Robert Mayer described Kemper as “big enough to beat a mountain lion with a switch.”

Source: The San Bernardino County Sun, Thursday April 26, 1973 / Getty Images

Ed Kemper’s arrest on April 24, 1973 in Pueblo, Colorado

Officer Conner spoke up on the extension, “All right. Just tell me where you are and we’ll have someone come and pick you up.”

“Yeah,” said Kemper. “That’s what I want.”

At Officer Conner’s suggestion, he left the telephone booth, walked to the curb, and checked street signs not far from where his car was parked.

“I’ll be at Twenty-first Street and Norwood Avenue in Pueblo,” he said. “I’m driving a car I rented in Reno.”

Officer Conner spoke up. “Hey, Ed. While we’re talking to you, we’re going to have somebody come over.”

“Yeah,” said Edmund Kemper, “I wish to shit you would, really, ‘cause I have over 200 rounds of ammo in the trunk and three guns. I don’t even want to go near it.”

He (Kemper) wanted to get it all out now – the waiting was coming to an end. But suddenly he broke off. “The man’s here. Whew! He’s got a gun on me!”

“Let me talk to him,” said Officer Conner.

Excerpts from The Co-ed Killer by Margaret Cheney and drawings by David Jouvent from his upcoming graphic novel about Ed Kemper. 

“Hi, Mr. Chang!”

Kemper greeted Santa Cruz District Attorney Chang like an old friend when Chang confronted him at police headquarters after reaching Pueblo (Colorado). He exclaimed for all the world like the host of a gala party greeting an arriving guest. In sharp contrast to his menacing size, too, during the taping of his confession to purge himself of his inner torments, he was as gentle as the proverbial lamb.

“He was extremely affable, cooperative, and articulate, and intelligent” said Chang to journalists when he returned to Santa Cruz.

One of the detectives present later told newsmen Kemper reminded him of a little kid who had vowed to amend his hell-raising ways and was eager to prove the sincerity of his promises to be good. In any event, he proved to be the soul of cooperation and was eager to do anything to make things easier for the authorities. He unhesitatingly signed his waiver of extradition to California. He underwent no change of heart, which so often happens when violent criminals in the throes of remorse unburden their hearts, only to reverse themselves after they have had time to think it over.

Excerpt from True Detective magazine, October 1978

Ed Kemper’s confession tapes

The prosecution yesterday rested its case against Edmund E. Kemper III. The state’s final evidence was a videotape showing Kemper’s lengthy confession of eight grisly murders. While the video confession was being played for the jury of six women and six men, Kemper buried his head in his hands.

His attorney, James Jackson, interrupted the proceedings to ask Judge Harry Brauer if Kemper could be excused. The judge agreed and Kemper was allowed to leave the courtroom.

Kemper’s confessions were introduced previously in the trial, but the video recording was shown to give the jury an impression of the defendant’s attitude while he was recounting the crimes for investigators last April 28, shortly after he surrendered in Colorado. 

Source: San Bernardino Sun, 1 November 1973 / Video: Kemper on Kemper, Oxygen TV