Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Crime Scene (Page 1 of 2)

Buried head in garden

Police officers carefully rake through the back garden of Clarnell Kemper’s Aptos home, while forensic experts photograph the scene. It was here that Ed Kemper dismembered Cindy Schall, and it wasn’t long before her severed head was found buried by the garden fence.

***Warning: graphic content***

Cindy Schall was killed by a single shot in the head from Ed Kemper’s .22-calibre pistol. He kept her body in a cupboard overnight, waiting for his mother to go to work. As soon as she left, he brought out the corpse and decapitated it. His years of hanging out at the Jury Room left him with a wary respect of forensic ballistics – so he cut the bullet fragments out of the skull, which he then kept for a while as a trophy.

He then dismembered the body and took a drive along the coast to dispose of it. But when a couple of weeks later Kemper learned that the police had already recovered Cindy’s remains, he panicked and buried her head in his back garden.

Representatives from the Santa Cruz sheriff’s office, city police and the district attorney’s office looked on as detectives dug a 16-inch deep hole and found the decaying head. Because authorities pinpointed the head’s location, it is speculated they were acting on information from Pueblo, Colorado, where Kemper was arrested and has reportedly been giving detailed information on not only the slaying of his mother Clarnell Strandberg, 52, and her friend Sara Taylor Hallett, 59, but also the slaying of six young women.

The head found today had been buried about four feet from the rear of Kemper’s house. For the last several months, Kemper and his mother lived in the duplex apartment.

While the skull was being removed from the hole, the upstairs neighbors glanced down at the yard through a window.

People living next door to the duplex were visibly shaken as they occasionally looked over to where the detectives located the head.

“To think we’ve been living here so peacefully with that laying on the ground,” said one woman, pointing to Kemper’s backyard. A young woman next to her, wearing a Cabrillo College T-Shirt, nodded silently.

Kemper said he buried Cynthia Schall’s head in the backyard of his mother’s apartment house facing the window of the bedroom where he was staying and “talked to it (the head) many times, saying affectionate things… like you would say to a girlfriend or a wife.”

Kemper has also said that he buried Schall’s head in his mother’s yard, facing up toward his mother’s bedroom window, because his mother always wanted people to “look up to her.”

Sources: “Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters”, by Peter Vronsky / “Kemper explains why he murdered coeds”, Register-Pajaronian, November 1, 1973 / “Head found in Aptos”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 26, 1973

“I just wanted to touch her body… just out of curiosity.”

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Early in September 1972, Ed Kemper’s urges start up again, the effect of his previous victims’ photos having faded. He gets back into hunt mode. On September 14, he is driving along University Avenue in Berkeley when he sees this eastern girl hitchhiking near a bus stop. Aiko Koo is just fifteen years old and she is heading to a dance class in San Francisco. She seems older than her fifteen years and is anxiously waiting for a bus that is not coming; she is afraid of being late for her class. For her, dancing is something very serious, a vocation. Her Lithuanian mother, who lives modestly, deprives herself in order to pay for lessons for her daughter, who has already performed professionally, both in classical ballet and in traditional Korean styles. Aiko never knew her Korean father who abandoned them before she was born. Her mother works at the University of California Library.

Aiko is not used to hitchhiking and she doesn’t hesitate for a second to board the Ford Galaxie and sit in the front seat, next to the imposing driver. As for Mary Anne Pesce and Anita Luchessa, Kemper takes advantage of the complicated system of highway interchanges to disorient his passenger, before heading south along the coastal highway. When she realizes Kemper’s maneuvers, Aiko starts to scream and beg. He takes out a new model of firearm, a .357 Magnum, which he borrowed again from a friend, and presses the barrel in the teenager’s ribs. Kemper, who is left-handed, drives with this hand and uses the other to threaten Aiko with his weapon. He tries to calm her by swearing that he doesn’t want to harm her; in fact, he explains, he wants to kill himself and he’s just looking for someone to talk to. He leaves the highway for small mountain roads that he knows very well and drives on Bonny Doon Road, near Santa Cruz. He somehow manages to convince her to be tied and gagged.

“I just want a quiet place where we can tie you up and then we’ll go to my place,” he says. He turns off on Smith Grade Road, going slowly until he finds a turnoff where he can get away behind a tree, sheltered from the road and any traffic. He shuts off the lights and then the engine. He shoves the gun back under the front seat.

“There’s a roll of medical tape in my glove compartment. Hand it to me,” he says. She complies, handing him the small cardboard box. His hands shake as he tries to find the end of the roll.

“Now who’s nervous?” she says, laughing. He tears off a big chunk and holds it up. “My mouth’s not that big,” she says, so he tears off part of it and throws it aside before placing a patch over her mouth. “Move your jaws. See if you can loosen it,” he says, noting that it did not come unstuck. He presses the tape again to make certain.

“Hop in the back seat,” he instructs. She flips her leg up and rolls over the back of the seat and sits awaiting his next command. He pulls the rest of the tape off his fingers and gets out of the car and walks around to the passenger side. The door is locked.

He remembers the gun still under the front seat. She has him locked out and that gun within easy reach. He is dead. He begins frantically fishing in his pocket for his keys. Damn. Where are they?

The girl peers out at him through the window, shakes her head knowingly and reaches up and unlocks the door for him. He smiles weakly and flips the seat back forward and sits on it a moment.

She starts to resist when Kemper throws himself on her with all his weight, covering her mouth and nose with his hand. Aiko struggles with the energy of desperation, she even manages to grab his testicles, but he is too strong. He ends up strangling her before releasing his grip. To his surprise, Aiko is not dead and continues to fight. This time, he makes sure that she loses consciousness completely. Kemper takes her out of the car to rape her: “It didn’t take more than fifteen or twenty seconds before I had an orgasm.” He strangles her again with a scarf. The body is wrapped in a sheet and then stored in the trunk. Further down on Bonny Doon Road, he spots a small bar where he stops to drink two or three beers. Before entering the bar, he opens the trunk to examine Aiko Koo. He does it again after leaving the bar: “Both to check that she was really dead and also to savor my triumph, to admire my work and her beauty, a little like a fisherman happy with his catch.”

“First, I try to suffocate Aiko Koo by pinching her nostrils, but she struggles violently. I think I’ve managed to do it when she regains consciousness and realizes what’s going on. She panics. Finally, I strangle her with her neck warmer. After the murder, I’m exhausted, I’m hot and very thirsty. I stop at a bar to drink a few beers, while the body is still in the trunk of my car. I almost got caught by neighbors when I carried the corpse to my apartment. Dismembering the body required a meticulous job with a knife and an ax. It took me about four hours of work. Slicing limbs, getting rid of the blood, completely washing the bathtub and the bathroom.”

“I kill her on a Thursday night. The next morning, I call in sick at work. I dismember her body. On Friday night, I get rid of the corpse, keeping the head and hands, which are easily identifiable. Saturday morning, I leave home taking them with me. I’m looking for a safe place to bury them. It’s not easy to get rid of these things.” (This statement is crucial. Kemper doesn’t even realize what he just said. “It’s not easy to get rid of these things.” He talks about human beings by depersonalizing them. For him, and for the vast majority of serial killers, the victim is only an object. He has no remorse. Killing, maiming, cutting up a woman is a “normal” thing for Kemper.) Many times, I came close to getting caught burying bodies, and if a corpse is discovered, the witnesses can remember a car parked nearby. Saturday morning, I visit my psychiatrist in Fresno, and in the afternoon, I see the other one. Saturday night, I’m with my fiancee and her family in Turlock, and Sunday night I return home.”

After leaving the bar where he quenched his thirst, Kemper visited his mother at her home in Aptos to test himself and to enjoy the feeling of power he felt: “I talked to her for half an hour of things and stuff, just to pass the time, and to tell her what I had done in San Francisco. I wanted to see if she suspected anything by my facial expressions, involuntary gestures or words that would have escaped me. She suspected nothing and didn’t ask me any questions.” When he left, Kemper looked for the third time at Aiko Koo’s body in the trunk of the Ford Galaxy. “It was around 9:30 pm and I knew she was dead. I just wanted to touch her body to see which parts were still warm, and also just out of curiosity.”

It is 11 pm when he arrives at his apartment in Alameda. He drops Aiko’s body on his bed and searches her bag to get an idea of the life to which he has just put an end. He is disturbed by the fact that Aiko Koo doesn’t belong to this caste of “rich and haughty” California girls, which he claims to be attacking. To make sure of this, some time later, he drives past her modest family home. His disappointment is mitigated when he learns with surprise that Aiko Koo belongs to a family that has ancestry in the nobility. A little later in the night, he dissects her corpse. As Kemper says in his statements, he later goes to two Fresno psychiatrists to try to have his criminal record cleared, if he succeeds in passing the tests. Along the way, he throws pieces of Aiko Koo’s corpse into the mountains of Santa Cruz and, a little further away, her hands disappear into the wild. But he keeps her head in the trunk of his car. It’s still there when he shows up to his appointments with the two psychiatrists. The very idea excites him a lot, to the point that he opens the trunk to look at her head just before his appointments.

“The media made a big case about the stories of chopped heads in the trunk of my car. This happened to me only once, and even if I wanted to, it wasn’t possible. You know why? It was almost forty degrees in the valley, a real furnace and my car is not air-conditioned. I won’t ride with a severed head that will stink. As soon as I park, all the dogs and cats from the neighborhood will come to sniff my trunk. That day I took it with me because the owner of my apartment is always looking for trouble. So, when I leave for two or three days to stay at my mother’s or a friend’s house, what can I do? I can’t help but think she’s going to show up at my place to see if I don’t have any hash hiding somewhere. She’s going to open the fridge to see what’s in this paper bag, and come face to face with this severed head! (Kemper laughs.) But she’s not going to think of poking behind this large armchair in one of the corners of the living room, where I hide it for two days. Of course, I would have preferred to store it in the fridge to avoid bad smells. The kraft paper bag is hermetically sealed. Nobody found anything. Sunday night, it (the head) is already ripe. That same evening, my former probation officer comes to pay me a visit and the head is just behind him. (He hesitates a long time before speaking.) I did eat part of my third victim. I had cut pieces of flesh that I put in the freezer. Twenty-four hours after having dissected it, I cooked the flesh in a pan of macaroni with onions and cheese, like a carrion. A vulture or a bear. You know black blood? It’s non-oxygenated blood, we see it for a moment before it comes into contact with the air. After, the blood turns red. When in the body, the blood is black like tar. I ate a piece of leg that I had soaked in black blood for almost a day. And why did I do that? Having hunted animals in Montana, I was just pursuing an experiment in cannibalism. When you were a child, I’m sure you asked yourself this question: how would I react on a desert island, with three other people and without any food? If one of us is sick? All these come from stories of the Second World War. I had heard about it from former Marines. And then, in a way, I own my victim once again by eating her.”

Sources: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz by Stéphane Bourgoin, 1998, and Sacrifice Unto Me by Don West, 1974 / Thanks to MIEP for the photo of Aiko Koo

“This girl was actually fighting me, almost succeeding.”

**Warning: graphic content**

Ed Kemper about murdering Anita Luchessa in his car right after killing Mary Anne Pesce: “I decided that Anita was more gullible and would be easier to control, so I told her that she was gonna go into the trunk. And she stepped right out of the car.” (…)

“I took Anita to the trunk. Just before she got in, she reiterated something Mary Anne said: ‘Please don’t do this,’ or something like that. I said, ‘What, are you gonna start in too?’ (…)

After murdering Mary Anne Pesce in the car, Kemper got up in a daze or shock, he said, and headed to the back of the car. “I knew I had to do it to the other girl right then, because she had heard all the struggle and she must have known something very serious was going on.”

He concealed his hands as he raised the trunk lid because of the blood on them. Anita said, “What’s happening with Mary Anne?” Kemper said, “Well, she was getting smart with me.”

“And I pulled my hands down kind of unconsciously, and she noticed how bloody they were and she panicked. Her lip was really quivering, and she was really scared. I was scared.”

He told her that he thought he had broken Mary Anne’s nose, and that she should help her. Anita, in her new, heavy coveralls, started to get out. While Kemper was talking to her, he picked up another knife from the trunk, with a very large blade. “It was called the Original Buffalo Skinner or something,” and it had been “very expensive, about eight or nine dollars.”

He turned to Anita with the Original Buffalo Skinner and stabbed her hard as she got out of the trunk, but the knife vexingly failed even to penetrate her garnments.

Anita saw what was happening. As Kemper stabbed at her again and again, she threw herself back into the trunk, saying “Oh God, God.” She began fighting back. He tried to slash her throat but in the process stabbed his own hand, a fact he did not realize for all of an hour. He did not however fail to take account of the fact that when he went to the office of Dr. Donald G. Miller in Aptos for treatment, the wound required three stitches.

As Anita tried to cover her throat with her hands, he stabbed through her fingers. She was, as he told the investigators, “putting up a hell of a fight.” He then tried to stab her heart. “I was thrusting and the knife was going very deep, and it amazed me that she was stabbed three times and she was still going at it. I tried stabbing her in the front again, or towards the throat area, and she was making quite a bit of noise and was trying to fight me off, and I stabbed her in the forearms. One was so bad you could see both bones, and she saw it, when I hit, I didn’t think it really hurt so much, as it was the shock of everything happening so fast. She looked at it, and I could see the expression on her face of shock.”

He continued stabbing young Anita, trying to jab her left eye, as he told the assembled lawmen. “I hate to get into such detail on that,” Kemper apologized, “but my memory tends to be rather meticulous.”

Finally, Anita began screaming, very loudly and piercingly. Her murderer was scared, he said, and unsure of what to do. He had heard voices in the distance. Therefore, he renewed his attack with greater fury. The stab with which he hoped to penetrate her eye socket failed, but he knocked her glasses off.

“She reacted to each one of these things with a completely different thing,” Kemper noted. “Where the other girl was just one continuous motion, this girl was actually fighting me, almost succeeding. But she really didn’t have a chance.”

He said that she started dying. She slowed down, and became semiconscious or delirious. She was moaning and waving her arms around, fending off an imaginary assault that was no longer there. Every motion of the victim fascinated Kemper, registering itself on his mind. Finally, he threw the knife into the trunk of the car and shut the lid. He noticed that she had torn off his wristwatch and that it was stained with blood.

Source: The Co-Ed Killer, by Margaret Cheney, 1976

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

New information in the Kemper case

New information unveiled in the Kemper case in the book The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime by authors Michael H. Stone MD and Gary Brucato PhD, published earlier in 2019.

According to a source close to the 1973 investigation, Kemper did not use his mother’s head as a dartboard, after he murdered and decapitated her. Instead, he apparently used her genitals.

The authors are currently writing a new book, which will feature a full chapter about the Kemper case. No release date announced yet.

Thanks to the authors who informed us about this finding.

Instagram: @the_new_evil

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.

Kemper jury takes look at death car

Grim-faced jurors stare into trunk of Edmund Kemper’s car

Edmund Kemper’s car, in which six hitchhiking coeds were picked up and either stabbed, strangled or shot to death, was, in effect, “entered into evidence” today at his murder trial in Santa Cruz.

Just before the noon recess, Judge Harry F. Brauer, at the request of District Attorney Peter Chang, allowed Kemper jurors to leave the courtroom and examine the car, which was driven up and parked along the river levee walkway at the rear of the courthouse.

Kemper did not immediately join the group of persons from the trial, because he did not want to let his guard, sheriff deputy Bruce Colomy put handcuffs on him and a waist restraining chain before leaving the courthouse. Kemper has been allowed to appear in the courtroom, at Judge Brauer’s instruction, wearing only manacles around his ankles, with his hands left free. However, Colomy, as a security measure, insisted upon the additional restraint outside the courtroom, and Kemper finally relented.

As the jury was examining the car, Kemper, flanked by two guards, filed through the crowd of spectators.

Crowds of curious onlookers gathered on the courthouse steps in the morning sunshine as the young giant, dressed in his jail-provided orange jumpsuit, towered above the car in which he has admitted taking six human lives.

Earlier, expert witnesses for the prosecution had testified about the physical evidence found in the car, including a dried pool of human blood found in the back seat where one girl, Alice Liu, a UCSC coed, was shot to death and another, Mary Anne Pesce, a Fresno State coed was stabbed to death. Traces of blood were also found in the trunk where other coeds had been shot to death.

Source: Register-Pajaronian, October 26, 1973, by Marj Von B

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

Police search Ed Kemper’s car

Among evidence found in suspect’s car by Detective Terry Madina (left) and Criminalist Paul Daugherty was a shovel, bagged for lab.

When Ed Kemper was arrested, his car was still parked near his mother’s apartment at 609 A Ord Drive. The police searched it and found, in the trunk, a shovel and a red dishpan. There was also a bloodstained knife, strands of hair and blood stains from his victims’ bodies.

Detective Terry Madina searches the trunk of Ed Kemper’s car.

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

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