Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Father

Ed Kemper’s father’s army discharge

This is the registration card confirming that Ed Kemper’s father, Edmund Emil Kemper Jr. (II), was discharged from the army after World War II in 1945.

Edmund Kemper II enlisted in the Army on June 21, 1939. He served in World War II during his enlistment. After the war he tested atomic bombs in the Pacific Proving Grounds before returning to California, where he found work as an electrician. 

Sources: Ancestry / Find a Grave

Kemper and his motorcycle helmet

Drawings by David Jouvent for his upcoming graphic novel about Ed Kemper

“My head is larger than his is. I have a very large head. I wear a 8 3/4 helmet for a motorcycle. 8 3/4 is very big [triple XL], it’s hard to find a helmet like that.”

ed kemper about his head being bigger than his father’s

Source: 1991 Interview with Stéphane Bourgoin

Ed Kemper and John Wayne

Edmund Kemper grew up like almost any other red-blooded American boy, which is to say, in a home where the parents quarrelled a great deal, separated, reunited, eventually were divorced, and where the mother wound up both caring for the children and working at a full-time job. He grew up worshipping Hollywood actor John Wayne, whose image intertwined and blurred in his mind with memories of the beloved father who had abandoned him.

On January 25, 1950, John Wayne “The Duke” put his footprints & fist print in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The prints are still there.

Raised by a terrible mother, who didn’t hesitate to lock him in the cellar when he was a child, Edmund Kemper became very shy and isolated himself more and more. He dreamed of revenge, he thought of morbid games in which death and mutilation played an essential part. Aware of his inadequacy, he admired his absent father and actor John Wayne.

“John Wayne was very much like my father,” said Edmund Kemper, both physically and in his behavior. My father was a big guy who spoke loudly. Like John Wayne, he had very small feet. When I first went to Los Angeles, I immediately went to put my feet in the footprints of John Wayne, who are immortalized in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I was proud to see that my feet were bigger than his.”

Sources: The Co-Ed Killer, Margaret Cheney / Serial killers : Enquête mondiale sur les tueurs en série, Stéphane Bourgoin / Thanks to Catrin Elen Williams for the John Wayne pictures on Facebook

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

Did Ed Kemper’s father ever forgive him?

Did Ed Kemper’s father ever forgive him for killing his parents in 1964?

According to Kemper himself, his father forgave him during their 1971 reunion. In June 1971, Ed Kemper tries to get in touch with his father whom he has not seen since his imprisonment at Atascadero. He manages to find his address and telephone number through the electricians’ union directory in Los Angeles. His father refuses to receive him at home because he remembers his second wife’s reactions and migraines when his son came to live with them. He agrees to meet him at a restaurant where they spend several hours together drinking, chatting and pretending to argue over who will pay for the alcohol tab. Finally, Ed Jr pays the bill. “I knew he never had bread, but we took the opportunity to solve all our problems, about the grandparents, and he told me he had forgiven me.” This would be their last meeting.

But, according to David Weber, Ed Kemper’s half-brother through their father, said in an interview published in the Fall of 2017 in the Daily Mail UK, that his father was at a loss as to what to do with his unruly son until [his parents] offered to take him in and straighten him out. “It was a fatal mistake. My father never forgave himself for that and only on his deathbed forgave Guy [Ed Kemper’s nickname in his family] for what he did. Susan [Kemper’s older sister] arranged a phone call between Guy, my dad, and a minister while my dad was dying in the hospital,” Weber said. Kemper’s father died on January 19, 1985.

Source: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz (Stéphane Bourgoin) / Daily Mail UK