Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Jim Jackson

“They can’t see the things going on in my mind.”

The testimony by Ed Kemper yesterday was no exception from the preceding grim testimony. With questioning from his lawyer Jim Jackson, he recalled his childhood fantasies which started out innocently and wistfully, later to become daydreams of murder and sex.

He said his first fantasy was that his “mother and father would be loving together and caring for their children.”

According to Kemper, it was a fantasy that never came true. Instead, there was “much violence, hatred, yelling and screaming” between his father and mother who separated and were divorced when he was around seven years old.

Kemper said he felt rejected and unloved by his mother and his father as well, though he indicated he yearned for a good relationship with his father.

He spoke of his mother as “alcoholic,” and said she once had beaten him with a heavy belt and buckle when he was a small child and told him not to scream, “because the neighbors will think I’m beating you.”

This was at the age of nine, and Kemper said after that he was afraid of her and began to have a recurring fantasy about sneaking up on her and hitting her in the head with a hammer.

Later, in Atascadero [where he was incarcerated for five years after the murder of his grandparents], Kemper’s fantasies turned to sex as well as murder. He said his final fantasy was, “I killed someone, cut them up and ate them… and I kept the head on a shelf and talked to it… I said the same things I would have said had she been alive, in love with me, had she been caring of me.”

Asked by Jackson if he ever told anyone at Atascadero about the fantasies, Kemper replied, “No, I would never got out if I had told psychiatrists I was having fantasies of sex with dead bodies and in some cases eating them I would never have gotten out ever.”

He paused and then said, “Wow! That’s like condemning yourself to life imprisonment, and I don’t know many people who do that.”

The young defendant, who worked for psychologists testing other inmates at Atascadero, said, “I hid it from them. They can’t see the things going on in my mind. All I had to do to conceal it from them was not talk about it.”

Source: “Kemper explains why he murdered coeds”, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von B, November 1st. 1973 / Images from trial: Bay Area TV Archive

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

“I still have their spirits.”

Public defender Jim Jackson asked Kemper what the “real reason” was that he disposed of the girls’ bodies in the manner he did cutting them up and keeping parts of the bodies for a time.

Kemper hesitantly replied, “Because they were rotting and I was losing them.”

He explained, “when the girls died I kept them a certain length of time, but couldn’t keep them any longer.”

However, he declared, “I still have their spirits.”

Source: “Kemper explains why he murdered coeds”, Register-Pajaronian, November 1, 1973, by Marj von B

“Guilty, Sane, and First Degree to all eight counts.”

The trial of Edmund Kemper lasted three weeks, but it took the jury only five hours to reach a decision.

Defender Jim Jackson, in a final effort to do his professional best by a client he had never asked for, told jurors in his closing argument, “There are two people locked up in the body of this young giant, one good and one evil… One is fighting to be here with us and the other is slipping off to his own little world of fantasy where he is happy.”

When the jury returned, Kemper showed no emotion as Judge Brauer read the verdict: “Guilty, Sane, and First Degree to all eight counts.”

From: Why: The Serial Killer In America by Margaret Cheney (1992, update of The Co-Ed Killer, 1976) / Photos: Getty Images, Register Pajaronian

Photo on the left: Edmund Kemper and District Attorney’s investigator Richard Verbrugge exchange words in courtroom; Kemper’s “escort,” sheriff’s deputy Bruce Colomy, is at right.

Photo on the right: Edmund Kemper with sheriff’s deputy Bruce Colomy. 

“I would have died too fast that way.”

November 1, 1973 – Kemper broke down shortly before 4 p.m. as he was being questioned by his attorney Jim Jackson about his suicide attempt Sunday morning in his San Mateo jail cell. Kemper’s cell is under constant surveillance by jailers by means of a television camera. But Kemper told how he avoided signalling his suicidal actions by simply turning his back to the camera and slashing his wrist with the flattened and sharpened casing of a ballpoint pen.

He said he had cut an artery, which was spurting blood, and a vein, which also was bleeding. Jackson interrupted him to ask why had he not, if he wanted to die, stuck himself in the throat. Kemper looked up blandly at the question and replied quietly, “I would have died too fast that way.” He explained that he could have cut an artery in his throat but he wanted to think about things as he bled.

“What were you thinking about, Ed?” asked Jackson.

Kemper looked down at his hands and began to reply slowly, “I was thinking about the girls who died… their fathers…” At this point, his voice broke and tears came to his eyes, which he brushed away.

Two fathers of his coed victims testified in court during the first week of the trial and Kemper had been unable or unwilling to look at them while they were on the stand.

Momentarily, Kemper recovered his composure and said, “Sorry,” and then continued “… their mothers, and I thought about what I did…” At this point, the young giant buried his face in his hands, apparently unable to continue.

Judge Harry F. Brauer immediately adjourned the court for the day, and Kemper jumped up from the witness chair and hastily headed for the back door of the courtroom, catching sheriff’s deputies across the room momentarily off guard.

Bailiff Don Chapman was the first to reach Kemper, and he patted him consolingly on the back as he led him into the jury room adjacent to the courtroom, where Kemper remained until Jackson went in to see him before he was taken back to San Mateo County jail.

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