Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Kemper On Kemper

Passing of Harold Cartwright (1940-2021)

We are saddened to hear that Harold Cartwright passed away a few days ago at the age of 80. Mr. Cartwright worked on Ed Kemper’s defense team. He was an investigator for Kemper’s lawyer, Jim Jackson. Thanks to @8folddharma on Instagram for letting us know.

During the 2018 two-hour special “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer,” former investigator with the Santa Cruz Public Defender’s Office Harold Cartwright opened up about what it was like working on “Co-Ed Killer” Ed Kemper’s defense team.

“Tell you a little bit about my interaction with Eddy, with Ed Kemper,” said Cartwright. “One day, I had a really stiff neck — I couldn’t move my head hardly at all.”

Cartwright continued, “[Kemper] said, ‘I know a lot about anatomy. I can make your neck feel better.’ So, I went around, and he worked on my neck for maybe, I don’t know, five minutes. And you know? It worked.”

Cartwright said that even though the 6-foot-9-inch, 285-pound Kemper “could have probably killed [him] with one hand,” he “never felt unsafe in his presence.”

“I felt that if somebody had attacked me, he would have come to my aid,” Cartwright told “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer.”

The two spent “a lot of time together,” and Cartwright said he and Kemper were “friendly.” While Kemper was in jail awaiting trial for murdering eight women — including his own mother and her best friend — many members of law enforcement also described him as “friendly,” “cooperative” and a model prisoner.

Still, defending an admitted serial killer took “a horrible toll” on all those involved in the investigation.

Cartwright said, “If I could change things in my life, I would definitely not have participated in these mass murders. I had a wife and two little kids; I worked 13 months without a day off. Within five years after these trials were completed, the district attorney was divorced, I was divorced, several of the police officers involved were divorced. … It was difficult, difficult time [sic], and it’s always a part of you.”

Mr. Cartwright’s obituary is available here.

Source: “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer” from Oxygen, 2018

“Good luck.”

Kemper wears a bandage on his wrist after attempting suicide with a pen. (Getty Images)

“[Reporter Marj von B] gave me a pen that day, it was a cast aluminum ballpoint pen, and I took it back to my high-security jail cell up in Redwood City. I was really slammed down tight: a two-man cell by myself. They have a camera on me 24-hours a day. The lights are on-two sets of these four-footers-it’s bright as day 24-hours a day, and I was there for five months, and I get strip shook leaving the cell and strip shook coming back in. I brought the pen in with my legal papers, and a few months later in the middle of the trial, I smashed the pen on the floor with my boot, sharpened it-got a sharp edge on the metal-and slashed my wrist. I was bleeding all over the place. It was very messy and very exciting, and everybody was dragging me off to the hospital and I got sewed up. I got shot up with industrial strength mace. They had about a quart of it and they just gassed me with that whole thing and dragged me off to the hospital.” […]

“At one point I could see every aspect of my life, my crimes, who I was, how I really felt about things without any defensive or protective accoutrements. It was fascinating to me: I was semi-conscious-actually, I was conscious, I just couldn’t get up and move around a lot, and at the end of the two hours, I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep on with this. I hadn’t gotten to the crimes themselves, I was kind of oriented around other things related to my life. I asked to continue on, and the doctor didn’t want to, so I insisted. They were using an IV and shot me up with another two-hour batch of this stuff, and as soon as he was done with what he wanted to do, he got up and left.”

“He had an appointment and it had gone longer than he had planned on it so he had to leave and my lawyer had to go. So, I’m stuck with these two deputies and a registered nurse watching me until I come down off of this stuff. Well, when the doctor left, he decided to give me a shot of medicine to snap me out of this, and I asked him what it was, and he said it was Methedrine-hospital-grade speed. I’ve asked doctors since then, both medical doctors and psychiatrists, if that was an appropriate action, and they said absolutely not. They should have left me sleep it off. It is suggested that the doctor knew full well it would put me through hell. It amplified everything I was feeling, it got me really down, and for two days after that they were trying to scrape me off the ceiling-they couldn’t even talk to me. I was raving and ranting. They had to put me in a strip cell because I refused to go back to my regular cell. There was television available there. I had canteen. I had some food items, but I wouldn’t accept it.” […]

Kemper as seen in his 1991 interview with Stéphane Bourgoin.

“Under the influence of those drugs, I was seeing what I did through other people’s eyes, not through mine; as someone else would view it-pure horror-how someone with nothing to do with violence in their life would see it. It was an awful experience. Within hours of coming down off that stuff two days later, I wasn’t making comments like that, [my] defenses were back in place-they were a bit ruffled. It had been an eye-opening experience because it gave me some perspectives on my case that I would never forget-some anxieties on my case that I would never forget-and all I can give you to gauge it by is that when I went into that hospital, the nurse came out-she was the typical battle-axe, professional nurse, been on the job for twenty years… great woman… with the wheelchair, severe stern face, and she’s looking at me with razor blades.”

“I’m in the chair and she wheels me inside. Five hours later when I come out of there, she’s wheeling me out and as I’m getting into the car, I’ve got this tortured look on my face. I’ve been crying and tearing at myself. She looks at me with this very compassionate look, and she says, “Good luck.” She got a good look at what was really inside. She was already aware of the evil I was capable of and the horror that happened in the case, and then she saw a lot of my real feelings. With her knowledge of chemicals and medicine and treatments, she knew I wasn’t faking. So, from her I got good luck and she was serious. I’ve never seen her since, but ironically, the deputies that were stuck with me that day, they figured ‘he’s so outraged right now, let’s just keep him here until he calms down a bit, then we’ll take him back to jail.’”

“But I didn’t calm down. I just kept going on and on, and at one point I asked the deputies to handcuff me to the rails of the bed because I was afraid I would rip my eyes out. I was really acting up, and he had known me for a few months and he didn’t want to do that. He said, “Oh, come on Ed, that’s not really necessary.” I said, “Man, you better put them on, or I’m going to tear that goddamn gun belt off and blast you, and I might beat you to death with it.” So, he comes over with the cuffs. He was a little offended by that… so he came over with the cuffs and started putting them on my wrists and I just went through some incredible convulsion and I just yanked him clear across the bed. He had the other hand cuffed already. Zing! Off he goes, he’s hanging onto this handcuff and at that point he cuffed me up real quick and finished and I already had my leg irons at the foot of the bed and I was just yanking those rails up and down with my wrists. That was very painful with handcuffs on. We went like that for a few hours and finally they said, “We got to get him back to jail, he’s not going to change in the near future.”

Sources: Interview with Stéphane Bourgoin, from “Serial Killers” (1991) / Kemper on Kemper by Peter Scott Jr. / Photo from Getty Images

Emotionally impotent

“My frustration. My inability to communicate socially, sexually. I wasn’t impotent, but emotionally I was impotent. I was scared to death of failing in male/female relationships. I knew absolutely nothing about that whole area, even of just sitting down and talking with a young lady.”

WHEN ASKED WHY HE KILLED WOMEN, ED KEMPER CITED HIS OWN INSECURITIES (from 1984 documentary “no apparent motive”)

Image: Promotional still from “Kemper on Kemper” (2018, documentary aired on Oxygen)

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