Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Killing of America

“She’s very much the reason I surrendered.”

“I didn’t go hog-wild and totally limp. What I’m saying is, I found myself doing things in an attempt to make things fit together inside. I was doing sexual probings and things, I mean, in a sense of striking out, or reaching out and grabbing, and pulling to me. But appalled at the sense that it wasn’t working, that isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, that isn’t the way I want it. You see what I’m saying? And yet I get, during that time, I become engaged to someone who is young, and is beautiful, and very much the same advantages, and very much the same upbringing, and Disneyland values. And, uh, she’s very much the reason I surrendered.”

ed kemper about getting engaged during his crime spree

Ed Kemper’s first date

“Three months after I was out, I was back into the fantasy bay. – My first date was an absolute disaster. It wasn’t her fault, you know. And I didn’t blame her even then. I’m saying – it was a terrible tragedy but boy was it – she never talked to me again, it was awful. Wasn’t sexual or [gr…] I was just such a dork, taking her to a John Wayne movie and at Denny’s. It was terrible. I’d never been on a date! At 16 that was cool, you know?! I’d never been on a date! You know? I was locked up since I was 15, but I can’t tell her that, ‘Oh gee, don’t mind me,’ you know. She got kinda hung up on my looks or whatever, I mean, she’s a gorgeous young lady, pure class, and she saw something there that wasn’t there, and boy, did she find out quick.”

Ed Kemper about his first date after his release from atascadero in 1969

Source: The Killing of America (documentary directed by Leonard Schrader)

1980 – “I don’t see a place for me in society ever again.”

Commenting that he was “trying to keep a light air here, rather than being extremely serious,” Edmund E. Kemper III Wednesday told the Community Release Board, “I don’t see a place for me in society ever again.”

At the second of his parole hearings, John Brooks, chairman of the three-man panel, told the six-foot nine-inch murderer he is “unsuitable for parole.”

The release board hearings are conducted on the second floor of the California Medical Facility, in a room with dark paneling and broad tables. The proceedings are tape recorded and a court reporter also takes notes of the discussions.

Wednesday, someone had tied a small noose in the end of a venitian blind cord across the room from where Kemper calmly sat in his blue denim prison uniform.

Kemper criticized the news media for interpreting his remarks at his first, half-hearted parole hearing last year as meaning he does not want to be released from state prison.

“I have tried the door, gentlemen, and I assure you all is secure,” he told the release board last year, adding that the State of California has “more than enough reason to keep me locked up for the rest of my life. I have to say eight people are dead and I murdered them.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, Kemper seemed to show more interest in seeking his own release from prison, but he appeared like a small boy in a candy store, not only afraid to reach out and touch the candy, but also unwilling to admit to himself or others that he wanted some.

“I literally sink my own boat and I do it quite frequently,” he said. But he said the issue is not a matter of his not wanting to be released, it is the fact that he believes he can find no place for himself in society. He said he is a “maniac” in the eyes of society, and he believes he has 230 million enemies in the United States and 5 billion beyond its borders.

“I might as well be on Mars,” he went on. “I don’t see a parole in my future, so I’ve made no formal plans” for his life following release from prison, which is a routine question asked by the board.

In addition to objecting to the presence of four reporters at his hearing, Kemper also said the presence of a deputy district attorney and investigator from Santa Cruz County turned what he interpreted as an “information exchange” hearing into an adversary proceeding.

Prison psychologist R.J. Brooks advised the panel Kemper has “narcissistic and schizo-typical personality disorders” and said he is constantly suspicious of other people’s motives, as well as his own.

However, the psychologist said Kemper is learning to accept criticism and made a difficult emotional decision in the past year which led to his quitting the prison project making tapes of books for the blind, at which he spent 3,600 volunteer hours during his incarceration.

Santa Cruz Deputy DA John Hopkins argued, however, that Kemper lacked a basic understanding of the enormous atrocity of his crimes and seemed to “gloss” over the events. Kemper’s victims were dismembered after they were brutally slain.

Hopkins said Kemper’s crimes were “especially heinous and atrocious” and they were committed in a “dispassionate and calculated manner, with no real explicable motive.”

“He seems to gloss over things, despite his attention to minute detail, and seems unable to really contemplate what underlies this” hearing, Hopkins said. He is making every “effort to distract attention from what’s really been done.”

Kemper, on the other hand, said he has wasted 25 years of his life and feels “an obligation to do something positive, not just sit here and cry for society.”

After approximately 45 minutes of deliberation by the board, Brooks told Kemper he is still “unsuitable for parole.” Adding that his murders were extremely violent, including dismemberment and decapitation of his victims, which showed “a total disregard for human dignity.”

Brooks said the board would follow his psychiatrist’s recommendation that he be held for “a long period of observation.”

“No parole for homicidal giant,” by James E. Reid, The Press Democrat, May 1st, 1980

“Wow, this is insane.”

“As I’m sitting there with a severed head in my hand talking to it, or looking at it. And I’m about to go crazy, literally. I’m about to go completely flywheel loose and just fall apart.

I say, ‘Wow, this is insane.’ And then I told myself, ‘No it isn’t, you’re saying that and that makes it not insane.’ I said, ‘I’m sane and I’m looking at a severed… Wait a minute, wait a minute, I’d seen old paintings and drawings of Viking heroes and talking to severed heads and taking them to parties, old enemies in leather bags. Part of our heritage.

That’s just me back then. In 1972, and ‘73. Unable to live with the fact that I just stabbed to death and cut the throat of an innocent young woman.”

ed kemper, about his victims’ severed heads, in the 1981 interview for the documentary “the killing of america”

The Hand of God

A wave of panic seizes him. The events of the last hours are jostling in his head. He thinks of his mother. The fact of having cut off her head does not disturb him more than that; after all, she is not the first to whom it happened! And, besides, she was already dead. He who read the Bible so much during his imprisonment [at Atascadero], to the point of identifying himself very much with the character of Job, he sees in the destiny of his mother, the hand of God. It is even more than a symbol when he thinks about it: “This hand is the left hand of the Lord, I have always considered my mother as a great being, someone very fierce and sinister. She has always had a great influence on my life, and when she died, I was very surprised to find that her death was like all my other victims, how vulnerable and human she was, which has left a mark on me and still shocks me today. The left hand of the Lord is the one he uses to punish, and I, that guilty and left-handed son, cut off my mother’s left hand. That’s enough to make me flip, right? ”

Source: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz de Stéphane Bourgoin / Images: The Killing of America