Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Margaret Cheney (Page 2 of 2)

Author focuses on mass murderer

Margaret Cheney has written books about the environment, a scientist, the University of California – and mass murderer Edmund Kemper.

“I was more or less interested in seeing whether I could do it,” said Cheney, who wrote the book about the Santa Cruz County killer in 1976 and has just published an updated version titled, “Why: The Serial Killer in America.”

The original book was called “The Coed Killer”, because six of Kemper’s victims were young women he picked up on college campuses in 1972 and 1973. Most of his victims were students at UC-Santa Cruz.

Cheney said she decided to publish the new version after she was contacted by criminologist Harry Miller, who was trying to find a copy of the original book, then out of print.

Cheney, of Hollister, conducted new interviews with psychologists and criminologist for the new book about Kemper’s gruesome murders.

The book questions the early diagnosis of Kemper, who killed his grandparents when he was 15, in 1964. He was sent to a mental hospital and later to the California Youth Authority.

Despite the recommendations of doctors that Kemper not be paroled to his mother, the Youth Authority did just that. Kemper’s final victims were his mother and her friend in April 1973 at the mother’s Seacliff apartment. He turned himself in several days later and admitted everything.

“If Kemper had been diagnosed as a classic sadist, perhaps we wouldn’t have had these murders,” because Kemper would have been kept locked up longer, Cheney said.

The book refers to a 1991 FBI study that traces certain confused behavior in childhood to violence in later life.

Cheney writes about an incident when Kemper was a small boy and told one of his sisters he wanted to kiss his teacher. When the sister asked him why he didn’t do it, Kemper replied, “I’d have to kill her first.”

That response should have been a tipoff that Kemper could turn violent later on, Cheney said. When telling authorities about the murders, Kemper said he felt he could “own” the women by killing them.

Another indicator of future violent behavior, Cheney said, was when the young Kemper killed a cat. Cheney recently joined the Latham Foundation, an Alameda-based group that believes childhood abuse of animals can lead to violence in later life.

“We’re trying to get social workers and veterinarians” to be aware of the ramifications of such cruelty, Cheney said.

Cheney was a consultant for a CBS-TV special, “Inside The Criminal Mind,” a portion of which is about Kemper. No broadcast date has been set.

“Why: The Serial Killer in America,” is published by R&E Publishers, of Saratoga.

Source: “Author focuses on mass murderer”, Register-Pajaronian, December 22, 1992, by Lane Wallace, staff writer; Photo by Kurt Ellison

A good horror story

In April 1973, following Kemper’s arrest, early on in his taped confession to police, Sergeant Aluffi asked Kemper to hold up because the tape had gotten “all messed up” in the recorder. Kemper then commented, “Oh, Jeez, wouldn’t this make a good horror story on tape?”

Source: The Co-Ed Killer, Margaret Cheney, 1976 / Drawing by David Jouvent from his upcoming graphic novel about Ed Kemper

“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

Ed Kemper’s killer car

On the outside it seemed a harmless ride to the next destination, but inside was a murderous trap.

Ed Kemper’s car was a used yellow 1969 Ford Galaxie 500 with a black hardtop. The inside of the car was also black. He bought it with the money he received after suing another driver, a female, in the last of his motorcycle accidents, in which he broke his left arm.

Not long after he got the Ford Galaxie, he crashed the left rear fender in an accident. Kemper roughly patched the rear bumper and light himself. The car was still like that when Kemper was arrested.

While driving around, he noticed a large number of young women hitchhiking, and began storing plastic bags, knives, blankets, and handcuffs in his car. He then began picking up girls and peacefully letting them go—according to Kemper, he picked up around 150 such hitchhikers—before he felt homicidal sexual urges, which he called his “little zapples,” and began acting on them.

Ed Kemper modified and organized his car in five ways to easily carry out his atrocious crimes against six female hitchhikers.

1. Radio antenna

Kemper fitted his car, which from the outside closely resembled an unmarked police vehicle, with a radio transmitter, a microphone and a large whip antenna. He used this to listen in on police transmissions. But when he started on his deadly campaign, he realized that the car was too easily recognizable and removed the antenna.

2. Passenger door

Kemper would jam the passenger door to trap in his hitchhiker victims. Once they got in, he would pretend that their door was not shut properly. He would reach over and slip an object, most often a Chapstick tube, into the locking mechanism, making it impossible to open the door from the inside.

3. Driver’s seat

Kemper stored his .22-calibre automatic pistol under his seat while driving. Police had paid him a visit a few weeks before his arrest to confiscate his .44-calibre magnum, which was stored in the trunk of the car, amid his crimes due to concerns about his previous detainment at Atascadero. Kemper feared at that moment he would be caught, but he wasn’t.

4. The “A” sticker

Kemper’s Ford Galaxie had an “A” sticker on the back bumper. Clarnell Strandberg, giving in to her son’s urging, finally got him that “A” parking sticker for his car, which she was able to do by paying a slight amount extra for her own parking permit. The same sticker system was used on other UC campuses, including Berkeley, which proved convenient for Kemper. Strictly speaking, stickers were for the use of employees or students who had legitimate need to park near the campus buildings.

5. Trunk of the car

Kemper used the trunk for hiding his victims’ bodies after he killed them. He murdered two of them in there: Anita Luchessa and Cindy Schall. He also decapitated several of his victims in the trunk, before bringing their bodies inside the house, where he would abuse and dismember them. He kept his victims’ severed heads in the trunk, sometimes for a few days, before disposing of them whenever he could.

Please note that the car shown in the picture is not Kemper’s actual car nor is it the right model. The car pictured here is a 1967 convertible Ford Galaxie 500. Kemper’s car was a 1969 Ford Galaxie 500 with a hardtop.

Sources: Real Crime Magazine #009 / L’Ogre de Santa Cruz (S. Bourgoin) / The Co-Ed Killer (M. Cheney)

Easter Lily for Mother

Neighbors said the young man [Ed Kemper], who had been collecting workmen’s compensation since an injury last year on a highway construction job, went to his mother’s Aptos apartment last Saturday carrying an Easter lily.

The lily was still blooming on a table when sheriff’s deputies entered the apartment Tuesday and found the nude bodies of the two women [Clarnell Strandberg and Sally Hallett] stuffed into a closet. Mrs. Strandberg had been decapitated and one hand chopped off.

Neighbors said Kemper quarrelled frequently with his mother [Strandberg] about whether she loved him. “You’re embarrassing me in front of my friends,” they quoted him as saying after she upbraided him for “laying around and drinking beer.”

From: Why: The Serial Killer In America by Margaret Cheney (1992, update of The Co-Ed Killer, 1976)

“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. 

Ed Kemper’s arrest on April 24, 1973 in Pueblo, Colorado

Officer Conner spoke up on the extension, “All right. Just tell me where you are and we’ll have someone come and pick you up.”

“Yeah,” said Kemper. “That’s what I want.”

At Officer Conner’s suggestion, he left the telephone booth, walked to the curb, and checked street signs not far from where his car was parked.

“I’ll be at Twenty-first Street and Norwood Avenue in Pueblo,” he said. “I’m driving a car I rented in Reno.”

Officer Conner spoke up. “Hey, Ed. While we’re talking to you, we’re going to have somebody come over.”

“Yeah,” said Edmund Kemper, “I wish to shit you would, really, ‘cause I have over 200 rounds of ammo in the trunk and three guns. I don’t even want to go near it.”

He (Kemper) wanted to get it all out now – the waiting was coming to an end. But suddenly he broke off. “The man’s here. Whew! He’s got a gun on me!”

“Let me talk to him,” said Officer Conner.

Excerpts from The Co-ed Killer by Margaret Cheney and drawings by David Jouvent from his upcoming graphic novel about Ed Kemper. 

“That’s one thing that amazes me about society…

 …That is, that you can do damn near anything and nobody’s gonna say anything or notice.” – Edmund Kemper

Kemper explained that this was early afternoon and that he could hear signs of a party going on upstairs. He simply carried the mutilated corpse (of Alice Liu), wrapped casually in a blanket, weighing almost nothing and feeling like a mannequin. “I just wandered right out there with her and put her in the trunk right under the window.”

Excerpt from The Co-ed Killer by Margaret Cheney.

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