Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Marj von Beroldingen (Page 1 of 2)

“I was trying to hurt society where it hurt the worst”

“It was all coeds and it would only be if they were a possible candidate for death, which would mean they were young, reasonably good-looking, not necessarily well-to-do, but say a better class of people than the scroungy, messy, dirty, smelly hippie-type girls I wasn’t at all interested in. I suppose they would have been more convenient, but that wasn’t my purpose.”

“My little social statement was I was trying to hurt society where it hurt the worst and that was by taking its valuable members or future members of the working society, that was the upper class or the upper middle class…”

“I was striking out at what was hurting me the worst, which was the area, I guess deep down, I wanted to fit into the most and I had never fit into and that was the group, the in-group.”

edmund kemper about picking up coeds as his urges to kill came not only from a strong sexual instinct but also a desire to strike back at society, according to his taped statements, played for jurors in his mass murder trial.

Source: “Kemper wanted to hurt society by taking its ‘valuable members'”, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von B, October 26, 1973

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

Ed Kemper and cigarettes

Someone recently asked me if Ed Kemper smokes. He did smoke when he was young, at the time of his arrest and trial, as seen in the enclosed pictures. I don’t know if he continued smoking during his incarceration at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, or if he still does now. With his health issues, I wouldn’t think so.

Edmund Kemper III, 24, enjoys a smoke as unidentified detective adjusts his handcuffs after Kemper appeared in Pueblo District court extradition hearing. Kemper is being held by police in connection with eight California murders. (Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Kemper’s smoking was mentioned by reporter Marj von B in her interview with him in November 1973 just after his conviction on eight counts of first-degree murder:

When dinner was over, I said I must go and, when he got up and proceeded toward the door, I said, “Do you think you could knock on the window and get the jailer to spring me, Ed?” 

He laughed and replied, “I’ll try.” 

He stood in the doorway, his hair brushing the top of the door jamb, watching me leave, as if he were graciously bidding a guest goodbye from his home. 

He said to a deputy, “Could I have some matches?” (I had been lighting his cigarettes all afternoon with my lighter.) 

The sergeant on duty at the desk said to the deputy, “He can’t have any matches, but light his cigarette for him.” Kemper looked at me and grinned like a teenager. “Yesterday,” he said, “I had matches, but isn’t it funny when you’re convicted, you immediately become combustible.” 

Edmund Kemper III from Aptos, California dwarfs escort officer en route to his cell a the Pueblo City jail after being questioned by officials about the unsolved murder of 6 co-ed’s. Police said Kemper admitted to killing his mother and a friend on a phone call to Santa Cruz police.

Source: Front Page Detective Magazine, March 1974, by Marj von Beroldingen

“Oh, what is it like to have sex with a dead body?”

“You haven’t asked the questions I expected a reporter to ask,” Kemper said to reporter Marj von B.

“What do you mean,” she replied. “Give me some examples.” 

He drawled, “Oh, what is it like to have sex with a dead body? … What does it feel like to sit on your living room couch and look over and see two decapitated girls’ heads on the arm of the couch?” (He interjected an unsolicited answer: “The first time, it makes you sick to your stomach.”) 

Source: Interview with Ed Kemper by Marj von Beroldingen, published in March 1974 in Front Page Detective Magazine / Image ©Bay Area TV Archive

1979 – Kemper won’t be paroled and that’s fine with him

[During his parole hearing in 1979] Ed Kemper was asked by board member Craig Brown why he got along well in Vacaville with the staff and his peers “and in the community you become violent?”

“Because when I am in a structured situation, I can get help when I need it,” Kemper replied. “But on the streets, I felt rather forgotten and sometimes I felt abandoned.”

The loquacious Kemper later expounded on his life in prison saying, “I was convinced when I came here, I would soon be dead. But the last six months have been the best of my life. I’ve learned to live with myself and with God. I believe I have an obligation to myself and the people around me.”

Source: Register-Pajaronian, May 2, 1979, excerpt from an article by Marj von B

“There’s nothing to worry about. Just wait.”

Kemper, who arrived at the courthouse with two guards this morning greeted the barrage of cameramen with a smile but his demeanor became more subdued as he sat in the courtroom when the parents of the murdered girls began to take the stand. He did not look at either of the fathers as they testified.

Gabriel Pesce of Camarillo was the first to testify. A man of medium height but solidly built, Pesce was the picture of controlled agony as he stood before the court clerk to be sworn in. He was asked by [DA Peter] Chang, “Did you have a daughter named Mary Anne Pesce?”

“Yes, I did,” said Pesce, and his eyes turned fastened on the giant young defender seated at the counsel table. Under questioning from Chang, Pesce said his daughter, though she weighed only about 100 pounds and was about five feet tall, had been an expert skier and aspired to try out for the Olympics. He said she was a good student and had been a trophy winner on her high school debating team.

He told of his efforts to file a missing persons’ report after her disappearance saying that in one instance, police told him, “There’s nothing to worry about. Just wait.”

Prior to the hearing this morning, Pesce told a reporter that he intended to listen to the testimony in the case because he thought it might help to “finalize” the loss of his daughter. He and his wife remained seated in the spectators’ section after he left the witness stand.

Source: Register-Pajaronian, October 23, 1973, by Marj von B

Reporter Marj Von B dies

August 30, 1980 – Marj Von B, the Register-Pajaronian crime reporter who covered the three most notorious mass murder cases in Santa Cruz County history, died Friday morning at Dominican Hospital. She was 54.

Miss Von B had been ill for several weeks. She entered the hospital last week after it was learned she had cancer, and her health failed rapidly.

Since 1970, she had covered the crime beat at the county courthouse in Santa Cruz for the Register-Pajaronian. During the period, Santa Cruz County was shaken by three mass-murder cases which for a time earned the county the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of the world.

Miss Von B covered the murders committed by and trials of the three killers: John Linley Frazier, who killed four members of the Victor Ohta family and Dr. Ohta’s secretary in October 1970; Herbert Mullin, who killed 13 people in random murders during late 1972 and early 1973; and Edmund Kemper, who killed eight women, including his mother, during the same period in which Mullin was active.

Born in Two Buttes, Colo., on Sept. 20, 1925, Miss Von B was educated in the Los Angeles area, where she was a reporter for news wire services and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. She served in the Navy’s WAVES during World War II.

Having moved to Ben Lomond, she was a reporter for the Valley Press in Felton for three-and-a-half years before joining the Register-Pajaronian’s news staff in April, 1970.

Miss Von B acquired her unusual name formally following her divorce from Linton von Beroldingen; she had it legally changed to the shorter version which she had used all along in newspaper bylines.

She was quietly married at home, at 360 Branciforte Drive, Santa Cruz, two weeks ago to Lyle Freckleton, whom she had known since childhood. A son and daughter by her first marriage are Linton A. and Priska von Beroldingen. A niece is Paula Amerine of Auburn.

There will be no funeral or memorial service; arrangements were handled by the Neptune Society. The family asked that friends wishing to pay their respects make donations to the American Cancer Society.

Source: Green Sheet – August 30, 1980

Kemper jury takes look at death car

Grim-faced jurors stare into trunk of Edmund Kemper’s car

Edmund Kemper’s car, in which six hitchhiking coeds were picked up and either stabbed, strangled or shot to death, was, in effect, “entered into evidence” today at his murder trial in Santa Cruz.

Just before the noon recess, Judge Harry F. Brauer, at the request of District Attorney Peter Chang, allowed Kemper jurors to leave the courtroom and examine the car, which was driven up and parked along the river levee walkway at the rear of the courthouse.

Kemper did not immediately join the group of persons from the trial, because he did not want to let his guard, sheriff deputy Bruce Colomy put handcuffs on him and a waist restraining chain before leaving the courthouse. Kemper has been allowed to appear in the courtroom, at Judge Brauer’s instruction, wearing only manacles around his ankles, with his hands left free. However, Colomy, as a security measure, insisted upon the additional restraint outside the courtroom, and Kemper finally relented.

As the jury was examining the car, Kemper, flanked by two guards, filed through the crowd of spectators.

Crowds of curious onlookers gathered on the courthouse steps in the morning sunshine as the young giant, dressed in his jail-provided orange jumpsuit, towered above the car in which he has admitted taking six human lives.

Earlier, expert witnesses for the prosecution had testified about the physical evidence found in the car, including a dried pool of human blood found in the back seat where one girl, Alice Liu, a UCSC coed, was shot to death and another, Mary Anne Pesce, a Fresno State coed was stabbed to death. Traces of blood were also found in the trunk where other coeds had been shot to death.

Source: Register-Pajaronian, October 26, 1973, by Marj Von B

Backseat of Kemper’s car

At first glance, the car looked generally clean inside and out. Investigation of Kemper’s car revealed blood stains in the back seat of the car and a dried puddle of blood underneath the back seat. A bullet was found embedded in the right-rear inside panel of the car. Kemper had murdered both Mary Anne Pesce and Alice Liu on the back seat.

Source: Register-Pajaronian, April 27, 1973, by Marj Von B

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