Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Mary Anne Pesce (Page 1 of 2)

Slain Torrance girl praised

A Torrance girl who wanted to change the world lies dead while Santa Cruz law officials wonder whether her killer is a man already charged with 10 murders [Herbert Mullin] or is still at large and unknown.

Alice Helen Liu, 21, had been reported missing Feb. 5. A week ago, authorities advised her parents that one of two bodies found at Santa Cruz might be that of their daughter. The possibility became stark fact Tuesday when Mr. and Mrs. James C. Liu were formally notified that dental X-rays and other evidence had confirmed the identification.

A car parked in the driveway of the Liu home at 22714 Fonthill St. still bears the UCI decal of Alice’s freshman year at the University of California at Irvine. Two years ago she had transferred to the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she was a junior.

“Originally she wanted to be a teacher but more recently she became interested in Oriental studies,” her father said Wednesday in a voice that fought to control his emotions.

James Liu never mentioned his daughter by name during the five-minute interview. The name would have caught in his throat.

Other names were avoided for another reason: to protect friends and relatives from prying reporters.

The records at Torrance High School, from which she graduated in 1969, show she was an active girl with wide-ranging interests. She was a member of the Future Teachers Club, served as treasurer of the California Scholarship Federation, was an officer in the Creative Writing Club, French Club and Interclub Council, and a member of the Tartar Ladies service organization.

Principal Harold Klonecky recalled her as a vibrant girl, who had appeared in the senior play and in modern dance recitals on behalf of the Youth for Nixon organization during the 1968 Presidential campaign.

“Alice was probably a sophomore when she was involved in the Indian project,” Klonecky said. “We brought a number of Papago Indian students here to Torrance High and she escorted them around. After they left she was active in collecting clothing and other items to send to them.”

In Alice’s high school file is this paragraph she wrote as part of a standard form for scholarship counselling:

“I want to change the world through government. I want to be involved with the core of people, and I can do both by being a political science teacher.”

Torrance City Councilman James Armstrong, a political science teacher at Torrance High, remembers her for those very reasons.

Armstrong said that the Torrance High political science teachers assign upper-classmen to become involved in the campaign of their choice as a class project during election years. He had these observations of her work in the 1968 campaign:

“She was interested in people, cared about all kinds of people. She understood about coming from a good home like hers and going to a good school and the difference it makes for those who don’t have the same advantages.”

“A death in these circumstances would be tragic enough with anyone,” he finished, “but with Alice you feel a real sense of loss and of waste.”

As a thousand University of California students listened in silence at UC’s open air amphitheater in Santa Cruz, Robert Edgar, provost of one of the colleges eulogized Miss Liu: “She was bright and lively. Like a bird, she was full of song. Struck down. I’m full of sorrow.”

Classes were canceled at Santa Cruz for the memorial convocation for Miss Liu and another coed found slain [Rosalind Thorpe].

Alice was last seen alive Feb. 5 in the college library. A week later her decapitated body and that of Rosalind Thorpe, 23, of Carmel were found near Castro Valley, a semirural area southeast of Oakland.

Santa Cruz authorities, continuing their marathon probe of the area’s 15 murders, are studying possible relationships between their deaths and those of two other coeds, Mary Anne Pesce, 19, and Cynthia Ann Schall, 19, and the disappearance of another girl, Anita Luchessa, 18. Pesce’s head was found on Loma Preita Mountain near Santa Cruz last August but her body has not been recovered. Parts of Miss Schall’s body were carried ashore by the tide near Santa Cruz and Monterey in January.

Miss Luchessa, a friend of the Pesce girl, has disappeared and is feared dead, but no traces of her have been found.

Meanwhile 10 murder indictments are being sought by Santa Cruz County District Attorney Peter Chang against Herbert W. Mullin, 25, of Felton. Mullin had already been arraigned on six counts and was in custody when four more bodies slain with the same two guns were discovered Saturday.

His fingerprints also were found in the confessional booth of a Catholic priest who was stabbed to death in Los Gatos, but no charges have been brought against him in that case.

Investigators have reported no links between Mullin and the four dead coeds, but are still examining that possibility.

Source: Slain Torrance girl praised; Santa Cruz probe continues, Independent, by Bob Andrew, Staff Writer, February 22, 1973

“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

Kemper conducts tour of graves

Edmund Emil Kemper III, a young giant who has confessed killing eight women, arrived home in Santa Cruz yesterday and immediately started taking investigators on a tour of grave sites.

Mass slayer Kemper led deputies with pinpoint accuracy to four remote sites where parts of bodies were recovered soon after he returned yesterday in custody from arrest at Pueblo, Colorado. Without the slightest hesitation, the hulking 280-pound, 6-foot-9 Kemper led officers along, off Summit Road, to a shallow grave, to the Lorna Prieta Mountain area, on Rodeo Gulch Road near Mountain View Road, and just above Boulder Creek. All four sites are within a 10-mile radius of Santa Cruz.

Officers said Kemper knew exactly where he was going yesterday. They didn’t have to look even an inch to one side of where Kemper directed them to dig. Kemper reportedly told deputies he knows the names of only five of the six victims. Since six have been found, there was speculation that one of those recovered might be Aiko Koo.

Driven from Pueblo, Colorado, where he was arrested Tuesday while confessing in a telephone booth to California authorities, he found 20 law enforcement officers waiting at the county line.

At the sight of all those police and their cars, a deputy said Kemper “just came unglued.”

“This is no circus to me, man,” Kemper said. “Get me the hell out of here.”

Kemper was transferred to a station wagon with four officers and proceeded to sites where bodies or parts of bodies could be found. Several of the victims had been carefully cut in parts or decapitated.

The first remains to be uncovered were believed those of Mary Anne Pesce, 18, Fresno, California, student, who disappeared last May. Her skull was discovered in a wooded area last August and Kemper indicated a point several miles away along the same mountain ridge where the torso lay in a shallow grave.

Anita Luchessa, 18, also of Fresno, was hitchhiking with Miss Pesce and the pair disappeared together. Kemper led the investigators to a ravine where he said he dumped her body. A pelvic bone was found, and a spokesman said animals might have carried off the rest of the body.

Kemper then showed the law enforcement officers a wooded area where he said he left parts of the body of Aiko Koo, 15, Berkeley, California. She disappeared September 15 on her way to a ballet lesson.

A handless arm was found, as well as a green plastic bag that had been ripped open. Kemper said he also left parts of Miss Koo’s body in another wooded area where investigators found pelvic bones and a rib cage.

Three months after Miss Pesce and Miss Luchessa disappeared, Kemper was found “normal” in an examination by two psychiatrists that led to a court order sealing his juvenile records.

Kemper spent five years in the Atascadero State Mental Hospital following his murders in 1964 of his grandparents at the age of 15. He was declared sane by the hospital, turned over to the California Youth Authority and eventually released.

From information given in the Tuesday phone call, Santa Cruz police found the nude and decapitated body of his mother, Mrs. Clarnell Strandberg, 52, in her apartment, and the body of a visitor, Sara Taylor Hallett, 59. Apparently, they were killed April 21.

Sources: The Press Democrat Sun, April 29, 1973 / San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, April 29, 1973

“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

“There was just almost a reverence there.”

On May 7, 1972, Ed Kemper struck. He picked up two college girls, Mary Anne Pesce and Anita Luchessa, hitchhiking on a freeway ramp. Knowing the area well, Kemper managed to drive around without them realizing that he had changed directions from where they wanted to go. “I asked them a few questions and determined to my satisfaction that they were not familiar with the area,” he began. “I didn’t really make much of an effort to deceive them because they were terribly naive.”

He then stopped his car in a remote area he was familiar with from his work with the highway department. Kemper first handcuffed Pesce in the backseat of the car. He later confessed, “I was really quite struck by her personality and her looks, and there was just almost a reverence there. I think once I accidentally—this bothers me too, personally—I brushed, I think the back of my hand when I was handcuffing her, against one of her breasts, and it embarrassed me. I even said, ‘whoops, I’m sorry’ or something like that.”

Kemper then took Luchessa out of the car and locked her in the trunk. Within thirty seconds of apologizing to Pesce for accidentally brushing against her breast, he threw a plastic bag over her head and wrapped a bathrobe belt around her neck. But as he pulled on the belt, it snapped; meanwhile Pesce had bitten through the plastic bag. Kemper then drew his knife and began to stab Pesce in the back, but the blows did not seem to have any effect and she began to twist around, facing Kemper. “I stabbed her all over her back, she turned around and I stabbed her on the side and the stomach once. As she turned around I could of stabbed her through the heart, but her breasts were there. Her breasts actually deflected me. I couldn’t see myself stabbing a young woman in her breasts. That’s embarrassing.”

He then grabbed Pesce by the chin, pulled back her head, and slit her throat.

Kemper then went to the back of the car, opened the trunk, pulled Luchessa out, and began to stab her repeatedly in the throat, eyes, heart, and forearms. He recalled being surprised by how many heavy blows she took before losing consciousness.

Once the women were dead, he drove their corpses back to his apartment and carried them inside. In his apartment he dissected their bodies, handled their various internal organs, snapped Polaroid photographs of them, and cut their heads off. Kemper confessed, “I remember there was actually a sexual thrill. You hear that little ‘pop’ and pull their heads off and hold their heads up by the hair. Whipping their heads off, their body sitting there. That’d get me off!” But Kemper insisted, “There was absolutely no contact with improper areas.”

Kemper said, “I would sit there looking at the heads on an overstuffed chair, tripping on them on my bed, looking at them [when] one of them somehow becomes unsettled, comes rolling down the chair, very grisly. Tumbling down the chair, rolls across the cushion and hits the rug—‘bonk.’ The neighbor downstairs hates my guts. I’m always making noise late at night. He gets a broom and whacks on the ceiling. ‘Buddy,’ I say, ‘I’m sorry for that, dropped my head, sorry.’ That helped bring me out of the depression. I would trip on that.”

Afterward Kemper put what remained of the two women into plastic bags and buried them in the Santa Cruz hills, their torsos and limbs in one location, their hands in another, disguising the burial ground using techniques he had learned in the Boy Scouts. He kept the heads a few days longer before throwing them into a ravine. Kemper also visited the grave of one of the coeds, Mary Anne Pesce, because he wanted to be near her and talk to her. “I loved her and I wanted her,” he said. “I heard one news comment that she was a Camarillo girl, so I went down to Los Angeles (after the slaying) and checked out Camarillo and only found one Pesce in the phone hook and that was a Gabriel Pesce. So I went up by that neighborhood, in fact right by the house.”

Kemper said, “I didn’t even touch her [Pesce] too much after that, that is, other than to get rid of physical evidence such as clothing and later the body.” Kemper indicated the murders of Miss Pesce and Miss Luchessa weighed heavily on him. He said, “the whole experience is the most inlaid in my mind, imprinted and actually, you might say, it had a very strong influence on the fact I did continue doing these things.”

“I think, personally, deep down, that I continued to do these things to try to get that out of my mind, to cover it up… other young ladies, trying to get them out.”

“I think possibly because of the way they died (Kemper stabbed them to death) and I had been very struck by Mary Anne Pesce and I had never really taken a chance on getting to know her at all, forcibly, I mean, getting to know her, not so much by rape but even talking with her. I’ve had a lot of dreams about that and been very depressed about it.”

Kemper said that just before he began killing, his fantasies of making love to women became dissatisfying because he came to believe he could never realize them. If he killed them, then they would not reject him as a man, he explained. He characterized his crimes as “making dolls” out of human beings.

Sources: “Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters”, by Peter Vronksy, Berkley, 2004; “Kemper under questioning tells why!,” Register-Pajaronian, October 25, 1973, by Marj von B; “Gruesome Details on Tape at Trial”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 25th, 1973

Obituaries: Memorial Church Services for Mary Anne Pesce

Memorial services will be held at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Camarillo Saturday for Mary Anne Pesce, 19, who died sometime this summer in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The services will be at 3 p.m. The church is located on Las Posas Road. The Rev. Alfred Smith and Msgr. John Hughes will officiate.

Miss Pesce was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel Pesce of Buellton. Mr. Pesce is vice-president of Ventura International Inc., and was responsible for the design and construction, and is now manager of Flying Flags Camper Park in Buellton.

Miss Pesce, a student at San Francisco State, disappeared May 7 with a friend, Anita Luchessa, while the two were hitchhiking from the university to Menlo Park. Remains of her body were found last month in a remote area of the Santa Cruz Mountains by a hunter. Miss Luchessa has never been found.

She is survived by her parents; by two brothers, Vincent and Mark, and two sisters, Laurie and Barbara.

The family has asked that donations in her memory be made to the American Association of University Women, or Rio Mesa High School Scholarship Funds.

Source: Santa Ynez Valley News, October 5, 1972

“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

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