There is a lesson dedicated to Ed Kemper, “Learning From a Killer: The Kemper Tapes”, where Douglas shares never-before-heard clips with Ed Kemper, known as the “Coed Killer,” who murdered college students, along with his mother. Douglas’ interviews with Kemper set him on a path to understanding that all criminal minds exemplify three personality traits: manipulation, domination, and control. Douglas challenges you to identify these traits in people you know to avoid being manipulated.
From a 1973 interview with Susan Swanson, Ed Kemper’s oldest sister, where she recalled his mood in 1964, after their father left him with his parents at their ranch in the mountains in North Fork, California:
“So, after that school year, while he was fifteen, he came home to Montana for summer vacations. I spent time with him, I was living back in Helena then, I was still married – in fact, I was three weeks away from having my third child. We spent a lot of time together. He seemed, oh, I don’t know, he was… He could have fun, he could laugh, he could play and be silly and visit and stuff like that, but deep down he seemed awfully hurt. Like you know, it really sunk in that his dad didn’t want him and this still intensified his love for his father. He just kept reaching and grabbing for him. So, we took him fishing and all kinds of things and then he went back down to Madera and it was just, oh, a matter of a couple of weeks later that he killed his grandparents.”
Source: Murder Capital of the World, by Emerson Murray, 2021 https://www.emersonmurray.com/murder-capital-of-the-world / Photo: Pete Amos
Sara “Sally” Taylor Hallett was Ed Kemper’s last victim. She was Kemper’s mother’s best friend and a colleague of Clarnell’s at UCSC. Born on October 19, 1913 in Washington, Hallett had two sons, Edward and Christopher Hallett. Kemper murdered Hallett in his mother’s apartment on Easter weekend in 1973. She was 59 years old.
After killing and decapitating his mother, Clarnell Strandberg, early on the Saturday morning before Easter, Ed Kemper spent much of the day drinking. That evening, he telephoned his mother’s close friend, Sara Taylor Hallett, saying he wanted to surprise his mother and take her and Ms. Hallett to dinner that night.
Kemper prepared for Ms. Hallett’s murder by distributing weapons around the apartment but in the end, none of them would be necessary. Soon after the phone call, Ms. Hallett arrived: “I came up behind her and crooked my arm around her neck, like this,” Kemper said, bending his powerful arm in front of himself at chin level. “I squeezed and just lifted her off the floor. She just hung there and, for a moment, I didn’t realize she was dead … I had broken her neck and her head was just wobbling around with the bones of her neck disconnected in the skin sack of her neck.”
Later that night, Kemper attempted to have intercourse with Ms. Hallett’s body.
He fled the next day in her car.
Kemper said he had to kill a friend of his mother’s “as an excuse.” In other words, Kemper said he had to provide a reasonable story for friends of his mother’s to explain her absence. If she were away on a trip with a friend, Kemper reasoned, nobody would be concerned about her absence.
At his 2017 parole hearing, Kemper gave an alternate explanation as to why he murdered Sally Hallett. He said it was revenge for ruining his mother’s holiday. The two women were supposed to go to Europe together for four weeks, but Hallett backed out at the last minute. Clarnell went on the trip by herself. At some point, during the hearing, Kemper referred to Hallett as his mother’s “lover”, but: “When [my mother] got back, she tried sharing those vacation moments with Sally, and Sally got very loud with her and rude, and told her ‘I don’t want to hear about that. I didn’t even go on that vacation, why are you bringing this up?’ So, she – that cut off that release. So, here I am at the house having heard this from my mother and she’s frustrated and I said ‘I’d like to know, I’d like you to share with me.’ So, she went and got all of her travel logs and the papers and stuff from the places that she went and she started systematically sharing this stuff with me, and then all of a sudden, she stops and she looks at me in this strange way, and she said, ‘I’m not gonna let you pity me.’ And she just walked away from the whole thing. And I said, ‘Hey, I wanted to hear this stuff…’
“I had told myself that if my mother ever dies over this stuff that I did, [Hallett]’s going with her. That’s one trip she’s not gonna miss. She’s not gonna back off on that one… I swore an oath to it. I was angry at the time… I haven’t sworn many oaths in my life and everyone that I have sworn I followed through with.”
Sources: “The Co-ed Killer” by Margaret Cheney, 1976 / “Gruesome Details on Tape at Trial”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 25th, 1973 / “Coed Sex Murders Detailed by Chang”, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von Beroldingen, October 23rd, 1973 / Front Page Detective Magazine, by Marj von Beroldingen, March 1974 / Ed Kemper’s 2017 Parole hearing
The following is from a taped interview between suspect Edmund Emil Kemper III and Investigator Michael Aluffi, held at the Santa Cruz Jail on April 28, 1973.
Aluffi: This interview will be based around the incidents that occurred at your home last Saturday [April 21, 1973]. Is there anything that you want to tell me that led up to this incident?
Kemper: Not really.
Aluffi: Well, let’s start with the reason for it.
Kemper: That’s rather involved. The reason for it is these murders were coming to a head I felt, that I was going to be caught pretty soon for the killing of these girls, or I was going to blow up and do something very open and get myself caught, and so I did not want my mother… A long time ago I had thought about what I was going to do in the event of being caught for the crimes and the only choices I seen open is being that I could just accept it and go to jail and let my mother carry the load, and let the whole thing fall in her hands like happened last time with my grand-parents. Or, I could take her life. Well, I guess that leaves me two choices, I could either do it in the open with her knowing what was happening or I could do it when she didn’t know what was happening. Last Friday night, whatever date that was, I had decided it was the night before the killing, or the day before the killing really, I had been thinking about it for quite a while and I just started working myself up towards the act of killing her. I guess that answers the reason.
Aluffi: All right, you want to get into the actual crime?
Kemper: OK. I got home Friday night, or I got back to her home from Alameda, where I’d been working early Friday in the afternoon and I sat around the house and took care of a few business problems, you know, calling and making a couple phone calls that were unrelated to the problem, and I called my mother at work and let her know I was in town and she told me that she was going out to a dinner, some faculty dinner or something, and she’d be home late. So, I sat around and drank some beer, watched television, stayed up as late as I could and I had wished to talk to her really, before anything had happened. It was my hopes that she would go on good terms and this was impossible because, well I guess it would be good terms because we hadn’t really argued or anything when we talked on the phone. I went to bed about midnight I guess and I woke up a couple hours later. Well, let me see, that doesn’t work out right. I think I went to bed around two and she still wasn’t home and I went to bed and went to sleep. I woke up a couple hours later, around four, and she had already come home, done whatever she does when she gets home late at night and had retired for the evening. This was after I had gone to bed around 2:00 AM Saturday morning. She was in bed, reading a book and I woke up about four o’clock in the morning, two hours after I went to sleep roughly. The lights were pretty much out in the house. I didn’t see any lights on. I hadn’t heard anything and I thought, gee, it’s four o’clock and she’s still not home. So, I got up and I walked out of my bedroom, noticed her small light was on and walked into her bedroom, just as she had taken off her glasses and turned the light off. Without her turning it back on, she commented that uh, I said oh, you’re home, and she says, you’re up, what are you doing up? I said well, I just wanted to see if you were home. I hadn’t heard anything. She said, oh I suppose you want to talk. This has happened several times before, when she’d come in late and I wanted to talk and we’d talk and then she’d go to sleep. She didn’t say it in an abusive manner, it was more or less just jive and I said no. She said well, we’ll talk in the morning. I said fine, good night. She left the light out and I walked out of the room and back to my bedroom, layed down and decided at that point, I was going to wait another hour or so, until she was asleep before it happened.
Kemper: I looked at my watch. It was about a quarter after four, something like that, and I layed there in bed thinking about it and it’s something hard to just up and do. It was the most insane of reasons for going and killing your mother. But I was pretty fixed on that issue because there were a lot of things involved. Someone just standing off on the side, watching something like that isn’t really going to see any kind of sense or rhyme or reason to anything. I had done some things and I felt that I had to carry the full weight of everything that happened. I certainly wanted for my mother a nice quiet, easy death like I guess everyone wants. The only way I saw this possible was for it to be in bed, while she was asleep. The next thing was to decide how to do it. The only possible answer to that I saw was to take a hammer and hit her with it, in her sleep, and then to cut her throat. So, I waited till about 5:15 AM, I went into the kitchen and got a hammer. We have a regular claw hammer at home, picked up my pocket knife, the same one I’d used to kill Mary Anne Pesce with, opened it up, and I carried that in my right hand and the hammer in my left, walked into the bedroom very quietly.
Kemper: She had been sound asleep. She moved around a little bit and I thought maybe she was waking up. I just waited and waited and she was just laying there. So, I approached her right side, to my right on the right side of the bed, on her side. I stood there for a couple of minutes and spent most of that day, and most of that week I suppose and most of that night, trying to get myself I guess you’d say hopped up to do something like that, thinking nothing but reasons to do it and the need to do it, trying to keep everything else out of my mind. I stood by her side for a couple of minutes I suppose and about 5:15 I struck and I hit her just above the temple on her right side of the head, the side that was up from the pillow. It was above and behind her temple on the right side of her head. I struck with a very hard blow and I believe I dropped the hammer, or I layed it down or something. Immediately after striking that blow, I looked for a reaction, and there really wasn’t one, blood started running down her face from the wound, and she was still breathing, I could hear the breathing and I heard blood running into her, I guess it was her windpipe. It was obvious I had done severe damage to her, because in other cases where I had shot people in the head, I heard the same, or it had the same effect, blood running into the breathing passages, and this all happened in a few moments.
Kemper: But after I struck, I moved her over in the bed on her back and with my right hand holding her chin up, I slashed her throat. She bled profusely all over and I guess it was an afterthought, I hadn’t really thought of it, but her being my mother, and me out doing those other things, and I knew right off if I had torn everything out in the open, and my plan which I didn’t mention earlier, had been to just, well everything’s getting to an end and I could either kill her and turn myself in or I could kill her and head out with everything I had, my arsenal. This was my choice at that time. So, I decided at that time, it’s a hell of a cliché to use, but I guess what was good for my victims was good for my mother. So, after I slashed her throat, I went ahead and slashed the rest of the way around her neck and took off her head, and I guess half as much of that was to make absolutely sure in my own mind that she was dead instantly and right then, so the whole attack took maybe, less than half a minute, possibly even as little as 20 seconds…
Sources: Ed Kemper’s official jailhouse confessions in April 1973 / Images from David Jouvent’s graphic novel Ed Kemper – Dans la peau d’un serial killer, 2020
“I said, ‘It’s not going to happen to anymore girls. It’s gotta stay between me and my mother.’ … I said, ‘She’s gotta die, and I’ve gotta die, or girls are gonna die.’ And that’s when I decided, ‘I’m going to murder my mother.’ … I knew a week before she died I was going to kill her.”
Kemper explained in a 1984 interview that, by April 1973, he wanted to end the life of the person who he believed fueled his violent, murderous rage — Kemper’s abusive, alcoholic mother, Clarnell Strandberg, after having murdered six female students from various colleges and universities scattered along the coast of Northern California.
Source: Documentary Murder: No Apparent Motive (1984)
“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
– A parole date was denied on June 15, 1988 for serial killer Edmund Kemper,
even though a prison psychiatric evaluation termed Kemper suitable for release.
40, is serving a life sentence at the California Medical Facility for murdering
eight women, including his mother, in 1972-73. The law at the time provided for
the possibility of parole on life sentences.
three-member panel from the Board of Prison Terms rejected the psychiatric
evaluation by Dr. Jack Fleming. Board member David Brown said Kemper poses an
unreasonable risk to society.
told Kemper his crimes “shock the public conscience.”
an almost three-hour hearing, Kemper told the panel he did not practice
cannibalism or perform sex acts on his victims when they were dead or dying. He
said he made those confessions to police when he was tired and confused.
did acknowledge that he beheaded seven of his victims, including his mother,
Clarnell Strandberg, because of a childhood fascination with decapitation. And,
he put his mother’s head on a mantle and threw darts at it.
buried the head of one of his young victims in the backyard of the house he
shared with his mother in Seacliff. He pointed the face toward his bedroom,
according to testimony at his trial in 1973.
appeared surprised during the hearing by a letter written by a cousin, Patricia
Kemper, urging the panel deny Kemper a parole date. Kemper said he had not
known of such a letter.
the letter, the woman said that as a child, Kemper mutilated the family cat.
And, she said she watched him one day wait for hours with a rifle over a
squirrel’s hole to blow its head off when it peeked out. He went on to kill his
grandparents and then the seven women and his mother, she wrote.
said Kemper was and still is a deeply disturbed person who will kill again if
he’s ever released.
Attorney Art Danner said he was shocked, but not surprised by the latest
psychiatric evaluation of Kemper. Danner said Fleming’s report “flies in the
face of everything known about Kemper.”
told the parole board Kemper’s greatest danger is that he may some day con his
way back out on the street.
pointed out that Kemper had led psychiatrists and psychologists to believe he
was no threat after a five-year commitment for killing his grandparents.
Kemper testified that he was shocked in the 1970s when two doctors would rule
him sane and no danger to society, even after he had begun killing again.
explained that he was sent to be interviewed by two doctors in Merced County in
1972 when he was seeking to have his conviction for killing his grandparents
sealed from public view.
meeting with the first psychiatrist, Kemper said, he went out and got drunk. “He
thought I was Mr. Wonderful or something,” Kemper said. He knew after the first
interview that he would be judged sane.
said he went to the second interview, later in the day, “blasted off my tail on
beer,” but the doctor didn’t notice.
two psychiatrists wrote that Kemper posed no danger to himself or others.
hadn’t told them he had already begun killing again, just two days before and
had driven to his interviews with a woman’s head in the trunk of the car.
told the parole board he picked up more than 1,000 hitchhikers during his
year-long murder spree. He did not say why he selected the victims he did,
other than say the selection was random.
said he only murdered the women hitchhikers because the women in his life,
especially his mother, had caused his only grief.
talked at length about his mother and drunken fights he said they had after his
release from custody after killing his grandparents.
said he returned from the California Youth Authority at age 20 with great hope
for the future. He said his mother fought him every step of the way. “She was 6
feet tall and 220 pounds at the time of her death,” Kemper said, adding, “she
was not intimidated by anybody.”
said he can’t simply explain why he murdered his mother to spare her from
finding out that he was responsible for all the co-ed killings in Santa Cruz.
was love and there was hate,” Kemper said of his relationship with his mother.
didn’t want to put her through what I created,” he said. And even though he
said she helped create what he was, “she was a victim and not a perpetrator.”
fled Santa Cruz County after killing his mother. He said he drove for four days,
listening to the radio for news that police had a break in the case.
said he had three guns and a knife in the car. “When I heard on the news there
was a break in the case it would mean in a few hours I’d be dead,” Kemper
said he planned to stop the car as soon as he heard the bulletin. “I was going
to get my weapons and go to high ground and attack authorities when they came
for me,” Kemper said.
said he believed at the time that he would have to be killed or he would keep
it turns out, a showdown never happened. The bodies of his mother and her
friend had not been found, and a panicked Kemper finally telephoned Santa Cruz
police from Pueblo, Colorado, and confessed. Police there arrested him at a
last appearance before the parole board was in 1982. At the time, he had lost weight
and looked noticeably different that at the time of his trial.
he appeared to look more like the 6-foot-9, 280-pound giant of a man Santa Cruz
1985, Kemper waived his right for a hearing, saying he was unsuitable for
release. He did not say that this time, but did concede he does not expect to be
released from prison anytime soon.
His next parole consideration will be in 1991.
Source: “Kemper parole denied – Psychiatrist says killer suitable for release”, by Mark Bergstrom, Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 16, 1988
Early in September 1972, Ed Kemper’s urges start up again, the effect of his previous victims’ photos having faded. He gets back into hunt mode. On September 14, he is driving along University Avenue in Berkeley when he sees this eastern girl hitchhiking near a bus stop. Aiko Koo is just fifteen years old and she is heading to a dance class in San Francisco. She seems older than her fifteen years and is anxiously waiting for a bus that is not coming; she is afraid of being late for her class. For her, dancing is something very serious, a vocation. Her Lithuanian mother, who lives modestly, deprives herself in order to pay for lessons for her daughter, who has already performed professionally, both in classical ballet and in traditional Korean styles. Aiko never knew her Korean father who abandoned them before she was born. Her mother works at the University of California Library.
Aiko is not used to hitchhiking and she doesn’t hesitate for a second to board the Ford Galaxie and sit in the front seat, next to the imposing driver. As for Mary Anne Pesce and Anita Luchessa, Kemper takes advantage of the complicated system of highway interchanges to disorient his passenger, before heading south along the coastal highway. When she realizes Kemper’s maneuvers, Aiko starts to scream and beg. He takes out a new model of firearm, a .357 Magnum, which he borrowed again from a friend, and presses the barrel in the teenager’s ribs. Kemper, who is left-handed, drives with this hand and uses the other to threaten Aiko with his weapon. He tries to calm her by swearing that he doesn’t want to harm her; in fact, he explains, he wants to kill himself and he’s just looking for someone to talk to. He leaves the highway for small mountain roads that he knows very well and drives on Bonny Doon Road, near Santa Cruz. He somehow manages to convince her to be tied and gagged.
“I just want a quiet place where we can tie you up and then we’ll go to my place,” he says. He turns off on Smith Grade Road, going slowly until he finds a turnoff where he can get away behind a tree, sheltered from the road and any traffic. He shuts off the lights and then the engine. He shoves the gun back under the front seat.
“There’s a roll of medical tape in my glove compartment. Hand it to me,” he says. She complies, handing him the small cardboard box. His hands shake as he tries to find the end of the roll.
“Now who’s nervous?” she says, laughing. He tears off a big chunk and holds it up. “My mouth’s not that big,” she says, so he tears off part of it and throws it aside before placing a patch over her mouth. “Move your jaws. See if you can loosen it,” he says, noting that it did not come unstuck. He presses the tape again to make certain.
“Hop in the back seat,” he instructs. She flips her leg up and rolls over the back of the seat and sits awaiting his next command. He pulls the rest of the tape off his fingers and gets out of the car and walks around to the passenger side. The door is locked.
He remembers the gun still under the front seat. She has him locked out and that gun within easy reach. He is dead. He begins frantically fishing in his pocket for his keys. Damn. Where are they?
The girl peers out at him through the window, shakes her head knowingly and reaches up and unlocks the door for him. He smiles weakly and flips the seat back forward and sits on it a moment.
She starts to resist when Kemper throws himself on her with all his weight, covering her mouth and nose with his hand. Aiko struggles with the energy of desperation, she even manages to grab his testicles, but he is too strong. He ends up strangling her before releasing his grip. To his surprise, Aiko is not dead and continues to fight. This time, he makes sure that she loses consciousness completely. Kemper takes her out of the car to rape her: “It didn’t take more than fifteen or twenty seconds before I had an orgasm.” He strangles her again with a scarf. The body is wrapped in a sheet and then stored in the trunk. Further down on Bonny Doon Road, he spots a small bar where he stops to drink two or three beers. Before entering the bar, he opens the trunk to examine Aiko Koo. He does it again after leaving the bar: “Both to check that she was really dead and also to savor my triumph, to admire my work and her beauty, a little like a fisherman happy with his catch.”
“First, I try to suffocate Aiko Koo by pinching her nostrils, but she struggles violently. I think I’ve managed to do it when she regains consciousness and realizes what’s going on. She panics. Finally, I strangle her with her neck warmer. After the murder, I’m exhausted, I’m hot and very thirsty. I stop at a bar to drink a few beers, while the body is still in the trunk of my car. I almost got caught by neighbors when I carried the corpse to my apartment. Dismembering the body required a meticulous job with a knife and an ax. It took me about four hours of work. Slicing limbs, getting rid of the blood, completely washing the bathtub and the bathroom.”
“I kill her on a Thursday night. The next morning, I call in sick at work. I dismember her body. On Friday night, I get rid of the corpse, keeping the head and hands, which are easily identifiable. Saturday morning, I leave home taking them with me. I’m looking for a safe place to bury them. It’s not easy to get rid of these things.” (This statement is crucial. Kemper doesn’t even realize what he just said. “It’s not easy to get rid of these things.” He talks about human beings by depersonalizing them. For him, and for the vast majority of serial killers, the victim is only an object. He has no remorse. Killing, maiming, cutting up a woman is a “normal” thing for Kemper.) Many times, I came close to getting caught burying bodies, and if a corpse is discovered, the witnesses can remember a car parked nearby. Saturday morning, I visit my psychiatrist in Fresno, and in the afternoon, I see the other one. Saturday night, I’m with my fiancee and her family in Turlock, and Sunday night I return home.”
After leaving the bar where he quenched his thirst, Kemper visited his mother at her home in Aptos to test himself and to enjoy the feeling of power he felt: “I talked to her for half an hour of things and stuff, just to pass the time, and to tell her what I had done in San Francisco. I wanted to see if she suspected anything by my facial expressions, involuntary gestures or words that would have escaped me. She suspected nothing and didn’t ask me any questions.” When he left, Kemper looked for the third time at Aiko Koo’s body in the trunk of the Ford Galaxy. “It was around 9:30 pm and I knew she was dead. I just wanted to touch her body to see which parts were still warm, and also just out of curiosity.”
It is 11 pm when he arrives at his apartment in Alameda. He drops Aiko’s body on his bed and searches her bag to get an idea of the life to which he has just put an end. He is disturbed by the fact that Aiko Koo doesn’t belong to this caste of “rich and haughty” California girls, which he claims to be attacking. To make sure of this, some time later, he drives past her modest family home. His disappointment is mitigated when he learns with surprise that Aiko Koo belongs to a family that has ancestry in the nobility. A little later in the night, he dissects her corpse. As Kemper says in his statements, he later goes to two Fresno psychiatrists to try to have his criminal record cleared, if he succeeds in passing the tests. Along the way, he throws pieces of Aiko Koo’s corpse into the mountains of Santa Cruz and, a little further away, her hands disappear into the wild. But he keeps her head in the trunk of his car. It’s still there when he shows up to his appointments with the two psychiatrists. The very idea excites him a lot, to the point that he opens the trunk to look at her head just before his appointments.
“The media made a big case about the stories of chopped heads in the trunk of my car. This happened to me only once, and even if I wanted to, it wasn’t possible. You know why? It was almost forty degrees in the valley, a real furnace and my car is not air-conditioned. I won’t ride with a severed head that will stink. As soon as I park, all the dogs and cats from the neighborhood will come to sniff my trunk. That day I took it with me because the owner of my apartment is always looking for trouble. So, when I leave for two or three days to stay at my mother’s or a friend’s house, what can I do? I can’t help but think she’s going to show up at my place to see if I don’t have any hash hiding somewhere. She’s going to open the fridge to see what’s in this paper bag, and come face to face with this severed head! (Kemper laughs.) But she’s not going to think of poking behind this large armchair in one of the corners of the living room, where I hide it for two days. Of course, I would have preferred to store it in the fridge to avoid bad smells. The kraft paper bag is hermetically sealed. Nobody found anything. Sunday night, it (the head) is already ripe. That same evening, my former probation officer comes to pay me a visit and the head is just behind him. (He hesitates a long time before speaking.) I did eat part of my third victim. I had cut pieces of flesh that I put in the freezer. Twenty-four hours after having dissected it, I cooked the flesh in a pan of macaroni with onions and cheese, like a carrion. A vulture or a bear. You know black blood? It’s non-oxygenated blood, we see it for a moment before it comes into contact with the air. After, the blood turns red. When in the body, the blood is black like tar. I ate a piece of leg that I had soaked in black blood for almost a day. And why did I do that? Having hunted animals in Montana, I was just pursuing an experiment in cannibalism. When you were a child, I’m sure you asked yourself this question: how would I react on a desert island, with three other people and without any food? If one of us is sick? All these come from stories of the Second World War. I had heard about it from former Marines. And then, in a way, I own my victim once again by eating her.”
Sources: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz by Stéphane Bourgoin, 1998, and Sacrifice Unto Me by Don West, 1974 / Thanks to MIEP for the photo of Aiko Koo
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
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
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
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
Hopkins said Kemper’s crimes were “especially heinous and atrocious” and
they were committed in a “dispassionate and calculated manner, with no real
“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
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
New information unveiled in the Kemper case in the book The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime by authors Michael H. Stone MD and Gary Brucato PhD, published earlier in 2019.
According to a source close to the 1973 investigation, Kemper did not use his mother’s head as a dartboard, after he murdered and decapitated her. Instead, he apparently used her genitals.
The authors are currently writing a new book, which will feature a full chapter about the Kemper case. No release date announced yet.
Thanks to the authors who informed us about this finding.