June 28, 2002 – Santa Cruz’s deadliest serial killer will be in prison for at least another five years.
Emil Kemper, 54, has been in prison since 1973, when he was convicted of
savagely killing, decapitating and dismembering six UC Santa Cruz students, his
mother and his mother’s friend in 1972 and 1973.
was set to face the state parole board Wednesday. But earlier this week, he
waived his right to the hearing, and agreed not to seek parole again until at
least 2007, according to Denise Schmidt, spokeswoman for the state Board of
agreement came as a surprise to county prosecutor Ariadne Symons. She said
Kemper had indicated he would attend the parole hearing at the California
Medical Facility in Vacaville, and Symons was prepared to go – and to argue that
he must remain behind bars.
wrote in a letter to the parole board that she does not think Kemper is at all
reformed, and that he remains a threat to society.
Kemper does not like to be referred to as a ‘monster,’” Symons wrote. “However,
the term is apt, even though it is woefully inadequate. Mere words cannot convey
the horror of what he did.”
will be 59 when he becomes eligible for parole again.
says that no matter when Kemper comes up for parole, he should not be released.
her letter to the parole board, Symons wrote:
“In an interview at the time of his arrest, Kemper stated ‘I certainly wouldn’t trust me in society again.’ Let us give weight to those words.”
Source: “Kemper waives parole hearing”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Jason Schultz, June 28, 2002 / Artwork: unknown artist (please let us know if you know who it is, we will add credit)
13, 1997 – Vacaville – No one thinks Edmund Kemper, an Aptos serial killer who haunted
Santa Cruz in the early 1970s, should be paroled – including Kemper.
49, refused to attend his parole hearing Thursday but he directed his appointed
attorney to read a short statement. “The severity of my commitment offenses, I
believe, preclude my release at this time,” read Marcia Hurst.
three-member panel from the state Board of Prison Terms agreed with Kemper,
saying he remains a threat to society.
Kemper terrorized Northern California,” said Commissioner Carol Bentley at the
California Medical Facility in Vacaville. “He poses an unreasonable risk to the
Since 1988, this is the third consecutive time Kemper, who has diabetes, has declined to appear before a parole board [he had also declined in March 1991 and June 1994], and he has repeatedly stated that he does not believe he should be freed. In fact in the late 1970s, he twice tried unsuccessfully to get state doctors to perform psychosurgery on him – similar to a lobotomy – claiming surgery may be the only way to squelch his urge to kill.
District Attorney Bob Lee represented Santa Cruz County at the hearing and
recalled Kemper’s “absolutely shocking, violent, depraved acts.”
was a 12-year-old boy at the time and I remember instead of having a monster in
our dreams we had him in real life,” Lee told the parole board.
who attempted suicide four times before and during his trial, testified that he
killed his mother because he didn’t want her to think he was the serial killer
being reported in all the news accounts.
According to the parole board, Kemper has been a model prisoner at Vacaville. He works in the library and has had no disciplinary action taken against him in the last 23 years. However, no one wrote a letter to the parole board or came forward Thursday to say he should be released. His next parole hearing is in 2002.
Source: “Mass murderer denied parole for third time”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 13, 1997, by Robert Gammon, Sentinel Staff Writer
– 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
Convicted mass-murderer Edmund Kemper III decided not to go through with
a parole hearing yesterday when he saw a television camera inside the hearing
Kemper, serving eight concurrent life terms at the California Medical
Facility at Vacaville, sent a message to the three-man parole board stating he
wasn’t suitable for parole and would wait three years before requesting another
Assistant Santa Cruz County District Attorney John Hopkins, who went to Vacaville to argue against parole, said Kemper told him later he was ready for the hearing and wanted to tell the parole board about his progress, but changed his mind moments before it was to begin. Hopkins said Kemper changed his mind when he saw a television camera inside the hearing room as he walked toward it.
The hearing, Kemper’s fifth, was being video-taped by a Sacramento
television station. Reporters from the Register-Pajaronian and the Santa Cruz
Sentinel were also present.
Corrections Department Lt. Joe McGrath said yesterday Kemper felt “he
couldn’t adequately state his case in front of the press.”
McGrath said the six-foot nine-inch Kemper has a “spotless record” and
is an above-average worker at the prison. One month ago Kemper took over as
coordinator of the prison’s Blind Project, supervising 15 inmates who record
books on cassette tapes and repair Braille machines, McGrath said.
Assistant District Attorney Hopkins said he talked with Kemper for two hours after the hearing was cancelled. Kemper told him he was concerned that only five or 10 seconds of his comments would be used by the press and it would distort his remarks, increase his notoriety and make it more difficult for him to gain a release in the future.
Hopkins said today he would have told the board there aren’t “words
strong enough to express how much the community of Santa Cruz is against (Kemper’s)
McGrath said Kemper regularly participates in psychiatric therapy while in prison, although he suffers from no psychiatric illness. In a psychiatric report prepared for the hearing, Vacaville psychologist Jack Fleming states Kemper keeps his life “an open book” to people who are helpful to him. The psychologist said he has “no hesitation” recommending Kemper for work assignments that involve female staff.
Source: “Mass-murderer Kemper backs out of parole hearing”, Register-Pajaronian, by Guy Lasnier, June 4, 1985/ “Kemper backs out of stating his case”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, by John McNicholas, June 4, 1985 / Image: from documentary Murder: No Apparent Motive, 1984
Vacaville – The state Board of Prison Terms denied parole Thursday to
Edmund Kemper, telling the convicted murderer of eight he still is a threat to
It was the fourth denial in as many years for the 33-year-old Kemper,
who was convicted of the murders in 1973 and became eligible for parole in
The three-member panel also agreed with requests by Assistant District Attorney John Hopkins and by Kemper, himself, that the next parole hearing be put off three years as provided for in a new state law.
Kemper was almost unrecognizable as he walked into the hearing room Thursday
at the California Medical Facility here, where he has been incarcerated since
his conviction in Santa Cruz Superior Court.
He told the parole board he has been exercising and jogging the past year
and has shed 80 pounds from his 6-foot-9 frame. When he was convicted, Kemper
weighed some 280 pounds. He is now sporting slightly longer and neatly-combed
Kemper said he did not wish to testify at the hour-long hearing, but
answered a number of questions from the panelists, describing his job as
therapy clerk, volunteer work reading books on tape for the blind and the
progress he said he has made in sessions with his psychiatrist.
But Kemper said in response to a question from Robert Roos, he doesn’t
feel he’s ready to be returned to the street.
Ted Rich, chairman of the panel, later told Kemper that that admission
played a part in the board’s denial of parole.
In announcing the decision after a short deliberation, Rich commended
Kemper for his behavior inside the institution and for the progress reflected
in the psychiatric report.
Kemper replied, “Thank you, I appreciate that.”
The report by Dr. R. Brooks said, in part, that Kemper “has made
considerable progress in re-establishing his working relationship with his
family, in many ways to a level which surpasses his highest functioning in the
family in the past.”
Kemper told the panel he corresponds with his two sisters, but no longer with his father. “I blew it,” he said of the break-off of communication.
One of Kemper’s eight victims was his mother and he previously was
convicted of killing his grandparents.
Brooks also wrote: “As he releases some of his intellectual defenses and
experiences and expresses his emotional responses, he has become more ‘real,’
stepping out of his ‘monster’ role.”
Rich complimented Kemper for not being “contentious” as he had been at the
previous parole hearings.
But, he reminded Kemper the murders were committed in an “especially
heinous and atrocious manner” and that Kemper had “(sexually) abused and
mutilated” his victims. (…)
Steve Bedient, Kemper’s appointed attorney, conceded Thursday that Kemper’s multiple murder conviction plus his former conviction stand strongly against him.
But, he urged the panel to consider the other factors required by law:
Kemper’s behavior while institutionalized and the psychiatric report, which he
said stand strongly in Kemper’s favor.
Bedient also said Kemper has shown remorse and added, “If 2 ½ million
feet of tape (which Kemper said he has read for the blind) is not paying back society,
I don’t know what is.”
But Kemper, arguing against his own release, said “I doubt I will ever
understand what I did. I’ve made my own choice to try to become normal. I
believe in a humane society. Some of my past actions have shown a disregard for
the compassion of another person.”
His attorney, Steve Bedient, said Kemper estimated it would take at least 30 years before he could be released.
Kemper replied: “I don’t think it takes much effort for a person to
realize that the notoriety of what I’ve done makes relationships with women a
lot more difficult. It makes it rough, but it’s a challenge.”
Sources: “Mass murderer Kemper denied parole again”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Mark Bergstrom, June 25, 1982 / “Kemper agrees his place is behind bars”, Register-Pajaronian, June 25, 1982
The state parole board refused to set a release date for convicted mass
murderer Edmund Kemper on Thursday, but commended him for his good behavior and
The three-member board ruled unanimously that the 32-year-old Kemper was
not ready to have a parole date set because his crime staggers the imagination,”
the Associated Press reported.
The board, however, did commend Kemper for his good behavior in prison
and his work with a program which records books for the blind. It also noted he
had made progress in his therapy sessions.
Kemper, who stands 6-feet-9, was convicted in 1973 of eight counts of
murder for the slaying of his mother, her best friend and six co-eds.
During the trial, Kemper said the killings were his way of acting out homicidal and sexual fantasies from his early childhood. Kemper mutilated the bodies of most of his victims and also engages in sex with them.
During the two-hour hearing at the California Medical Facility at
Vacaville, Kemper agreed he was not ready for parole, according to Assistant District
Attorney John Hopkins.
His appointed attorney, Steve Bedient of Sacramento, said Kemper would
be asking for a release date in the future, however, “because of his progress
in therapy,” Hopkins said.
Kemper, who wore prison garb and sported a close-cropped haircut, said
he was gaining a better knowledge of himself through therapy.
He said he was reaching a better understanding of how he had both “love
and hate feelings” for his mother, Hopkins said.
He also said he realized the women he had killed were surrogate victims –
“they all led to the ultimate killing of his mother,” Hopkins said.
Kemper told the board that his old attitudes were “all woring.”
He said: “I have a very clear mind and unfortunately I was even foolying
myself,” according to AP accounts of the hearing.
Kemper, who lived with his mother in Aptos and buried the head of one of
his victims in the backyard, said to this day, however, he has never been able
to resolve the murder of his grandparents within himself. Kemper murdered his
grandparents when he was 15.
But he said little else about his grandparents’ deaths and refused to discuss details of his killings.
Kemper told parole officers Thursday: “My grandparents are still rotting
in their graves. I am making attempts to resolve the hurt and hate in my family.
They still don’t want to have anything to do with me.”
The panel asked if he had cannibalized or had sex with female victims
after he killed them.
“What I was doing was perverse by anyone’s standards,” he said.
Kemper said he was driven to the murders out of hate for his mother and
to make “a social statement.”
Prison records said Kemper was attracted to coeds at the University of
California campus at Santa Cruz. He said his mother taunted him about the young
women, holding them up as models of what he could never has as a wife.
He told the board his goal in life was “non-violence – within himself
and with respect to others,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins opposed setting a release date for Kemper. “I would agree with
Mr. Kemper that he is not ready for release on parole,” he said.
Kemper appeared to be more calm at this year’s hearing than in past parole hearings, said Hopkins. He appeared subdued and did not complain about the presence of several reporters as he had in past years.
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
[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
May 2, 1979 – Ed Kemper failed Tuesday in his half-hearted first attempt to win parole, admitting to a three-member panel of the board he doesn’t “see my release as feasible – as morally or legally feasible.”
Without emotion, panel chairman Ruth Rushen Tuesday detailed the eights
murders, Kemper’s decapitation of his victims and his disposal of their bodies
in various counties, but Kemper demanded the official record be changed to
reflect the accurate “facts” and proceeded to recount each of the slayings
At the time he made statements to authorities in 1973, he said he was “suicidal” and “in my unwise immature judgment, I thought I was trying to build a psychiatric case against me. I needed help. I wanted help. And I made statements unsubstantiated by fact that are now being introduced as fact.”
“I was suicidal in my feelings at the time. I was trying to seal my fate.”
Officials, he went on Tuesday, were so anxious to convict him of the
slayings “they left loopholes that I could use for an appeal, but I do not
intend to take advantage of them.”
His actions “distressed me greatly” at the time, but “things still
happen out there on the streets,” he added.
Kemper, who received an award two weeks ago for contributing 2 900
hours during the past two years tape recording books for the blind has sought
court permission three times for psycho-surgery. He denied Tuesday the request
was an attempt to gain his release or that he still felt an urge to kill.
“I felt I had one foot in a coffin and one on a banana peel” and his
circumstances in the medical facility might result in violence, he suggested,
“I didn’t like being controlled by my dislikes.”
Kemper, who also told the panel he has become a Christian while at
Vacaville and has “learned to live with myself and God,” admitted 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.”
After a half-hour deliberation, Rushen reconvened the hearing and said,
“Mr. Kemper, you are not suitable for parole.”
She cited the “extreme violence and depravity” of his crimes and called
Kemper “an unreasonable risk to society at this time.” His crimes, she went on,
were premeditated and planned in meticulous detail, including bizarre conduct
in “abusing, defiling and mutilating the victims’ bodies, which shows a total
disregard for the worth of another human being.”
During a break in Edmund Kemper’s parole hearing at Vacaville Tuesday,
Richard F. Verbrugge, inspector with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s
Office, said Kemper was questioned by Sonoma County authorities as a suspect in
the murder of several hitchhiking girls here that began in 1972.
Verbrugge said he worked closely with sheriff’s homicide Detective Sgt. Butch
Carlsted on the Sonoma County cases, but that Kemper was ruled out as a
“He was like a little boy, telling us everything and taking us everywhere,” the inspector said. Kemper was also given truth serum by officials during his initial examination. However, Verbrugge said Kemper did admit he picked up young girl hitchhikers in Sonoma County during his cruise through Bay Area counties seeking young girls that met “his criteria” for victims, but none of them apparently had the characteristics he sought.