Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Positive Actions

1981 – State Parole Board refuses to set release date for Kemper

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 psychiatric progress.

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.

Sources: Santa Cruz Sentinel & Register-Pajaronian, May 29, 1981 / Drawings of parole hearing ©Center for Sacramento History

“Budget cuts are hell” ceramic mug

Here’s another ceramic mug that Ed Kemper made at the CMF in Vacaville in 1978. It’s a half mug. Really pretty and nice to the touch.

As written on the face of the mug, “Tony” is Tony Palmiero (also Palmerio), a film writer and producer who was in charge of making a film about Kemper in the late 1970s. Kemper was very involved with Tony in making it as close to the real story and the truth, but funding was cut to the movie. Kemper was mad and decided to make two halves of a mug stating “Budget cuts are hell” in regards to the cancelling of the film.

I don’t know if Kemper made the two halves. On the certificate of authenticity prepared by Kemper, he says that the project was not completed and that he retained the half mug until 1991 when he gave it to a friend.

This ceramic mug is part of my collection of true crime collectibles.

Ed Kemper’s ceramic art work

Imperfect criminal justice systems execute the innocent along with the guilty — Kemper’s case does not fit that rubric. However, Kemper’s execution would have done nothing to change the unpardonable acts of his past, while it would have precluded every decent, useful and beautiful that he has done in prison. Considering the lives of his victims, Kemper’s execution could not fairly have been called an injustice, but considering the life he has led in prison, it would have been a mistake. However, it is Kemper’s remarkable art work that, ultimately, confirmed my faith in the futility of the death penalty.

Because of powerful forces beyond his control, Edmund Kemper is too high-risk to be on the street, but in 41 years of incarceration, he has been a model prison-citizen, an effective functionary and a very interesting artist, whose ceramic designs have amazed me and astonished my friends for almost 35 years. The cup Kemp mailed to me, almost 35 years ago, continues to delight me every day.

NOTE: Above is my photograph of an amazingly intricately-glazed, slip cast cup. It was made on the dock near my home in the South of France. Below it is my photograph of Ed Kemper making that cup, in his house in California State Correctional Facility — Vacaville.

Photographer Joey Tranchina who visited ed kemper at the cmf in vacaville in the fall of 1979

Source: Excerpt from My Life Tumbled – Photographer Joey Tranchina’s Blog on Tumblr – July 12, 2014

Chartres Cathedral in France

George Couper, an art teacher who worked at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville during the 1980s, tells of the time he spent with Ed Kemper: “I had a coffee-table book of Chartres Cathedral that Ed liked to look at. We had conversations… No, he had long conversations… Boring, really boring in an interesting way…”

Mr. Couper also discusses Cameron Britton’s portrayal of Kemper in Mindhunter: “Cameron Britton plays Ed Kemper better than Ed Kemper plays himself. The resemblance isn’t just in size and mustache… That would be easy… Make-up and props. It’s in the body language, voice modulation, movements and phrasing… The focus in those black-holes for eyes.”

Chartres Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres (French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres), is a Roman Catholic church in Chartres, France, about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Paris. Mostly constructed between 1194 and 1220, it stands at the site of at least five cathedrals that have occupied the site since Chartres became a bishopric in the 4th century. It is in the Gothic and Romanesque styles.

It is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which calls it “the high point of French Gothic art” and a “masterpiece”.

Source: George Couper’s Facebook page, published October 14, 2017; Wikipedia / Photos: eBay (marilivier); Wikipedia

Reluctant Edmund Kemper Denied Parole

The following article was published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, on May 2, 1979. Due to a decision by the state Parole Board, only one reporter from this area was allowed to be present at Edmund Kemper’s parole hearing Tuesday. That reporter was Marj Von B of the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian, who filed this report.

Kemper first became eligible for parole in 1979. He was denied parole that year, as well as at parole hearings in 1980, 1981, and 1982.

Coed killer Ed Kemper, imprisoned in 1973 on eight first-degree murder counts, will not be freed next year, a state prison parole board decided Tuesday. Kemper, 30, was found to be “unsuitable for release at this time,” but the board’s decision did not seem to dismay him.

He told the three-member board at the conclusion of a three-hour hearing at the Vacaville State Medical Facility, “I’d have refused to be considered for parole, but I didn’t want to be provocative.”

Earlier, he had stated to the board he felt his release on parole was not “feasible, legal or moral,” saying he had been sentenced to prison by Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Harry F. Brauer “for the rest of your natural life.”

In addition, Kemper said, “I don’t want to set a precedent of being a person two-times released after multiple murders. I don’t want to ever hurt anybody again.”

Kemper killed his grandmother and grandfather when he was 15, and was sent to Atascadero State Mental Hospital and then to the California Youth Authority, where he was paroled in 1970.

But during the hearing, in which he was represented by a lawyer, Steve Bedient of Sacramento, Kemper seemed bent on personally straightening out the state’s recorded version of his crimes.

Part of the hearing procedure was the reading of a summary of his criminal history into the record by the chairman, Ruth Rushen.

It was a recitation of brutality, sexual depravity and violence, detailing the killing of six young women, Kemper’s mother and one of her best friends.

According to a confession made to police alter his surrender, Kemper said he had sexually assaulted the coeds after killing them, and then had dismembered their bodies, disposing of them in sites in Santa Cruz and other adjacent counties.

As Mrs. Rushen read on, in a strange contrast, birds chirped in a tree outside the windows of the second story prison conference room.

Then Santa Cruz District Attorney Art Danner was asked to add his comments for the record, and he noted that the material related by Mrs. Rushen did not reflect the fact that “parts” of one of the bodies of Kemper’s victims had been cannibalized by the defendant.”

Nor, Danner said, did it reflect that Kemper had “mutilated” parts of his mother’s body “by putting it into the garbage disposal.”

Kemper refuted the confession, saying that in telling the police the lurid details, “In my unwise and immature judgment, I thought I was building a case supporting my psychiatric plea (of not guilty by reason of insanity).”

“I disclaim any sexual misconduct during any of my crimes,” he said emphatically. “I made those statements when it was understood that I was to be the only witness at my trial.”

And he added, “I am not a cannibal. That’s unsubstantiated and only claimed by me.”

“As every hunter knows, I could get physically ill or die from eating an animal or person in that state,” Kemper argued.

In his account of the murders, Kemper said, he had been trying to “go to Atascadero” instead of state prison. “I was trying to get myself locked up for good.”

“I was trying to seal my fate, and the state in presenting its case botched it… I have ample opportunity now to save myself in the courts.” Kemper said.

But then he continued, “I’m not going to avail myself of them.”

Kemper also denied that he recently sought court permission to have psychosurgery to help him get out of prison later. Kemper said, “I asked for multi-target neurosurgery in the hope of gaining relief from any kind of homicidal tendencies whatsoever.”

The court denied his request.

Asked if he was “still having urges to kill people,” Kemper said, “No.”

But he explained, “I felt as if I had one foot in the coffin and one on a banana peel.”

He said he was afraid that “if some time I had a bad day and a prison officer or technician had a bad day and was provocative or insultive, I might smack his head up against the wall, and I would die in CDC (California Department of Corrections).”

Kemper referred to a state law which demands the death penalty for the murder of a prison guard or official.

But then he said mildly, “I am not known for a very short temper. I am a passive aggressive.”

And in a sort of aside to himself, Kemper, who works as a clerk in a prison psychotherapy ward, said, “I’ve had nine diagnoses in my time, I wonder how many of them are valid?”

Kemper also appeared offended at a statement in a psychiatric report that he had shown no remorse for all the killings.

“I feel very strongly about what I’ve done,” he said. “I do feel remorse in what I’ve done.”

But when pressed for a reason behind his killings, Kemper always seemed to return to his relationship with his mother.

“I hate her — guts,” he said in a rare explosive moment during the hearing.

He, said he had turned to killing the six women because he was “feeling persecuted and destroyed by my mother.”

And it was his childhood hatred of his mother that led him to kill his grandparents, too, he revealed.

But he explained, “I’m not blaming my mother, I’m saying I hate my mother.”

After the coed murders, Kemper said he was “sick of killing,” but murdered his mother knowing that would “blow the whistle.”

He said, “If she died they (the police) were going to get me, and if they got me for her, they would get me for the others.”

Kemper denied he killed his mother’s friend to make persons think the two women were away together for a weekend and give him time to flee before an investigation of their disappearance.

Incongruously he said, “I killed her because she had hurt my mother very grievously.”

The board members also talked with Kemper about his adjustment to prison life.

According to prison reports he is “doing an outstanding job” as a therapy clerk, has no disciplinary problems and “gets along with the staff and his peers.”

He was asked by board member Craig Brown why he got along well in Vacaville and other institutions “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.”

He also spoke with pride of his work in recording books on tape for the blind and the handicapped, which recently won him a public service award.

However, Danner warned the board not to be complacent about Kemper.

“It’s the kind of complacency he wants,” Danner said, “the kind that was seen at Atascadero where he was released to kill again.”

The district attorney said, “Mr. Kemper poses such an unreasonable risk and danger to society, he is now unsuitable for release and probably will remain so for the rest of his life.”

After a 30-minute deliberation in private, the board called Kemper, the lawyers and the press back into the room and announced its decision.

Chairman Rushen outlined the reasons for denying the parole.

First, she said, Kemper’s crimes “contained elements of such extraordinary violence that it was incomprehensible to think that he should be released at this time.”

Also:

– He had a previous record of violence, and although his juvenile record was sealed, “he stated several times during the hearing that he had killed his grandparents.”

– His violent and bizarre conduct after the crimes, which included mutilation and defiling of the corpses of the victims, showed a total disregard for the dignity and worth of a fellow human being… and this included the victims and their families.”

– The psychology reports do not support suitability for release.

Mrs. Rushen noted that the latest report on Kemper, dated in March of this year diagnosed him as paranoid schizophrenic in a state of “good remission.” But she added the report said that there was no way to predict the possibility of his violence in the future if he is released.

Kemper greeted the decision with a smile and thanked the board.

Referring to an initial outburst and his demand that the press and one reporter in particular, be barred from the hearing, Kemper said, “I would like to apologize for my untoward and abusive behavior, although it’s probably better than some you’ve had in here,” he added with a chuckle.

Then with a wave of his hand, the six-foot, nine-inch inmate, known as “Big Ed,” ambled down the long hall and was admitted into the locked area of the prison building.

“I never promised you a rose garden.”

Several years after Edmund Kemper had been incarcerated (at Atascadero), a parcel arrived at the home of psychiatrist Dr. William Schanberger, who’d been friendly with teenage Edmund. 

“I received in the mail this cup from Ed Kemper. Ed said that it took him about a year to make, and it’s very, very complex. It’s like a battered cup. And on the cup is written also: “I beg your pardon,” and on the bottom: “I never promised you a rose garden.” Meaning to be, I think, a very serious apology.”

Images from the documentary Born to Kill – The Coed Killer

List of 17 books narrated by Edmund Kemper for Volunteers of Vacaville – The Blind Project (Part 2 of 2)

Ed Kemper has read onto tape cassettes more books for the blind than any other prisoner. He has spent more than 5,000 hours in a booth before a microphone in the last 10 years and has more than four million feet of tape and several hundred books to his credit. The full list of these books has not been found yet.

Women of Eden
By: Marilyn Harris
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 4/15/1995
Romance

This Other Eden
By: Marilyn Harris
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 3/28/1996
Romance

Sphinx
By: Robin Cook 
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 11/28/1996
Spies and thrillers

Tangled Web
By: Giles A. Lutz
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 12/31/1996
Mystery and detectives

Trumpet of the Swan, The
By: E.B. White
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 7/8/1998
Children’s books

Ellis Island
By: F. Stewart 
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 12/31/1998
Romance

Bowdrie’s Law
By: Louis L’Amour
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 11/2/1999
Western

Merlin’s Mirror
By: Andre Norton
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: ¼/2002
Fantasy

List of 17 books narrated by Edmund Kemper for Volunteers of Vacaville – The Blind Project (Part 1 of 2)

Ed Kemper has read onto tape cassettes more books for the blind than any other prisoner. He has spent more than 5,000 hours in a booth before a microphone in the last 10 years and has more than four million feet of tape and several hundred books to his credit. The full list of these books has not been found yet.

Star Wars
By: George Lucas
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 6/21/1979
Science-fiction

Rosary Murders, The
By: William Kienzle 
Read by: Ed Kemper 
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 1/1/1981
Mystery and detectives

Flowers in the Attic
By: V.C. Andrews
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 5/8/1984
Horror
https://soundcloud.com/alisa-shavrina/ed-kemper-reads-flowers-in-the-attic

Web Between the Worlds
By: Charles Sheffield
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 2/2/1987
Science-fiction

Windmills of the Gods
By: Sidney Sheldon 
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 8/12/1987
Thriller

Dune, Book 4: God Emperor of Dune
By: Frank Herbert
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 5/2/1988
Science-fiction

If Tomorrow Comes
By: Sidney Sheldon
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 5/11/1989
Crime fiction

Petals on the Wind
By: V.C. Andrews
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 4/28/1993
Horror

Glass Key, The
By: Dashiell Hammett
Read by: Ed Kemper
Date Recorded/Cataloged: 2/6/1994
Mystery and detectives

Ed Kemper and the Blind Project

Since 1960, prisoners at Vacaville have been recording books–best sellers, textbooks, mysteries, science fiction, Westerns, children’s books and cookbooks–on tape for blind men, women and children all over America. It is the oldest and largest projects of its kind in the nation.

“Their visit here is so special for us. We get letters of thanks from our blind patrons, but they never come inside the prison to meet us,” said Edmund E. Kemper III, 38, the inmate who runs the program.

Kemper, a confessed mass murderer, has read onto tape cassettes more books for the blind than any other prisoner. He has spent more than 5,000 hours in a booth before a microphone in the last 10 years and has more than four million feet of tape and several hundred books to his credit.

Two large trophies saluting Kemper for his dedication to the program, presented by supporters outside the prison, are on display in the Volunteers prison office, which has eight recording booths, two monitor booths and a battery of sophisticated tape duplication equipment.

“I can’t begin to tell you what this has meant to me, to be able to do something constructive for someone else, to be appreciated by so many people, the good feeling it gives me after what I have done,” said the 6-foot, 9-inch prisoner.

Source: Blind Couple See Only Good, Not the Guilt of the Helpers, Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1987 / Some of the photos courtesy of edmundekemper.tumblr.com