Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Prison (Page 1 of 3)

“Good luck.”

Kemper wears a bandage on his wrist after attempting suicide with a pen. (Getty Images)

“[Reporter Marj von B] gave me a pen that day, it was a cast aluminum ballpoint pen, and I took it back to my high-security jail cell up in Redwood City. I was really slammed down tight: a two-man cell by myself. They have a camera on me 24-hours a day. The lights are on-two sets of these four-footers-it’s bright as day 24-hours a day, and I was there for five months, and I get strip shook leaving the cell and strip shook coming back in. I brought the pen in with my legal papers, and a few months later in the middle of the trial, I smashed the pen on the floor with my boot, sharpened it-got a sharp edge on the metal-and slashed my wrist. I was bleeding all over the place. It was very messy and very exciting, and everybody was dragging me off to the hospital and I got sewed up. I got shot up with industrial strength mace. They had about a quart of it and they just gassed me with that whole thing and dragged me off to the hospital.” […]

“At one point I could see every aspect of my life, my crimes, who I was, how I really felt about things without any defensive or protective accoutrements. It was fascinating to me: I was semi-conscious-actually, I was conscious, I just couldn’t get up and move around a lot, and at the end of the two hours, I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep on with this. I hadn’t gotten to the crimes themselves, I was kind of oriented around other things related to my life. I asked to continue on, and the doctor didn’t want to, so I insisted. They were using an IV and shot me up with another two-hour batch of this stuff, and as soon as he was done with what he wanted to do, he got up and left.”

“He had an appointment and it had gone longer than he had planned on it so he had to leave and my lawyer had to go. So, I’m stuck with these two deputies and a registered nurse watching me until I come down off of this stuff. Well, when the doctor left, he decided to give me a shot of medicine to snap me out of this, and I asked him what it was, and he said it was Methedrine-hospital-grade speed. I’ve asked doctors since then, both medical doctors and psychiatrists, if that was an appropriate action, and they said absolutely not. They should have left me sleep it off. It is suggested that the doctor knew full well it would put me through hell. It amplified everything I was feeling, it got me really down, and for two days after that they were trying to scrape me off the ceiling-they couldn’t even talk to me. I was raving and ranting. They had to put me in a strip cell because I refused to go back to my regular cell. There was television available there. I had canteen. I had some food items, but I wouldn’t accept it.” […]

Kemper as seen in his 1991 interview with Stéphane Bourgoin.

“Under the influence of those drugs, I was seeing what I did through other people’s eyes, not through mine; as someone else would view it-pure horror-how someone with nothing to do with violence in their life would see it. It was an awful experience. Within hours of coming down off that stuff two days later, I wasn’t making comments like that, [my] defenses were back in place-they were a bit ruffled. It had been an eye-opening experience because it gave me some perspectives on my case that I would never forget-some anxieties on my case that I would never forget-and all I can give you to gauge it by is that when I went into that hospital, the nurse came out-she was the typical battle-axe, professional nurse, been on the job for twenty years… great woman… with the wheelchair, severe stern face, and she’s looking at me with razor blades.”

“I’m in the chair and she wheels me inside. Five hours later when I come out of there, she’s wheeling me out and as I’m getting into the car, I’ve got this tortured look on my face. I’ve been crying and tearing at myself. She looks at me with this very compassionate look, and she says, “Good luck.” She got a good look at what was really inside. She was already aware of the evil I was capable of and the horror that happened in the case, and then she saw a lot of my real feelings. With her knowledge of chemicals and medicine and treatments, she knew I wasn’t faking. So, from her I got good luck and she was serious. I’ve never seen her since, but ironically, the deputies that were stuck with me that day, they figured ‘he’s so outraged right now, let’s just keep him here until he calms down a bit, then we’ll take him back to jail.’”

“But I didn’t calm down. I just kept going on and on, and at one point I asked the deputies to handcuff me to the rails of the bed because I was afraid I would rip my eyes out. I was really acting up, and he had known me for a few months and he didn’t want to do that. He said, “Oh, come on Ed, that’s not really necessary.” I said, “Man, you better put them on, or I’m going to tear that goddamn gun belt off and blast you, and I might beat you to death with it.” So, he comes over with the cuffs. He was a little offended by that… so he came over with the cuffs and started putting them on my wrists and I just went through some incredible convulsion and I just yanked him clear across the bed. He had the other hand cuffed already. Zing! Off he goes, he’s hanging onto this handcuff and at that point he cuffed me up real quick and finished and I already had my leg irons at the foot of the bed and I was just yanking those rails up and down with my wrists. That was very painful with handcuffs on. We went like that for a few hours and finally they said, “We got to get him back to jail, he’s not going to change in the near future.”

Sources: Interview with Stéphane Bourgoin, from “Serial Killers” (1991) / Kemper on Kemper by Peter Scott Jr. / Photo from Getty Images

COVID situation at the CMF at Vacaville

On August 25, 2020, we checked the COVID-19 situation at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville where Ed Kemper has been incarcerated since 1973. It seems that the coronavirus has not been a threat, as only six cases were confirmed at the institution, five of which have been resolved since they were reported in late July – early August. No deaths are reported. The current forest fires and hot weather in California seem to be more serious threats at this point.

Source: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website

New Kemper interview from 1979

HLN’s Very Scary People recently dedicated an episode to Ed Kemper’s case (S02E08). It features an unseen interview recorded in June 1979 with Kemper commenting on some of his favorite books that he read for the Vacaville Blind Project, such as “Charlotte’s Web”, “Stuart Little” and “Trumpet of the Swan”. We also see him in action as he is recording the “Star Wars” book, imitating C-3PO: Behave yourself, R2! You’re going to get us into trouble!

Watch the “Star Wars” excerpt here:

Source: HLN Very Scary People S02E08

Mindhunter: Holt McCallany reached out to Ed Kemper

Perhaps it won’t surprise you to learn that Holt McCallany, the brawny, silver-haired actor who plays special agent Bill Tench [based on FBI Agent Robert Ressler] in David Fincher’s Mindhunter, is mildly obsessed with serial killers. To prepare for the true-crime Netflix series’s second season, McCallany tried to reach out to the real Ed Kemper, a six-foot-nine killer who murdered 10 people—including his mother and grandparents. (He’s played in the show by Cameron Britton.) But Kemper never responded. So McCallany went to the California Medical Facility, where Kemper is housed. “When I got there, what I discovered is that Kemper has kind of given up on life,” the actor said. “He’s confined to a wheelchair. Do you know what I mean? He doesn’t really take visitors. He doesn’t bathe himself anymore. It’s very sad.”

Source: Vanity Fair, Mindhunter Season 2: Holt McCallany Really Tried to Talk to Son of Sam, August 16, 2019

1997 – Ed Kemper parole hearing

June 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.

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.

A three-member panel from the state Board of Prison Terms agreed with Kemper, saying he remains a threat to society.

“Mr. Kemper terrorized Northern California,” said Commissioner Carol Bentley at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. “He poses an unreasonable risk to the public.”

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.

Assistant District Attorney Bob Lee represented Santa Cruz County at the hearing and recalled Kemper’s “absolutely shocking, violent, depraved acts.”

“I 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.

Kemper, 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

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

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

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

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

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

1979 – Door’s still shut for Coed Killer

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 again.

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 suspect.

“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.

The Press Democrat, May 2, 1979, by James E. Reid

1976 – “I have tried the door, gentlemen…”

“I have tried the door, gentlemen, and I assure you all is secure,” said Edmund E. Kemper III in 1976, rejecting his first chance to appear before the Community Release Board as an “exercise in futility.”

Source: The Press Democrat, May 2, 1979 – Door’s still shut for coed killer, by James E. Reid / Center for Sacramento History – Video Archive Kemper Trial 5/28/81 #2

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