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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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
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.
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.
of the hearing procedure was the reading of a summary of his criminal history
into the record by the chairman, Ruth Rushen.
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.
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.
Mrs. Rushen read on, in a strange contrast, birds chirped in a tree outside the
windows of the second story prison conference room.
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.”
Danner said, did it reflect that Kemper had “mutilated” parts of his
mother’s body “by putting it into the garbage disposal.”
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).”
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.”
he added, “I am not a cannibal. That’s unsubstantiated and only claimed by
every hunter knows, I could get physically ill or die from eating an animal or
person in that state,” Kemper argued.
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.”
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.
then he continued, “I’m not going to avail myself of them.”
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
court denied his request.
if he was “still having urges to kill people,” Kemper said, “No.”
he explained, “I felt as if I had one foot in the coffin and one on a
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).”
referred to a state law which demands the death penalty for the murder of a
prison guard or official.
then he said mildly, “I am not known for a very short temper. I am a
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?”
also appeared offended at a statement in a psychiatric report that he had shown
no remorse for all the killings.
feel very strongly about what I’ve done,” he said. “I do feel remorse
in what I’ve done.”
when pressed for a reason behind his killings, Kemper always seemed to return
to his relationship with his mother.
hate her — guts,” he said in a rare explosive moment during the hearing.
said he had turned to killing the six women because he was “feeling
persecuted and destroyed by my mother.”
it was his childhood hatred of his mother that led him to kill his
grandparents, too, he revealed.
he explained, “I’m not blaming my mother, I’m saying I hate my
the coed murders, Kemper said he was “sick of killing,” but murdered
his mother knowing that would “blow the whistle.”
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.”
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.”
board members also talked with Kemper about his adjustment to prison life.
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
was asked by board member Craig Brown why he got along well in Vacaville and
other institutions “and in the community you become violent?”
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
loquacious Kemper later expounded on his life in prison saying, “I was
convinced when I came here, I would soon be dead.”
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
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.
Danner warned the board not to be complacent about Kemper.
the kind of complacency he wants,” Danner said, “the kind that was seen at
Atascadero where he was released to kill again.”
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.”
a 30-minute deliberation in private, the board called Kemper, the lawyers and
the press back into the room and announced its decision.
Rushen outlined the reasons for denying the parole.
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.”
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
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
The psychology reports do not support suitability for release.
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.
greeted the decision with a smile and thanked the board.
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.
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
A wave of panic seizes him. The events of the last hours are jostling in his head. He thinks of his mother. The fact of having cut off her head does not disturb him more than that; after all, she is not the first to whom it happened! And, besides, she was already dead. He who read the Bible so much during his imprisonment [at Atascadero], to the point of identifying himself very much with the character of Job, he sees in the destiny of his mother, the hand of God. It is even more than a symbol when he thinks about it: “This hand is the left hand of the Lord, I have always considered my mother as a great being, someone very fierce and sinister. She has always had a great influence on my life, and when she died, I was very surprised to find that her death was like all my other victims, how vulnerable and human she was, which has left a mark on me and still shocks me today. The left hand of the Lord is the one he uses to punish, and I, that guilty and left-handed son, cut off my mother’s left hand. That’s enough to make me flip, right? ”
Source: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz de Stéphane Bourgoin / Images: The Killing of America
More new images of Ed Kemper, all from a 33-minute documentary titled “Forgiven”, made in the early 2000s, about his conversion to religion. From the same producers of “A Pale Horse”, a short film based on Kemper’s life.