Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Santa Cruz (Page 1 of 6)

The Jury Room’s Marv Easterby

During our trip to Santa Cruz last August, we returned to the Jury Room, the bar where Ed Kemper would hang out regularly in 1972 and 1973, as it was also frequented by the police officers involved in the solving of his murders. At the time, they had no suspicion about Kemper. 

On the day of our visit, legendary owner and bartender Marv Easterby was at work. He told us that he wasn’t the owner of the Jury Room at the time of Kemper’s crimes and never met the serial killer. The Jury Room was owned at the time by a fellow named Joe Mandela, who owned several bars in Santa Cruz. Mandela was the owner from 1968 to 1976. He then sold the Jury Room to Marv Easterby. 

Marvin “Marv” Easterby is a bartender’s bartender. Known for his collared shirts, stylish cuffs, curled mustache and soft-spoken but take-no-shit attitude, Easterby, or Marv to his friends and regulars, “is the quintessential, strong, handsome, silver-tongued, no bullshit bartender,” says Molly McVeigh. She’s tended downtown Santa Cruz’s Rush Inn since 2009 and has known Easterby for 16 years.

Born in Andover, South Dakota, Easterby was the youngest of seven. His first job behind the bar was in 1963, when he was 19, in a small town called Pierpont which, in 2010, boasted a whopping population of 135. 

 “You could drink beer at 18 and then hard liquor at 21,” he remembers. “When I interviewed, I told them I was going to be 22; I just didn’t tell them how long it would take me.”

After he was subsequently fired for being underage, he followed a sister to Washington state, where he found a job as a fry cook and eventually managed a bar and restaurant.

He arrived in Santa Cruz in April 1976 and soon bought The Jury Room for $75,000. Over the next several decades, he would fine-tune his skills, rubbing elbows with locals and authorities. 

“When I bought [The Jury Room], it was a total cop bar,” he remembers. “If I had 40 customers at once, I bet you 25 of them would’ve been off-duty law enforcement.”

Marv Easterby is seen behind the bar with tender and his dog

It seems he was always a favorite around town, earning the nickname “Judge Roy Beans,” given to him by a Jury Room regular, who also printed up business cards with the nickname and a caricature of Easterby on them. It’s the same caricature the bar still uses today on pins and other merchandise. During the holidays, local police acted as designated drivers for Easterby and gave him rides to and from their precinct parties, for which he helped supply the booze. 

Easterby owned and operated The Jury Room for 23 years, until 1999, when a health scare made him relinquish some responsibilities. Still, he continued tending at the local institution, after Karen Madura purchased it.

In 2013 GTreaders voted Easterby the Best Bartender in Santa Cruz, a title he still cherishes proudly with a picture on his phone.

Jury Room tender Tim Hall says: “Marv’s said to me many times, ‘Anyone can sling drinks, but not everyone can be a bartender,’” he says. “He’s Santa Cruz’s Kris Kristofferson or Sam Elliott. A class act with the old school mentality. It’s a lost art.”

Warm thanks to Marv for taking the time to chat with us!

Source: https://www.goodtimes.sc/iconic-jury-room-bartender-marv-easterby-serves-farewell-drink/ / Photo and video: EKS

Death of Herbert Mullin

Mullin mugshots from 1973 and 2022

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP), August 19, 2022 — A California inmate who confessed to killing 13 people in a matter of months during the early 1970s has died of natural causes at age 75, state prison officials said Friday.

Herbert W. Mullin’s victims ranged in age from 4 to 73 and included a priest he killed in a confessional booth, according to the Santa Cruz County district attorney’s office.

Mullin died Thursday evening [August 18] at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton, corrections officials said, and the San Joaquin County medical examiner will determine his exact cause of death.

Mullin was serving two concurrent sentences of life with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder from Santa Cruz County and nine terms of five years to life for second-degree murder from Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.

All were for killings he committed during a four-month period in late 1972 and early 1973.

Prosecutors said Mullin committed two other murders for which he never faced charges.

Mullin was denied parole last year.

At the time, District Attorney Jeff Rosell said that Mullin again admitted to the 13 killings during his parole hearing. But he blamed his poor upbringing and said his parents and sister should be held responsible.

Mullin showed “no true remorse for these brutal murders,” Rosell argued.

Mullin had interactions with Edmund Kemper, another serial killer active in the same area and at the same time as he was. The two shared adjoining cells at one point at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.  Kemper would describe Mullin as having a “lot of pain inside, he had a lot of anguish inside, he had a lot of hate inside, and it was addressed to people he didn’t even know because he didn’t dare do anything to the people he knew.” In that same interview, Kemper called Mullin “a kindred spirit there” due to their similar past of being institutionalized. Kemper said he told Mullin “Herbie, I know what happened. Don’t give me that bullshit about earthquakes and don’t give me that crap about God was telling you. I says you couldn’t even be talking to me now if God was talking to you because of the pressure I’m putting on you right now, these little shocking insights into what you did, God would start talking to you right now if you were that kind of ill. Because I grew up with people like that.”

Sources: Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Associated Press, August 19, 2022 | Wikipedia for Herbert Mullin | 1991 Interview by Stéphane Bourgoin

Ed Kemper’s handwriting sample

After he was arrested in 1973 for the murder of eight women, Ed Kemper was asked by police to provide a handwriting sample by copying the note he left at his mother’s and her friend Sally Hallett’s murder scene. The document is signed by Kemper, detective Terry Medina and inspector with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, Richard F. Verbrugge.

Source: Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021

“We’ll get to you”

“I didn’t have the supervision I should have had once I got out [of Atascadero]… I was supposed to see my parole officer every other week and a social worker the other week. 

“I never did. I think if I had, I would have made it. 

“Two weeks after I was on the streets, I got scared because I hadn’t seen anyone. 

“Finally, I called the district parole office and asked if I was doing something wrong… was I supposed to go to my parole officer, or would he come to see me, I asked.”

Kemper said the man on the phone asked him, “What’s the matter, you got a problem?” When Kemper told him, “no,” the man replied, “Well, we’re awfully busy with people who have; we’ll get to you.” 

Source: Front Page Detective Magazine, March 1974, by Marj von Beroldingen / Photo: Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021 ©Pete Amos

How would you diagnose yourself, Mr. Kemper?

As Ed Kemper celebrates his 73rd birthday today (he was born on December 18, 1948), we revisit his 1973 trial for the murder of six coeds, his mother and her best friend, during his cross examination by District Attorney Peter Chang, where Kemper reflected on his psychiatric diagnosis:

Peter Chang: How would you diagnose yourself, Mr. Kemper?

Ed Kemper: I believe very dearly and honestly there are two people inside of me and at times one of them takes over.

Peter Chang: You disagree with the court-appointed psychiatrist who diagnosed you as a sex maniac?

Ed Kemper: I don’t believe I am.

Peter Chang: Why do you tend to blame others for what you have done?

Ed Kemper: I feel there are others involved. I don’t believe I was born to be this way. 

Peter Chang: Do you think society thinks what you’ve done is grossly evil?

Ed Kemper: Right now, yes.

Peter Chang: Horrendous?

Ed Kemper: Yes, but there are times those things don’t even enter my mind.

Source photo and text: Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021 / Photo by Pete Amos

Coming soon: New in-person interviews with Kemper

New information came out this week on the This is Ed Kemper website providing more details about the project.

They revealed this new photo of Kemper taken during an interview at the California Medical Facility in 2020.

The project is titled Ed Kemper and is a limited series detailing the life and crimes of the serial killer Edmund Emil Kemper III.

Based on hundreds of hours of new, in-person interviews conducted in prison, the story intertwines Kemper’s life with his crimes in Santa Cruz in the early 1970s.

It includes insights and information he has never shared in the nearly 50 years since his arrest.

As members of law enforcement have said, “We always felt there was something Kemper wasn’t telling us.”

Who do you want to notify in case of emergency?

Ed Kemper’s booking record, April 28, 1973

“We got back to Santa Cruz, and we took him in to book him, and as we pull into the Sheriff’s Office, there must have been a hundred to two hundred members of the press waiting there. Keep in mind that I’m supposed to stay out of the press. So, we get around and go in the back and take him upstairs and book him.”

“Jesse Valdez was the booking officer. It gets to the point and Jesse said, “So who do you want to notify in case of emergency? Ed looked at me. He said, “Can I put you down because I don’t have anybody left?”

investigator Michael aluffi, in 2019-2020

Source: Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021

Ed Kemper’s last victim – Sally Hallett

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

“That seemed appropriate.”

There were moments, prior to her death, when Kemper felt like punishing his mother. Kemper told investigators he had killed his mother to spare her the suffering and shame that knowledge of his crimes would bring. He said: “There were times when she was bitching and yelling at me that I felt like retaliating and walking over to the telephone in her presence and calling the police, to say, ‘Hello, I’m the coed killer,’ just to lay it on her.”

Kemper’s testimony in court revealed his desire to punish his mother did not end with the fatal hammer blow. He cut off his mother’s head, “put it on a shelf and screamed at it for an hour … threw darts at it,” and ultimately, “smashed her face in,” he recalled for the horrified court. [Kemper supposedly performed irrumatio with his mother’s head, but that story is not verified.]

He went even further and cut her tongue out, as well as her larynx, and placed them in the garbage disposal. However, the garbage disposal could not break down the tough vocal cords and ejected the tissue back into the sink. Kemper found it rather ironic: “That seemed appropriate. As much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years.” 

Sources: “I was the hunter and they were the victims”: Interview with Edmund Kemper, Front Page Detective, by Marj von Beroldingen, March 1974 / Serial Homicide – Book 1 by RJ Parker, 2016 / Intercorpse – Necrophilia: sexual attraction towards corpses including sexual intercourse, by RJ Parker, 2019

Interview with Emerson Murray

Emerson Murray has written the book “Murder Capital of the world”, which tells the story of the three serial killers who were active in Santa Cruz in the late 1960s and early 1970s: John Linley Frazier, Herbert Mullin and Edmund Kemper. As the book is about to be released, we asked Emerson a few questions: 

EKS: How did you get the idea to write the book “Murder Capital of the world”, and why was it important for you to write it?

EM: I had been collecting information and pictures for thirty years. I am from Santa Cruz and Herbert Mullin murdered one of my dad’s friends, Jim Gianera. My dad had a picture of the two of them hiking on his wall for years and we just always knew what had happened to Jim. As kids, we knew Mullin was in jail, but he became a sort of boogie man to us. He had killed women and kids and even a priest and he was kind of like Michael Myers from Halloween, just killing indiscriminately. As I said, we knew he was in prison, but just talking about the crimes would freak us out. When the Night Stalker came along, he sort of erased our fear of Mullin. My grandmother worked at the post office and swiped a wanted poster for us. I was around 12, but I remember being out under the streetlight with the neighbors and the Night Stalker had killed people in Los Angeles before and he had just struck in San Francisco, so by our computations there was a 99.99% chance that our block in Ben Lomond was going to be next!

More recently, there were a few triggers to turn my interest into action. In the early 2000’s, the BBC had done three episodes of a series called Born to Kill on the Santa Cruz killers. Well, they did one episode each with no interest in discussing how the three crossed over and what local law enforcement and the community went through. That got the idea really started as a project. Years later, a friend and I started talking about how someone needed to make a movie about this time period in Santa Cruz history, something like David Fincher’s Zodiac. It was a dream bigger than us. Finally, my wife and I went to see Mickey Aluffi speak about the crimes in 2019. Mickey was a detective at the time with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. Well, once the talk got started, I looked around and most of the audience was in their 70’s and 80’s. I got pretty scared that these stories would be disappearing in the not too distant future. The next day at work, I just decided I had to do it and made my first call that night. 

Photo credit: Pete Amos

EKS: What is the concept behind the book? 

EM: “Murder Capital of the world” is part true crime and part local history. It tells the impact of the John Linley Frazier, Herbert Mullin, and Edmund Kemper crimes on our community and local law enforcement. The community was already pretty tense. The Manson Family crimes had occurred recently and the older folks were seeing the hippies as a real threat. UCSC opened in 1965 adding to these tensions. There were changes in welfare laws and there were communes in the San Lorenzo Valley. The Zodiac murders didn’t help. The Zodiac killer wrote that he was going to attack a school bus and shoot the kids as they exited. So, local law enforcement was following school buses. It was just a hot time period in this area. In the midst of all this, John Linley Frazier murdered four members of the Ohta Family and Dorothy Cadwallader. That was the beginning. 

The story is told through quotes. I fill in the gaps as a sort of narrator. I have a previously published book, a biography of the professional wrestler Bruiser Brody, for which I used this style to tell the story. I find it a fantastic tool for getting across stories with multiple points of view as well as stories where there were few eyewitnesses. Authors who tell you what happened when a killer and victim were alone are pulling from sources. I’d rather read the original sources themselves. 

EKS: What was your research process? Was it easy to access people and documents?

EM: I think most researchers start with the internet; finding what is already out there. After I scoured online resources, I started to formulate my questions and see where the gaps were. With this book, I talked to my parents and their friends who gave me names and phone numbers. I’m a firm believer in letters and phone calls. Sure, it’s old fashioned but a lot of the people I talked to are older and not online. Additionally, in the interest of sensitivity, I wanted to send letters to people if the subject I wanted to talk about was personally related. I felt more comfortable calling someone directly if the person was retired law enforcement or attached to the crimes in an official capacity. 

As the letters went out and phone calls started coming back, it was interesting who was willing to talk and who was not. Everyone has a different sensitivity to these horrible incidents and I really tried to be respectful. I would write two of the exact same letters and one person was happy, sometimes excited, to talk to me and another was hurt that I would even bring up the subject. We live in a time where language is very powerful and this subject matter is as dark as it gets. I really tried to tip-toe very carefully. 

At every point of contact, I asked for documents and pictures. Many had been “borrowed” and never returned by authors and filmmakers before me. Stolen. However, I did manage to find a lot. 

I must say that I am extremely thankful to the people who spent their time talking with me and sharing documents and pictures with me. 

EKS: What new information about the Kemper case have you learned that marked you?

EM: Page 186. The eyeball. 

EKS: Which deceased person involved in the Kemper case would you have liked to talk to, and why?

EM: Without a doubt, his mother. The public has always had only one real source of information on Kemper’s mother: Kemper! Consequently, it is a venomous, loving, hateful, confused portrait that we are left with. I talked with her co-workers, read and listened to interviews with her friends and Kemper’s sisters. I even found quotes from Clarnell herself from after Kemper had killed his grandparents. Consequently, I feel like a more developed, nuanced, picture of her emerges in the book. But she would have been an awfully interesting person to talk with. 

EKS: Your book sheds new light on many of the events in the Kemper case. Is there any part of his story that remains mysterious to you? If so, what? 

EM: “Mysterious” is a great word. I feel like I understand the events and have a pretty good picture of Kemper’s life, but after he was arrested and started to talk with law enforcement, his attorneys, and mental health professionals, his stories started changing. I feel like it was a result of his insanity plea. He admitted necrophilia immediately, but somewhere along the way stories about cannibalism started. They were detailed and explicit, but the stakes were high during that time period and he had a lot to gain by embellishing stories. So, the absolute truth regarding the nights he was alone with the bodies of his victims, is what remains mysterious and out of reach for all of us.  

You can buy the book on Emerson Murray’s website.

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