Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Sexuality (Page 1 of 3)

“A man would be a fool to marry a woman smarter than himself”

To one of his drinking companions, Ed Kemper confided that he’d become engaged and he commented that a ‘man would be a fool to marry a woman smarter than himself.’ Kemper did not marry the girl. In fact, she was seldom seen in the area and little was known of her except that she came from a Central Valley town, was small, blonde, young and immature. Later, he told an investigator that he worshipped her in an ‘almost religious’ way and that they had never engaged in a sexual relationship.

In fact, he claimed that he had had normal sexual intercourse only once and this with a woman who rejected him when he approached her a second time. But he also said on other occasions that he had never had normal relations with a woman; and again, that he had frequently attempted intercourse with a woman but had never reached a climax.

Source: The Coed-Killer by Margaret Cheney, p. 38-39 / Image: textless frame from David Jouvent’s upcoming graphic novel about Kemper

“She’s very much the reason I surrendered.”

“I didn’t go hog-wild and totally limp. What I’m saying is, I found myself doing things in an attempt to make things fit together inside. I was doing sexual probings and things, I mean, in a sense of striking out, or reaching out and grabbing, and pulling to me. But appalled at the sense that it wasn’t working, that isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, that isn’t the way I want it. You see what I’m saying? And yet I get, during that time, I become engaged to someone who is young, and is beautiful, and very much the same advantages, and very much the same upbringing, and Disneyland values. And, uh, she’s very much the reason I surrendered.”

ed kemper about getting engaged during his crime spree

Ed Kemper’s fiancee

Not much is known about Kemper’s fiancee, as she has never gone public with her story. After Kemper’s arrest, she was apparently very much in shock, and went into seclusion. Her parents sent her away from Turlock. Officials at her high school, where she was in her senior year, consented to excuse her from classes until the emotional pressure on her let up, and allowed her to graduate with her class.

Police said a newspaper clipping reporting the engagement was found with Kemper’s belongings in the Aptos apartment where he lived with his mother. In his bedroom, they also found the picture of a beautiful blonde said to be a fiancee of Kemper.

We know that she had met Kemper at a Santa Cruz beach in the summer of 1972. Her age varies according to reports between 16, 17 or 18 years old. Her first name might have been Martha, but this is unverified information from a social media source.

Source: Redlands Daily Facts, May 9, 1973 / Greeley Daily Tribune, May 5, 1973 / Register-Pajaronian, April 25, 1973

“Of course, the personality is gone.”

Santa Cruz was plagued at that time with a series of bizarre unsolved murders, and warnings had been issued to students not to accept rides from strangers. But Ed Kemper’s mother had given him a university sticker for his car so that he could easily enter the campus to pick her up from work. This sticker gave women a sense of security when he offered them a ride. On February 5, 1973, he shot two more women [Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu] and brought them back to his mother’s house. He cut off one woman’s head in the trunk of his car, and when his mother went to bed he carried the headless corpse to his room and slept with it in his bed. Kemper explained, “The head trip fantasies were a bit like a trophy. You know, the head is where everything is at, the brain, eyes, mouth. That’s the person. I remember being told as a kid, you cut off the head and the body dies. The body is nothing after the head is cut off . . . Well, that’s not quite true. With a girl, there is a lot left in the girl’s body without the head. Of course, the personality is gone.”

Source: Excerpt from “Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters” by Peter Vronsky

“Every time I had a little zapple, they would die.”

February 5, 1973, less than a month after the murder of Cindy Schall, was again a perfect day to kill: hard rain was coming down. And Ed Kemper was mad with rage. “My mother and I had a terrible argument. I told her I was going to the movies and I immediately drove my car to the [University] campus because it was still early.” Luck was with him despite the late hour: the campus was buzzing with activity because of a conference that was taking place that evening. He was afraid to stand out as he passed the guards’ gate at the university entrance, because his rear light and bumper were tinkered and were easily identifiable. But there were many cars and the guard was just managing the flow of vehicles. Kemper was spoiled, as there were many hitchhikers in the rainy weather.

Rosalind Thorpe, twenty-three, a student of linguistics and psychology, shared an apartment in Santa Cruz with a friend; she usually went to campus by bicycle, but the bad weather had made her change her mind. “I noticed that she took a look at the sticker which allowed me to park on campus. She took me for another student and settled down next to me without any hesitation. She started talking immediately. I let her do it, she was very open, very friendly. And I wondered how to act. After a while, I decided that it was good, that she would be mine, without any doubt. Besides, I had what I call one of those little zapples! which crossed my body. Every time I had one, they would die; it never happened to me to have a zapple! at another time. It’s the moment when everything falls into place, when the circumstances are ideal. No one around, the guard hadn’t noticed anything, no problem leaving campus and Thorpe suspected nothing. And, of course, she was also someone I didn’t know at all. It was one of my rules of conduct from which I didn’t deviate. I had also decided never to hunt around Santa Cruz, because I lived there, especially with my criminal record. I could be considered a potential suspect. But, as my crimes went on, I became more and more ill and I took fewer and fewer precautions, both in my approach, during and after, which seemed obvious to me given the growing amount of evidence that was discovered, in one form or another.”

As he is about to leave campus, Kemper sees this young Chinese girl hitchhiking. Alice Liu, twenty-one, is the daughter of an aeronautical engineer from Los Angeles and is in her final year of studies at the University of California. Like Rosalind Thorpe, she lived in Santa Cruz in a studio that she shared with a friend. He stops the vehicle and she hops inside, sitting in the back seat. “Okay, here we are chatting, it’s actually Rosalind who is leading the conversation and that suits me. I notice Alice who sees us and gives us her most beautiful smile, thumb raised. A gesture of great beauty, she does it very naturally, with a lot of grace. I think she must have been an experienced hitchhiker. She is superb, with everything you need where you need it, intelligent, dressed in a conservative way, not with these fashionable clothes in bright colors that we saw everywhere at that time. I admit that I was relieved that the two girls didn’t know each other. We pass in front of the entrance gate. I look at the guard insistently, so he doesn’t think to take a look at the back of the car. I’m sure he didn’t see Alice because it was dark, she was small and wore dark clothes. A few hundred feet away, we are alone on the road. The view is superb: below, we see Santa Cruz which is illuminated. I ask them if they have any objection to me slowing down to observe the landscape. Rosalind nods, enthusiastic, but I feel like a reluctance coming from Alice. I have the very clear impression that I disgust her, that she’s too good for a poor guy like me. The car is running. I take out my weapon which is hidden under my leg, a black pistol, it’s dark and Rosalind doesn’t notice anything. We continue to chat and I point my gun. I hesitate for a second, but not more, because the girl in the back seat will see me act. I didn’t stop the car voluntarily, so that the warnings wouldn’t light up, in case we came across another car.”

“Thorpe had a very broad forehead and I was trying to imagine what her brain looked like, inside her skull. I wanted my bullet to hit her right in the middle of the brain. A second before she’s still moving, and the next, she’s dead. A noise, then silence, absolute silence. Liu, who was sitting in the back seat, covered her face with her hands. I turned around and shot her twice, through her hands. I missed her. The third time worked, right in the middle of her temple. We passed the campus gate and I could hear Liu dying in the back seat. Once out of the city, I slowed down as much as possible, before turning her head to the side, and shooting her at point blank range. I know it’s a big risk to take a student directly on campus, so you can imagine taking two multiplies that risk all the more, but I knew I could do it.

Once, in broad daylight, I took three hitchhikers on University Avenue, in Berkeley, and almost killed them. I could have, without any problem, because of the din of the highway which would have covered the shots. I drank more and more. I had to stop because I was losing all self-control. The cops knew me as a heavy drinker in the bar where we hung out, and that may be one of the reasons they didn’t suspect me. In public, I was almost always drunk, wine or beer, or under the influence of various barbiturates, but I remained sober to commit my crimes. Why? When I was drunk I could no longer act. That’s why I drank constantly: I wanted to stop this madness. But it was hard to stay drunk all the time. I drank between six and eight gallons of wine a week, twice as much as my mother. “

In a path away from the road, Kemper put the two bodies in the trunk. He went to fill up at a gas station and to the toilet to clean the blood stains that dot the plaster on his arm and his black jeans. Back home, he parked on the street and told his mother that he fell asleep while watching a movie at the cinema. He leaves her in front of the television and indicates that he is going to buy cigarettes. It is between ten and eleven o’clock in the evening. There is no one on the street and he takes the opportunity to open the trunk and behead the two women with his hunting knife.

The next morning, after his mother leaves for work, Kemper brings the two heads back to his room, cleans them in the bathroom and takes out the bullets. Then, he takes Alice’s corpse, lays her on his bed to rape her and even thinks of washing her body to remove all traces of sperm, before putting her back in the trunk where she joins Rosalind’s headless body. Without really knowing why, Kemper cuts Alice’s hands. This time, he doesn’t bother to dissect the corpses. It’s no longer something that excites him like the first time. It has now become routine. He wants to get rid of all compromising evidence as quickly as possible. Ed heads north on the road to San Francisco. He’s thinking of depositing the corpses there to make the investigators believe that the murderer is from that city.

The media and the police were on their teeth. Macabre disappearances and discoveries were increasing. The body of Cynthia Schall was identified on January 24, 1973, that of Mary Guilfoyle (a victim of Herbert Mullin), on February 11. On February 8, the newspapers announced on their frontpage the disappearances of Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu. By a curious coincidence, two of Kemper’s work colleagues found the beheaded corpses of the two girls on February 14; they were identified a week later. The medical examiner indicated to the investigators that the assassin (s) probably had medical knowledge or acted according to a strange ritual, because Cindy’s Achilles tendons had been cut. Kemper did it to satisfy his necrophilic desires, to prevent cadaverous rigidity and to keep the body “warm”.

He then visits a friend, takes the time to dine and go to the movies, before driving up to Eden Canyon Road around two in the morning, where he throws the beheaded bodies. He then continues to the town of Pacifica, at Devil’s Slide, where he throws the heads and hands of the two young girls. Worried, he regretted not having buried the two heads and returned on the scene two weeks later, at four in the morning.

Source: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz by Stéphane Bourgoin

Ed Kemper’s first date

“Three months after I was out, I was back into the fantasy bay. – My first date was an absolute disaster. It wasn’t her fault, you know. And I didn’t blame her even then. I’m saying – it was a terrible tragedy but boy was it – she never talked to me again, it was awful. Wasn’t sexual or [gr…] I was just such a dork, taking her to a John Wayne movie and at Denny’s. It was terrible. I’d never been on a date! At 16 that was cool, you know?! I’d never been on a date! You know? I was locked up since I was 15, but I can’t tell her that, ‘Oh gee, don’t mind me,’ you know. She got kinda hung up on my looks or whatever, I mean, she’s a gorgeous young lady, pure class, and she saw something there that wasn’t there, and boy, did she find out quick.”

Ed Kemper about his first date after his release from atascadero in 1969

Source: The Killing of America (documentary directed by Leonard Schrader)

“And that night I killed her. Not so much to celebrate, but I had been eagerly awaiting that gun.”

***Warning: graphic content***

“Cynthia Schall was the next one.” Kemper went on, “That happened the night I bought a .22 Ruger automatic pistol with a six inch barrel. And that night I killed her. Not so much to celebrate, but I had been eagerly awaiting that gun.” He said he bought the gun at Valley Sport shop in Watsonville.” He picked up Miss Schall on Mission Street, “in that vicinity. I had been up cruising around the campus and I’d picked up three different girls, two of them together, that were possibilities, but I canceled those out because there were too many people standing around that possibly knew them when they got in. But all the other conditions were perfect. It had been drizzling, it had been raining real hard and people were getting any ride they could get and windows were fogging up… But I had given up on those other two and I was kind of uptight about it and driving down the street I spotted her standing out there with her thumb out.”

The young woman with her thumb out was Cynthia Schall. After driving her to the Watsonville area, he forced her to get in the trunk. Later near Corralitos, he shot her. He took her to his mother’s house in Aptos and dumped her in the closet. He dismembered her in the bathtub the next morning, after having sexual intercourse with her.

After having murdered and disposed of Cynthia Schall’s body, Ed took a trip to visit a friend in Oakland. He stopped off at a laundromat near his old apartment in Alameda, where he placed Cynthia’s blue socks, checkered wool shirt, brocaded blouse, and nylon jacket in a dryer and placed it on the highest setting, putting in four dimes worth. He turned the machine on, expecting that the continued high heat would burn the clothing beyond recognition. The next day, he went by the laundromat, checked the dryer and found it empty. He has succeeded again.

Sources: “Gruesome Details on Tape at Trial”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 25th, 1973 / “Sacrifice Unto Me”, by Don West / Photo: Getty Images Bettmann

“Just like, it amazed me so much because one second she’s animated and the next second, she’s not, and there was absolutely nothing between. Just a noise and absolute, absolute stillness.”

***Warning: graphic content***

[REBLOG] On January 8, 1973, Edmund Kemper picked up Cynthia Ann “Cindy” Schall as she was hitchhiking to Cabrillo College and drove her out to the Corralitos – Freedom area where he talked her into getting into the trunk of his car, telling her he was going to take her to his house to talk, and then shot her in the head with a .22 caliber pistol he had purchased that day. She died instantly.

He decapitated her the next morning after engaging in sexual acts with her body. He disposed of her remains and her things, except for her head that he kept and buried in the backyard, just under his mother’s bedroom window.

Artwork by: @kkdtrooper / kkdtrooper.tumblr.com/

1988 – Ed Kemper parole hearing

Convicted killer Edmund Kemper, left, testifies at his parole hearing on June 15, 1988. With him is his attorney, Richard Shore.

Vacaville – 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.

Kemper, 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.

A 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.

Brown told Kemper his crimes “shock the public conscience.”

During 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.

He 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.

Kemper 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.

He 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.

In 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.

She said Kemper was and still is a deeply disturbed person who will kill again if he’s ever released.

District 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.”

Danner told the parole board Kemper’s greatest danger is that he may some day con his way back out on the street.

He pointed out that Kemper had led psychiatrists and psychologists to believe he was no threat after a five-year commitment for killing his grandparents.

Even 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.

He 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.

After 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.

He said he went to the second interview, later in the day, “blasted off my tail on beer,” but the doctor didn’t notice.

The two psychiatrists wrote that Kemper posed no danger to himself or others.

Kemper 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.

He 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.

He said he only murdered the women hitchhikers because the women in his life, especially his mother, had caused his only grief.

Kemper talked at length about his mother and drunken fights he said they had after his release from custody after killing his grandparents.

Kemper 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.”

Kemper 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.

“There was love and there was hate,” Kemper said of his relationship with his mother.

“I 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.”

Kemper 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.

He 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 explained.

He 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.

He said he believed at the time that he would have to be killed or he would keep on killing.

As 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 telephone booth.

Kemper’s 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.

Now, he appeared to look more like the 6-foot-9, 280-pound giant of a man Santa Cruz residents remember.

In 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

“Oh, what is it like to have sex with a dead body?”

“You haven’t asked the questions I expected a reporter to ask,” Kemper said to reporter Marj von B.

“What do you mean,” she replied. “Give me some examples.” 

He drawled, “Oh, what is it like to have sex with a dead body? … What does it feel like to sit on your living room couch and look over and see two decapitated girls’ heads on the arm of the couch?” (He interjected an unsolicited answer: “The first time, it makes you sick to your stomach.”) 

Source: Interview with Ed Kemper by Marj von Beroldingen, published in March 1974 in Front Page Detective Magazine / Image ©Bay Area TV Archive

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