Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Trial (Page 1 of 2)

“I was trying to hurt society where it hurt the worst”

“It was all coeds and it would only be if they were a possible candidate for death, which would mean they were young, reasonably good-looking, not necessarily well-to-do, but say a better class of people than the scroungy, messy, dirty, smelly hippie-type girls I wasn’t at all interested in. I suppose they would have been more convenient, but that wasn’t my purpose.”

“My little social statement was I was trying to hurt society where it hurt the worst and that was by taking its valuable members or future members of the working society, that was the upper class or the upper middle class…”

“I was striking out at what was hurting me the worst, which was the area, I guess deep down, I wanted to fit into the most and I had never fit into and that was the group, the in-group.”

edmund kemper about picking up coeds as his urges to kill came not only from a strong sexual instinct but also a desire to strike back at society, according to his taped statements, played for jurors in his mass murder trial.

Source: “Kemper wanted to hurt society by taking its ‘valuable members'”, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von B, October 26, 1973

Girl’s courtroom gesture brings Kemper trial to a halt

A threatening gesture by a young woman spectator seated in the rear row of the court brought the Edmund Emil Kemper murder trial to a halt for almost half an hour this morning.

The incident occurred during the playing of a tape interview of Kemper by investigators in which Kemper had described the killing of his mother, Mrs. Clarnell Strandberg on Easter weekend.

Kemper, who had said yesterday he would rather not be present in the courtroom during the playing of the confession tapes, was not allowed to remain out of the courtroom. This morning when he came to court his attorney said Kemper had been taking tranquilizers.

Despite this, Kemper was showing obvious strain listening to his own voice on the tape, and a number of times he turned from the counsel table and scanned the spectator section. After one such look at the spectators, Kemper turned back quickly and motioned to his sheriff’s guard sitting nearby.

A whisper consultation took place and Kemper’s lawyer, Jim Jackson, got up and immediately went to the bench and whispered something to Judge Harry F. Brauer, who promptly called for a recess.

Later, Judge Brauer told reporters Kemper had said a young woman in the back row had looked at him and drawn her forefinger across her throat, in a throat-cutting type gesture.

Brauer gave Kemper time to calm down and then resumed the court session, continuing with the playing of the confession tapes.

Bailiffs searched for the offending girl but she apparently left the courthouse immediately following the incident.

*******

A few years ago, the Santa Cuz Ghost Hunters featured a story in one of their videos where a young woman named Sara interviewed her grandmother who turned out to be the young woman who made this throat-slashing gesture toward Kemper during the trial in 1973. This is what she said:

“The trial that you’re asking me about, Sara, was in 1973. And every morning, Alice Liu would wait on my husband and I with coffee and naturally, we knew her from the coffee shop. And when she was murdered by Edmund Kemper, I wanted to… I well… I wanted to be there and listen to the testimony, and it was just real graphic, so I don’t know whether I should tell you all about that…”

“Edmund Kemper got Alice Liu in his car when she was on her way to campus or coming back. He had his car rigged up in such a way that once you got in the passenger side, the handle would never for you to get out. She could never get out…”

“Picture this lovely little Oriental girl, 19, working hard in a little coffee shop. When he was describing all these things about Alice Liu, there was a break in the proceedings and when he comes in with his chains and he’s walking in, his eyes focused on me. And I told you I was so emotional with that horrible testimony, I said to him… and he focused on me, and I said [she whispers]: ‘I would love to cut your throat,’ and he went [she screams]: ‘Oohhh!’ And the bailiff saying: ‘What is it? What is it?’ And I had a dress with polka dots on it and the bailiff come over and said: ‘You’ve got to sit on the other side of the courtroom. You’ve upset Mr. Kemper.’”

Sources: Girl’s courtroom gesture brings Kemper trial to a halt, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von B, October 25, 1973 / Santa Cruz Ghost Hunters

“I still have their spirits.”

Public defender Jim Jackson asked Kemper what the “real reason” was that he disposed of the girls’ bodies in the manner he did cutting them up and keeping parts of the bodies for a time.

Kemper hesitantly replied, “Because they were rotting and I was losing them.”

He explained, “when the girls died I kept them a certain length of time, but couldn’t keep them any longer.”

However, he declared, “I still have their spirits.”

Source: “Kemper explains why he murdered coeds”, Register-Pajaronian, November 1, 1973, by Marj von B

“There’s nothing to worry about. Just wait.”

Kemper, who arrived at the courthouse with two guards this morning greeted the barrage of cameramen with a smile but his demeanor became more subdued as he sat in the courtroom when the parents of the murdered girls began to take the stand. He did not look at either of the fathers as they testified.

Gabriel Pesce of Camarillo was the first to testify. A man of medium height but solidly built, Pesce was the picture of controlled agony as he stood before the court clerk to be sworn in. He was asked by [DA Peter] Chang, “Did you have a daughter named Mary Anne Pesce?”

“Yes, I did,” said Pesce, and his eyes turned fastened on the giant young defender seated at the counsel table. Under questioning from Chang, Pesce said his daughter, though she weighed only about 100 pounds and was about five feet tall, had been an expert skier and aspired to try out for the Olympics. He said she was a good student and had been a trophy winner on her high school debating team.

He told of his efforts to file a missing persons’ report after her disappearance saying that in one instance, police told him, “There’s nothing to worry about. Just wait.”

Prior to the hearing this morning, Pesce told a reporter that he intended to listen to the testimony in the case because he thought it might help to “finalize” the loss of his daughter. He and his wife remained seated in the spectators’ section after he left the witness stand.

Source: Register-Pajaronian, October 23, 1973, by Marj von B

Kemper trading sedatives in jail

While he was in the Santa Cruz jail [during his 1973 trial], Kemper got along famously with the other prisoners. Jovial and fun-loving by nature, at least with male companions, he genuinely enjoyed the companionship of the communal cellblock. According to other inmates, the jail authorities were feeding him sedatives. The downs apparently had little effect on him, and he stopped taking them, preferring to trade them for extra food from the prisoners employed as “kitchen trustees.”

Source: Urge to Kill by Ward Damio (1974, Pinnacle Books)

Kemper on arraignment day

May 1, 1973. Accused slayer Edmund Emil Kemper towered over detectives Don Smythe (left) and Terry Madina (right) as he was taken into court for arraignment Monday. Kemper waived reading of the eight counts, which include charges of killing several young women and his mother, Clarnell Strandberg. Municipal Court Judge Donald O. May ordered the defendant to be held without bail. The uniformed guard to the right of Kemper is Bruce Colomy.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel / Photo by Sentinel Photographer Pete Amos

Kemper jury takes look at death car

Grim-faced jurors stare into trunk of Edmund Kemper’s car

Edmund Kemper’s car, in which six hitchhiking coeds were picked up and either stabbed, strangled or shot to death, was, in effect, “entered into evidence” today at his murder trial in Santa Cruz.

Just before the noon recess, Judge Harry F. Brauer, at the request of District Attorney Peter Chang, allowed Kemper jurors to leave the courtroom and examine the car, which was driven up and parked along the river levee walkway at the rear of the courthouse.

Kemper did not immediately join the group of persons from the trial, because he did not want to let his guard, sheriff deputy Bruce Colomy put handcuffs on him and a waist restraining chain before leaving the courthouse. Kemper has been allowed to appear in the courtroom, at Judge Brauer’s instruction, wearing only manacles around his ankles, with his hands left free. However, Colomy, as a security measure, insisted upon the additional restraint outside the courtroom, and Kemper finally relented.

As the jury was examining the car, Kemper, flanked by two guards, filed through the crowd of spectators.

Crowds of curious onlookers gathered on the courthouse steps in the morning sunshine as the young giant, dressed in his jail-provided orange jumpsuit, towered above the car in which he has admitted taking six human lives.

Earlier, expert witnesses for the prosecution had testified about the physical evidence found in the car, including a dried pool of human blood found in the back seat where one girl, Alice Liu, a UCSC coed, was shot to death and another, Mary Anne Pesce, a Fresno State coed was stabbed to death. Traces of blood were also found in the trunk where other coeds had been shot to death.

Source: Register-Pajaronian, October 26, 1973, by Marj Von B

“Guilty, Sane, and First Degree to all eight counts.”

The trial of Edmund Kemper lasted three weeks, but it took the jury only five hours to reach a decision.

Defender Jim Jackson, in a final effort to do his professional best by a client he had never asked for, told jurors in his closing argument, “There are two people locked up in the body of this young giant, one good and one evil… One is fighting to be here with us and the other is slipping off to his own little world of fantasy where he is happy.”

When the jury returned, Kemper showed no emotion as Judge Brauer read the verdict: “Guilty, Sane, and First Degree to all eight counts.”

From: Why: The Serial Killer In America by Margaret Cheney (1992, update of The Co-Ed Killer, 1976) / Photos: Getty Images, Register Pajaronian

Photo on the left: Edmund Kemper and District Attorney’s investigator Richard Verbrugge exchange words in courtroom; Kemper’s “escort,” sheriff’s deputy Bruce Colomy, is at right.

Photo on the right: Edmund Kemper with sheriff’s deputy Bruce Colomy. 

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