Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: True crime collection (Page 1 of 2)

Author focuses on mass murderer

Margaret Cheney has written books about the environment, a scientist, the University of California – and mass murderer Edmund Kemper.

“I was more or less interested in seeing whether I could do it,” said Cheney, who wrote the book about the Santa Cruz County killer in 1976 and has just published an updated version titled, “Why: The Serial Killer in America.”

The original book was called “The Coed Killer”, because six of Kemper’s victims were young women he picked up on college campuses in 1972 and 1973. Most of his victims were students at UC-Santa Cruz.

Cheney said she decided to publish the new version after she was contacted by criminologist Harry Miller, who was trying to find a copy of the original book, then out of print.

Cheney, of Hollister, conducted new interviews with psychologists and criminologist for the new book about Kemper’s gruesome murders.

The book questions the early diagnosis of Kemper, who killed his grandparents when he was 15, in 1964. He was sent to a mental hospital and later to the California Youth Authority.

Despite the recommendations of doctors that Kemper not be paroled to his mother, the Youth Authority did just that. Kemper’s final victims were his mother and her friend in April 1973 at the mother’s Seacliff apartment. He turned himself in several days later and admitted everything.

“If Kemper had been diagnosed as a classic sadist, perhaps we wouldn’t have had these murders,” because Kemper would have been kept locked up longer, Cheney said.

The book refers to a 1991 FBI study that traces certain confused behavior in childhood to violence in later life.

Cheney writes about an incident when Kemper was a small boy and told one of his sisters he wanted to kiss his teacher. When the sister asked him why he didn’t do it, Kemper replied, “I’d have to kill her first.”

That response should have been a tipoff that Kemper could turn violent later on, Cheney said. When telling authorities about the murders, Kemper said he felt he could “own” the women by killing them.

Another indicator of future violent behavior, Cheney said, was when the young Kemper killed a cat. Cheney recently joined the Latham Foundation, an Alameda-based group that believes childhood abuse of animals can lead to violence in later life.

“We’re trying to get social workers and veterinarians” to be aware of the ramifications of such cruelty, Cheney said.

Cheney was a consultant for a CBS-TV special, “Inside The Criminal Mind,” a portion of which is about Kemper. No broadcast date has been set.

“Why: The Serial Killer in America,” is published by R&E Publishers, of Saratoga.

Source: “Author focuses on mass murderer”, Register-Pajaronian, December 22, 1992, by Lane Wallace, staff writer; Photo by Kurt Ellison

Sacrifice Unto Me – Book reference

I’ve read several books about Ed Kemper, and this is one of the best. Published in 1974, this book focuses on the Kemper and Herbert Mullin cases, who were both active serial killers at the same time in Santa Cruz, California, in the early 1970s. It centers on the people directly involved, who the victims were, who the killers were, how they chose their victims, and what those unlucky people went through before their death. The author discusses why the killers did what they did, who went looking for the victims when they disappeared, and informs us about the background of their lives. Few books have treated the victims as anything but a list of names, except for Clarnell Strandberg.

This book features in one of its chapters the author’s theory that Kemper might have been a latent homosexual. According to West, the fact that Kemper removed the heads and the hands of his victims proves that he wasn’t interested in them as women, and that he entertained sexual fantasies towards men. We have to remember that this book was written in 1974, and that psychology and our understanding of the serial killers’ minds wasn’t what it is now.

Also, Kemper himself said in interviews that he is not sexually attracted to men and that he mutilated his female victims in order to make dolls out of them to satisfy his sexual urges. Moreover, as he was humiliated and belittled by his mother all his life, it was a way for him to control the women he was attracted to.

Very well written, unfortunately, this book is out of print. You might find a used copy to buy on eBay or true crime memorabilia websites for a few hundred US dollars. The author of the book is Don West, a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner.

This book is part of my true crime memorabilia collection.

Rare magazine featuring Kemper interview

Recently managed to fetch a copy of this hard-to-find magazine. It features one of the most important and thorough interviews done with Ed Kemper. Reporter Marj Von B had covered Kemper’s arrest and trial, mostly for the Watsonville newspaper, the Register-Pajaronian. This interview was done on November 8, 1973, the day of Kemper’s conviction on eight counts of first-degree murder, in the killings of six coeds, his mother and her best friend. He was to be sentenced the next day to life in prison. Kemper had appreciated Marj Von B’s fair treatment of his case in her articles for the newspaper, and kept his promise to give her an exclusive interview before going to prison.

In the interview, Marj Von B gives her impressions of Kemper, as she spent the day and most of the evening with him, talking about the case:

“My visit with Kemper was an unforgettable experience, inducing a collage of feelings. As he talked on and on, he was many things. 

  • A lonely young man, grateful for companionship on the eve of what was certainly to be his last day outside prison. 
  • An angry and bitter sibling recalling what he felt was rejection and a lack of love from a divorced father who “cared more for his second family than he did us.” 
  • A son who alternately hated and “loved” a mother he described as a “manhater” who had three husbands and “took her violent hatred of my father out on me.” 
  • A sometimes wry and boastful raconteur, chronicling the events of his life and a person quick to see the humorous side of things and laugh, even if the joke is on him. 
  • An anguished and remorseful killer when speaking of the coeds whose bodies he had sexually assaulted after death and of the “pain” he had caused their families. “The day those fathers [of the Pesce and Luchessa girls] testified in court was very hard for me … I felt terrible. I wanted to talk to them about their daughters, comfort them … But what could I say?” 

Kemper also was a person who momentarily precipitated in me a flush of terror and then allayed my misgivings by faultlessly assuming the role of the gracious host.”

Read the whole interview HERE.

This magazine is part of my collection of true crime collectibles. 

Kemper press photo

The latest addition to my collection of true crime collectibles is this press photo of Ed Kemper after his arrest in Pueblo, Colorado, in April 1973. The text below the picture reads as follows:

Pueblo, Colo., Apr. 25 — Questioned in slayings — Edmund Emil Kemper III, 24, of Aptos, Calif., is taken to court in Pueblo, Colo., Wednesday after turning himself in to police. Kemper called police in California telling them of the murder of his mother and her friend. (See AP Wire Story) (AP Wirephoto)

Rare magazine featuring the Kemper case

Since 1985, the print magazine Murder Can Be Fun has dedicated itself to the unpleasant, unhealthy, yet oddly gratifying task of revelling in the more sordid and violent side of life. Dead people in Disneyland. Santa Cruz Serial Killers. Molasses Floods. Soccer Riots. Published by John Marr and meticulously researched at libraries and from his own collection of more than 10,000 books, Murder Can Be Fun presents the choicest and weirdest anecdotes to a bemused and often goggle-eyed readership. Number 8 featured a dark-humoured article about the Kemper case.

This magazine is part of my collection of true crime collectibles. 

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