Born on December 18, 1948, serial killer Edmund Kemper turns 72 years old today. He is still incarcerated at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, where he has been living since his conviction in 1973.
Edmund Emil Kemper III is the second of three children and the only son born to Edmund and Clarnell Kemper. Kemper bitterly recalls that his father was not around much when he was young and that his parents separated completely when he was 9, after which his mother moved the family from California to Montana. As a result of the move, Ed almost never saw his father. This greatly embittered him, and he blamed his mother entirely. As a child, Kemper was physically and socially awkward, always the largest boy in his class. He ultimately grew to 6 feet 9 inches and weighed 280 pounds. He was a loner who dwelled in the world of science-fiction and the occult for escape. His mother once wrote, “I was deeply worried during the years about the lack of a father relationship, and so I tried everything I could to compensate for that.” According to Ed, this meant she felt a need to punish and ridicule him in order to “make him a man.”
Source: Murder and Madness by Donald T. Lunde, 1976, San Francisco Book Company / Image taken from documentary The Killing of America by directors Leonard Schrader and Sheldon Renan (1981)
On August 25, 2020, we checked the COVID-19 situation at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville where Ed Kemper has been incarcerated since 1973. It seems that the coronavirus has not been a threat, as only six cases were confirmed at the institution, five of which have been resolved since they were reported in late July – early August. No deaths are reported. The current forest fires and hot weather in California seem to be more serious threats at this point.
Source: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website
HLN’s Very Scary People recently dedicated an episode to Ed Kemper’s case (S02E08). It features an unseen interview recorded in June 1979 with Kemper commenting on some of his favorite books that he read for the Vacaville Blind Project, such as “Charlotte’s Web”, “Stuart Little” and “Trumpet of the Swan”. We also see him in action as he is recording the “Star Wars” book, imitating C-3PO: Behave yourself, R2! You’re going to get us into trouble!
Perhaps it won’t surprise you to learn that Holt McCallany, the brawny, silver-haired actor who plays special agent Bill Tench [based on FBI Agent Robert Ressler] in David Fincher’s Mindhunter, is mildly obsessed with serial killers. To prepare for the true-crime Netflix series’s second season, McCallany tried to reach out to the real Ed Kemper, a six-foot-nine killer who murdered 10 people—including his mother and grandparents. (He’s played in the show by Cameron Britton.) But Kemper never responded. So McCallany went to the California Medical Facility, where Kemper is housed. “When I got there, what I discovered is that Kemper has kind of given up on life,” the actor said. “He’s confined to a wheelchair. Do you know what I mean? He doesn’t really take visitors. He doesn’t bathe himself anymore. It’s very sad.”
June 28, 2002 – Santa Cruz’s deadliest serial killer will be in prison for at least another five years.
Emil Kemper, 54, has been in prison since 1973, when he was convicted of
savagely killing, decapitating and dismembering six UC Santa Cruz students, his
mother and his mother’s friend in 1972 and 1973.
was set to face the state parole board Wednesday. But earlier this week, he
waived his right to the hearing, and agreed not to seek parole again until at
least 2007, according to Denise Schmidt, spokeswoman for the state Board of
agreement came as a surprise to county prosecutor Ariadne Symons. She said
Kemper had indicated he would attend the parole hearing at the California
Medical Facility in Vacaville, and Symons was prepared to go – and to argue that
he must remain behind bars.
wrote in a letter to the parole board that she does not think Kemper is at all
reformed, and that he remains a threat to society.
Kemper does not like to be referred to as a ‘monster,’” Symons wrote. “However,
the term is apt, even though it is woefully inadequate. Mere words cannot convey
the horror of what he did.”
will be 59 when he becomes eligible for parole again.
says that no matter when Kemper comes up for parole, he should not be released.
her letter to the parole board, Symons wrote:
“In an interview at the time of his arrest, Kemper stated ‘I certainly wouldn’t trust me in society again.’ Let us give weight to those words.”
Source: “Kemper waives parole hearing”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Jason Schultz, June 28, 2002 / Artwork: unknown artist (please let us know if you know who it is, we will add credit)
13, 1997 – Vacaville – No one thinks Edmund Kemper, an Aptos serial killer who haunted
Santa Cruz in the early 1970s, should be paroled – including Kemper.
49, refused to attend his parole hearing Thursday but he directed his appointed
attorney to read a short statement. “The severity of my commitment offenses, I
believe, preclude my release at this time,” read Marcia Hurst.
three-member panel from the state Board of Prison Terms agreed with Kemper,
saying he remains a threat to society.
Kemper terrorized Northern California,” said Commissioner Carol Bentley at the
California Medical Facility in Vacaville. “He poses an unreasonable risk to the
Since 1988, this is the third consecutive time Kemper, who has diabetes, has declined to appear before a parole board [he had also declined in March 1991 and June 1994], and he has repeatedly stated that he does not believe he should be freed. In fact in the late 1970s, he twice tried unsuccessfully to get state doctors to perform psychosurgery on him – similar to a lobotomy – claiming surgery may be the only way to squelch his urge to kill.
District Attorney Bob Lee represented Santa Cruz County at the hearing and
recalled Kemper’s “absolutely shocking, violent, depraved acts.”
was a 12-year-old boy at the time and I remember instead of having a monster in
our dreams we had him in real life,” Lee told the parole board.
who attempted suicide four times before and during his trial, testified that he
killed his mother because he didn’t want her to think he was the serial killer
being reported in all the news accounts.
According to the parole board, Kemper has been a model prisoner at Vacaville. He works in the library and has had no disciplinary action taken against him in the last 23 years. However, no one wrote a letter to the parole board or came forward Thursday to say he should be released. His next parole hearing is in 2002.
Source: “Mass murderer denied parole for third time”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 13, 1997, by Robert Gammon, Sentinel Staff Writer
– 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.
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.
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.
told Kemper his crimes “shock the public conscience.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
said Kemper was and still is a deeply disturbed person who will kill again if
he’s ever released.
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.”
told the parole board Kemper’s greatest danger is that he may some day con his
way back out on the street.
pointed out that Kemper had led psychiatrists and psychologists to believe he
was no threat after a five-year commitment for killing his grandparents.
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.
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.
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.
said he went to the second interview, later in the day, “blasted off my tail on
beer,” but the doctor didn’t notice.
two psychiatrists wrote that Kemper posed no danger to himself or others.
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.
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.
said he only murdered the women hitchhikers because the women in his life,
especially his mother, had caused his only grief.
talked at length about his mother and drunken fights he said they had after his
release from custody after killing his grandparents.
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.”
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.
was love and there was hate,” Kemper said of his relationship with his mother.
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.”
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.
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
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.
said he believed at the time that he would have to be killed or he would keep
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
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.
he appeared to look more like the 6-foot-9, 280-pound giant of a man Santa Cruz
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
Today, serial killer Edmund Kemper turns 71 years old. He is still incarcerated at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California.
Edmund Emil Kemper III was born in Burbank, California, on December 18, 1948. He was the middle child and only son born to Clarnell Elizabeth Kemper (née Stage, 1921–1973) and Edmund Emil Kemper II (1919–1985).
Source: Wikipedia / Image: excerpt from documentary Forgiven (made in the early 2000s)
This Polaroid of Ed Kemper recently surfaced on the Supernaught website. It was taken in 1993 at the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville. Sitting next to Kemper is his younger sister Allyn, who regularly visits him, still to this day. The other man on the picture is Mike, an inmate at the CMF who was released a few years later. His wife is sitting next to him with their baby son.
Vacaville – The state Board of Prison Terms denied parole Thursday to
Edmund Kemper, telling the convicted murderer of eight he still is a threat to
It was the fourth denial in as many years for the 33-year-old Kemper,
who was convicted of the murders in 1973 and became eligible for parole in
The three-member panel also agreed with requests by Assistant District Attorney John Hopkins and by Kemper, himself, that the next parole hearing be put off three years as provided for in a new state law.
Kemper was almost unrecognizable as he walked into the hearing room Thursday
at the California Medical Facility here, where he has been incarcerated since
his conviction in Santa Cruz Superior Court.
He told the parole board he has been exercising and jogging the past year
and has shed 80 pounds from his 6-foot-9 frame. When he was convicted, Kemper
weighed some 280 pounds. He is now sporting slightly longer and neatly-combed
Kemper said he did not wish to testify at the hour-long hearing, but
answered a number of questions from the panelists, describing his job as
therapy clerk, volunteer work reading books on tape for the blind and the
progress he said he has made in sessions with his psychiatrist.
But Kemper said in response to a question from Robert Roos, he doesn’t
feel he’s ready to be returned to the street.
Ted Rich, chairman of the panel, later told Kemper that that admission
played a part in the board’s denial of parole.
In announcing the decision after a short deliberation, Rich commended
Kemper for his behavior inside the institution and for the progress reflected
in the psychiatric report.
Kemper replied, “Thank you, I appreciate that.”
The report by Dr. R. Brooks said, in part, that Kemper “has made
considerable progress in re-establishing his working relationship with his
family, in many ways to a level which surpasses his highest functioning in the
family in the past.”
Kemper told the panel he corresponds with his two sisters, but no longer with his father. “I blew it,” he said of the break-off of communication.
One of Kemper’s eight victims was his mother and he previously was
convicted of killing his grandparents.
Brooks also wrote: “As he releases some of his intellectual defenses and
experiences and expresses his emotional responses, he has become more ‘real,’
stepping out of his ‘monster’ role.”
Rich complimented Kemper for not being “contentious” as he had been at the
previous parole hearings.
But, he reminded Kemper the murders were committed in an “especially
heinous and atrocious manner” and that Kemper had “(sexually) abused and
mutilated” his victims. (…)
Steve Bedient, Kemper’s appointed attorney, conceded Thursday that Kemper’s multiple murder conviction plus his former conviction stand strongly against him.
But, he urged the panel to consider the other factors required by law:
Kemper’s behavior while institutionalized and the psychiatric report, which he
said stand strongly in Kemper’s favor.
Bedient also said Kemper has shown remorse and added, “If 2 ½ million
feet of tape (which Kemper said he has read for the blind) is not paying back society,
I don’t know what is.”
But Kemper, arguing against his own release, said “I doubt I will ever
understand what I did. I’ve made my own choice to try to become normal. I
believe in a humane society. Some of my past actions have shown a disregard for
the compassion of another person.”
His attorney, Steve Bedient, said Kemper estimated it would take at least 30 years before he could be released.
Kemper replied: “I don’t think it takes much effort for a person to
realize that the notoriety of what I’ve done makes relationships with women a
lot more difficult. It makes it rough, but it’s a challenge.”
Sources: “Mass murderer Kemper denied parole again”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Mark Bergstrom, June 25, 1982 / “Kemper agrees his place is behind bars”, Register-Pajaronian, June 25, 1982