Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Vacaville (Page 1 of 3)

Mindhunter: Holt McCallany reached out to Ed Kemper

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.”

Source: Vanity Fair, Mindhunter Season 2: Holt McCallany Really Tried to Talk to Son of Sam, August 16, 2019

2002 – Ed Kemper parole hearing

June 28, 2002 – Santa Cruz’s deadliest serial killer will be in prison for at least another five years.

Edmund 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.

Kemper 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 Prison Terms.

Kemper’s 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.

She 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.

“Apparently 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.”

Kemper will be 59 when he becomes eligible for parole again.

Symons says that no matter when Kemper comes up for parole, he should not be released.

In 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)

1997 – Ed Kemper parole hearing

June 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.

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.

A three-member panel from the state Board of Prison Terms agreed with Kemper, saying he remains a threat to society.

“Mr. Kemper terrorized Northern California,” said Commissioner Carol Bentley at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. “He poses an unreasonable risk to the public.”

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.

Assistant District Attorney Bob Lee represented Santa Cruz County at the hearing and recalled Kemper’s “absolutely shocking, violent, depraved acts.”

“I 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.

Kemper, 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

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

Today: Ed Kemper’s birthday

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)

New photo of Ed Kemper

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.

1982 – Ed Kemper parole hearing

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 society.

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 1979.

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 hair.

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

1981 – State Parole Board refuses to set release date for Kemper

The state parole board refused to set a release date for convicted mass murderer Edmund Kemper on Thursday, but commended him for his good behavior and psychiatric progress.

The three-member board ruled unanimously that the 32-year-old Kemper was not ready to have a parole date set because his crime staggers the imagination,” the Associated Press reported.

The board, however, did commend Kemper for his good behavior in prison and his work with a program which records books for the blind. It also noted he had made progress in his therapy sessions.

Kemper, who stands 6-feet-9, was convicted in 1973 of eight counts of murder for the slaying of his mother, her best friend and six co-eds.

During the trial, Kemper said the killings were his way of acting out homicidal and sexual fantasies from his early childhood. Kemper mutilated the bodies of most of his victims and also engages in sex with them.

During the two-hour hearing at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, Kemper agreed he was not ready for parole, according to Assistant District Attorney John Hopkins.

His appointed attorney, Steve Bedient of Sacramento, said Kemper would be asking for a release date in the future, however, “because of his progress in therapy,” Hopkins said.

Kemper, who wore prison garb and sported a close-cropped haircut, said he was gaining a better knowledge of himself through therapy.

He said he was reaching a better understanding of how he had both “love and hate feelings” for his mother, Hopkins said.

He also said he realized the women he had killed were surrogate victims – “they all led to the ultimate killing of his mother,” Hopkins said.

Kemper told the board that his old attitudes were “all woring.”

He said: “I have a very clear mind and unfortunately I was even foolying myself,” according to AP accounts of the hearing.

Kemper, who lived with his mother in Aptos and buried the head of one of his victims in the backyard, said to this day, however, he has never been able to resolve the murder of his grandparents within himself. Kemper murdered his grandparents when he was 15.

But he said little else about his grandparents’ deaths and refused to discuss details of his killings.

Kemper told parole officers Thursday: “My grandparents are still rotting in their graves. I am making attempts to resolve the hurt and hate in my family. They still don’t want to have anything to do with me.”

The panel asked if he had cannibalized or had sex with female victims after he killed them.

“What I was doing was perverse by anyone’s standards,” he said.

Kemper said he was driven to the murders out of hate for his mother and to make “a social statement.”

Prison records said Kemper was attracted to coeds at the University of California campus at Santa Cruz. He said his mother taunted him about the young women, holding them up as models of what he could never has as a wife.

He told the board his goal in life was “non-violence – within himself and with respect to others,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins opposed setting a release date for Kemper. “I would agree with Mr. Kemper that he is not ready for release on parole,” he said.

Kemper appeared to be more calm at this year’s hearing than in past parole hearings, said Hopkins. He appeared subdued and did not complain about the presence of several reporters as he had in past years.

Sources: Santa Cruz Sentinel & Register-Pajaronian, May 29, 1981 / Drawings of parole hearing ©Center for Sacramento History

1980 – “I don’t see a place for me in society ever again.”

Commenting that he was “trying to keep a light air here, rather than being extremely serious,” Edmund E. Kemper III Wednesday told the Community Release Board, “I don’t see a place for me in society ever again.”

At the second of his parole hearings, John Brooks, chairman of the three-man panel, told the six-foot nine-inch murderer he is “unsuitable for parole.”

The release board hearings are conducted on the second floor of the California Medical Facility, in a room with dark paneling and broad tables. The proceedings are tape recorded and a court reporter also takes notes of the discussions.

Wednesday, someone had tied a small noose in the end of a venitian blind cord across the room from where Kemper calmly sat in his blue denim prison uniform.

Kemper criticized the news media for interpreting his remarks at his first, half-hearted parole hearing last year as meaning he does not want to be released from state prison.

“I have tried the door, gentlemen, and I assure you all is secure,” he told the release board last year, adding that the State of California has “more than enough reason to keep me locked up for the rest of my life. I have to say eight people are dead and I murdered them.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, Kemper seemed to show more interest in seeking his own release from prison, but he appeared like a small boy in a candy store, not only afraid to reach out and touch the candy, but also unwilling to admit to himself or others that he wanted some.

“I literally sink my own boat and I do it quite frequently,” he said. But he said the issue is not a matter of his not wanting to be released, it is the fact that he believes he can find no place for himself in society. He said he is a “maniac” in the eyes of society, and he believes he has 230 million enemies in the United States and 5 billion beyond its borders.

“I might as well be on Mars,” he went on. “I don’t see a parole in my future, so I’ve made no formal plans” for his life following release from prison, which is a routine question asked by the board.

In addition to objecting to the presence of four reporters at his hearing, Kemper also said the presence of a deputy district attorney and investigator from Santa Cruz County turned what he interpreted as an “information exchange” hearing into an adversary proceeding.

Prison psychologist R.J. Brooks advised the panel Kemper has “narcissistic and schizo-typical personality disorders” and said he is constantly suspicious of other people’s motives, as well as his own.

However, the psychologist said Kemper is learning to accept criticism and made a difficult emotional decision in the past year which led to his quitting the prison project making tapes of books for the blind, at which he spent 3,600 volunteer hours during his incarceration.

Santa Cruz Deputy DA John Hopkins argued, however, that Kemper lacked a basic understanding of the enormous atrocity of his crimes and seemed to “gloss” over the events. Kemper’s victims were dismembered after they were brutally slain.

Hopkins said Kemper’s crimes were “especially heinous and atrocious” and they were committed in a “dispassionate and calculated manner, with no real explicable motive.”

“He seems to gloss over things, despite his attention to minute detail, and seems unable to really contemplate what underlies this” hearing, Hopkins said. He is making every “effort to distract attention from what’s really been done.”

Kemper, on the other hand, said he has wasted 25 years of his life and feels “an obligation to do something positive, not just sit here and cry for society.”

After approximately 45 minutes of deliberation by the board, Brooks told Kemper he is still “unsuitable for parole.” Adding that his murders were extremely violent, including dismemberment and decapitation of his victims, which showed “a total disregard for human dignity.”

Brooks said the board would follow his psychiatrist’s recommendation that he be held for “a long period of observation.”

“No parole for homicidal giant,” by James E. Reid, The Press Democrat, May 1st, 1980

1979 – Kemper won’t be paroled and that’s fine with him

[During his parole hearing in 1979] Ed Kemper was asked by board member Craig Brown why he got along well in Vacaville with the staff and his peers “and in the community you become violent?”

“Because when I am in a structured situation, I can get help when I need it,” Kemper replied. “But on the streets, I felt rather forgotten and sometimes I felt abandoned.”

The loquacious Kemper later expounded on his life in prison saying, “I was convinced when I came here, I would soon be dead. But the last six months have been the best of my life. I’ve learned to live with myself and with God. I believe I have an obligation to myself and the people around me.”

Source: Register-Pajaronian, May 2, 1979, excerpt from an article by Marj von B

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