Edmund Kemper Stories

Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

The murder of Clarnell Strandberg

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT INCLUDED BELOW

The following is from a taped interview between suspect Edmund Emil Kemper III and Investigator Michael Aluffi, held at the Santa Cruz Jail on April 28, 1973. 

Aluffi: This interview will be based around the incidents that occurred at your home last Saturday [April 21, 1973]. Is there anything that you want to tell me that led up to this incident?

Kemper: Not really.

Aluffi: Well, let’s start with the reason for it.

Kemper: That’s rather involved. The reason for it is these murders were coming to a head I felt, that I was going to be caught pretty soon for the killing of these girls, or I was going to blow up and do something very open and get myself caught, and so I did not want my mother… A long time ago I had thought about what I was going to do in the event of being caught for the crimes and the only choices I seen open is being that I could just accept it and go to jail and let my mother carry the load, and let the whole thing fall in her hands like happened last time with my grand-parents. Or, I could take her life. Well, I guess that leaves me two choices, I could either do it in the open with her knowing what was happening or I could do it when she didn’t know what was happening. Last Friday night, whatever date that was, I had decided it was the night before the killing, or the day before the killing really, I had been thinking about it for quite a while and I just started working myself up towards the act of killing her. I guess that answers the reason.

Aluffi: All right, you want to get into the actual crime?

Kemper: OK. I got home Friday night, or I got back to her home from Alameda, where I’d been working early Friday in the afternoon and I sat around the house and took care of a few business problems, you know, calling and  making a couple phone calls that were unrelated to the problem, and I called my mother at work and let her know I was in town and she told me that she was going out to a dinner, some faculty dinner or something, and she’d be home late. So, I sat around and drank some beer, watched television, stayed up as late as I could and I had wished to talk to her really, before anything had happened. It was my hopes that she would go on good terms and this was impossible because, well I guess it would be good terms because we hadn’t really argued or anything when we talked on the phone. I went to bed about midnight I guess and I woke up a couple hours later. Well, let me see, that doesn’t work out right. I think I went to bed around two and she still wasn’t home and I went to bed and went to sleep. I woke up a couple hours later, around four, and she had already come home, done whatever she does when she gets home late at night and had retired for the evening. This was after I had gone to bed around 2:00 AM Saturday morning. She was in bed, reading a book and I woke up about four o’clock in the morning, two hours after I went to sleep roughly. The lights were pretty much out in the house. I didn’t see any lights on. I hadn’t heard anything and I thought, gee, it’s four o’clock and she’s still not home. So, I got up and I walked out of my bedroom, noticed her small light was on and walked into her bedroom, just as she had taken off her glasses and turned the light off. Without her turning it back on, she commented that uh, I said oh, you’re home, and she says, you’re up, what are you doing up? I said well, I just wanted to see if you were home. I hadn’t heard anything. She said, oh I suppose you want to talk. This has happened several times before, when she’d come in late and I wanted to talk and we’d talk and then she’d go to sleep. She didn’t say it in an abusive manner, it was more or less just jive and I said no. She said well, we’ll talk in the morning. I said fine, good night. She left the light out and I walked out of the room and back to my bedroom, layed down and decided at that point, I was going to wait another hour or so, until she was asleep before it happened.

Kemper: I looked at my watch. It was about a quarter after four, something like that, and I layed there in bed thinking about it and it’s something hard to just up and do. It was the most insane of reasons for going and killing your mother. But I was pretty fixed on that issue because there were a lot of things involved. Someone just standing off on the side, watching something like that isn’t really going to see any kind of sense or rhyme or reason to anything. I had done some things and I felt that I had to carry the full weight of everything that happened. I certainly wanted for my mother a nice quiet, easy death like I guess everyone wants. The only way I saw this possible was for it to be in bed, while she was asleep. The next thing was to decide how to do it. The only possible answer to that I saw was to take a hammer and hit her with it, in her sleep, and then to cut her throat. So, I waited till about 5:15 AM, I went into the kitchen and got a hammer. We have a regular claw hammer at home, picked up my pocket knife, the same one I’d used to kill Mary Anne Pesce with, opened it up, and I carried that in my right hand and the hammer in my left, walked into the bedroom very quietly.

Kemper: She had been sound asleep. She moved around a little bit and I thought maybe she was waking up. I just waited and waited and she was just laying there. So, I approached her right side, to my right on the right side of the bed, on her side. I stood there for a couple of minutes and spent most of that day, and most of that week I suppose and most of that night, trying to get myself I guess you’d say hopped up to do something like that, thinking nothing but reasons to do it and the need to do it, trying to keep everything else out of my mind. I stood by her side for a couple of minutes I suppose and about 5:15 I struck and I hit her just above the temple on her right side of the head, the side that was up from the pillow. It was above and behind her temple on the right side of her head. I struck with a very hard blow and I believe I dropped the hammer, or I layed it down or something. Immediately after striking that blow, I looked for a reaction, and there really wasn’t one, blood started running down her face from the wound, and she was still breathing, I could hear the breathing and I heard blood running into her, I guess it was her windpipe. It was obvious I had done severe damage to her, because in other cases where I had shot people in the head, I heard the same, or it had the same effect, blood running into the breathing passages, and this all happened in a few moments.

Kemper: But after I struck, I moved her over in the bed on her back and with my right hand holding her chin up, I slashed her throat. She bled profusely all over and I guess it was an afterthought, I hadn’t really thought of it, but her being my mother, and me out doing those other things, and I knew right off if I had torn everything out in the open, and my plan which I didn’t mention earlier, had been to just, well everything’s getting to an end and I could either kill her and turn myself in or I could kill her and head out with everything I had, my arsenal. This was my choice at that time. So, I decided at that time, it’s a hell of a cliché to use, but I guess what was good for my victims was good for my mother. So, after I slashed her throat, I went ahead and slashed the rest of the way around her neck and took off her head, and I guess half as much of that was to make absolutely sure in my own mind that she was dead instantly and right then, so the whole attack took maybe, less than half a minute, possibly even as little as 20 seconds…

Sources: Ed Kemper’s official jailhouse confessions in April 1973 / Images from David Jouvent’s graphic novel Ed Kemper – Dans la peau d’un serial killer, 2020

Passing of Harold Cartwright (1940-2021)

We are saddened to hear that Harold Cartwright passed away a few days ago at the age of 80. Mr. Cartwright worked on Ed Kemper’s defense team. He was an investigator for Kemper’s lawyer, Jim Jackson. Thanks to @8folddharma on Instagram for letting us know.

During the 2018 two-hour special “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer,” former investigator with the Santa Cruz Public Defender’s Office Harold Cartwright opened up about what it was like working on “Co-Ed Killer” Ed Kemper’s defense team.

“Tell you a little bit about my interaction with Eddy, with Ed Kemper,” said Cartwright. “One day, I had a really stiff neck — I couldn’t move my head hardly at all.”

Cartwright continued, “[Kemper] said, ‘I know a lot about anatomy. I can make your neck feel better.’ So, I went around, and he worked on my neck for maybe, I don’t know, five minutes. And you know? It worked.”

Cartwright said that even though the 6-foot-9-inch, 285-pound Kemper “could have probably killed [him] with one hand,” he “never felt unsafe in his presence.”

“I felt that if somebody had attacked me, he would have come to my aid,” Cartwright told “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer.”

The two spent “a lot of time together,” and Cartwright said he and Kemper were “friendly.” While Kemper was in jail awaiting trial for murdering eight women — including his own mother and her best friend — many members of law enforcement also described him as “friendly,” “cooperative” and a model prisoner.

Still, defending an admitted serial killer took “a horrible toll” on all those involved in the investigation.

Cartwright said, “If I could change things in my life, I would definitely not have participated in these mass murders. I had a wife and two little kids; I worked 13 months without a day off. Within five years after these trials were completed, the district attorney was divorced, I was divorced, several of the police officers involved were divorced. … It was difficult, difficult time [sic], and it’s always a part of you.”

Mr. Cartwright’s obituary is available here.

Source: “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer” from Oxygen, 2018

“I’d love to take credit for more [victims]”

Aluffi (left), Kemper (right)

The following is from a taped interview between suspect Edmund Emil Kemper III and investigator Michael Aluffi, held at the Santa Cruz Jail on April 28, 1973. 

Aluffi: Ed, you’ve admitted to the deaths of six coeds, your mother and Mrs. Hallett, are there any other homicides that you’ve committed other than your grandmother and your grandfather?

Kemper: No.

Aluffi: None whatsoever?

Kemper: None whatsoever.

Aluffi: What about in Santa Rosa?

Kemper: No. There almost was a victim there, but I guess pretty much for the same reason I didn’t kill so many others, it was a surprise pickup and quite a lovely young lady, and I just psychologically was not prepared for it. But when I was psychologically in the mood for it and everything worked out right, the person didn’t have a chance, when I knew ahead of time. 

Aluffi: But you did pick up a hitchhiker in Santa Rosa?

Kemper: Yes, the deposited her safely. She was probably 16 or 17 years old.

Aluffi: What about Los Angeles?

Kemper: No, I picked up people up and down there for the same reason, only on one occasion, two girls, and I released them at their destination and picked up one girl in Santa Barbara that was headed for Santa Cruz. But at that time, all I had was my knife and I didn’t really see an opportunity to use it. 

Aluffi: Did you ever pick up any hitchhikers in Las Vegas?

Kemper: No.

Aluffi: Have you ever been to Las Vegas?

Kemper: Yes, long, long ago and only by bus.

Aluffi: So in essence, the killings that you have admitted, those are the only ones that you’ve ever completed. 

Kemper: I’d love to take credit for more, not because I’m looking for a big score, but that I wouldn’t take credit for any that I didn’t do because, well, there’s partially the guilt factor involved and there also is the uh, well I didn’t do it, so I didn’t get any pleasure out of it or any guilt out of it and why take somebody else off the hook who did do it. Obviously, whoever did these other crimes that haven’t been solved doesn’t have too many clues against him. I’m not trying to pat anybody on the back or help anybody else get away with anything, but I figure I can’t even cop out to these crimes because they’re gonna find out that I didn’t do them and I wouldn’t be able to give you any details, not even under a lie detector test. 

Aluffi: Would you be willing to submit to a lie detector test?

Kemper: Sure, as long as it only pertained to any cases that I didn’t involve myself in. You know, there’s always questions people don’t like to sit there and have a lie detector test on concerning other parts in their lives. 

Aluffi: But you would be willing to submit to a lie detector test in reference to…

Kemper: Any unsolved murders that you might think I had something to do with, or to verify certain statements I have made concerning the crimes I did commit. 

Aluffi: You would submit to the subjects of these coeds deaths?

Kemper: Certainly.

Aluffi: Do you think you could remember anything else that might be of any consequence in these investigations?

Kemper: Not at this time I don’t.

Aluffi: Would you be willing to talk to me at a later time if you did remember something like that?

Kemper: Yes.

Sources: Ed Kemper’s official jailhouse confessions in April 1973 / Photos are from the Santa Cruz Sentinel (for Aluffi) and another unknown newspaper (for Kemper) / Kemper photo by W. H. Hawkins found on Reddit and first published by the Facebook Ed Kemper Discussion page

After 41 years in law enforcement, Aluffi retires

Michael Aluffi became homicide detective in 1972, just as the United States’ attention was about to fix on Santa Cruz, where three different serial killers, John Linley Frazier, Edmund Kemper and Herbert Mullin, would send the country into a panic.

As new detective, Aluffi had to manage the paperwork from registered firearm sales. One day, a record of sale landed on his desk for a .44 caliber magnum pistol bought by Kemper, who had a sealed juvenile record. Suspicious, Aluffi went to Kemper’s house with his partner Don Smythe to confiscate the gun until they could find out more about Kemper’s past.

“There was something about Kemper that made me uneasy when we visited his house,” Aluffi said about the 6-foot-9-inch behemoth of a man who would later be convicted of eight murders. “When he went to the trunk of his car to get the gun, Don and I instinctively put our hands on our guns and went to either side of the car. Kemper later told me that if we hadn’t been watching him so closely, he planned to kill us.”

Aluffi and Smythe’s visit to his house made Kemper nervous that the cops were closing in on him, and he killed and beheaded his mother and her best friend before fleeing. He made it to Pueblo, Colorado, before he decided to call Santa Cruz to confess. Aluffi, along with other law enforcement, was sent to Colorado to accompany the serial killer on the long ride back.

“After that I was more confident as an officer, absolutely,” Aluffi said. “I felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle at that point.”

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 20, 2010

“I’m going to murder my mother”

“I said, ‘It’s not going to happen to anymore girls. It’s gotta stay between me and my mother.’ … I said, ‘She’s gotta die, and I’ve gotta die, or girls are gonna die.’ And that’s when I decided, ‘I’m going to murder my mother.’ … I knew a week before she died I was going to kill her.”

Kemper explained in a 1984 interview that, by April 1973, he wanted to end the life of the person who he believed fueled his violent, murderous rage — Kemper’s abusive, alcoholic mother, Clarnell Strandberg, after having murdered six female students from various colleges and universities scattered along the coast of Northern California.

Source: Documentary Murder: No Apparent Motive (1984)

Kemper’s sexual achievement

Inv. Michael Aluffi:   Did you ever have any kind of a sexual achievement while you were killing them [his victims]?

KemperYes, I’m sure it’s happened before, but the only time I actually noticed an ejaculation was as I was killing Mrs. Hallett on Saturday night, as she was dying, it was a great physical effort on my part, very restraining, very difficult, much less difficult that I made it, I went into a full complete physical spasm let’s say. I just completely put myself out on it and as she died, I felt myself reaching orgasm. In the other cases, the physical effort was less. I think with the Koo girl, in the case of a suffocation, the same thing happened. But I didn’t really notice it, because I did have sex with her right after causing her to be unconscious. 

Source: Excerpt from Ed Kemper’s official jailhouse confessions in Santa Cruz on April 28, 1973 (after his arrest in Pueblo, Colorado), pages 27 and 28 / Video of confessions from the Oxygen documentary Kemper on Kemper (2018)

Anita Luchessa – School photo souvenirs

Anita Luchessa was Ed Kemper’s second co-ed victim. Kemper killed her and her friend Mary Anne Pesce on May 7, 1972 after he picked them up in Berkeley, California, as they were hitchhiking to Stanford University.

Here are some photo souvenirs of Anita during her years in high school. She was involved in many clubs in school, including the freshman yell leaders, the sophomore yell leaders, the German club, the American field service, le Circle français and the science club. A red star identifies Anita in the pictures below.

From the 1968 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1969 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1969 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1969 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1969 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1971 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto

Source: Ancestry

Murder Capital of the World

This photo and famous Kemper quote are from the upcoming book Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, which will be released in May 2021. It covers the crimes of the three active serial killers in the Santa Cruz region in California in the early 1960s, that of Edmund Kemper, Herbert Mullin and John Linley Frazier. The stories are all told through direct quotes from the murderers themselves, people from their families and those who were involved in their respective cases.

I had the chance to read an advanced copy and this book is simply terrific. Many new information and details about the Kemper case. Direct quotes from his mother, his father and his older sister are quite revealing. Many new pictures of Kemper during the trial and a never-seen-before mugshot of young Kemper. Kemper researchers will be thrilled by this book as it enriches his story quite a lot. We will do an official review when the book comes out this Spring.

Ed Kemper’s fingerprints

Just found this image of Ed Kemper’s fingerprints as they were taken on April 24, 1973, the day he surrendered himself to police after murdering his mother and her best friend, on the thisisedkemper website we previously told you about.

Kemper’s last hours of freedom are described as follows:

On the morning of April 24, 1973, Ed Kemper surrendered in Pueblo, Colorado.

He had been driving east across the country for days after committing his final murders in Santa Cruz. As he approached the Kansas border in the middle of the night, he was struck by a troubling memory from his teenage years at Atascadero State Hospital.

He turned around.

Kemper drove back the way he came and stopped at a bar in Lamar, Colorado. He had a confrontation with a local man before finishing his beer, getting into his car, and continuing west. At a phone booth in Pueblo by the side of the highway, he finally gave himself up to police.

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