This mugshot of Kemper is often thought to have been taken in 1964 when he was arrested for the murder of his grandparents. But if you look closely at the board in front of Kemper, the date is November 9, 1973. That is the day he was sentenced to eight life prison terms for the murder of six coeds, his mother and her best friend.
“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 other crimes, and the only choices I saw were just accept it and go to jail, and let my mother carry the load and let the whole thing fall in her hands, like it happened the last time with my grandparents, or I could take her life.”Ed Kemper explaining one of the reasons he murdered his mother
Photo ©Joey Tranchina
FBI criminal profiler John Douglas talks about his first meeting with Ed Kemper in his book Mindhunter:
“The first thing that struck me when they brought him in was how huge this guy was. I’d known that he was tall and had been considered a social outcast in school and in the neighborhood because of his size, but up close, he was enormous. He could easily have broken any of us in two. He had longish dark hair and a full mustache, and wore an open work shirt and white T-shirt that prominently displayed a massive gut.
It was also apparent before long that Kemper was a bright guy. Prison records listed his IQ as 145, and at times during the many hours we spent with him, Bob [Robert Ressler] and I worried he was a lot brighter than we were. He’d had a long time to sit and think about his life and crimes, and once he understood that we had carefully researched his files and would know if he was bullshitting us, he opened up and talked about himself for hours.
His attitude was neither cocky and arrogant nor remorseful and contrite. Rather, he was cool and soft-spoken, analytical and somewhat removed. In fact, as the interview went on, it was often difficult to break in and ask a question. The only times he got weepy was in recalling his treatment at the hands of his mother. (…)
We ended up doing several lengthy interviews with Kemper over the years, each one informative, each one harrowing in its detail. Here was a man who had coldly butchered intelligent young women in the prime of their lives. Yet I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I liked Ed. He was friendly, open, sensitive, and had a good sense of humor. As much as you can say such a thing in this setting, I enjoyed being around him. I don’t want him out walking the streets, and in his most lucid moments, neither does he. But my personal feelings about him then, which I still hold, do point up an important consideration for anyone dealing with repeat violent offenders. Many of these guys are quite charming, highly articulate, and glib. (…)
Quite clearly, some types of killers are much more likely to repeat their crimes than others. But for the violent, sexually based serial killers, I find myself agreeing with Dr. Park Dietz that “it’s hard to imagine any circumstance under which they should be released to the public again.” Ed Kemper, who’s a lot brighter and has a lot more in the way of personal insight than most of the other killers I’ve talked to, acknowledges candidly that he shouldn’t be let out.”
Source: Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit (1996) by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker / Photo: Getty Images
This is probably one of the most famous pictures of Ed Kemper. This mugshot was taken on April 28, 1973, when he arrived in Santa Cruz, California, escorted by police after his arrest three days earlier in Pueblo, Colorado, where he had given himself up to local police, after the murders of his mother and her best friend.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
John Edward Douglas (born June 18, 1945) is a retired special agent and unit chief in the FBI. Douglas is a renowned expert on criminal and behavioral profiling, and is a prolific and best-selling author on the subject. Among his publications are Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit (1996) and The Cases that Haunt Us (2001). He continues to be in considerable international demand, both as a public speaker/lecturer and as an expert consultant to police departments, law enforcement agencies, and to prosecuting attorneys.
During his tenure with the FBI, Douglas earned a reputation as a widely known expert on criminal personality profiling. He has been touted as one of the pioneers of modern criminal investigative analysis, and is credited with conducting the first organized study in the United States regarding the methods and motivations of violent serial criminals. As part of that research project, he interviewed such notorious killers as James Earl Ray, Richard Speck, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, David Berkowitz, Edmund Kemper, Sirhan Sirhan, and Charles Manson.
John Douglas describes the world of the criminal profiler as arduous, filled with lengthy periods of reading and studying case files, investigator’s notes, autopsy and crime scene reports, examining crime scene photographs, pouring over eyewitness statements, police reports, and, if possible, victim’s statements. When the perpetrator’s identity is unknown, these forensic scientists seek patterns in the evidence that suggest the offender’s behavior and character style. They use their composite information to develop a profile of the unknown subject (UNSUB) that may be used to narrow the search for possible suspects.
Over time, the Investigative Support Unit became known as “The Mind Hunters,” with John Douglas being the chief Mind Hunter. This elite FBI Unit was involved in some of the most notorious and high-profile serial and sadistic murder investigations in American history: the San Francisco Trailside Killer, the Atlanta Child Murderer, Robert Hansen (who hunted and killed prostitutes on his property in Alaska), the Tylenol Poisoner, and the Green River Killer. John Douglas has been described as a profiler who is adept at understanding the way criminals think, getting inside their minds, understanding the workings of both the predator and his prey (the vast majority of serial and sadistic killers are male). Douglas uses this information, along with examination of the crime scene, to create a profile of the perpetrator, and to attempt to predict his future behavior. Upon the criminal’s apprehension, Douglas’ profile could be used to aid in structuring the processes of interrogation and prosecution. John Douglas is both a pioneer and a legendary figure in the forensic science world of criminal profiling.
Douglas has been the inspiration for several fictional characters in film and television series, such as:
Jack Crawford, a major character in the Thomas Harris novels Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal, Douglas claims was based on himself. (Robert Ressler, Douglas’ mentor at the FBI disputes this in his book Whoever Fights Monsters: “Some people still in the BSU have also taken to claiming that they were the models for the FBI characters in the book and movie The Silence of the Lambs, though Harris has stated that the characters are entirely his own and not based on any particular individuals.”) Harris himself has never definitively stated who Crawford is based on. In all likelihood, Crawford is at least an amalgamation of Ressler and Douglas, if not others.
In January 2015, creators of the TV show Criminal Minds confirmed that the characters of FBI profilers Jason Gideon and David Rossi were based on Douglas.
A screenplay adapted from the book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit was picked up by Netflix. Mindhunter stars Jonathan Groff, who plays the character Special Agent Holden Ford, a lead character based on Douglas.
Source: Wikipedia / World of Forensic Science COPYRIGHT 2005 Thomson Gale
A unique piece: This is the book written by John Douglas, Robert Ressler, Ann Burgess and Allan Burgess, following the interviews they conducted with 36 serial killers, including Ed Kemper, in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s an encyclopedia that classifies the elements of crime, and the many different criminal profiles. This is the copy of the book that Douglas gave Kemper as a gift when it was published, and Kemper gave it to one of his friends in 1995. It is signed by both Douglas and Kemper.
This book is part of my collection of true crime collectibles.
Robert Kenneth Ressler (February 21, 1937 – May 5, 2013) was an FBI agent and author. He played a significant role in the psychological profiling of violent offenders in the 1970s and is often credited with coining the term “serial killer.” After retiring from the FBI, he authored a number of books on serial murders, and often gave lectures on criminology.
Robert Kenneth Ressler was a criminologist in private practice and the Director of Forensic Behavioral Services International, a Virginia based consulting company. Mr. Ressler was an expert in the area of violent criminal offenders, particularly in the area of serial and sexual homicide. He was a specialist in the area of criminology, behavioral analysis, crime scene analysis, homicide, sexual assaults, threat assessment, workplace violence, and hostage negotiation.
He was a twenty year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, serving sixteen years in the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit as a Supervisory Special Agent and Criminologist, retiring in 1990. He innovated many of the programs which led to the formulation of the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. Mr. Ressler became the first Program Manager of the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) in 1985.
In addition to having been an Instructor of Criminology while at the FBI Academy, his academic affiliations included Adjunct Faculty at the University of Virginia, Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice and he was a Clinical Assistant Professor in Psychiatry in Georgetown University’s Program on Psychiatry and Law. He was a visiting instructor with the Department of Forensic Pathology at Dundee University, Dundee, Scotland.
He was awarded the 1991 Amicus Award by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, the 1995 Special Section Awarded the Section of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and two Jefferson Awards in 1986 and 1988, by the University of Virginia. Mr. Ressler was a member of The International and American Academies of Forensic Sciences, The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Homicide Investigators Association, the Vidocq Society and other professional organizations.
He originated and directed the FBI’s first research program of violent criminal offenders, interviewing and collecting data on 36 serial and sexual killers resulting in two text books, Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives(1988) now in its 3rd edition and the Crime Classification Manual (1992) which was published in its 3rd edition in 2013. He also coauthored his autobiography, Whoever Fights Monsters (1992), Justice is Served (1994), and I Have Lived In The Monster (1997). Mr. Ressler’s books and real life experiences have been the inspiration for many books authored by Mary Higgins Clark and other authors and the films, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Copycat, and The X Files.
He has lectured at and been a consultant to law enforcement agencies, universities, writers, television networks, and corporations in the U.S. and abroad. He appeared on many major television and radio networks and has been featured in numerous printed media articles in major newspapers and magazines, worldwide.
Mr. Ressler served ten years with the U.S. Army and was active duty during the Vietnam era. He served in the military police and as an investigator with the Army Criminal Investigation Division Command Headquarters in Washington D.C. He retired at the rank of Colonel with 35 years of distinguished service.
Sources: Wikipedia / FBS International: http://fbsinternational.com/in-memoriam/
Supervisory Special Agent and Criminologist Robert K. Ressler, from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, famously told the story of his third meeting with Ed Kemper:
Twice before, I had ventured in the Vacaville prison in California to see and talk with him, the first time accompanied by John Conway, the second time by Conway and by my Quantico associate John Douglas, whom I was breaking in. During those sessions, we had gone quite deeply into his past, his motivations for murder, and the fantasies that were intertwined with those crimes. (…) I was so pleased at the rapport I had reached with Kemper that I was emboldened to attempt a third session with him alone. It took place in a cell just off death row, the sort of place used for giving a last benediction to a man about to die in the gas chamber. (…)
After conversing with Kemper in this claustrophobic locked cell for four hours, dealing with matters that entail behavior at the extreme edge of depravity, I felt that we had reached the end of what there was to discuss, and I pushed the buzzer to summon the guard to come and let me out of the cell. No guard immediately appeared, so I continued on with the conversation. (…)
After another few minutes had passed, I pressed the buzzer a second time, but still got no response. Fifteen minutes after my first call, I made a third buzz, yet no guard came.
A look of apprehension must have come over my face despite my attempts to keep calm and cool, and Kemper, keenly sensitive to other people’s psyches, picked up on this.
“Relax, they’re changing the shift, feeding the guys in the secure area.” He smiled and got up from his chair, making more apparent his huge size. “Might be fifteen, twenty minutes before they come and get you,” he said to me. (…)
Though I felt I maintained a cool and collected posture, I’m sure I reacted to this information with somewhat more overt indications of panic, and Kemper responded to these.
“If I went apeshit in here, you’d be in a lot of trouble, wouldn’t you? I could screw your head off and place it on the table to greet the guard.”
My mind raced. I envisioned him reaching for me with his large arms, pinning me to a wall in a stranglehold, and then jerking my head around until my neck was broken. It wouldn’t take long, and the size difference between us would almost certainly ensure that I wouldn’t be able to fight him off very long before succumbing. He was correct: He could kill me before I or anyone else could stop him. So, I told Kemper that if he messed with me, he’d be in deep trouble himself.
“What could they do– cut off my TV privileges?” he scoffed.
I retorted that he would certainly end up “in the hole” – solitary confinement – for an extremely long period of time.
Both he and I knew that many inmates put in the hole are forced by such isolation into at least temporary insanity.
Ed shrugged this off by telling me that he was an old hand at being in prisons, that he could withstand the pain of solitary and that it wouldn’t last forever. Eventually, he would be returned to a more normal confinement status, and his “trouble” would pale before the prestige he would have gained among the other prisoners by “offing” an FBI agent.
My pulse did the hundred-yard dash as I tried to think of something to say or do to prevent Kemper from killing me. I was fairly sure that he wouldn’t do it but I couldn’t be completely certain, for this was an extremely violent and dangerous man with, as he implied, very little left to lose. How had I been dumb enough to come in here alone?
Suddenly, I knew how I had embroiled myself in such a situation. Of all people who should have known better, I had succumbed to what students of hostage-taking events know as “Stockholm syndrome”- I had identified with my captor and transferred my trust to him. Although I had been the chief instructor in hostage negotiation techniques for the FBI, I had forgotten this essential fact! Next time, I wouldn’t be so arrogant about the rapport I believed I had achieved with a murderer. Next time.
“Ed,” I said, “surely you don’t think I’d come in here without some method of defending myself, do you?”
“Don’t shit me, Ressler. They wouldn’t let you up here with any weapons on you.”
Kemper’s observation, of course, was quite true, because inside a prison, visitors are not allowed to carry weapons, lest these be seized by inmates and used to threaten the guards or otherwise aid an escape. I nevertheless indicated that FBI agents were accorded special privileges that ordinary guards, police, or other people who entered a prison did not share.
What’ve you got then?”
“I’m not going to give away what I might have or where I might have it on me.”
“Come on, come on; what is it – a poison pen?”
“Maybe, but those aren’t the only weapons one could have.”
“Martial arts, then,” Kemper mused. “Karate? Got your black belt? Think you can take me?”
With this, I felt the tide had shifted a bit, if not turned. There was a hint of kidding in his voice – I hoped. But I wasn’t sure, and he understood that I wasn’t sure, and he decided that he’d continue to try and rattle me. By this time, however, I had regained some composure, and thought back to my hostage negotiation techniques, the most fundamental of which is to keep talking and talking and talking, because stalling always seems to defuse the situation. We discussed martial arts, which many inmates studied as a way to defend themselves in the very tough place that is prison, until, at last, a guard appeared and unlocked the cell door. (…)
As Kemper got ready to walk off down the hall with the guard, he put his hand on my shoulder.
“You know I was just kidding, don’t you?”
“Sure,” I said, and let out a deep breath.
I resolved never to put myself or any other FBI interviewer in a similar position again. From then on, it became our policy never to interview a convicted killer or rapist or child molester alone; we’d do that in pairs.
Source: Whoever Fights Monsters – My twenty years tracking serial killers for the FBI, by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman, 1992
August 30, 1980 – Marj Von B, the Register-Pajaronian crime reporter who covered the three most notorious mass murder cases in Santa Cruz County history, died Friday morning at Dominican Hospital. She was 54.
Miss Von B had been ill for several weeks. She entered the hospital last week after it was learned she had cancer, and her health failed rapidly.
Since 1970, she had covered the crime beat at the county courthouse in Santa Cruz for the Register-Pajaronian. During the period, Santa Cruz County was shaken by three mass-murder cases which for a time earned the county the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of the world.
Miss Von B covered the murders committed by and trials of the three killers: John Linley Frazier, who killed four members of the Victor Ohta family and Dr. Ohta’s secretary in October 1970; Herbert Mullin, who killed 13 people in random murders during late 1972 and early 1973; and Edmund Kemper, who killed eight women, including his mother, during the same period in which Mullin was active.
Born in Two Buttes, Colo., on Sept. 20, 1925, Miss Von B was educated in the Los Angeles area, where she was a reporter for news wire services and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. She served in the Navy’s WAVES during World War II.
Having moved to Ben Lomond, she was a reporter for the Valley Press in Felton for three-and-a-half years before joining the Register-Pajaronian’s news staff in April, 1970.
Miss Von B acquired her unusual name formally following her divorce from Linton von Beroldingen; she had it legally changed to the shorter version which she had used all along in newspaper bylines.
She was quietly married at home, at 360 Branciforte Drive, Santa Cruz, two weeks ago to Lyle Freckleton, whom she had known since childhood. A son and daughter by her first marriage are Linton A. and Priska von Beroldingen. A niece is Paula Amerine of Auburn.
There will be no funeral or memorial service; arrangements were handled by the Neptune Society. The family asked that friends wishing to pay their respects make donations to the American Cancer Society.
Source: Green Sheet – August 30, 1980
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.