February 5, 1973, less than a month after the murder of Cindy Schall, was again a perfect day to kill: hard rain was coming down. And Ed Kemper was mad with rage. “My mother and I had a terrible argument. I told her I was going to the movies and I immediately drove my car to the [University] campus because it was still early.” Luck was with him despite the late hour: the campus was buzzing with activity because of a conference that was taking place that evening. He was afraid to stand out as he passed the guards’ gate at the university entrance, because his rear light and bumper were tinkered and were easily identifiable. But there were many cars and the guard was just managing the flow of vehicles. Kemper was spoiled, as there were many hitchhikers in the rainy weather.
Rosalind Thorpe, twenty-three, a student of linguistics and psychology, shared an apartment in Santa Cruz with a friend; she usually went to campus by bicycle, but the bad weather had made her change her mind. “I noticed that she took a look at the sticker which allowed me to park on campus. She took me for another student and settled down next to me without any hesitation. She started talking immediately. I let her do it, she was very open, very friendly. And I wondered how to act. After a while, I decided that it was good, that she would be mine, without any doubt. Besides, I had what I call one of those little zapples! which crossed my body. Every time I had one, they would die; it never happened to me to have a zapple! at another time. It’s the moment when everything falls into place, when the circumstances are ideal. No one around, the guard hadn’t noticed anything, no problem leaving campus and Thorpe suspected nothing. And, of course, she was also someone I didn’t know at all. It was one of my rules of conduct from which I didn’t deviate. I had also decided never to hunt around Santa Cruz, because I lived there, especially with my criminal record. I could be considered a potential suspect. But, as my crimes went on, I became more and more ill and I took fewer and fewer precautions, both in my approach, during and after, which seemed obvious to me given the growing amount of evidence that was discovered, in one form or another.”
As he is about to leave campus, Kemper sees this young Chinese girl hitchhiking. Alice Liu, twenty-one, is the daughter of an aeronautical engineer from Los Angeles and is in her final year of studies at the University of California. Like Rosalind Thorpe, she lived in Santa Cruz in a studio that she shared with a friend. He stops the vehicle and she hops inside, sitting in the back seat. “Okay, here we are chatting, it’s actually Rosalind who is leading the conversation and that suits me. I notice Alice who sees us and gives us her most beautiful smile, thumb raised. A gesture of great beauty, she does it very naturally, with a lot of grace. I think she must have been an experienced hitchhiker. She is superb, with everything you need where you need it, intelligent, dressed in a conservative way, not with these fashionable clothes in bright colors that we saw everywhere at that time. I admit that I was relieved that the two girls didn’t know each other. We pass in front of the entrance gate. I look at the guard insistently, so he doesn’t think to take a look at the back of the car. I’m sure he didn’t see Alice because it was dark, she was small and wore dark clothes. A few hundred feet away, we are alone on the road. The view is superb: below, we see Santa Cruz which is illuminated. I ask them if they have any objection to me slowing down to observe the landscape. Rosalind nods, enthusiastic, but I feel like a reluctance coming from Alice. I have the very clear impression that I disgust her, that she’s too good for a poor guy like me. The car is running. I take out my weapon which is hidden under my leg, a black pistol, it’s dark and Rosalind doesn’t notice anything. We continue to chat and I point my gun. I hesitate for a second, but not more, because the girl in the back seat will see me act. I didn’t stop the car voluntarily, so that the warnings wouldn’t light up, in case we came across another car.”
“Thorpe had a very broad forehead and I was trying to imagine what her brain looked like, inside her skull. I wanted my bullet to hit her right in the middle of the brain. A second before she’s still moving, and the next, she’s dead. A noise, then silence, absolute silence. Liu, who was sitting in the back seat, covered her face with her hands. I turned around and shot her twice, through her hands. I missed her. The third time worked, right in the middle of her temple. We passed the campus gate and I could hear Liu dying in the back seat. Once out of the city, I slowed down as much as possible, before turning her head to the side, and shooting her at point blank range. I know it’s a big risk to take a student directly on campus, so you can imagine taking two multiplies that risk all the more, but I knew I could do it.
Once, in broad daylight, I took three hitchhikers on University Avenue, in Berkeley, and almost killed them. I could have, without any problem, because of the din of the highway which would have covered the shots. I drank more and more. I had to stop because I was losing all self-control. The cops knew me as a heavy drinker in the bar where we hung out, and that may be one of the reasons they didn’t suspect me. In public, I was almost always drunk, wine or beer, or under the influence of various barbiturates, but I remained sober to commit my crimes. Why? When I was drunk I could no longer act. That’s why I drank constantly: I wanted to stop this madness. But it was hard to stay drunk all the time. I drank between six and eight gallons of wine a week, twice as much as my mother. “
In a path away from the road, Kemper put the two bodies in the trunk. He went to fill up at a gas station and to the toilet to clean the blood stains that dot the plaster on his arm and his black jeans. Back home, he parked on the street and told his mother that he fell asleep while watching a movie at the cinema. He leaves her in front of the television and indicates that he is going to buy cigarettes. It is between ten and eleven o’clock in the evening. There is no one on the street and he takes the opportunity to open the trunk and behead the two women with his hunting knife.
The next morning, after his mother leaves for work, Kemper brings the two heads back to his room, cleans them in the bathroom and takes out the bullets. Then, he takes Alice’s corpse, lays her on his bed to rape her and even thinks of washing her body to remove all traces of sperm, before putting her back in the trunk where she joins Rosalind’s headless body. Without really knowing why, Kemper cuts Alice’s hands. This time, he doesn’t bother to dissect the corpses. It’s no longer something that excites him like the first time. It has now become routine. He wants to get rid of all compromising evidence as quickly as possible. Ed heads north on the road to San Francisco. He’s thinking of depositing the corpses there to make the investigators believe that the murderer is from that city.
The media and the police were on their teeth. Macabre disappearances and discoveries were increasing. The body of Cynthia Schall was identified on January 24, 1973, that of Mary Guilfoyle (a victim of Herbert Mullin), on February 11. On February 8, the newspapers announced on their frontpage the disappearances of Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu. By a curious coincidence, two of Kemper’s work colleagues found the beheaded corpses of the two girls on February 14; they were identified a week later. The medical examiner indicated to the investigators that the assassin (s) probably had medical knowledge or acted according to a strange ritual, because Cindy’s Achilles tendons had been cut. Kemper did it to satisfy his necrophilic desires, to prevent cadaverous rigidity and to keep the body “warm”.
He then visits a friend, takes the time to dine and go to the movies, before driving up to Eden Canyon Road around two in the morning, where he throws the beheaded bodies. He then continues to the town of Pacifica, at Devil’s Slide, where he throws the heads and hands of the two young girls. Worried, he regretted not having buried the two heads and returned on the scene two weeks later, at four in the morning.
Source: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz by Stéphane Bourgoin
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