Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: 609 A Ord Drive

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

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

Police looking for a gun

A few weeks before Ed Kemper murdered his mother in April 1973, Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Sergeant Michael Aluffi was instructed to confiscate a gun illegally in the possession of an Aptos man. His name was Edmund Emil Kemper III and the address was 609A Ord Drive.

The instructions had resulted from a routine bulletin from the California Department of Criminal Investigation and Identification, which said that Kemper had purchased a .44 magnum revolver in Watsonville and falsely sworn that he had never been in prison.

The notice did not give any details of Kemper’s first two murders [of his paternal grandparents], listing only court disposition of the case and his prison record.

Aluffi drove to the apartment, but found no one at home. As he was walking away from the apartment door, a yellow Ford pulled into the parking space beside his unmarked vehicle. A large, brown-haired young man and a small young blonde girl were in it. It was Kemper and his fiance.

Kemper discussed the event in his 1984 interview for the documentary “Murder – No Apparent Motive”:

Journalist: Some police department actually came to your house to pick up a handgun. 

Kemper: The sheriff’s representatives, one of the detectives was upset because he heard I had a .44 magnum pistol and was a convicted mental patient and killed. He came to take the gun away. They were staking out the wrong house across the street and I’m playing around with a car, standing next to the gun in the trunk. They come over and asked, “Excuse me, sir. Do you know who lives in this house across the street?” Well, that house was 609 Harriet. He crossed back over to this side, 609 Ord, and they were looking for me and didn’t even know that was me. Bad news. Well, at any rate, we walk in the house and have them ask my mother about this other house, and I’m saying, “Hey, which 609 are you looking for?” They said, “Are you Ed Kemper?” “Yes,” and it goes on and I needed to find out what they were looking for, the murder weapon, the .22 automatic or the .44 magnum, and I don’t want to advertise that I’ve got a whole bunch of guns. So, I made a comment just to divide between the two and I suggest, “quite a little gun, isn’t it?”

He reported, “.44 magnum, I hope so.” Okay, because that loaded .22 was under the front seat and guarantee me an arrest right on the spot and the .44 was in the trunk. I forgot that. I took them in the house. We went into my bedroom and the closet doors open and I have a high-powered rifle with a scope on it with some other stuff in the house.

You had some other stuff in the house, yes?

Yeah, I had the personal effects of the last two coeds that had been murdered about two months before, right next to the guns in the closet in a box.

Could he have seen it?

No, but when he arrested me for having all those guns and went through the closet looking to see if there were any pistols or anything else, he wouldn’t have… couldn’t have helped notice a purse, a book bag and coed ID inside of those belonging to their two latest murder victims. I back up and I say, “Oh, excuse me. I just remembered something,” and instantly he responds to what I’m saying. My hand moves, back we go outside, and he’s still thinking, “Boy, this is a really nice and helpful guy here.”

Sources: Excerpt from book “Sacrifice Unto Me” by Don West, 1974, Pyramid Publishing / Excerpt from the interview from “Murder – No Apparent Motive” (1984)

Ed Kemper’s house in Santa Cruz

In the summer of 2018, I went to Santa Cruz, California, and visited places that were important in Ed Kemper’s story. Of course, I went to see the house where he lived with his mother and where he murdered her and her friend, Sally Hallett. 

The house is located in Aptos at 609A Ord Road (ground floor), but it appears under 609 Harriet Avenue on Google Streetview. The two streets meet, and the other house is behind Kemper’s. It’s a bit unclear and I remember that Kemper had mentioned in his 1984 interview for No Apparent Motive that the police had confused the two addresses when they came to take away his .44 magnum gun in 1973. 

It’s located in a really lovely and quiet residential neighbourhood. When you come from the highway, you pass through a wooded area before getting to the residential area. Kemper’s house stands out as it is one of the only ones on the street that has two floors. There are a lot of trees and flowers in the neighbourhood. 

I was hoping to see the inside of the house. As I was gathering my courage to go ring the doorbell, a SUV arrived and parked in the driveway. A woman and her young daughter came out and headed for the 609A door. I approached the woman and told her why I was there. She was aware of Kemper’s story. I asked if it was possible to see inside the house. She said no, but that it was ok to take pictures outside. She said that a lot of people come to see the house. 

The backyard where Kemper buried Cindy Schall’s head is now made of concrete.

The house has been regularly for sale since the murders. It is currently off the market, as it sold in May 2019 for more than 1,5 million dollars USD.

Photo sources: Edmund Kemper Stories / realtor.com

“He seemed like kind of a momma’s boy”

Ed Kemper’s neighbour, Carla Gervasoni

Following Ed Kemper’s arrest on April 24, 1973 in Pueblo, Colorado, the media interviewed 20-year-old student Carla Gervasoni, Kemper’s upstairs neighbour on Ord Drive in Aptos, who stated: “Oh, he was kind of an odd man. He didn’t say much. He seemed like kind of a momma’s boy. I always was kind of afraid of him, actually. He scared me a lot. And I heard him and his mother argue quite a bit. All the time.”

Gervasoni added: “He was too quiet sometimes. He was always taking things, you know, back and forth. Guns. He had guns, that I saw. I guess that’s why I thought he was strange. He scared me.”

Source: Bay Area TV Archive – Edmund Kemper Murders Collection

Arguments erupt between Kemper and his mother

Fewer people knew Guy Kemper. Some of his few close friends, like youth counselor Bob Fazdin, knew him as Guy. A lot of his buddies down at the Fireside and Jury Room called him “Big Ed” to match his six-foot-inch height and two-hundred-ninety-pound bulk. At work, he was nicknamed “Forklift” because of his ability to carry two ninety-two-pound sacks of cement on his massive, outstretched arms.

His mother had named him Edmund Emil Kemper III to continue a tradition in her husband’s family.

Guy was not as widely known as Herb (Mullin). He had only come to town in 1969 to visit his mother, who had lived in Aptos since 1965 and worked at the University of California campus north of town.

His mother, Clarnell Strandberg, told friends very little of her or her son’s past life other than allusions to the Hollywood crowd and a good bank job she had held in Helena, Montana. She was considered good at her job — an administrative assistant to Charles Post, the first provost of UC’s Stevenson College — and later she moved across campus to College Five.

Guy was introduced to her friends as her highwayman son — he worked for the California Division of Highways as a flagman. He visited occasionally on his motorcycle.

In early 1972 Guy took a recuperation leave from his job — he had broken his left arm in a motorcycle smashup — and spent more time in Santa Cruz area and at his mother’s apartment.

Neighbors could always tell when Guy was visiting — arguments would inevitably erupt, shouting sessions in which he would be upbraided for lazing about drinking beer and not making something himself.

Mrs. Strandberg was a large woman, standing exactly six feet tall and built as square as her son. Her voice was heavy and when angry carried a long distance. She had been known to reduce Guy to tears in front of his friends with her sharp tongue.

After he wrecked his motorcycle, Guy drove an old yellow Ford and immediately crumpled the right rear fender, requiring a makeshift tail light on that side.

The easily recognizable two-door sedan came and went at all hours. And the mother and son arguments raged as often and irregularly.

He once explained to a neighbor girl, twenty-year-old Carla Gervasoni, that the arguments between him and his mother were just the way they expressed themselves as a family.

“We like to get things out in the open. My mother and are really very close and we know these fights don’t mean anything,” Guy said, apologizing for the late hour at which the last argument had erupted.

Source: Sacrifice Unto Me (Don West, Pyramid Books, 1974)

Police search Ed Kemper’s car

Among evidence found in suspect’s car by Detective Terry Madina (left) and Criminalist Paul Daugherty was a shovel, bagged for lab.

When Ed Kemper was arrested, his car was still parked near his mother’s apartment at 609 A Ord Drive. The police searched it and found, in the trunk, a shovel and a red dishpan. There was also a bloodstained knife, strands of hair and blood stains from his victims’ bodies.

Detective Terry Madina searches the trunk of Ed Kemper’s car.

Source: Register-Pajaronian, April 27, 1973, by Marj Von B