Frontier Town Chapel Scene of Susan Hughey Kemper Irving R. Swanson Wedding
The chapel at Frontier Town was the setting for the wedding of Susan Hughey Kemper and Irving R. Swanson. Standards of white chrysanthemums and pink gladioli, tied with pink ribbon, decorated the sanctuary. The Rev. Roland S. Rasar officiated at the double ring rites in the presence of 30 relatives of the couple.
The bride is the daughter of Mrs. Edmund Emil Kemper, Jr., of Helena and Edmund Emil Kemper Jr., of North Hollywood, Calif. Her husband is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick E. Swanson of Big Timber.
Escorted by Brother
Given in marriage by her brother, [Ed] Guy Kemper, the bride wore a street-length, white sheath dress styled with scoop neckline and full, lace overskirt attached at the waistline with two pearls. She wore matching lace mitts, gathered at the wrist with seed pearls, and carried a white Bible topped with baby pink roses and shattered carnations tied with white streamers.
The bride’s shoulder-length veil of silk illusion cascaded from a circlet of pearls. Her jewelry, a single pearl pendant, was a gift of the bridegroom.
Sharon McDowell was maid of honor. Her gown of blue was similar in design to the one worn by the bride. She chose dyed-to-match shoes and a small pink headpiece of flowers and veiling. She carried pink carnations tied with white lace.
Mrs. Kemper chose a navy-blue shantung dress with peplum for her daughter’s wedding. The mother of the bridegroom chose an emerald green satin sheath dress. Each wore pink accessories and a pink corsage of roses and carnations.
Ray Swanson acted as best man for his brother. Harvey Jung, cousin of the bride, seated the guests.
Mrs. Tate Peek played traditional nuptial music on the chapel’s antique organ before and during the ceremony. Two candelabra, holding white candles decorated with sprays of lily-of-the-valley and white streamers, decorated the table for a reception dinner in the Frontier Town dining room.
The five-tier wedding cake, decorated with white roses and white bells, was topped by two white satin bells ringed with pearls and shot with tulle. Elnora Jung, aunt of the bride, cut and served the cake. Sylvia Newburn of New York had charge of the guest book and assisted Mrs. Jung with the gifts.
Reside in Bozeman
Since returning from a wedding trip to Glacier Park, the newlyweds reside in Bozeman, where the bridegroom is employed by Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co. He is a Navy veteran.
For traveling, the bride chose a navy blue and white suit with navy blue cummerbund, blue jewelry, white accessories and a red corsage.
The bride, who attended North Hollywood High School and Helena High School, was employed at St. Peter’s Hospital prior to her marriage.
Wedding guests included Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Swanson, Michael and Cherie, and Mr. and Mrs. Duane Kirkpatrick, Douglas and David, all of Livingston. Swanson and Mrs. Kirkpatrick are a brother and sister of the bride-groom.
Prior to her marriage, the bride was honored at a miscellaneous shower given by Miss McDowell at the home of Mrs. Jung.
Source: The Independent Record, Helena, Montana, Sunday, July 23, 1961
Ed Kemper and his older sister Susan Swanson discussed the Santa Cruz murders and Herbert Mullin in April 1973 before Kemper’s arrest: “Guy [Kemper’s nickname] and I discussed them one day when mom and I went to the university to borrow a movie projector so I could show a movie I had brought from home [in Montana]. There was something said about Mullin firing his attorney because he had long hair, and I asked Guy if he thought Mullin had done the co-ed slayings too. He said he didn’t because none of them were similar in any way to how his victims had been shot–then the subject was dropped. The first weekend I was there, Guy went to Turlock and picked up [Kemper’s fiancée] and brought her to mom’s. We went to San Francisco that weekend Mom, I, [Kemper’s fiancée], and Guy, and along the road he mentioned that down there, pointing to the right, was where they had found two girls propped up against something I don’t remember the exact area. We drove along the coast highway, but this was a hilly section inland, just a bit. I believe it was just south of San Jose. Another time, I commented on the girls hitchhiking and mentioned they weren’t too bright, considering what happened and the particular ones I mentioned were really dressed shabby. He said it was strange because some of the co-eds killed were very attractive girls, not hippie looking at all. I think this was mentioned at the same time the conversation about Mullin was discussed on the way to the university. The subject changed. He didn’t say or do anything strange or comment any more than anyone might comment because of what had been happening.”
“One day when we were driving from Aptos along the beach toward Santa Cruz, just sightseeing, [Kemper] pointed off toward the beach and mentioned that a girl’s head was washed up along there -no more was said, and he brought it up.”
“Several times while we were riding around while I was there he would notice a girl and really stare, not just look or glance, and I teased him that he’d better get out of that habit when he gets married or [Kemper’s fiancée] would sure get jealous. He said she’s used to it or something along that line and most of these girls were dark skinned, possibly Mexican heritage, with black hair and medium build, tending toward heavy. He also commented that he sure likes those big butts- again I just passed it off and went on to other talk.”
Source: Book “Murder Capital of the World” by Emerson Murray, 2021 / Photo: Yearbook, University of Southern California, 1964
When Ed Kemper was arrested in August 1964 after murdering his grandparents, his mother, Clarnell Strandberg, and his older sister, Susan Swanson, were interviewed by doctors and social workers from the Atascadero State Hospital where Kemper was imprisoned for the next five years.
Clarnell Strandberg: “She [Kemper’s older sister, Susan] was always responsible for and protective of Guy [Kemper’s nickname] while I worked. Sometimes protected him from my discipline out of misguided love. He and Sue were close until she began to mature and then Allyn, my fourteen-year-old daughter and he had a close relationship-however his needs were building and hers were normal and gregarious and outgoing and she had friends he resented.”
Susan Swanson: “As far back as I can remember, Guy has wanted to be by himself, he has seemed to be happier when there was only family. He never seemed too interested in participating in activities with other children. We seemed fairly close at times, but if something didn’t go Guy’s way he would get awfully mad, not as if he were spoiled and throwing a tantrum but mad at everyone… All kinds of things would bother him, like the way my kids would cry or when my little girl would be drooling or spitting I would never hear the end of it from Guy. Sounds of a constant coughing or crying or heavy breathing would really upset him.”
Source (text and photo): Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021
Some time in March 1973, Ed [Guy] Kemper and his mother went off-roading in a jeep and Clarnell injured her shoulder. Kemper’s sister, Susan Swanson, came and stayed with Kemper and his mother on April 1:
“A little vacation and also it would be a good time to go down and help mom with her stuff that she couldn’t handle with her broken shoulder. So, it was kind of a two-way visit. So, I went down the first of April and I came home on the 19th. In fact, I missed all this by forty hours, which was very shattering to me. It was a beautiful nineteen days. [Kemper killed his mother on April 21st]. During the days, Guy would sleep an awful lot, he would get up maybe at noon or two o’clock. Either that, or I understood him to be going off with friends during the day, like target practicing or something. He might leave oh, around noon or something and come back around dinner time or whatever. Some days, he’d just kind of hang around the house or be gone for a couple of hours and then he and I would do things during the day. I would take mom to school to work and then I’d come back and kind of clean up the apartment while Guy was asleep and then when he’d wake up we’d either go do something or he’d go do something and I would just, you know, drive around or sightsee, or whatever. In the evening, I would pick mom up from school and Guy most always was gone in the evening. He would go to the Jury Room a lot or go to the show, or… as far as the accuracy, whether he was really there or not, I don’t know; but he was gone in the evenings a lot, and would get home quite late- two or three in the morning. And he drank quite a bit, of beer. For breakfast, he had two large cans of beer and he seemed to be able to hold beer quite well. I mean, it would take quite a bit before you would notice any signs that he had been drinking. I never saw him drunk. I never saw him staggering. I never saw him slurring his speech or anything.
“I’ve never taken lessons in judo or karate, but I have picked up a few little things, I’m fascinated with the tournaments, watching the art. I wanted to show [Kemper] this new throw that I had just picked up on television. Well, being 6’9″, or whatever, I’m 6’1″, or 6’1/2” myself, and not any weakling, and I was going to show him how the throw goes and I couldn’t even waver him on his feet and he says, he’s standing there with his hands on his hips saying, “What are you doing? What are you trying to do?”
“I said, “Oh, I’m going to throw you.” You know. We clowned around and made little fake karate chops and say, if I came around a corner or something and he was coming around at the same time, kind of like a surprise, not to surprise each other, but just bumping into each other coming around the corner, we’d go POW POW, and a few little phony karate things and the most scary thing right now is he would make a motion like he, with his hands in a karate chop, had lapped off my head and then held his hands out like he caught it. And laughed. And I would laugh. Because it seemed so funny, you know, this karate business, ho ho, and we were just playing around with it all the time. And this motion especially now, just this WHAP, and make his hands like he’s catching my head–and I’d laugh. I can’t believe this now.”
Source: Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, 2021 / Photo: Ancestry, Yearbook, University of Southern California, 1963
This is Ed Kemper’s official birth certificate. It contains several interesting pieces of information about Kemper’s coming into this world:
Edmund Emil Kemper III was born on December 18, 1948 at 11:04 PM at the St-Joseph Hospital in Burbank, California.
At the time of Kemper’s birth, his family was living at 6706 ½ Camellia Avenue in North Hollywood, California.
Kemper’s parents, Clarnell Elizabeth Stage and Edmund Emil Kemper Jr., were respectively 27 and 29 years old when Kemper was born.
There were no complications during pregnancy and labor, but delivery did require an operation: an episiotomy and repair (opening of the vagina a bit wider by a cut in the area between the vagina and anus (perineum), allowing the baby to come through it more easily).
“I was very grateful when I bore Guy, to have been given a son – always felt strongly about it. The father never wanted any of them [the three Kemper children] in a planned sense. He always felt we couldn’t afford it and here they are today and he still can’t afford it, and love is actually quite inexpensive.”
clarnell strandberg in 1964 during an interview with specialists at atascadero when ed kemper was arrested for murdering his grandparents
Source: Murder Capital of the World, by Emerson Murray, 2021
Here is a never-before-seen photo of 15-year-old Ed Kemper having a meal with his stepfather, Harold Strandberg, his mother’s third husband, in Helena, Montana, in August 1964. Shortly after, Kemper returned to his grandparents’ ranch in North Fork, and murdered them.
Edmund Emil Kemper Sr. and his wife Maude Matilda Kemper were both murdered by their grandson, serial killer Edmund Kemper III, on August 27, 1964, at their ranch in North Fork, California. They were his first victims.
Maude Matilda (nee Hughey) Kemper was born on November 19, 1897 in Topeka, Shawnee County, in Kansas. She was the sixth of seven children to her parents Henry McClellan Hughey and Violet Elizabeth (nee Dodge) Hughey. Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1910.
That’s where she met Edmund Emil Kemper Sr. a few years later, and married him on June 7, 1914. She was 16 and he was 21. They had three sons: Edmund Emil Kemper Jr. (1919-1985); Robert (1921-2018); and a third son whose name might be Raymond.
Edmund Sr. was a farmer before enlisting in the Army in 1917, and serving during the First World War. He was the third of six sons to his parents Frederick Augustus Reinhardt Kemper and Bertha Anna Haas. After the war, he worked as an electrician for the California State Division of Highways.
Maude and Edmund Sr. lived on an isolated farm in North Fork, Madera County, California, in 1963, when their oldest son, Edmund Jr., visited them with his second wife and his son Edmund III during the Christmas holidays. After the celebrations, Edmund Jr. left his son with his parents. Edmund Jr. explained his decision in 1964:
“His personality had changed so much that I was worried about him being here with my present wife, who tried very hard to be a real friend to him. I saw him one day in a brooding mood and his eyes looked like a sleepwalker. In several talks I had with him toward the last he seemed fascinated by death and war. Tried to watch Weird Tales on TV which I suppressed.”
Of his father, Kemper said, “he didn’t want me around, because I upset his second wife. Before I went to Atascadero, my presence gave her migraine headaches; when I came out she was going to have a heart attack if I came around.”
It was because of that, Kemper said, that he was “shipped off” to his paternal grandparents to live in “complete isolation” on a California mountain top with “my senile grandfather” and “my grandmother who thought she had more balls than any man and was constantly emasculating me and my grandfather to prove it. I couldn’t please her… It was like being in jail… I became a walking time bomb and I finally blew…”
Kemper hated living on his grandparents’ farm, but he had great admiration for his grandfather. Some people who knew Kemper believed his grandfather was the only person he ever really loved: “Well, I’d heard stories about when he [his grandfather] was younger. He was a pretty fierce guy. He was an original cowboy. He carried a .45 on his hip. He was a tough guy wrangler, and my father had told me that he back-handed him clear across the kitchen one night when he got, I guess, smart with him.”
As for his grandmother, she was a strong woman, who reminded Kemper of his own mother. She wouldn’t let him bring any friends home or get into any social activities in school. He couldn’t watch cartoons and she screened any TV shows he watched. Kemper said: “She had placed herself in the position of being, in essence, my warden. And she said if you ever want to go live with your father again, you had better do what I say.”
His grandfather bought in a .22 and taught him how to shoot it. Kemper spent hours in the bushes shooting at birds, gophers and other small animals to annoy his grandmother who didn’t want him killing animals. He disposed of the remains carefully. Edmund Sr. eventually took away the rifle at the behest of Maude, who didn’t see the point in killing things just for the sake of killing them. This punishment infuriated Kemper, as the weapon served as an outlet for his growing aggression.
Confined at home, Kemper’s anger started to simmer, and he began to transfer his hatred for his domineering mother to his domineering grandmother.
Kemper laughed as he recalled an incident with his grandmother when she left him home alone one day but took his grandfather’s .45 automatic with her in her purse, because she was afraid he might “play” around with it in her absence. His grandparents were going to Fresno on a monthly shopping trip. He recalled: “I saw her big black pocketbook bulging as she went out the door and I said to myself, ‘Why that old bitch, she’s taking the gun with her, because she doesn’t trust me, even though I promised I wouldn’t touch it.’” He said he looked in his grandfather’s bureau drawer and “sure enough the gun was gone from its usual place… I toyed with the idea of calling the chief of police in Fresno and telling him ‘there’s a little old lady walking around town with a forty-five in her purse and she’s planning a holdup’ and then give him my grandmother’s description. How do you suppose she would have talked herself out of that?”
Maude began to fear the grandson she had inherited. Possibly because she was the object of Kemper’s deadly glares, she sensed he was plotting against her.
Kemper’s mother, Clarnell Strandberg, reacted in 1964: “Pressure [on Kemper] must have been building. [Maude] wrote how happy he was with his gun and dog and ‘great authors and school’ and it wasn’t until the tragedy that I was told by the father that he was beginning to worry and frightened them with his moods. I wish I had known.”
On August 27, 1964, Kemper’s grandfather was running errands at the grocery store and the post office. His grandmother was working on a short story for Boy’s Life Magazine, “Fire in the Cannon,” in the kitchen. Kemper was sitting at the kitchen table with her. They started to argue after he stared at her with the horrifying expression she had observed before. Enraged, Kemper stormed off and retrieved the confiscated rifle that his grandfather had given him for hunting. He decided to go rabbit hunting and went outside to fetch is dog, Anka, on the porch. His grandmother uttered her last words: “Oh, you’d better not be shooting the birds again.” He stopped to look in through the screen window. He had fantasized about killing her before. She was facing away from him. He raised his rifle aimed at the back of her head, and fired through the screen. Maude slumped forward on the table where she’d been typing. He shot her twice in the head and once in the back. He then wrapped her head in a towel and dragged her body to the bedroom, went to get a knife and stabbed her three times so hard, the knife bent double: “I didn’t think she was dead and I didn’t want her to suffer any longer.”
His grandfather soon returned home and Kemper went outside to greet him. Edmund Sr. nodded, smiled and waved to his grandson as he began unloading food and supplies from the truck. Kemper returned the greeting and sneaked up closer to his grandfather: “When he turned, I placed the rifle about thirty inches from the back of his head and shot him. Kemper later explained that he didn’t want his grandfather to see what he had done to his wife of fifty years and that he would be angry with Kemper for what he’d done.
Kemper dragged is grandfather’s body to the garage and washed the blood from his hands with a garden hose. He also tried to clean the blood near the truck.
Back inside the house, Kemper had a passing thought about undressing his dead grandmother and exploring her body sexually to satisfy his carnal curiosity, but he shook it from his mind as being too perverted.
He was unsure of what to do next, so he phoned his mother, who told him to sit tight while she called the Madera County Sheriff. Kemper also called the police to make sure they would come. When the police arrived, Kemper was sitting calmly on the front porch. The reason he gave for his actions: “I just wanted to see what it felt like to shoot Grandma.”
Sources: Ancestry / Front Page Detective Magazine, March 1974, by Marj von B / Murder Capitol of the world, 2021, by Emerson Murray / Ed Kemper’s 2017 parole hearing / Ed Kemper – Conversations with a killer, 2021, by Dary Matera / Ed Kemper – Dans la peau d’un serial killer, 2020, by David Jouvent and Thomas Mosdi
From an unsigned note from a Social Worker at Atascadero State Hospital, a maximum-security facility that houses mentally ill convicts, where Ed Kemper was imprisoned for five and a half years after killing his paternal grandparents on August 27, 1964:
“In February 1964, ward’s [Kemper’s] mother was allegedly drunk when she called ward’s father in the middle of the night and told him that ward was “A real weirdo” and that he was taking a chance in having ward stay with his [parents] and that he might be surprised if he awoke some morning to learn that they had been killed.”
This is a never-before-seen mugshot of Ed Kemper, at the time of his arrest following the murder of his grandparents.
Source: Murder Capital of the World, by Emerson Murray, 2021 https://www.emersonmurray.com/murder-capital-of-the-world / Mugshot: Atascadero State Hospital
Sara “Sally” Taylor Hallett was Ed Kemper’s last victim. She was Kemper’s mother’s best friend and a colleague of Clarnell’s at UCSC. Born on October 19, 1913 in Washington, Hallett had two sons, Edward and Christopher Hallett. Kemper murdered Hallett in his mother’s apartment on Easter weekend in 1973. She was 59 years old.
After killing and decapitating his mother, Clarnell Strandberg, early on the Saturday morning before Easter, Ed Kemper spent much of the day drinking. That evening, he telephoned his mother’s close friend, Sara Taylor Hallett, saying he wanted to surprise his mother and take her and Ms. Hallett to dinner that night.
Kemper prepared for Ms. Hallett’s murder by distributing weapons around the apartment but in the end, none of them would be necessary. Soon after the phone call, Ms. Hallett arrived: “I came up behind her and crooked my arm around her neck, like this,” Kemper said, bending his powerful arm in front of himself at chin level. “I squeezed and just lifted her off the floor. She just hung there and, for a moment, I didn’t realize she was dead … I had broken her neck and her head was just wobbling around with the bones of her neck disconnected in the skin sack of her neck.”
Later that night, Kemper attempted to have intercourse with Ms. Hallett’s body.
He fled the next day in her car.
Kemper said he had to kill a friend of his mother’s “as an excuse.” In other words, Kemper said he had to provide a reasonable story for friends of his mother’s to explain her absence. If she were away on a trip with a friend, Kemper reasoned, nobody would be concerned about her absence.
At his 2017 parole hearing, Kemper gave an alternate explanation as to why he murdered Sally Hallett. He said it was revenge for ruining his mother’s holiday. The two women were supposed to go to Europe together for four weeks, but Hallett backed out at the last minute. Clarnell went on the trip by herself. At some point, during the hearing, Kemper referred to Hallett as his mother’s “lover”, but: “When [my mother] got back, she tried sharing those vacation moments with Sally, and Sally got very loud with her and rude, and told her ‘I don’t want to hear about that. I didn’t even go on that vacation, why are you bringing this up?’ So, she – that cut off that release. So, here I am at the house having heard this from my mother and she’s frustrated and I said ‘I’d like to know, I’d like you to share with me.’ So, she went and got all of her travel logs and the papers and stuff from the places that she went and she started systematically sharing this stuff with me, and then all of a sudden, she stops and she looks at me in this strange way, and she said, ‘I’m not gonna let you pity me.’ And she just walked away from the whole thing. And I said, ‘Hey, I wanted to hear this stuff…’
“I had told myself that if my mother ever dies over this stuff that I did, [Hallett]’s going with her. That’s one trip she’s not gonna miss. She’s not gonna back off on that one… I swore an oath to it. I was angry at the time… I haven’t sworn many oaths in my life and everyone that I have sworn I followed through with.”
Sources: “The Co-ed Killer” by Margaret Cheney, 1976 / “Gruesome Details on Tape at Trial”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 25th, 1973 / “Coed Sex Murders Detailed by Chang”, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von Beroldingen, October 23rd, 1973 / Front Page Detective Magazine, by Marj von Beroldingen, March 1974 / Ed Kemper’s 2017 Parole hearing