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 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
relations with the police were much exaggerated at the time of my crimes. I
knew two or three agents. The bar I went to wasn’t in front of the police
station, it was more than sixteen hundred feet away, in front of the courthouse.
The Jury Room, Joe Mandela’s Jury Room. ‘Come in and give us your verdict’, that’s
the slogan under the sign. The establishment is rather quiet and a number of
police officers frequent it. At the time I was committing my crimes, I used the
friendship bonds that I’d woven with these policemen to learn more about the
progress of the investigation.
Crime and Punishment, I had read it when
I was younger. “(Kemper smiles.) With this criminal who feels the pressure
building up inside: Are they following me? And he ends up cracking and
confessing. This is a novel. I want to avoid all of that. I had no problem
getting information out of these officers. Why? Because of the very structure
of the police hierarchy, whose elite is represented by the criminal brigade.
They see themselves as the cream of the crop and they like to brag about their
exploits in front of other cops. So, there is a certain jealousy and friction
between the different services.
As for me,
I was doing a little dragging around these simple cops. I didn’t care about
being their friend. I had already been in prison. I didn’t like the police. But
they were talking to each other about what they’d heard about the case. I was
on the periphery. They snubbed me, as they were snubbed by the ‘supercops’ of
the Criminal. But I wasn’t bothered by their presence, I didn’t act weirdly in
front of them and that’s something they must have felt.
any citizen who speaks to a police officer in uniform is clumsy, as if he’s
guilty of something, even if he’s clean. And I think cops are sensitive to that
kind of thing; as soon as they put on a uniform, they know right away that they’re
no longer like the others. Relationships are skewed. It’s something that must
hurt them somehow. But if I don’t act that way, if I don’t treat them like an
insect under the microscope, then I’ve slipped a foot in the crack of the door.
Little by little, you learn to pay for beers and get to know each other: ‘How’s
it going, Big Ed’, ‘Great, and you, Andy, etc. And a year later, I phone them
to tell them, ‘I’m the Co-Ed Killer. I want to surrender. ‘
Source: L’Ogre de Santa Cruz (Stéphane Bourgoin, 1998, Éditions Méréal)
In 2018, we went to Santa Cruz on vacation and visited some of the places that were important in Ed Kemper’s story. First stop was the Jury Room, a bar where he hung out and drank beer with policemen, while having conversations about the co-ed murders, which were being investigated at the time. The police did not suspect him and found him friendly.
On one of the walls, there’s a sign acknowledging that Kemper was at one time a regular patron. We don’t know to what ‘colorful history’ they are referring to, as nobody suspected him of the crimes and few people knew that he had killed his grandparents years before…
We went a couple of times and enjoyed a few drinks. On one of our visits, a dog kindly lent us his seat…!