Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Death (Page 1 of 3)

Ed Kemper’s last victim – Sally Hallett

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

“That seemed appropriate.”

There were moments, prior to her death, when Kemper felt like punishing his mother. Kemper told investigators he had killed his mother to spare her the suffering and shame that knowledge of his crimes would bring. He said: “There were times when she was bitching and yelling at me that I felt like retaliating and walking over to the telephone in her presence and calling the police, to say, ‘Hello, I’m the coed killer,’ just to lay it on her.”

Kemper’s testimony in court revealed his desire to punish his mother did not end with the fatal hammer blow. He cut off his mother’s head, “put it on a shelf and screamed at it for an hour … threw darts at it,” and ultimately, “smashed her face in,” he recalled for the horrified court. [Kemper supposedly performed irrumatio with his mother’s head, but that story is not verified.]

He went even further and cut her tongue out, as well as her larynx, and placed them in the garbage disposal. However, the garbage disposal could not break down the tough vocal cords and ejected the tissue back into the sink. Kemper found it rather ironic: “That seemed appropriate. As much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years.” 

Sources: “I was the hunter and they were the victims”: Interview with Edmund Kemper, Front Page Detective, by Marj von Beroldingen, March 1974 / Serial Homicide – Book 1 by RJ Parker, 2016 / Intercorpse – Necrophilia: sexual attraction towards corpses including sexual intercourse, by RJ Parker, 2019

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

Kemper’s sexual achievement

Inv. Michael Aluffi:   Did you ever have any kind of a sexual achievement while you were killing them [his victims]?

KemperYes, I’m sure it’s happened before, but the only time I actually noticed an ejaculation was as I was killing Mrs. Hallett on Saturday night, as she was dying, it was a great physical effort on my part, very restraining, very difficult, much less difficult that I made it, I went into a full complete physical spasm let’s say. I just completely put myself out on it and as she died, I felt myself reaching orgasm. In the other cases, the physical effort was less. I think with the Koo girl, in the case of a suffocation, the same thing happened. But I didn’t really notice it, because I did have sex with her right after causing her to be unconscious. 

Source: Excerpt from Ed Kemper’s official jailhouse confessions in Santa Cruz on April 28, 1973 (after his arrest in Pueblo, Colorado), pages 27 and 28 / Video of confessions from the Oxygen documentary Kemper on Kemper (2018)

Ed Kemper’s sister testifies at trial

Testifying as the first defense witness in Ed Kemper’s trial, Allyn Kemper, 22, revealed under cross examination that both she and her mother thought Kemper might have been involved in the death of Cynthia Schall.

Allyn Kemper testified that she asked her brother directly whether he had anything to do with the killing – one of eight of which he is accused.

“No,” she quoted him in response, “but I was afraid you might be suspicious because of that cat thing. My mother has already asked me about it, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t bring it up again because it will just stir things up.”

The “cat thing” Miss Kemper explained, involved an incident when the family lived in Montana and her brother decapitated the family cat with a bayonet.

Under questioning by District Attorney Peter Chang, she also related that she herself was almost killed by Kemper.

That, too, happened in Montana. Kemper, she explained, had always had an interest in guns, and one day as she walked through the living room she heard a click.

As she turned, she said, a bullet from Kemper’s .22 rifle whizzed by her ear and buried itself in a bookcase.

“Oops!” she quoted her brother. “I thought it was empty.”

Sources: “Kemper tapes relate grisly details”, The San Francisco Examiner, October 31, 1973, by Don West / Photo of Allyn Kemper (17 years old) from the Soquel High School yearbook, 1968

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

Slain Torrance girl praised

A Torrance girl who wanted to change the world lies dead while Santa Cruz law officials wonder whether her killer is a man already charged with 10 murders [Herbert Mullin] or is still at large and unknown.

Alice Helen Liu, 21, had been reported missing Feb. 5. A week ago, authorities advised her parents that one of two bodies found at Santa Cruz might be that of their daughter. The possibility became stark fact Tuesday when Mr. and Mrs. James C. Liu were formally notified that dental X-rays and other evidence had confirmed the identification.

A car parked in the driveway of the Liu home at 22714 Fonthill St. still bears the UCI decal of Alice’s freshman year at the University of California at Irvine. Two years ago she had transferred to the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she was a junior.

“Originally she wanted to be a teacher but more recently she became interested in Oriental studies,” her father said Wednesday in a voice that fought to control his emotions.

James Liu never mentioned his daughter by name during the five-minute interview. The name would have caught in his throat.

Other names were avoided for another reason: to protect friends and relatives from prying reporters.

The records at Torrance High School, from which she graduated in 1969, show she was an active girl with wide-ranging interests. She was a member of the Future Teachers Club, served as treasurer of the California Scholarship Federation, was an officer in the Creative Writing Club, French Club and Interclub Council, and a member of the Tartar Ladies service organization.

Principal Harold Klonecky recalled her as a vibrant girl, who had appeared in the senior play and in modern dance recitals on behalf of the Youth for Nixon organization during the 1968 Presidential campaign.

“Alice was probably a sophomore when she was involved in the Indian project,” Klonecky said. “We brought a number of Papago Indian students here to Torrance High and she escorted them around. After they left she was active in collecting clothing and other items to send to them.”

In Alice’s high school file is this paragraph she wrote as part of a standard form for scholarship counselling:

“I want to change the world through government. I want to be involved with the core of people, and I can do both by being a political science teacher.”

Torrance City Councilman James Armstrong, a political science teacher at Torrance High, remembers her for those very reasons.

Armstrong said that the Torrance High political science teachers assign upper-classmen to become involved in the campaign of their choice as a class project during election years. He had these observations of her work in the 1968 campaign:

“She was interested in people, cared about all kinds of people. She understood about coming from a good home like hers and going to a good school and the difference it makes for those who don’t have the same advantages.”

“A death in these circumstances would be tragic enough with anyone,” he finished, “but with Alice you feel a real sense of loss and of waste.”

As a thousand University of California students listened in silence at UC’s open air amphitheater in Santa Cruz, Robert Edgar, provost of one of the colleges eulogized Miss Liu: “She was bright and lively. Like a bird, she was full of song. Struck down. I’m full of sorrow.”

Classes were canceled at Santa Cruz for the memorial convocation for Miss Liu and another coed found slain [Rosalind Thorpe].

Alice was last seen alive Feb. 5 in the college library. A week later her decapitated body and that of Rosalind Thorpe, 23, of Carmel were found near Castro Valley, a semirural area southeast of Oakland.

Santa Cruz authorities, continuing their marathon probe of the area’s 15 murders, are studying possible relationships between their deaths and those of two other coeds, Mary Anne Pesce, 19, and Cynthia Ann Schall, 19, and the disappearance of another girl, Anita Luchessa, 18. Pesce’s head was found on Loma Preita Mountain near Santa Cruz last August but her body has not been recovered. Parts of Miss Schall’s body were carried ashore by the tide near Santa Cruz and Monterey in January.

Miss Luchessa, a friend of the Pesce girl, has disappeared and is feared dead, but no traces of her have been found.

Meanwhile 10 murder indictments are being sought by Santa Cruz County District Attorney Peter Chang against Herbert W. Mullin, 25, of Felton. Mullin had already been arraigned on six counts and was in custody when four more bodies slain with the same two guns were discovered Saturday.

His fingerprints also were found in the confessional booth of a Catholic priest who was stabbed to death in Los Gatos, but no charges have been brought against him in that case.

Investigators have reported no links between Mullin and the four dead coeds, but are still examining that possibility.

Source: Slain Torrance girl praised; Santa Cruz probe continues, Independent, by Bob Andrew, Staff Writer, February 22, 1973

Police Say Three Coed Slayings Are Related

Interesting how police were initially looking into Herbert Mullin possibly being responsible for the deaths of Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu. Herbert Mullin was a serial killer active in Santa Cruz at the same time as Ed Kemper. Another interesting fact was that Ed Kemper was considered a possible suspect for the murder of Mary Guilfoyle. It was eventually determined that Mullin killed Guilfoyle.

Santa Cruz – Because of the “skillfulness” of the decapitations of the two UCSC coeds found near Castro Valley last week, Police Lt. Charles Scherer said today that they were probably slain by the same person or persons who killed Cindy Schall a month ago.

“From all appearances and from listening to the pathologist, it appears that all three of the girls were killed by the same person,” Scherer said.

The headless bodies found in Castro Valley last week were identified Tuesday afternoon as Alice Helen Liu, 20, and Rosalind Thorpe, 23. They were found in a canyon near Castro Valley, discarded over a cliff near a remote country road, authorities said.

Parts of the butchered body of Cindy Schall washed ashore in both Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in January.

Scherer said that there are no clues in the case, and there are no suspects.

No connection has been made at this time between the slayings of the coeds and the killing of Mary Guilfoyle, the Cabrillo College coed whose skeletal remains were found in the mountains near Bonny Doon Feb. 11. Sheriff’s investigators reported that there is no evidence to indicate that Miss Guilfoyle’s body had been dismembered. They said she was stabbed five times.

But autopsies of the three other slain coeds showed virtually identical cutting techniques and that extremely sharp instruments were used in all the cases, Scherer said.

In another development, Municipal Court Judge Donald O. May has revoked bail on Herbert Mullin, accused murderer of 10 people. Acting on the court’s own motion, May “reconsidered the question of bail in view of events occurring subsequent to the arraignment.” May had set bail at $300,000 at Mullin’s arraignment which charged him with six murders. At that time, May indicated that “there should be no bail at all.”

Since the arraignment, Mullin was charged with the murder of David Olicker, 18, Robert Michael Spector, 18, Brian Scott Card, 19, and Mark Johnson, about 19. Because of this development, May indicated that under state law, the court had the right to revoke bail.

Earlier this week, District Attorney Peter Chang said that he will ask for indictments charging Mullin with 10 murders.

Presently, Mullin is being held in custody at San Mateo County jail. Authorities said he is not being held at the Santa Cruz County jail because of the lack of facilities to keep him protected from the other inmates.

Sources: The La Crosse Tribune, Feb 22, 1973 / Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 22, 1973

“Of course, the personality is gone.”

Santa Cruz was plagued at that time with a series of bizarre unsolved murders, and warnings had been issued to students not to accept rides from strangers. But Ed Kemper’s mother had given him a university sticker for his car so that he could easily enter the campus to pick her up from work. This sticker gave women a sense of security when he offered them a ride. On February 5, 1973, he shot two more women [Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu] and brought them back to his mother’s house. He cut off one woman’s head in the trunk of his car, and when his mother went to bed he carried the headless corpse to his room and slept with it in his bed. Kemper explained, “The head trip fantasies were a bit like a trophy. You know, the head is where everything is at, the brain, eyes, mouth. That’s the person. I remember being told as a kid, you cut off the head and the body dies. The body is nothing after the head is cut off . . . Well, that’s not quite true. With a girl, there is a lot left in the girl’s body without the head. Of course, the personality is gone.”

Source: Excerpt from “Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters” by Peter Vronsky

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