Ed Kemper about murdering Anita Luchessa in his car right after killing Mary Anne Pesce: “I decided that Anita was more gullible and would be easier to control, so I told her that she was gonna go into the trunk. And she stepped right out of the car.” (…)
“I took Anita to the trunk. Just before she got in, she reiterated something Mary Anne said: ‘Please don’t do this,’ or something like that. I said, ‘What, are you gonna start in too?’ (…)
After murdering Mary Anne Pesce in the car, Kemper got up in a daze or
shock, he said, and headed to the back of the car. “I knew I had to do it to
the other girl right then, because she had heard all the struggle and she must
have known something very serious was going on.”
He concealed his hands as he raised the trunk lid because of the blood
on them. Anita said, “What’s happening with Mary Anne?” Kemper said, “Well, she
was getting smart with me.”
“And I pulled my hands down kind of unconsciously, and she noticed how
bloody they were and she panicked. Her lip was really quivering, and she was
really scared. I was scared.”
He told her that he thought he had broken Mary Anne’s nose, and that she
should help her. Anita, in her new, heavy coveralls, started to get out. While
Kemper was talking to her, he picked up another knife from the trunk, with a
very large blade. “It was called the Original Buffalo Skinner or something,”
and it had been “very expensive, about eight or nine dollars.”
He turned to Anita with the Original Buffalo Skinner and stabbed her
hard as she got out of the trunk, but the knife vexingly failed even to
penetrate her garnments.
Anita saw what was happening. As Kemper stabbed at her again and again,
she threw herself back into the trunk, saying “Oh God, God.” She began fighting
back. He tried to slash her throat but in the process stabbed his own hand, a
fact he did not realize for all of an hour. He did not however fail to take account
of the fact that when he went to the office of Dr. Donald G. Miller in Aptos
for treatment, the wound required three stitches.
As Anita tried to cover her throat with her hands, he stabbed through
her fingers. She was, as he told the investigators, “putting up a hell of a
fight.” He then tried to stab her heart. “I was thrusting and the knife was
going very deep, and it amazed me that she was stabbed three times and she was
still going at it. I tried stabbing her in the front again, or towards the
throat area, and she was making quite a bit of noise and was trying to fight me
off, and I stabbed her in the forearms. One was so bad you could see both
bones, and she saw it, when I hit, I didn’t think it really hurt so much, as it
was the shock of everything happening so fast. She looked at it, and I could
see the expression on her face of shock.”
He continued stabbing young Anita, trying to jab her left eye, as he told the assembled lawmen. “I hate to get into such detail on that,” Kemper apologized, “but my memory tends to be rather meticulous.”
Finally, Anita began screaming, very loudly and piercingly. Her murderer was scared, he said, and unsure of what to do. He had heard voices in the distance. Therefore, he renewed his attack with greater fury. The stab with which he hoped to penetrate her eye socket failed, but he knocked her glasses off.
“She reacted to each one of these things with a completely different thing,” Kemper noted. “Where the other girl was just one continuous motion, this girl was actually fighting me, almost succeeding. But she really didn’t have a chance.”
He said that she started dying. She slowed down, and became
semiconscious or delirious. She was moaning and waving her arms around, fending
off an imaginary assault that was no longer there. Every motion of the victim
fascinated Kemper, registering itself on his mind. Finally, he threw the knife
into the trunk of the car and shut the lid. He noticed that she had torn off
his wristwatch and that it was stained with blood.
Source: The Co-Ed Killer, by Margaret Cheney, 1976
“As I’m sitting there with a severed head in my hand talking to it, or looking at it. And I’m about to go crazy, literally. I’m about to go completely flywheel loose and just fall apart.
I say, ‘Wow, this is insane.’ And then I told myself, ‘No it isn’t, you’re saying that and that makes it not insane.’ I said, ‘I’m sane and I’m looking at a severed… Wait a minute, wait a minute, I’d seen old paintings and drawings of Viking heroes and talking to severed heads and taking them to parties, old enemies in leather bags. Part of our heritage.
That’s just me back then. In 1972, and ‘73. Unable to live with the fact that I just stabbed to death and cut the throat of an innocent young woman.”
ed kemper, about his victims’ severed heads, in the 1981 interview for the documentary “the killing of america”
On May 7, 1972, Ed Kemper struck. He picked up two college girls, Mary Anne Pesce and Anita Luchessa, hitchhiking on a freeway ramp. Knowing the area well, Kemper managed to drive around without them realizing that he had changed directions from where they wanted to go. “I asked them a few questions and determined to my satisfaction that they were not familiar with the area,” he began. “I didn’t really make much of an effort to deceive them because they were terribly naive.”
He then stopped his car in a remote area he was familiar with from his work with the highway department. Kemper first handcuffed Pesce in the backseat of the car. He later confessed, “I was really quite struck by her personality and her looks, and there was just almost a reverence there. I think once I accidentally—this bothers me too, personally—I brushed, I think the back of my hand when I was handcuffing her, against one of her breasts, and it embarrassed me. I even said, ‘whoops, I’m sorry’ or something like that.”
Kemper then took Luchessa out of the car and locked her in the trunk. Within thirty seconds of apologizing to Pesce for accidentally brushing against her breast, he threw a plastic bag over her head and wrapped a bathrobe belt around her neck. But as he pulled on the belt, it snapped; meanwhile Pesce had bitten through the plastic bag. Kemper then drew his knife and began to stab Pesce in the back, but the blows did not seem to have any effect and she began to twist around, facing Kemper. “I stabbed her all over her back, she turned around and I stabbed her on the side and the stomach once. As she turned around I could of stabbed her through the heart, but her breasts were there. Her breasts actually deflected me. I couldn’t see myself stabbing a young woman in her breasts. That’s embarrassing.”
He then grabbed Pesce by the chin, pulled back her head, and slit her throat.
Kemper then went
to the back of the car, opened the trunk, pulled Luchessa out, and began to
stab her repeatedly in the throat, eyes, heart, and forearms. He recalled being
surprised by how many heavy blows she took before losing consciousness.
Once the women
were dead, he drove their corpses back to his apartment and carried them
inside. In his apartment he dissected their bodies, handled their various
internal organs, snapped Polaroid photographs of them, and cut their heads off.
Kemper confessed, “I remember there was actually a sexual thrill. You hear that
little ‘pop’ and pull their heads off and hold their heads up by the hair.
Whipping their heads off, their body sitting there. That’d get me off!” But
Kemper insisted, “There was absolutely no contact with improper areas.”
Kemper said, “I
would sit there looking at the heads on an overstuffed chair, tripping on them
on my bed, looking at them [when] one of them somehow becomes unsettled, comes
rolling down the chair, very grisly. Tumbling down the chair, rolls across the
cushion and hits the rug—‘bonk.’ The neighbor downstairs hates my guts. I’m
always making noise late at night. He gets a broom and whacks on the ceiling.
‘Buddy,’ I say, ‘I’m sorry for that, dropped my head, sorry.’ That helped bring
me out of the depression. I would trip on that.”
Afterward Kemper put what remained of the two women into plastic bags and buried them in the Santa Cruz hills, their torsos and limbs in one location, their hands in another, disguising the burial ground using techniques he had learned in the Boy Scouts. He kept the heads a few days longer before throwing them into a ravine. Kemper also visited the grave of one of the coeds, Mary Anne Pesce, because he wanted to be near her and talk to her. “I loved her and I wanted her,” he said. “I heard one news comment that she was a Camarillo girl, so I went down to Los Angeles (after the slaying) and checked out Camarillo and only found one Pesce in the phone hook and that was a Gabriel Pesce. So I went up by that neighborhood, in fact right by the house.”
Kemper said, “I didn’t even touch her [Pesce] too much after that, that is, other than to get rid of physical evidence such as clothing and later the body.” Kemper indicated the murders of Miss Pesce and Miss Luchessa weighed heavily on him. He said, “the whole experience is the most inlaid in my mind, imprinted and actually, you might say, it had a very strong influence on the fact I did continue doing these things.”
“I think, personally, deep down, that I continued to do these things to try to get that out of my mind, to cover it up… other young ladies, trying to get them out.”
“I think possibly because of the way they died (Kemper stabbed them to death) and I had been very struck by Mary Anne Pesce and I had never really taken a chance on getting to know her at all, forcibly, I mean, getting to know her, not so much by rape but even talking with her. I’ve had a lot of dreams about that and been very depressed about it.”
Kemper said that just before he began killing, his fantasies of making love to women became dissatisfying because he came to believe he could never realize them. If he killed them, then they would not reject him as a man, he explained. He characterized his crimes as “making dolls” out of human beings.
Sources: “Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters”, by Peter Vronksy, Berkley, 2004; “Kemper under questioning tells why!,” Register-Pajaronian, October 25, 1973, by Marj von B; “Gruesome Details on Tape at Trial”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 25th, 1973
“I stabbed her, but she didn’t fall dead. They’re supposed to fall dead, they’re supposed to go “oh” and fall dead, I’d seen it in the movies, right? It doesn’t work that way. When you stab someone they leak to death.”
Ed Kemper explaining how he killed mary ANne Pesce, his first coed victim
“Toward the end, I became sicker, bloodthirsty, and yet these streams of blood annoyed me. It’s not something I want to see, but what I long for is to witness death, and to savour the triumph that I associate with it, my own triumph over the death of others. It’s like a drug, which I want more and more. I want to triumph over my victim. Overcome Death. (During this diatribe, Kemper is very excited and his eyes shine, he relives intensely those moments when he was triumphant.) They are dead and I’m alive, it’s a personal victory.”
ed kemper about murdering his victims, 1991 interview
New information unveiled in the Kemper case in the book The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime by authors Michael H. Stone MD and Gary Brucato PhD, published earlier in 2019.
According to a source close to the 1973 investigation, Kemper did not use his mother’s head as a dartboard, after he murdered and decapitated her. Instead, he apparently used her genitals.
The authors are currently writing a new book, which will feature a full chapter about the Kemper case. No release date announced yet.
Thanks to the authors who informed us about this finding.
The following article was published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, on May 2, 1979. Due to a decision by the state Parole Board, only one reporter from this area was allowed to be present at Edmund Kemper’s parole hearing Tuesday. That reporter was Marj Von B of the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian, who filed this report.
Kemper first became eligible for parole in 1979. He was denied parole that year, as well as at parole hearings in 1980, 1981, and 1982.
killer Ed Kemper, imprisoned in 1973 on eight first-degree murder counts, will
not be freed next year, a state prison parole board decided Tuesday. Kemper,
30, was found to be “unsuitable for release at this time,” but the
board’s decision did not seem to dismay him.
told the three-member board at the conclusion of a three-hour hearing at the
Vacaville State Medical Facility, “I’d have refused to be considered for
parole, but I didn’t want to be provocative.”
he had stated to the board he felt his release on parole was not “feasible,
legal or moral,” saying he had been sentenced to prison by Santa Cruz County
Superior Court Judge Harry F. Brauer “for the rest of your natural life.”
addition, Kemper said, “I don’t want to set a precedent of being a person
two-times released after multiple murders. I don’t want to ever hurt anybody
killed his grandmother and grandfather when he was 15, and was sent to
Atascadero State Mental Hospital and then to the California Youth Authority,
where he was paroled in 1970.
during the hearing, in which he was represented by a lawyer, Steve Bedient of
Sacramento, Kemper seemed bent on personally straightening out the state’s
recorded version of his crimes.
of the hearing procedure was the reading of a summary of his criminal history
into the record by the chairman, Ruth Rushen.
was a recitation of brutality, sexual depravity and violence, detailing the
killing of six young women, Kemper’s mother and one of her best friends.
to a confession made to police alter his surrender, Kemper said he had sexually
assaulted the coeds after killing them, and then had dismembered their bodies,
disposing of them in sites in Santa Cruz and other adjacent counties.
Mrs. Rushen read on, in a strange contrast, birds chirped in a tree outside the
windows of the second story prison conference room.
Santa Cruz District Attorney Art Danner was asked to add his comments for the
record, and he noted that the material related by Mrs. Rushen did not reflect
the fact that “parts” of one of the bodies of Kemper’s victims had
been cannibalized by the defendant.”
Danner said, did it reflect that Kemper had “mutilated” parts of his
mother’s body “by putting it into the garbage disposal.”
refuted the confession, saying that in telling the police the lurid details, “In
my unwise and immature judgment, I thought I was building a case supporting my psychiatric
plea (of not guilty by reason of insanity).”
disclaim any sexual misconduct during any of my crimes,” he said
emphatically. “I made those statements when it was understood that I was
to be the only witness at my trial.”
he added, “I am not a cannibal. That’s unsubstantiated and only claimed by
every hunter knows, I could get physically ill or die from eating an animal or
person in that state,” Kemper argued.
his account of the murders, Kemper said, he had been trying to “go to
Atascadero” instead of state prison. “I was trying to get myself
locked up for good.”
was trying to seal my fate, and the state in presenting its case botched it…
I have ample opportunity now to save myself in the courts.” Kemper said.
then he continued, “I’m not going to avail myself of them.”
also denied that he recently sought court permission to have psychosurgery to
help him get out of prison later. Kemper said, “I asked for multi-target
neurosurgery in the hope of gaining relief from any kind of homicidal
court denied his request.
if he was “still having urges to kill people,” Kemper said, “No.”
he explained, “I felt as if I had one foot in the coffin and one on a
He said he was afraid that “if some time I had a bad day and a prison officer or technician had a bad day and was provocative or insultive, I might smack his head up against the wall, and I would die in CDC (California Department of Corrections).”
referred to a state law which demands the death penalty for the murder of a
prison guard or official.
then he said mildly, “I am not known for a very short temper. I am a
in a sort of aside to himself, Kemper, who works as a clerk in a prison
psychotherapy ward, said, “I’ve had nine diagnoses in my time, I wonder how
many of them are valid?”
also appeared offended at a statement in a psychiatric report that he had shown
no remorse for all the killings.
feel very strongly about what I’ve done,” he said. “I do feel remorse
in what I’ve done.”
when pressed for a reason behind his killings, Kemper always seemed to return
to his relationship with his mother.
hate her — guts,” he said in a rare explosive moment during the hearing.
said he had turned to killing the six women because he was “feeling
persecuted and destroyed by my mother.”
it was his childhood hatred of his mother that led him to kill his
grandparents, too, he revealed.
he explained, “I’m not blaming my mother, I’m saying I hate my
the coed murders, Kemper said he was “sick of killing,” but murdered
his mother knowing that would “blow the whistle.”
said, “If she died they (the police) were going to get me, and if they got
me for her, they would get me for the others.”
denied he killed his mother’s friend to make persons think the two women were
away together for a weekend and give him time to flee before an investigation
of their disappearance.
Incongruously he said, “I killed her because she had hurt my mother very grievously.”
board members also talked with Kemper about his adjustment to prison life.
to prison reports he is “doing an outstanding job” as a therapy
clerk, has no disciplinary problems and “gets along with the staff and his
was asked by board member Craig Brown why he got along well in Vacaville and
other institutions “and in the community you become violent?”
when I am in a structured situation, I can get help when I need it,” Kemper
replied. But on the streets, I felt rather forgotten and sometimes I felt
loquacious Kemper later expounded on his life in prison saying, “I was
convinced when I came here, I would soon be dead.”
the last six months have been the best of my life. I’ve learned to live with
myself and with God. I believe I have an obligation to myself and the people
also spoke with pride of his work in recording books on tape for the blind and
the handicapped, which recently won him a public service award.
Danner warned the board not to be complacent about Kemper.
the kind of complacency he wants,” Danner said, “the kind that was seen at
Atascadero where he was released to kill again.”
district attorney said, “Mr. Kemper poses such an unreasonable risk and danger
to society, he is now unsuitable for release and probably will remain so for
the rest of his life.”
a 30-minute deliberation in private, the board called Kemper, the lawyers and
the press back into the room and announced its decision.
Rushen outlined the reasons for denying the parole.
she said, Kemper’s crimes “contained elements of such extraordinary violence
that it was incomprehensible to think that he should be released at this time.”
He had a previous record of violence, and although his juvenile record was
sealed, “he stated several times during the hearing that he had killed his
His violent and bizarre conduct after the crimes, which included mutilation and
defiling of the corpses of the victims, showed a total disregard for the
dignity and worth of a fellow human being… and this included the victims and
The psychology reports do not support suitability for release.
Rushen noted that the latest report on Kemper, dated in March of this year
diagnosed him as paranoid schizophrenic in a state of “good remission.” But she
added the report said that there was no way to predict the possibility of his
violence in the future if he is released.
greeted the decision with a smile and thanked the board.
to an initial outburst and his demand that the press and one reporter in
particular, be barred from the hearing, Kemper said, “I would like to apologize
for my untoward and abusive behavior, although it’s probably better than some
you’ve had in here,” he added with a chuckle.
with a wave of his hand, the six-foot, nine-inch inmate, known as “Big Ed,” ambled
down the long hall and was admitted into the locked area of the prison
“I wanted to distract the heat from Santa Cruz… I knew the Bay Area well, because the job that I do entails intensive travel through those areas. Especially like with the disposal of Alice’s head and hands, I knew that this was an ideal place because the authorities would figure it was somebody that knew that particular area really well, and I knew that people at two o’clock in the morning would not be traveling the road at all. So they would think it would be at least somebody within five or ten miles of that area, and that’s what I wanted people to think. I arrived on the scene up in Eden Canyon Road about two A.M.”
Ed Kemper about disposing of alice liu’s remains
Ed Kemper drove to an area known
as Devil’s Slide. He drove into Pacifica to see if cops were
around-they were at a local diner-so he drove back to the cliff and threw the
body parts off.
The horror was underscored two
weeks later, when a hiker near Devil’s Slide found the skulls of two young
women. Tests showed they were Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu’s heads.
Devil’s Slide is a name given to a steep, rocky coastal promontory located about midway between Montara and the Linda Mar District of Pacifica. The terrain is characterized by steep, eroded slopes with natural gradients ranging between 30 and 50%. http://www.devilsslidecoast.org/history/
Drawings by David Jouvent for his upcoming graphic novel about Ed Kemper / Some photos by Christopher Michel