“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”
Public defender Jim Jackson asked Kemper what the “real reason” was that he disposed of the girls’ bodies in the manner he did cutting them up and keeping parts of the bodies for a time.
Kemper hesitantly replied, “Because they were rotting and I was losing them.”
He explained, “when the girls died I kept them a certain length of time, but couldn’t keep them any longer.”
However, he declared, “I still have their spirits.”
Source: “Kemper explains why he murdered coeds”, Register-Pajaronian, November 1, 1973, by Marj von B
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
Source: 1991 Interview with Stéphane Bourgoin
“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
“That wouldn’t have happened… I realize that if I’d never done it, it wouldn’t have happened, but if… What my original intention was to make it very quick and neither one of them to be aware of what was happening and it was not to keep them from stopping the crime. It was to keep them from suffering. I had a real bad problem depriving people of their lives. It wasn’t, huh, the aspect of killing them. It was the aspect of possessing their bodies afterwards. So, it was almost after, in effect, evicting someone from their human body. And, I’m sorry it sounds so cold, but that’s about what it analogizes to.”ED kemper about the murders of Alice Liu and Rosalind Thorpe whom he both shot to death in his car
Source: 1989 closed-circuit interview for the FBI Academy
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.
After raping and killing 15-year-old Aiko Koo, Ed Kemper stopped at a country bar “for a few beers.”
Before going into the bar, he opened the trunk to make sure she was dead. He told investigators:
“I suppose as I was standing there looking, I was doing one of those triumphant things, too, admiring my work and admiring her beauty, and I might say admiring my catch like a fisherman.”
Source: Front Page Detective Magazine, March 1974, interview by Marj von Beroldingen
“By the time I was eight, I had accumulated a lot of frustration, a lot of hate, for which I didn’t find an outlet. I didn’t know how to develop outlets. A school book awakened in me fantasies about being the last man alive on Earth. I still remember the text that was intended for a sociology homework on the loneliness of teenagers. That we could not know the excitement of the adventure, emotions or feelings, without sharing them with others. This text was a bit like a seed that gave birth to fantasies in my mind. I find myself alone with all these things, these cars, these planes and no one to bother me or tell me what not to do, but these fantasies end up running empty and seem hollow… Little by little, I integrated inanimate people: they could not affect or hurt me. As I started puberty, these fantasies had continued to grow when I was approached by a girlfriend, not physically or sexually, but emotionally. We are the same age but she is ahead of me, she is aggressive, she is very beautiful. But I was not ready for this type of relationship. She really wanted a physical relationship, kisses, flirting. It terrified me because I didn’t know how to react or control the emotions that germinated in me.” – Ed Kemper about some of his childhood fantasies
The trial of Edmund Kemper lasted three weeks, but it took the jury only five hours to reach a decision.
Defender Jim Jackson, in a final effort to do his professional best by a client he had never asked for, told jurors in his closing argument, “There are two people locked up in the body of this young giant, one good and one evil… One is fighting to be here with us and the other is slipping off to his own little world of fantasy where he is happy.”
When the jury returned, Kemper showed no emotion as Judge Brauer read the verdict: “Guilty, Sane, and First Degree to all eight counts.”
From: Why: The Serial Killer In America by Margaret Cheney (1992, update of The Co-Ed Killer, 1976) / Photos: Getty Images, Register Pajaronian
Photo on the left: Edmund Kemper and District Attorney’s investigator Richard Verbrugge exchange words in courtroom; Kemper’s “escort,” sheriff’s deputy Bruce Colomy, is at right.
Photo on the right: Edmund Kemper with sheriff’s deputy Bruce Colomy.