Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Motives (Page 2 of 2)

Easter Lily for Mother

Neighbors said the young man [Ed Kemper], who had been collecting workmen’s compensation since an injury last year on a highway construction job, went to his mother’s Aptos apartment last Saturday carrying an Easter lily.

The lily was still blooming on a table when sheriff’s deputies entered the apartment Tuesday and found the nude bodies of the two women [Clarnell Strandberg and Sally Hallett] stuffed into a closet. Mrs. Strandberg had been decapitated and one hand chopped off.

Neighbors said Kemper quarrelled frequently with his mother [Strandberg] about whether she loved him. “You’re embarrassing me in front of my friends,” they quoted him as saying after she upbraided him for “laying around and drinking beer.”

From: Why: The Serial Killer In America by Margaret Cheney (1992, update of The Co-Ed Killer, 1976)

When asked why he killed women, Edmund Kemper cited his own insecurities.

“My frustration. My inability to communicate socially, sexually. I wasn’t impotent, but emotionally I was impotent. I was scared to death of failing in male/female relationships. I knew absolutely nothing about that whole area, even of just sitting down and talking with a young lady.”

Source: documentary No Apparent Motive (1984)

“One thing I learned at Atascadero was you don’t get far if you regret anything.”

In August 1974, a UCSC symposium entitled “Minds on trial” took place with 5 experts on the criminal mind: John Monahan, assistant professor on social ecology at the University of California at Irvine; District Attorney Peter Chang; Joel Fort, MD specialist in crime and violence and author of the “Pleasure Seekers”; Jerome Neu, assistant professor of humanities at UCSC; and David Marlowe, expert witness in numerous murder trials.

Moving into the Ed Kemper murders, the panel explored the possible motives behind the eight killings and discussed Kemper’s childhood and personality. “I don’t think we’ll ever know why he did what he did,” said Marlowe. “He wasn’t particularly different from many people. He wasn’t crazy. The question is ‘What accounts for his loss of control?’ Many others with similar fantasies and upbringings never commit a violent act.”

While author Fort said sexual repression, large physical size, a need to be near his father and his lack of friends were all contributing motives to the killings, Kemper could not pinpoint which special event led to his need to murder.

“To him and other mass murderers, killing is as acceptable as eating a meal or brushing your teeth. This type of behaviour didn’t bother him in the least.” District Attorney Chang added other dimensions to Kemper’s personality. “One side of him really had a conscience. I think he really wanted to confess.” However, Chang also said “Ed never showed remorse or guilt. He told me ‘One thing I learned at Atascadero was you don’t get far if you regret anything.’”

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, Sunday, August 18, 1974

“I had full intentions of killing them. I would loved to have raped them, but not having any experience at all…” he trailed off.

As a sex-starved young man in what should have been a peak of his virility, Ed Kemper was sexually and socially so uncertain of himself that he began to prey on hitchhiking coeds, not as a rapist, but as a murderer and necrophiliac.

“At first I picked up girls just to talk to them, just to try to get acquainted with people my own age and try to strike up a friendship,” he had told investigators. Then he began to have sex fantasies about the girls he picked up hitchhiking, but feared being caught and convicted as a rapist So, he said: “I decided to mix the two and have a situation of rape and murder and no witnesses and no prosecution.”

Kemper’s first two victims were 18-year-old Fresno State college coeds, Mary Anne Pesce and Anita Luchessa whom he stabbed to death May 7, 1972, after he picked them up in Berkeley.

Source: Front Page Detective Magazine, March 1974, interview by Marj von Beroldingen

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