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
Inv. Michael Aluffi: Did you ever have any kind of a sexual achievement while you were killing them [his victims]?
Kemper: Yes, 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)
The testimony by Ed Kemper yesterday was no exception from the preceding grim testimony. With questioning from his lawyer Jim Jackson, he recalled his childhood fantasies which started out innocently and wistfully, later to become daydreams of murder and sex.
He said his first fantasy was that his “mother and father would be loving together and caring for their children.”
According to Kemper, it was a fantasy that never came true. Instead, there was “much violence, hatred, yelling and screaming” between his father and mother who separated and were divorced when he was around seven years old.
Kemper said he felt rejected and unloved by his mother and his father as well, though he indicated he yearned for a good relationship with his father.
He spoke of his mother as “alcoholic,” and said she once had beaten him with a heavy belt and buckle when he was a small child and told him not to scream, “because the neighbors will think I’m beating you.”
This was at the age of nine, and Kemper said after that he was afraid of her and began to have a recurring fantasy about sneaking up on her and hitting her in the head with a hammer.
Later, in Atascadero [where he was incarcerated for five years after the murder of his grandparents], Kemper’s fantasies turned to sex as well as murder. He said his final fantasy was, “I killed someone, cut them up and ate them… and I kept the head on a shelf and talked to it… I said the same things I would have said had she been alive, in love with me, had she been caring of me.”
Asked by Jackson if he ever told anyone at Atascadero about the fantasies, Kemper replied, “No, I would never got out if I had told psychiatrists I was having fantasies of sex with dead bodies and in some cases eating them I would never have gotten out ever.”
He paused and then said, “Wow! That’s like condemning yourself to life imprisonment, and I don’t know many people who do that.”
The young defendant, who worked for psychologists testing other inmates at Atascadero, said, “I hid it from them. They can’t see the things going on in my mind. All I had to do to conceal it from them was not talk about it.”
Source: “Kemper explains why he murdered coeds”, Register-Pajaronian, by Marj von B, November 1st. 1973 / Images from trial: Bay Area TV Archive
In the Fall of 1963, Ed Kemper, now 14 years-old, was allowed to go to Los Angeles to the home which his father, Edmund Emil Kemper Jr. II, shared with his new wife, Elfriede Weber, and her son from a previous marriage, Gilbert Otto Brechtefeld, who was two years older than Kemper.
The second Mrs. Kemper quickly began to feel extremely ill-at-ease with her dour and hulking stepson, now more than six feet tall, hanging around the house and staring at her until she became upset. She began to get migraine headaches. Once the boy happened to catch a glimpse of her nude, in the bedroom. Later, Kemper recalled that he had felt sexually excited by this episode. And still later it would be reinterpreted, perhaps at his instigation, but at least by the journalists, as a sexual overture on the woman’s part: “…the woman had appeared naked before him, using her sexuality to take his father away from him.”
Kemper was in Los Angeles for only a few weeks when at his stepmother’s urging, his father sent him back to Montana to live with his mother and sisters. E. E. Kemper Jr. II told his son that he was financially unable to keep him.
A few months later, around Thanksgiving, Kemper ran away from home in Montana and returned to Los Angeles to see his father. Another incident had Kemper following his pregnant stepmother around the house, shutting all the drapes and blinds claiming it was too bright. Afraid, she opened them up again and told Kemper he needed to leave. Her son Gilbert happened to arrive home at that moment. He saw how scared his mother was and how creepy Kemper was acting. He grabbed a hammer and chased Kemper away. This incident was apparently the reason why Kemper was sent to live with his paternal grandparents in late 1963. His father brought him to North Fork in California for Christmas and left him there once the holidays were over.
Kemper’s father and Elfriede Weber had a son together. He is known as David Weber but it’s not his real name. He keeps his real name private for security reasons. He was born in 1963 or 1964. As for Elfriede’s first son Gilbert, he died in 1975 at the age of 28. We were unable to find the cause of death. Elfriede passed away in 2009 at the age of 89.
To one of his drinking companions, Ed Kemper confided that he’d become engaged and he commented that a ‘man would be a fool to marry a woman smarter than himself.’ Kemper did not marry the girl. In fact, she was seldom seen in the area and little was known of her except that she came from a Central Valley town, was small, blonde, young and immature. Later, he told an investigator that he worshipped her in an ‘almost religious’ way and that they had never engaged in a sexual relationship.
In fact, he claimed that he had had normal sexual intercourse only once and this with a woman who rejected him when he approached her a second time. But he also said on other occasions that he had never had normal relations with a woman; and again, that he had frequently attempted intercourse with a woman but had never reached a climax.
Source: The Coed-Killer by Margaret Cheney, p. 38-39 / Image: textless frame from David Jouvent’s upcoming graphic novel about Kemper
“I didn’t go hog-wild and totally limp. What I’m saying is, I found myself doing things in an attempt to make things fit together inside. I was doing sexual probings and things, I mean, in a sense of striking out, or reaching out and grabbing, and pulling to me. But appalled at the sense that it wasn’t working, that isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, that isn’t the way I want it. You see what I’m saying? And yet I get, during that time, I become engaged to someone who is young, and is beautiful, and very much the same advantages, and very much the same upbringing, and Disneyland values. And, uh, she’s very much the reason I surrendered.”
ed kemper about getting engaged during his crime spree
Not much is known about Kemper’s fiancee, as she has never gone public with her story. After Kemper’s arrest, she was apparently very much in shock, and went into seclusion. Her parents sent her away from Turlock. Officials at her high school, where she was in her senior year, consented to excuse her from classes until the emotional pressure on her let up, and allowed her to graduate with her class.
Police said a newspaper clipping reporting the engagement was found with Kemper’s belongings in the Aptos apartment where he lived with his mother. In his bedroom, they also found the picture of a beautiful blonde said to be a fiancee of Kemper.
We know that she had met Kemper at a Santa Cruz beach in the summer of 1972. Her age varies according to reports between 16, 17 or 18 years old. Her first name might have been Martha, but this is unverified information from a social media source.
Source:Redlands Daily Facts, May 9, 1973 / Greeley Daily Tribune, May 5, 1973 / Register-Pajaronian, April 25, 1973
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
February 5, 1973, less than a month after the murder of Cindy Schall, was again a perfect day to kill: hard rain was coming down. And Ed Kemper was mad with rage. “My mother and I had a terrible argument. I told her I was going to the movies and I immediately drove my car to the [University] campus because it was still early.” Luck was with him despite the late hour: the campus was buzzing with activity because of a conference that was taking place that evening. He was afraid to stand out as he passed the guards’ gate at the university entrance, because his rear light and bumper were tinkered and were easily identifiable. But there were many cars and the guard was just managing the flow of vehicles. Kemper was spoiled, as there were many hitchhikers in the rainy weather.
Rosalind Thorpe, twenty-three, a student of linguistics and psychology, shared an apartment in Santa Cruz with a friend; she usually went to campus by bicycle, but the bad weather had made her change her mind. “I noticed that she took a look at the sticker which allowed me to park on campus. She took me for another student and settled down next to me without any hesitation. She started talking immediately. I let her do it, she was very open, very friendly. And I wondered how to act. After a while, I decided that it was good, that she would be mine, without any doubt. Besides, I had what I call one of those little zapples! which crossed my body. Every time I had one, they would die; it never happened to me to have a zapple! at another time. It’s the moment when everything falls into place, when the circumstances are ideal. No one around, the guard hadn’t noticed anything, no problem leaving campus and Thorpe suspected nothing. And, of course, she was also someone I didn’t know at all. It was one of my rules of conduct from which I didn’t deviate. I had also decided never to hunt around Santa Cruz, because I lived there, especially with my criminal record. I could be considered a potential suspect. But, as my crimes went on, I became more and more ill and I took fewer and fewer precautions, both in my approach, during and after, which seemed obvious to me given the growing amount of evidence that was discovered, in one form or another.”
As he is about to leave campus, Kemper sees this young Chinese girl hitchhiking. Alice Liu, twenty-one, is the daughter of an aeronautical engineer from Los Angeles and is in her final year of studies at the University of California. Like Rosalind Thorpe, she lived in Santa Cruz in a studio that she shared with a friend. He stops the vehicle and she hops inside, sitting in the back seat. “Okay, here we are chatting, it’s actually Rosalind who is leading the conversation and that suits me. I notice Alice who sees us and gives us her most beautiful smile, thumb raised. A gesture of great beauty, she does it very naturally, with a lot of grace. I think she must have been an experienced hitchhiker. She is superb, with everything you need where you need it, intelligent, dressed in a conservative way, not with these fashionable clothes in bright colors that we saw everywhere at that time. I admit that I was relieved that the two girls didn’t know each other. We pass in front of the entrance gate. I look at the guard insistently, so he doesn’t think to take a look at the back of the car. I’m sure he didn’t see Alice because it was dark, she was small and wore dark clothes. A few hundred feet away, we are alone on the road. The view is superb: below, we see Santa Cruz which is illuminated. I ask them if they have any objection to me slowing down to observe the landscape. Rosalind nods, enthusiastic, but I feel like a reluctance coming from Alice. I have the very clear impression that I disgust her, that she’s too good for a poor guy like me. The car is running. I take out my weapon which is hidden under my leg, a black pistol, it’s dark and Rosalind doesn’t notice anything. We continue to chat and I point my gun. I hesitate for a second, but not more, because the girl in the back seat will see me act. I didn’t stop the car voluntarily, so that the warnings wouldn’t light up, in case we came across another car.”
“Thorpe had a very broad forehead and I was trying to imagine what her brain looked like, inside her skull. I wanted my bullet to hit her right in the middle of the brain. A second before she’s still moving, and the next, she’s dead. A noise, then silence, absolute silence. Liu, who was sitting in the back seat, covered her face with her hands. I turned around and shot her twice, through her hands. I missed her. The third time worked, right in the middle of her temple. We passed the campus gate and I could hear Liu dying in the back seat. Once out of the city, I slowed down as much as possible, before turning her head to the side, and shooting her at point blank range. I know it’s a big risk to take a student directly on campus, so you can imagine taking two multiplies that risk all the more, but I knew I could do it.
Once, in broad daylight, I took three hitchhikers on University Avenue, in Berkeley, and almost killed them. I could have, without any problem, because of the din of the highway which would have covered the shots. I drank more and more. I had to stop because I was losing all self-control. The cops knew me as a heavy drinker in the bar where we hung out, and that may be one of the reasons they didn’t suspect me. In public, I was almost always drunk, wine or beer, or under the influence of various barbiturates, but I remained sober to commit my crimes. Why? When I was drunk I could no longer act. That’s why I drank constantly: I wanted to stop this madness. But it was hard to stay drunk all the time. I drank between six and eight gallons of wine a week, twice as much as my mother. “
a path away from the road, Kemper put the two bodies in the trunk. He went to
fill up at a gas station and to the toilet to clean the blood stains that dot
the plaster on his arm and his black jeans. Back home, he parked on the street
and told his mother that he fell asleep while watching a movie at the cinema. He
leaves her in front of the television and indicates that he is going to buy
cigarettes. It is between ten and eleven o’clock in the evening. There is no
one on the street and he takes the opportunity to open the trunk and behead the
two women with his hunting knife.
next morning, after his mother leaves for work, Kemper brings the two heads
back to his room, cleans them in the bathroom and takes out the bullets. Then,
he takes Alice’s corpse, lays her on his bed to rape her and even thinks of
washing her body to remove all traces of sperm, before putting her back in the
trunk where she joins Rosalind’s headless body. Without really knowing why,
Kemper cuts Alice’s hands. This time, he doesn’t bother to dissect the corpses.
It’s no longer something that excites him like the first time. It has now
become routine. He wants to get rid of all compromising evidence as quickly as
possible. Ed heads north on the road to San Francisco. He’s thinking of
depositing the corpses there to make the investigators believe that the
murderer is from that city.
media and the police were on their teeth. Macabre disappearances and discoveries
were increasing. The body of Cynthia Schall was identified on January 24, 1973,
that of Mary Guilfoyle (a victim of Herbert Mullin), on February 11. On
February 8, the newspapers announced on their frontpage the disappearances of
Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu. By a curious coincidence, two of Kemper’s work
colleagues found the beheaded corpses of the two girls on February 14; they were
identified a week later. The medical examiner indicated to the investigators
that the assassin (s) probably had medical knowledge or acted according to a
strange ritual, because Cindy’s Achilles tendons had been cut. Kemper did it to
satisfy his necrophilic desires, to prevent cadaverous rigidity and to keep the
He then visits a friend, takes the time to dine and go to the movies, before driving up to Eden Canyon Road around two in the morning, where he throws the beheaded bodies. He then continues to the town of Pacifica, at Devil’s Slide, where he throws the heads and hands of the two young girls. Worried, he regretted not having buried the two heads and returned on the scene two weeks later, at four in the morning.
“Three months after I was out, I was back into the fantasy bay. – My first date was an absolute disaster. It wasn’t her fault, you know. And I didn’t blame her even then. I’m saying – it was a terrible tragedy but boy was it – she never talked to me again, it was awful. Wasn’t sexual or [gr…] I was just such a dork, taking her to a John Wayne movie and at Denny’s. It was terrible. I’d never been on a date! At 16 that was cool, you know?! I’d never been on a date! You know? I was locked up since I was 15, but I can’t tell her that, ‘Oh gee, don’t mind me,’ you know. She got kinda hung up on my looks or whatever, I mean, she’s a gorgeous young lady, pure class, and she saw something there that wasn’t there, and boy, did she find out quick.”
Ed Kemper about his first date after his release from atascadero in 1969
Source: The Killing of America (documentary directed by Leonard Schrader)