Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Category: Vacaville (Page 2 of 4)

1982 – Ed Kemper parole hearing

Vacaville – The state Board of Prison Terms denied parole Thursday to Edmund Kemper, telling the convicted murderer of eight he still is a threat to society.

It was the fourth denial in as many years for the 33-year-old Kemper, who was convicted of the murders in 1973 and became eligible for parole in 1979.

The three-member panel also agreed with requests by Assistant District Attorney John Hopkins and by Kemper, himself, that the next parole hearing be put off three years as provided for in a new state law.

Kemper was almost unrecognizable as he walked into the hearing room Thursday at the California Medical Facility here, where he has been incarcerated since his conviction in Santa Cruz Superior Court.

He told the parole board he has been exercising and jogging the past year and has shed 80 pounds from his 6-foot-9 frame. When he was convicted, Kemper weighed some 280 pounds. He is now sporting slightly longer and neatly-combed hair.

Kemper said he did not wish to testify at the hour-long hearing, but answered a number of questions from the panelists, describing his job as therapy clerk, volunteer work reading books on tape for the blind and the progress he said he has made in sessions with his psychiatrist.

But Kemper said in response to a question from Robert Roos, he doesn’t feel he’s ready to be returned to the street.

Ted Rich, chairman of the panel, later told Kemper that that admission played a part in the board’s denial of parole.

In announcing the decision after a short deliberation, Rich commended Kemper for his behavior inside the institution and for the progress reflected in the psychiatric report.

Kemper replied, “Thank you, I appreciate that.”

The report by Dr. R. Brooks said, in part, that Kemper “has made considerable progress in re-establishing his working relationship with his family, in many ways to a level which surpasses his highest functioning in the family in the past.”

Kemper told the panel he corresponds with his two sisters, but no longer with his father. “I blew it,” he said of the break-off of communication.

One of Kemper’s eight victims was his mother and he previously was convicted of killing his grandparents.

Brooks also wrote: “As he releases some of his intellectual defenses and experiences and expresses his emotional responses, he has become more ‘real,’ stepping out of his ‘monster’ role.”

Rich complimented Kemper for not being “contentious” as he had been at the previous parole hearings.

But, he reminded Kemper the murders were committed in an “especially heinous and atrocious manner” and that Kemper had “(sexually) abused and mutilated” his victims. (…)

Steve Bedient, Kemper’s appointed attorney, conceded Thursday that Kemper’s multiple murder conviction plus his former conviction stand strongly against him.

But, he urged the panel to consider the other factors required by law: Kemper’s behavior while institutionalized and the psychiatric report, which he said stand strongly in Kemper’s favor.

Bedient also said Kemper has shown remorse and added, “If 2 ½ million feet of tape (which Kemper said he has read for the blind) is not paying back society, I don’t know what is.”

But Kemper, arguing against his own release, said “I doubt I will ever understand what I did. I’ve made my own choice to try to become normal. I believe in a humane society. Some of my past actions have shown a disregard for the compassion of another person.”

His attorney, Steve Bedient, said Kemper estimated it would take at least 30 years before he could be released.

Kemper replied: “I don’t think it takes much effort for a person to realize that the notoriety of what I’ve done makes relationships with women a lot more difficult. It makes it rough, but it’s a challenge.”

Sources: “Mass murderer Kemper denied parole again”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, by Mark Bergstrom, June 25, 1982 / “Kemper agrees his place is behind bars”, Register-Pajaronian, June 25, 1982

1981 – State Parole Board refuses to set release date for Kemper

The state parole board refused to set a release date for convicted mass murderer Edmund Kemper on Thursday, but commended him for his good behavior and psychiatric progress.

The three-member board ruled unanimously that the 32-year-old Kemper was not ready to have a parole date set because his crime staggers the imagination,” the Associated Press reported.

The board, however, did commend Kemper for his good behavior in prison and his work with a program which records books for the blind. It also noted he had made progress in his therapy sessions.

Kemper, who stands 6-feet-9, was convicted in 1973 of eight counts of murder for the slaying of his mother, her best friend and six co-eds.

During the trial, Kemper said the killings were his way of acting out homicidal and sexual fantasies from his early childhood. Kemper mutilated the bodies of most of his victims and also engages in sex with them.

During the two-hour hearing at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, Kemper agreed he was not ready for parole, according to Assistant District Attorney John Hopkins.

His appointed attorney, Steve Bedient of Sacramento, said Kemper would be asking for a release date in the future, however, “because of his progress in therapy,” Hopkins said.

Kemper, who wore prison garb and sported a close-cropped haircut, said he was gaining a better knowledge of himself through therapy.

He said he was reaching a better understanding of how he had both “love and hate feelings” for his mother, Hopkins said.

He also said he realized the women he had killed were surrogate victims – “they all led to the ultimate killing of his mother,” Hopkins said.

Kemper told the board that his old attitudes were “all woring.”

He said: “I have a very clear mind and unfortunately I was even foolying myself,” according to AP accounts of the hearing.

Kemper, who lived with his mother in Aptos and buried the head of one of his victims in the backyard, said to this day, however, he has never been able to resolve the murder of his grandparents within himself. Kemper murdered his grandparents when he was 15.

But he said little else about his grandparents’ deaths and refused to discuss details of his killings.

Kemper told parole officers Thursday: “My grandparents are still rotting in their graves. I am making attempts to resolve the hurt and hate in my family. They still don’t want to have anything to do with me.”

The panel asked if he had cannibalized or had sex with female victims after he killed them.

“What I was doing was perverse by anyone’s standards,” he said.

Kemper said he was driven to the murders out of hate for his mother and to make “a social statement.”

Prison records said Kemper was attracted to coeds at the University of California campus at Santa Cruz. He said his mother taunted him about the young women, holding them up as models of what he could never has as a wife.

He told the board his goal in life was “non-violence – within himself and with respect to others,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins opposed setting a release date for Kemper. “I would agree with Mr. Kemper that he is not ready for release on parole,” he said.

Kemper appeared to be more calm at this year’s hearing than in past parole hearings, said Hopkins. He appeared subdued and did not complain about the presence of several reporters as he had in past years.

Sources: Santa Cruz Sentinel & Register-Pajaronian, May 29, 1981 / Drawings of parole hearing ©Center for Sacramento History

1980 – “I don’t see a place for me in society ever again.”

Commenting that he was “trying to keep a light air here, rather than being extremely serious,” Edmund E. Kemper III Wednesday told the Community Release Board, “I don’t see a place for me in society ever again.”

At the second of his parole hearings, John Brooks, chairman of the three-man panel, told the six-foot nine-inch murderer he is “unsuitable for parole.”

The release board hearings are conducted on the second floor of the California Medical Facility, in a room with dark paneling and broad tables. The proceedings are tape recorded and a court reporter also takes notes of the discussions.

Wednesday, someone had tied a small noose in the end of a venitian blind cord across the room from where Kemper calmly sat in his blue denim prison uniform.

Kemper criticized the news media for interpreting his remarks at his first, half-hearted parole hearing last year as meaning he does not want to be released from state prison.

“I have tried the door, gentlemen, and I assure you all is secure,” he told the release board last year, adding that the State of California has “more than enough reason to keep me locked up for the rest of my life. I have to say eight people are dead and I murdered them.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, Kemper seemed to show more interest in seeking his own release from prison, but he appeared like a small boy in a candy store, not only afraid to reach out and touch the candy, but also unwilling to admit to himself or others that he wanted some.

“I literally sink my own boat and I do it quite frequently,” he said. But he said the issue is not a matter of his not wanting to be released, it is the fact that he believes he can find no place for himself in society. He said he is a “maniac” in the eyes of society, and he believes he has 230 million enemies in the United States and 5 billion beyond its borders.

“I might as well be on Mars,” he went on. “I don’t see a parole in my future, so I’ve made no formal plans” for his life following release from prison, which is a routine question asked by the board.

In addition to objecting to the presence of four reporters at his hearing, Kemper also said the presence of a deputy district attorney and investigator from Santa Cruz County turned what he interpreted as an “information exchange” hearing into an adversary proceeding.

Prison psychologist R.J. Brooks advised the panel Kemper has “narcissistic and schizo-typical personality disorders” and said he is constantly suspicious of other people’s motives, as well as his own.

However, the psychologist said Kemper is learning to accept criticism and made a difficult emotional decision in the past year which led to his quitting the prison project making tapes of books for the blind, at which he spent 3,600 volunteer hours during his incarceration.

Santa Cruz Deputy DA John Hopkins argued, however, that Kemper lacked a basic understanding of the enormous atrocity of his crimes and seemed to “gloss” over the events. Kemper’s victims were dismembered after they were brutally slain.

Hopkins said Kemper’s crimes were “especially heinous and atrocious” and they were committed in a “dispassionate and calculated manner, with no real explicable motive.”

“He seems to gloss over things, despite his attention to minute detail, and seems unable to really contemplate what underlies this” hearing, Hopkins said. He is making every “effort to distract attention from what’s really been done.”

Kemper, on the other hand, said he has wasted 25 years of his life and feels “an obligation to do something positive, not just sit here and cry for society.”

After approximately 45 minutes of deliberation by the board, Brooks told Kemper he is still “unsuitable for parole.” Adding that his murders were extremely violent, including dismemberment and decapitation of his victims, which showed “a total disregard for human dignity.”

Brooks said the board would follow his psychiatrist’s recommendation that he be held for “a long period of observation.”

“No parole for homicidal giant,” by James E. Reid, The Press Democrat, May 1st, 1980

1979 – Kemper won’t be paroled and that’s fine with him

[During his parole hearing in 1979] Ed Kemper was asked by board member Craig Brown why he got along well in Vacaville with the staff and his peers “and in the community you become violent?”

“Because 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 abandoned.”

The loquacious Kemper later expounded on his life in prison saying, “I was convinced when I came here, I would soon be dead. But 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 around me.”

Source: Register-Pajaronian, May 2, 1979, excerpt from an article by Marj von B

1979 – Door’s still shut for Coed Killer

May 2, 1979 – Ed Kemper failed Tuesday in his half-hearted first attempt to win parole, admitting to a three-member panel of the board he doesn’t “see my release as feasible – as morally or legally feasible.”

Without emotion, panel chairman Ruth Rushen Tuesday detailed the eights murders, Kemper’s decapitation of his victims and his disposal of their bodies in various counties, but Kemper demanded the official record be changed to reflect the accurate “facts” and proceeded to recount each of the slayings again.

At the time he made statements to authorities in 1973, he said he was “suicidal” and “in my unwise immature judgment, I thought I was trying to build a psychiatric case against me. I needed help. I wanted help. And I made statements unsubstantiated by fact that are now being introduced as fact.”

“I was suicidal in my feelings at the time. I was trying to seal my fate.”

Officials, he went on Tuesday, were so anxious to convict him of the slayings “they left loopholes that I could use for an appeal, but I do not intend to take advantage of them.”

His actions “distressed me greatly” at the time, but “things still happen out there on the streets,” he added.

Kemper, who received an award two weeks ago for contributing 2 900 hours during the past two years tape recording books for the blind has sought court permission three times for psycho-surgery. He denied Tuesday the request was an attempt to gain his release or that he still felt an urge to kill.

“I felt I had one foot in a coffin and one on a banana peel” and his circumstances in the medical facility might result in violence, he suggested, “I didn’t like being controlled by my dislikes.”

Kemper, who also told the panel he has become a Christian while at Vacaville and has “learned to live with myself and God,” admitted the State of California has “more than enough reason to keep me locked up for the rest of my life. I have to say eight people are dead and I murdered them.”

After a half-hour deliberation, Rushen reconvened the hearing and said, “Mr. Kemper, you are not suitable for parole.”

She cited the “extreme violence and depravity” of his crimes and called Kemper “an unreasonable risk to society at this time.” His crimes, she went on, were premeditated and planned in meticulous detail, including bizarre conduct in “abusing, defiling and mutilating the victims’ bodies, which shows a total disregard for the worth of another human being.”

During a break in Edmund Kemper’s parole hearing at Vacaville Tuesday, Richard F. Verbrugge, inspector with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, said Kemper was questioned by Sonoma County authorities as a suspect in the murder of several hitchhiking girls here that began in 1972.

Verbrugge said he worked closely with sheriff’s homicide Detective Sgt. Butch Carlsted on the Sonoma County cases, but that Kemper was ruled out as a suspect.

“He was like a little boy, telling us everything and taking us everywhere,” the inspector said. Kemper was also given truth serum by officials during his initial examination. However, Verbrugge said Kemper did admit he picked up young girl hitchhikers in Sonoma County during his cruise through Bay Area counties seeking young girls that met “his criteria” for victims, but none of them apparently had the characteristics he sought.

The Press Democrat, May 2, 1979, by James E. Reid

1976 – “I have tried the door, gentlemen…”

“I have tried the door, gentlemen, and I assure you all is secure,” said Edmund E. Kemper III in 1976, rejecting his first chance to appear before the Community Release Board as an “exercise in futility.”

Source: The Press Democrat, May 2, 1979 – Door’s still shut for coed killer, by James E. Reid / Center for Sacramento History – Video Archive Kemper Trial 5/28/81 #2

“I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I liked Ed.”

John Douglas (left) and Ed Kemper (right)

FBI criminal profiler John Douglas talks about his first meeting with Ed Kemper in his book Mindhunter:

“The first thing that struck me when they brought him in was how huge this guy was. I’d known that he was tall and had been considered a social outcast in school and in the neighborhood because of his size, but up close, he was enormous. He could easily have broken any of us in two. He had longish dark hair and a full mustache, and wore an open work shirt and white T-shirt that prominently displayed a massive gut.

It was also apparent before long that Kemper was a bright guy. Prison records listed his IQ as 145, and at times during the many hours we spent with him, Bob [Robert Ressler] and I worried he was a lot brighter than we were. He’d had a long time to sit and think about his life and crimes, and once he understood that we had carefully researched his files and would know if he was bullshitting us, he opened up and talked about himself for hours.

His attitude was neither cocky and arrogant nor remorseful and contrite. Rather, he was cool and soft-spoken, analytical and somewhat removed. In fact, as the interview went on, it was often difficult to break in and ask a question. The only times he got weepy was in recalling his treatment at the hands of his mother. (…)

We ended up doing several lengthy interviews with Kemper over the years, each one informative, each one harrowing in its detail. Here was a man who had coldly butchered intelligent young women in the prime of their lives. Yet I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I liked Ed. He was friendly, open, sensitive, and had a good sense of humor. As much as you can say such a thing in this setting, I enjoyed being around him. I don’t want him out walking the streets, and in his most lucid moments, neither does he. But my personal feelings about him then, which I still hold, do point up an important consideration for anyone dealing with repeat violent offenders. Many of these guys are quite charming, highly articulate, and glib. (…)

Quite clearly, some types of killers are much more likely to repeat their crimes than others. But for the violent, sexually based serial killers, I find myself agreeing with Dr. Park Dietz that “it’s hard to imagine any circumstance under which they should be released to the public again.” Ed Kemper, who’s a lot brighter and has a lot more in the way of personal insight than most of the other killers I’ve talked to, acknowledges candidly that he shouldn’t be let out.”

Source: Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit (1996) by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker / Photo: Getty Images

“If I went apeshit in here, you’d be in a lot of trouble, wouldn’t you?”

Left to right: Robert K. Ressler, Ed Kemper and John Douglas

Supervisory Special Agent and Criminologist Robert K. Ressler, from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, famously told the story of his third meeting with Ed Kemper:

Twice before, I had ventured in the Vacaville prison in California to see and talk with him, the first time accompanied by John Conway, the second time by Conway and by my Quantico associate John Douglas, whom I was breaking in. During those sessions, we had gone quite deeply into his past, his motivations for murder, and the fantasies that were intertwined with those crimes. (…) I was so pleased at the rapport I had reached with Kemper that I was emboldened to attempt a third session with him alone. It took place in a cell just off death row, the sort of place used for giving a last benediction to a man about to die in the gas chamber. (…)

After conversing with Kemper in this claustrophobic locked cell for four hours, dealing with matters that entail behavior at the extreme edge of depravity, I felt that we had reached the end of what there was to discuss, and I pushed the buzzer to summon the guard to come and let me out of the cell. No guard immediately appeared, so I continued on with the conversation. (…)

After another few minutes had passed, I pressed the buzzer a second time, but still got no response. Fifteen minutes after my first call, I made a third buzz, yet no guard came.

Robert K. Ressler

A look of apprehension must have come over my face despite my attempts to keep calm and cool, and Kemper, keenly sensitive to other people’s psyches, picked up on this.

“Relax, they’re changing the shift, feeding the guys in the secure area.” He smiled and got up from his chair, making more apparent his huge size. “Might be fifteen, twenty minutes before they come and get you,” he said to me. (…)

Though I felt I maintained a cool and collected posture, I’m sure I reacted to this information with somewhat more overt indications of panic, and Kemper responded to these.

“If I went apeshit in here, you’d be in a lot of trouble, wouldn’t you? I could screw your head off and place it on the table to greet the guard.”

Ed Kemper during the FBI interviews

My mind raced. I envisioned him reaching for me with his large arms, pinning me to a wall in a stranglehold, and then jerking my head around until my neck was broken. It wouldn’t take long, and the size difference between us would almost certainly ensure that I wouldn’t be able to fight him off very long before succumbing. He was correct: He could kill me before I or anyone else could stop him. So, I told Kemper that if he messed with me, he’d be in deep trouble himself.

“What could they do– cut off my TV privileges?” he scoffed.

I retorted that he would certainly end up “in the hole” – solitary confinement – for an extremely long period of time.

Both he and I knew that many inmates put in the hole are forced by such isolation into at least temporary insanity.

Ed shrugged this off by telling me that he was an old hand at being in prisons, that he could withstand the pain of solitary and that it wouldn’t last forever. Eventually, he would be returned to a more normal confinement status, and his “trouble” would pale before the prestige he would have gained among the other prisoners by “offing” an FBI agent.

My pulse did the hundred-yard dash as I tried to think of something to say or do to prevent Kemper from killing me. I was fairly sure that he wouldn’t do it but I couldn’t be completely certain, for this was an extremely violent and dangerous man with, as he implied, very little left to lose. How had I been dumb enough to come in here alone?

Suddenly, I knew how I had embroiled myself in such a situation. Of all people who should have known better, I had succumbed to what students of hostage-taking events know as “Stockholm syndrome”- I had identified with my captor and transferred my trust to him. Although I had been the chief instructor in hostage negotiation techniques for the FBI, I had forgotten this essential fact! Next time, I wouldn’t be so arrogant about the rapport I believed I had achieved with a murderer. Next time.

“Ed,” I said, “surely you don’t think I’d come in here without some method of defending myself, do you?”

“Don’t shit me, Ressler. They wouldn’t let you up here with any weapons on you.”

Kemper’s observation, of course, was quite true, because inside a prison, visitors are not allowed to carry weapons, lest these be seized by inmates and used to threaten the guards or otherwise aid an escape. I nevertheless indicated that FBI agents were accorded special privileges that ordinary guards, police, or other people who entered a prison did not share.

What’ve you got then?”

“I’m not going to give away what I might have or where I might have it on me.”

“Come on, come on; what is it – a poison pen?”

“Maybe, but those aren’t the only weapons one could have.”

“Martial arts, then,” Kemper mused. “Karate? Got your black belt? Think you can take me?” 

With this, I felt the tide had shifted a bit, if not turned. There was a hint of kidding in his voice – I hoped. But I wasn’t sure, and he understood that I wasn’t sure, and he decided that he’d continue to try and rattle me. By this time, however, I had regained some composure, and thought back to my hostage negotiation techniques, the most fundamental of which is to keep talking and talking and talking, because stalling always seems to defuse the situation. We discussed martial arts, which many inmates studied as a way to defend themselves in the very tough place that is prison, until, at last, a guard appeared and unlocked the cell door. (…)

As Kemper got ready to walk off down the hall with the guard, he put his hand on my shoulder.

“You know I was just kidding, don’t you?”

“Sure,” I said, and let out a deep breath.

I resolved never to put myself or any other FBI interviewer in a similar position again. From then on, it became our policy never to interview a convicted killer or rapist or child molester alone; we’d do that in pairs.

Source: Whoever Fights Monsters – My twenty years tracking serial killers for the FBI, by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman, 1992

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