Solved: Co-Ed Killer (1972-1973)

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This case we will be covering Edmund Kemper who was famously known as the Co-ed Killer.

Let’s take a look at his background before we head into the case.

Edmund Emil Kemper III is an American serial killers, serial rapist, cannibal and necrophile who murdered 10 people, including his paternal grandparents and mother. He is noted for his height of 6 feet 9 inches and for his very IQ score of 145. Edmund Kemper got the nickname because most of his victims were female college students.

Edmund Emil Kemper III was born in Burbank California on December 18, 1948. Hew as the middle child and only son born to Clarnell Kemper and Edmund Emil Kemper II. Edmund II was a World War II veteran who after the war tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific Proving Grounds before returning to California where he worked as an electrician.

Clarnell often complained about Edmund II’s  “menial” electrician job, he later said “suicide missions in wartime and the atomic bomb testing’s were nothing compared to living with her” and that Clarnell affected him “more than 396 days and nights of fighting on the front did.”

Edmund was a head taller than his peers by the age of 4 and early on, he exhibited antisocial behavior such as cruelty to animals. At the age of 10, he buried a pet cat alive; once it died he dug it up, decapitated it and then mounted its head on a spike. Edmund later stated that he got enormous amounts of pleasure from successfully lying to his family about the killing of the cat. At the age of 13, he had killed another family cat when he noticed it was taking favor towards his younger sister, Allyn Lee Kemper instead of him, and he kept pieces of it in his closet until his mother found them.

Edmund Kemper had a dark fantasy life. He performed rites with his younger sister’s dolls that culminated in his removing their heads and hands; on one occasion, when his oldest sister Susan Kemper teased him and asked why he did not try to his teacher, he replied, “if I kiss her, I’d have to kill her first.”

He also remembered that as a young boy, he would sneak out of his house while armed with his fathers bayonet and go to his second grade teacher’s house to watch her through her windows. He stated in interviews that some of his favorite games to play as a child was Gas chamber and Electric Chair, in which he would ask his younger sister to tie him up and flip an imaginary switch and he would tumble over and writhe on the floor pretending that he was being executed by gas inhalation or electric shock.

He also had a near death experience as a child, when his older sisters tried to push him in front of a train and one other time when she pushed him into the deep end of a swimming pool where he almost drowned.

Edmund Kemper had a very close relationship with his father and was devastated when his parents separated in 1957, causing him to be raised by Clarnell in Helena, Montana. He had a severely dysfunctional relationship with his mother, who was a alcoholic who frequently belittled, humiliated and abused him. Clarnell would often make Edmund sleep in a locked basement because she feared he would harm his sisters who regularly mocked him for his size, by the age of 15 Edmund stood 6 feet 4 inches and was labeled as “a real weirdo.”

She also refused to show him any kind of love and affection out of fear that she would “turn him gay” and told Edmund that he reminded her of his father and that no woman would ever love him or need him. He later described his mother as a sick and angry woman and it was discovered that she suffered from a borderline personality disorder.

At the age of 14, Edmund ran away from home and attempted to reconnect with his father in California. Once he got there he learned that his father had remarried and had a stepson. Edmund stayed with his father a short time until his father sent him to live with his grandparents who lived on a ranch in California. Edmund described his grandfather as senile and his grandmother was constantly emasculating him.

On August 27, 1964, Kemper was siting at the time with his grandmother when they had an argument, he was enraged and stormed off and grabbed a rifle that his grandfather gave him to go hunting with, he entered the kitchen and fatally shot his grandmother in the head before firing 2 more times into her back. She also suffered multiple stab wounds with a kitchen knife that occurred after she had died.

Edmunds grandfather returned rom the store and Edmund went outside and fatally shot him in the driveway next to his car. He was unsure of what to do so he called his mother who told him to contact the police, and Edmund did just that and waited for the police to take him into custody.

After his arrest, Edmund said that he “just wanted to see what it felt like to kill his grandmother” and testified that he killed his grandfather so he would not have to find out that his wife was dead and that he would be angry with him for what he’d done.

Psychiatrist Donald Lunde, who interviewed Edmund during his adult life wrong, “In his way, he had avenged the rejection of both his father and mother.” His crimes were deemed incomprehensible for a 15 year old to commit and the court psychiatrists diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic and sent him the Atascadero State Hospital, a maximum security facility that houses mentally ill convicts.

While at the state hospital social workers disagreed with the courts psychiatrists’ diagnoses. Their reports actually stated that Edmund showed “no flight ideas, no interference with thought, no expression of delusions or hallucinations, and no evidence of bizarre thinking.” They observed him to be highly intelligent and tested his IQ which came out to a 135 which is 2 standard deviations above average.

He was later re-diagnosed with a less severe condition called “personality trait disturbance, passive-aggressive type.” He was later given another IQ test and he had a result of 145.

Edmund endeared himself to the psychiatrists by being a model prisoner and was trained to administer psychiatric tests on other inmates. One of the psychiatrists later said, “He was a very good worker and this is not typical of a sociopath. He took pride in his work.” He also became a member of the Jaycees with in the State hospital.

After his second arrest, Edmund said that he was starting to understand how these tests functioned and allowed him to manipulate his psychiatrists and admitted that he learned a lot from the sex offenders that he administered the tests from; he stated he learned how to avoid leaving witnesses and it was best to a woman after raping her.

Edmund was released on a parole on his 21st birthday from the State hospital. Against the recommendations of psychiatrists at the State hospital, he was released into the care of his wonderful mother, Clarnell. Edmund later demonstrated further to his psychiatrists that he was rehabilitated and on November 29, 1972 his juvenile records were permanently expunged. The last report from his probation psychiatrists read:

If I were to see this patient without having any history available or getting any history from him, I would think that we’re dealing with a very well adjusted young man who had initiative, intelligence and who was free of any psychiatric illnesses … It is my opinion that he has made a very excellent response to the years of treatment and rehabilitation and I would see no psychiatric reason to consider him to be of any danger to himself or to any member of society … [and] since it may allow him more freedom as an adult to develop his potential, I would consider it reasonable to have a permanent expunction of his juvenile records.

While staying with his mother Edmund went to a community college in accordance with his parole agreement and had hoped he would become a police officer but was rejected because of his size, he was 6 feet 9 inches tall and led to his nickname, “Big Ed.”

Edmund kept very good relationships with police officers in Santa Cruz despite his rejection to the force and was described as a “friendly nuisance” at a bar that was called The Jury Room, which was a popular hangout for local police officers.

Edmund worked many jobs before gaining employment with the State of California Division of Highways. His relationship with his mother remained toxic and hostile, the 2 of them were having frequent arguments that the neighbors often heard.

When Edmund eventually had enough money saved he moved in with a friend. He still complained of being unable to get away from his mother that would regularly call him and also just showed up at his house. He met a student from the Turlock High School and they got engaged in March of 1973 but  after his second arrest the parents requested her name not be revealed to the public.

In the same year that he started with for the Highway Division, Edmund was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle and his arm was badly injured in a crash and received a settlement in a civil suit he filed against he driver.

With the settlement money, he bought a 1969 Ford Galaxie and noticed that a lot of the hitchhikers were woman and began storing plastic bags, knives, blankets and handcuffs in the car. That’s when he started picking up young woman and peacefully letting them go, he stated that he picked up around 150 hitchhikers before he started getting the homicidal urgers which he called “little zapples” and began acting on them.

Being May 1972 and April 1973, Edmund had killed 8 people. He would pick up female students who were hitchhiking and take them to an isolated area where he would shoot, stab, smother, or strangle them. He would then take their bodies back to his house where he would decapitate them and had sexual intercourse with their bodies and then dismembered them.

During his killing spree he killed 5 college students, 1 high school student, his mother and his mothers best friend. Edmund told investigators that he young woman were just surrogates for his ultimate target which was his mother.

 

Let us take a look at the victims.

Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa

On May 7, 1972, Edmund was driving in Berkeley, California when he picked up 2 young girls that were hitchhiking from Fresno State University and was looking to go to Stanford University. After driving an hour, he managed to reach a secluded wooded area and without alerting the girls that he had changed directions. It was in the wooded area that he handcuffed Mary Ann and locked Anita in the truck, he then stabbed and strangled Mary Ann to death and doing the exact same to Anita.

Edmund put both of the women’s bodies in his trunk and returned to his apartment, he was even stopped by a police officer for having a broken taillight and the officer didn’t even detect that he had dead bodies in the back of his car. Once he was home he took the bodies into his apartment, he photographed them and had sexual intercourse with their bodies before dismembering them. He then put the body parts into bags and later threw them out near Loma Prieta Mountain. He took the severed heads to a ravine near back. It wasn’t until August of 1972 when Mary Ann’s skull was found and after an extensive search there was no other evidence for the rest of her body or Anita Luchessa.

Aiko Koo

September 14, 1972, Edmund picked up 15-year-old Aiko Koo who had decided to hitchhike to a dance class after missing the bus. He again drove to the same remote area where he pulled a gun on Aiko but he locked himself out of his car. Aiko eventually let him back him and he proceeded to choke her unconscious, rape and kill her.

He packed her back into his trunk and went to a nearby bar to have a few drinks before returning to his apartment. He confessed later that he opened his trunk and admired his catch like a fisherman. Back at his apartment, he had sexual intercourse again and then dismembered and disposed of her bodies just like the previous 2 victims. Aiko Koo’s mother called the police to report her missing and put up flyers asking for information but did not receive any regarding her daughters location or status.

Cindy Schall

On January 7, 1973, Edmund moved back in with his mother and was driving around Cabrillo College campus when he picked up a student, Cynthia Schall. He drove to a wooded area and shot her with a .22 caliber pistol. He placed her body in his trunk of his car and drove to his mother’s house where he kept her body in his closet hidden until the next morning. When his mother finally left for work the next morning, he had sexual intercourse with and removed the bullet from the body, dismembered and then decapitated her in his mother’s bathtub.

He kept Cindy’s head for several days and regularly engaging in oral sex with the severed head, he then buried her head in his mother’s garden facing upward towards her bedroom. He got rid of the body by throwing them off a cliff and over the course of the following weeks all except her head and right hand were discovered and pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. A pathologists determined that she had been cut into pieces with a power saw.

 

 

Rosalind Thorpe and Allison Liu

After a heated argument with his mother, Edmund left the house in search for possible victims on February 5, 1973. With the community on suspicion of a serial killer preying on hitchhikers in the Santa Cruz area, students were advised to accept rides only from cars with university stickers on them. So…Edmund got one of the stickers because his mother worked fore the University of California, Santa Cruz. He came across 23 year old Rosalind Thorpe and 20 year old Allison Liu on the UCSC campus. He fatally shot both girls and wrapped their bodies in blankets.

Edmund again repeated his process but this time he behanded them in his car and carried the headless bodies into his mother’s house to have sexual intercourse with them. He dismembered them and removed the bullets and discarded their remains the next morning. Some of the remains were found at Eden Canyon a week later and more were found near Highway 1 in March.

Clarnell Strandberg and Sally Hallett

On April 20, 1973, Edmunds mother was woke up Edmund when she was coming home from a party, while sitting in her bed reading a book, she noticed Edmund walk into her room and said to him, “I suppose you’re going to want to sit up all night and talk now.” Edmund replied, “No, Good Night.” He then waited for her to fall asleep and snuck back into her room and beat her to death wit ha claw hammer and slit her throat with a penknife. He decapitated her and engaged in oral sex with her severed head and then used it as a dart board. He also cut her tongue out and put them in the garbage disposal. But the garbage disposal could not cut up the tough vocal cords and ejected the tissue back up.

Edmund hid his mother body in his closet and went to drink at a nearby bar and when he returned he invited his mother’s best fiend, Sally Hallett, over to the house to have dinner and watch a movie. When Sally arrived Edmund strangled her death to create a cover story that his mother and Hallett had gone away together on vacation. He then put Sally’s body in a closet and left a note for police. It read:

“Appx. 5:15 Am. Saturday. No need for her to suffer any more at the hands of this horrible “murderous Butcher.” It was quick-asleep- the way I wanted it. No sloppy and incomplete, gents. Just a lack of time. I got things to do!!”

After killing his mother and her best friend, Edmund drove nonstop to Pueblo, Colorado. He had 3 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his car and he believed he was target of an active manhunt. After not hearing of any news on the radio about the murders of his mother and Sally Hallett he found a payphone and called the police, he confessed about the murders but the police did not take his call seriously and told him to call back at a later time. Several hours later, he called again and asked to speak to an officer he personally knew. He confessed to the killings of his mother and Sally Hallett then waited for police to arrive and take him into custody where he also confessed to the murders of 6 students.

Edmund was indicted on 8 counts of first degree murder on May 7, 1973. Due to the explicit and detailed confession, his counsel’s only option was to plead not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges. During his lock up Edmund tried to commit suicide in custody but his trail went ahead on October 23, 1973.

3 court appointed psychiatrists found Edmund to be legally sane. One of the psychiatrists investigated his juvenile records and the diagnosis that was once psychotic. During an interview, it was relayed to the court that Edmund had engaged in cannibalism and that he sliced flesh from the legs, then cooked and consumed the strips of flesh in casserole. He later recanted the confession of cannibalism.

On November 8, 1973, the jury deliberated for 5 hours before declaring Edmund sane and guilty on all counts. He asked for the death penalty but requested death by torture. However there was a moratorium placed on capital punishment by the Supreme Court of California, he instead got 7 years to life for each count and these are to be served concurrently and was sentenced to the California Medical Facility.

While in the California Medical Facility, Edmund was incarcerated in the same prison block as other notorious criminals such as Herbert Mullin and Charles Manson. He didn’t like Herbert very well as he was committing his murders at the same time and in the same as area Edmund. Edmund manipulated and physically intimidated Herbert who was only 5 feet 9 inches tall.

Edmund remains among the general population in prison and is considered a model prisoner. He was in charge of scheduling inmates appointments with psychiatrists and was an accomplished craftsman of ceramic cups.

He retired from his jobs in 2015 after he experienced a stroke and declared medically disabled. He received his first rules violation report in 2016 for failing to provide a urine sample.

Edmund was first eligible for parole in 1979 but was denied parole that year and as well at the parole hearings in 1980,1981, and 1982. He waived his right to a hearing in 1985. He was denied parole in 1988 and 1991 and 1994. He waived his right again to a hearing again 1997 and 2002. He was denied parole in 2007. He waived his rights in 2013 and was denied parole in 2017 and is next eligible in 2024.

Sources:

Edmund Kemper – Wikipedia

The Twisted Tale of “The Co-ed Killer” | Psychology Today

Edmund Kemper – Mother, Murders & Facts – Biography

Top 10 Gruesome Facts About Edmund Kemper – Listverse