Edmund Kemper seemed like a gentle giant to some, but not when you know his true character. His crimes and even his childhood are horrifying.

Ed Kemper in chains / Picture Credit: Real Crime on YouTube

Ed Kemper in chains / Picture Credit: Real Crime on YouTube

Who is Edmund Kemper?

Edmund Kemper was born in 1948 in Burbank California (CA).

He is the middle child of Edmund Emil Kemper II and Carnell Kemper.

Kemper is known as the co-ed killer, as he killed numerous young women in the Santa Cruz area who attended schools and colleges. He also murdered several members of his own family.

Early life

Kemper’s parents divorced in 1957, which resulted in Kemper, his mother and two sisters moving to Montana.

This was not a positive event however, as Kemper’s mother was an alcoholic. They had quite a challenging relationship due to her drinking problem.

Kemper would blame his mother for any and all problems he had in his life. She was also very critical of him.

At 10 years old, Kemper’s mother sent him to live in the basement away from his sisters, as she feared he may harm them.

Kemper had many dark and worrying thoughts, including dreaming about killing his own mother.

He would even force his sisters to play a game he called ‘gas chamber’, in which his sisters would be made to blindfold him and lead him to a chair. Then, he would pretend to writhe around in agony until he ‘died’.

His first victims were, disturbingly enough, the family cats. At 10, he buried one cat alive. Then at 13, he slaughtered the other cat with a knife.

Kemper was sent to his father’s, but then sent back to his mother’s not long after. His mother then decided Kemper might be better off with his paternal grandparents in North Fork, CA.

Grandparent’s murders

Kemper hated living on his grandparent’s farm, and had even began learning about firearms.

His grandparents rightly took away his rifle however, after Kemper had shot some birds and other small animals with the gun.

In August of 1964, Kemper shot his grandmother in the kitchen after an argument, when he was just 15 years old.

Kemper being arrested / Picture Credit: Real Crime on YouTube
Kemper being arrested / Picture Credit: Real Crime on YouTube

When his unsuspecting grandfather arrived home, Kemper shot him too and hid his body. Later, he would say that he shot his grandfather to keep him from finding out that his wife had been murdered.

He stated in a prison interview that “If it’d been in the city, I’d have been a mass murderer at age 15. I would’ve killed until they gunned me down.”

Kemper ended up calling his mother surprisingly… she told him to call the police and tell them what had happened.

As a result of his crimes, Kemper was handed over to the California Youth Authority. He went through many psychological tests, which proved that he had a very high IQ, but was also a paranoid schizophrenic.

He was eventually sent to Atascadero State Hospital (ASH), a maximum-security facility for mentally ill convicts.

His release in his younger years

In 1969, Kemper was released from the facility at 21 years old.

His prison doctor advised Kemper to never see, speak to or contact his mother again, and definitely advised against living with his mother due to her past abuse and his psychological issues with her.

However, despite this warning, Kemper went back to living with his mother in Santa Cruz, CA.

Kemper had then applied to become a state trooper but was rejected because of his size – he weighed approximately 300lbs and stood at six feet, nine inches.

He began hanging around Santa Cruz police officers and made friends with a few of them. One officer gave Kemper a training-school badge and some handcuffs.

Another officer even let Kemper borrow a gun, according to Whoever Fights Monsters by Robert Ressler and Tom Shachtman. Kemper was also said to have a car that resembled a police cruiser.

In 1971 (the same year he began work for the highway department) Kemper was hit by a car while on his motorcycle.

His arm was badly injured and he received a $15,000 settlement in the civil suit he filed against the driver who hit him. However, this led Kemper’s attention to be focused elsewhere…

As he couldn’t work due to his injury, Kemper had a lot of free time and began to notice a large number of female hitchhikers in the area.

In a car he bought with the settlement money, Kemper stored things he thought he may need to satisfy his desires. These things included a gun, a knife and handcuffs.

The ‘co-ed Killer’

Kemper once again in chains / Picture Credit: Real Crime on YouTube
Kemper once again in chains / Picture Credit: Real Crime on YouTube

At first, Kemper picked up female hitchhikers and eventually let them go. However, when he picked up Fresno state students in 1972, Mary Pesce and Anita Luchessa, they never made it to their destination.

Both Pesce’s and Luchessa’s families reported them missing, but a woman’s head was found in the same year near some woods in Santa Cruz – it was Pesce’s. Luchessa’s remains were never found.

After the murders of these young girls, Kemper explained that he brought the bodies back to his home and removed their heads and hands. He also reportedly engaged in sexual activities with the corpses.

The same year (1972) Kemper would pick up a 15-year-old girl who decided to walk to her dance class rather than take the bus. She suffered the same gruesome fate as Pesce and Luchessa.

Kemper continued to act on his murderous impulses when, in 1973, he shot and killed a young hitchhiker by the name of Cindy Schall.

Once she was dead, Kemper took her body to his mother’s house while she was out. He hid Schall’s body in his room, dismembered her the following day, and buried her head in his mother’s backyard.

Kemper committed other murders after this – Schall was not the last.

Murder of his Mother

In April 1973, Kemper committed what would be his final two murders.

On Good Friday of the same year, Kemper went to his mother’s home where the two had an awkward and uncomfortable interaction.

Kemper attacked his mother while she slept, first hitting her with a hammer, then cutting her throat with a knife.

As he did with his other victims, he decapitated her and cut off her hands. But this time, he removed her larynx (vocal chords/voice box) and put it in the garbage disposal.

After hiding his mother’s body, he called and invited over her friend, Sally Hallett. Soon after she arrived, Kemper strangled her and hid her body in a closet.

He fled the next day to Pueblo, Colorado, where he called the Santa Cruz police department and confessed to his crimes.

Kemper’s story was not believed by officers (as some of them knew Kemper as a friend) until interrogations proved him guilty. He lead them to all the evidence they would need to prove he really was the ‘co-ed killer’.

Trial and imprisonment

Kemper went on trial for his crimes in October 1973. He was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder – he was found guilty of all charges in November that same year.

When asked by a judge what he thought his punishment should be, Kemper allegedly said he should be tortured to death.

Instead, he received eight concurrent life sentences.

Kemper is still alive and serving his time at California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

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