In honor of the recent Netflix show, “Mindhunter” I’ve decided to dedicate this post to the Edmund Kemper. He’s incredibly fascinating in how meticulous he was when he started his killing spree in how much thought and how he evaded capture for so long.
Edmund Emil Kemper III was born in Burbank, California on December 18th, 1948 to Clarnell Elizabeth Kemper and Edmund Emil Kemper II. He was the only son and middle child, having an older sister (Susan) and younger sister (Allyn). His father was a WWII veteran who tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific Proving Grounds after the war, then moved back to California after that and worked as an electrician.
His mother wasn’t a happy woman. She complained constantly about her husband’s “menial” job, and at some point his father has been known to say: “suicide missions in wartime and the later atomic bomb testing were nothing compared to living with Clarnell.”
Kemper was a large boy even from birth. He was 13 lbs as a newborn baby and by the age of 4 he was a head taller than all of his peers. He was extremely intelligent, but showed antisocial and psychopathic behavior, such as cruelty to animals. When he was 10, he buried a cat alive. When it died he dug it up, decapitated it, and then mounted the head on a spike (in an interview later in his life he admitted that he got pleasure from lying to his family about who actually killed the cat). Another incident with a cat happened when he was 13 and he killed a cat that he thought favored his sister Allyn over him. He kept the pieces of this cat in his closet until his mother found them.
Considering what he did with cats, it comes as no surprise that he had a dark fantasy life. He would perform rites with his younger sister’s dolls that involved removing their heads and hands. He would also play games called “Gas Chamber” and “Electric Chair” where he would get his younger sister to tie him up and flip an imaginary switch and then he would fall to the floor and pretending he was dying.
On one occasion his older sister Susan teased him and asked why he didn’t try to kiss his teacher and he replied with, “If I kiss her, I’d have to kill her first.” As a little boy he would sneak out with his father’s bayonet and go to his second grade teacher’s house to watch her through her window.
He’s had two near death experiences, both caused by his sister Susan. The first one he was almost hit by a train when she push him in front of one and the other one was she pushed him into the deep end of a pool and he almost drowned.
He had a very close relationship with his father and was devastated by his parents divorce in 1957. This caused him to be raised by his mother in Helena, Montana. He had an extremely dysfunctional relationship with her. She was a neurotic and domineering alcoholic who would often belittle, humiliate, and verbally abuse him. She often mocked him for his large body size (he was about 6 feet 4 inches tall by the age of 15) and called him a “real weirdo”. She refused to coddle him in fear of “turning him gay”, and told him that he reminded her of his father and that no woman would ever love him. Kemper would later describe his mother as “a sick angry woman” and thought she was suffering from borderline personality disorder.
At the age of 14 he ran away to see his father who he found out was remarried and had a stepson. He stayed with his father for a while before being sent off to live with his paternal grandparents, Maude and Edmund Kemper, who lived on a ranch in the mountains in North Fork, California. He hated living there, referring to his grandfather as senile and projected his hatred of his mother onto his grandmother who he felt was similar to her.
On August 27th, 1964 Kemper’s grandmother got into an argument with him sitting at the kitchen table, so he stormed off and got his .22 caliber rifle that his grandfather gave to him for hunting. He returned to the kitchen with it and shot his grandmother in the head and twice in her back. He then dragged her body into her bedroom and waited for his grandfather to come home. When he did, Kemper went out into the driveway and shot and killed his grandfather as well. He didn’t know what to do after the crime so he called his mother who in turn told him to call the police. He did so and waited for them to come take him into custody.
When he was questioned by authorities he said he “just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma” and the reason he killed his grandfather as well was so he wouldn’t have to find his wife dead. His crime was seen as incomprehensible for a 15 year old to commit and the court psychiatrists diagnosed him as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and sent him to the criminally insane unit in the Atascadero State Hospital. At the hospital, psychiatrists and social workers strongly disagreed with Kemper’s diagnosis. They said there was no evidence of hallucinations and no evidence of bizarre thinking. He had a high IQ (136) and he was re-diagnosed as having a “personality trait disturbance, passive-aggressive type”. Before he was released his IQ went up to 145. Kemper was a model inmate, and was trained to administer psychiatric tests to other inmates. He was a good worker and not seen as a typical sociopath. He was released to the care of his mother on his 21st birthday and had his record wiped clean.
While he was in the care of his mother he attended community college and hoped he could become a state trooper. He ultimately was rejected due to his size. At this time he was around 6 feet and 9 inches tall which gave him the nickname “Big Ed”. Although rejected as a state trooper, he still kept in contact with the Santa Cruz police and would occasionally have drinks with them in the Jury Room, which was a bar.
He started dating a 16 year old Turlock High School girl that he would later be engaged to. That same year he was hit by a car while riding on his motorcycle and sued the driver. He bought a new car with his settlement money from the accident and noticed a lot of women who were hitchhiking. That’s when he started storing tools in the back of his car. He started picking up women as a way to practice being able to convince them to get into his car. He kept doing this until he finally gave into his homicidal urges.
Between 1972 and 1973 Kemper went on a terrifying killing spree. He started with two college students and ended the spree with killing his mother and her best friend. He would pick up hitchhikers and take them to isolated areas where he would them proceed to shoot, stab, smother or strangle them, then he would perform irrumatio on their severed heads, have sex with their corpses and then dissect and dismember them. He went on to do this for 11 months. When he killed his mother his had sex with her severed head, cut out her vocal cords and tried to put them in the garbage disposal but they were ejected out. He said about that moment, “That seemed appropriate. As much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years”.
Kemper was indicted on eight counts of first degree murder on May 7th, 1973. He was found legally sane to stand trial and while in custody he attempted suicide twice. He was finally sentenced on November 8th, 1973 and received 7 years to life for each count with these terms to be served concurrently. He is currently still in prison and seen as a model prisoner, and is in charge of scheduling other inmates’ appointments with psychiatrists and makes ceramic cups, he also reads books on tape for the blind.