Doc Bonn shares the real life atrocity tale of serial killer Edmund Kemper
The following is a real life horror story and atrocity tale that defies comprehension. Edmund Kemper III, a U.S. serial killer and necrophile, also known as “The Co-ed Killer,” was born December 18, 1948, in Burbank, CA. He was arrested in April, 1973, at the age of 24, after murdering six female students, his own mother, and her mother’s best friend.
Despite his relative youth upon capture, Kemper had actually committed his first two murders nearly a decade earlier. Kemper was an extremely intelligent child but he engaged in sociopathic behavior early on, including the torture and killing of animals, a common childhood practice among nearly half of all serial killers. During childhood, Kemper was physically and emotionally abused by his alcoholic mother, Clarnell, who was divorced from his father. Clarnell frequently locked her son in a dark basement alone at night.
Not too surprisingly, Edmund grew up to hate his mother and, at the age of 14, ran away from home in search of his father in Van Nuys, CA. After locating but being rejected by his father, young Edmund was sent to live with his paternal grandmother and grandfather in North Fork, CA. Kemper claims that his grandmother, similar to his mother, was very abusive and he disliked her intensely.
In 1964, at the age of 15, Edmund shot his grandmother in the head allegedly just to see what it felt like, and then killed his grandfather, too, because he knew that his grandfather would be angry at him for killing his grandmother. Kemper was committed to the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane. To his chagrin, he was released into his mother’s care in 1969, after less than five years of confinement and treatment. His juvenile criminal record was expunged.
As a young adult, Kemper stood six-foot-nine and weighed 280 pounds. He frequently thought about killing his mother but wasn’t yet ready to pursue that goal. The prospect of killing his mother without first perfecting his murder skills on others was too overwhelming for Kemper. So, between May, 1972, and February, 1973, Kemper embarked on a series of six shocking serial murders in which he picked up hitchhiking female students along the highway and then transported them to rural areas where he would kill them, decapitate, and have sex with their corpses. He collected their dismembered heads in his apartment and would later have sex with them, too.
Like certain other notorious serial killers such as Dennis Rader, who called himself “Bind, Torture, Kill” based on his actual criminal motivations and modus operandi, Ed Kemper sought public recognition and acclaim for his murders. This led him to befriend, socialize and drink in a bar called “The Jury Room” with the very law enforcement officers who were actually pursuing the man they called “Big Eddie.”
After finally realizing his ultimate fantasy of killing his mother (and her best friend) on Good Friday, 1973, and having sex with her decapitated head, Edmund Kemper confessed what he had done to authorities by telephone. However, the police initially refused to believe him, thinking that “Big Eddie” was just pulling a prank on them. After several calls and the disclosure of information that only the killer would know, Kemper finally convinced the police that he was “The Co-ed Killer.” He was arrested and later charged with eight murders in the first degree. Kemper was found guilty and given a life sentence because there was a stay on the death penalty in the U.S. at the time of his conviction.
Given his homicidal obsession with his mother, one might wonder if killing her finally exorcised the demons that tormented Edmund Kemper and gave him closure. Perhaps you can decide for yourself based on his following actual words. Sometime after his conviction, Kemper was asked allegedly by a Cosmopolitan magazine reporter during a prison interview how he felt when he saw a pretty girl. He said, “One side of me says, I’d like to talk to her, date her. The other side says, I wonder how her head would look on a stick.”
What are your reactions to this real life atrocity tale? I’d like to hear from you.
Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University in Madison, NJ. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq”and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with psychopathic serial killers in reality and fiction. He is @DocBonn on Twitter.
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Posted on August 30, 2012, in Serial Killers and tagged Deviant Behavior, Doc Bonn, Dr. Scott Bonn, Ed Kemper, Edmund Kemper, Murder of grandparents, murder of mother, Murderer, serial killers. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.