"The Coed Butcher" Edmund Kemper
At 10 years old Edmund Kemper was made to live in a dark, musty basement by his abusive alcoholic stepmother. Therefore, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when he was found to be mentally disturbed. By the time he was 13 he had severed the heads off of his sister’s dolls and killed the family cat with a knife.
Kemper was born in Burbank, California, December of 1948 and was the middle child. For a time was shuttled back and forth between his divorced parent’s and grandparent’s homes. He was constantly being belittled, chastised and abused by his mother which led to having a continuing dream about killing her. It was a dream later to become a reality. In the end Kemper’s body count would tally 6 coeds, his mother and her close friend.
Kemper loathed living on his grandparents’ farm in North Fork, CA. For amusement, the 15 year old would shoot small animals and birds with a rifle. When his grandparent’s discovered what he was doing they took it away from him. He didn’t like that. On August 27th, 1964, he shot them both following an argument just “…to see what it felt like.”
Kemper was remanded to the California Youth Authority who subjected him to a variety of tests. Kemper was found to have a high IQ, but was also diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic. He was sent to Atascadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
In 1969, the 21 year old Kemper was released with the advice never to associate with his mother again. It was a decision others would soon pay dearly for with their lives. Because apparently, the advice went in one ear and out the other. She was found to be working at the University of California at Santa Cruz and that’s where he went.
While in Santa Cruz he briefly attended community college and found employment with the California Highway Department in 1971. He also unsuccessfully tried to become a state trooper. At 6’ 9” and about 300 lbs, “Big Ed” couldn’t pass the physical requirements. Since he couldn’t be one, he became friends with several who were.
From one he obtained a state trooper trainee badge and a pair of handcuffs. Another officer loaned him a gun and some say he owned a car which could have been easily mistaken for a police vehicle. It was obvious these state troopers knew nothing of Kemper’s past.
While Kemper was still employed by the highway department, he was in a motorcycle accident and injured an arm to the point he was no longer able to hold a steady job. With little else to keep him occupied Kemper began noticing how many young female hitchhikers were in the area and began picking them up. At first he just gave them rides to wherever they wanted to go. But, eventually his tortured mind began to give rise to murderous desires.
On May 7th, 1972 two Fresno State College students, Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa accepted a ride. It was to be their last. The two were reported missing but nothing was known about their whereabouts until August 15th, when Pesce’s decapitated head was discovered in some woods. Luchessa’s remains were never found. Kemper later explained after he had killed the girls he took their corpses back to his apartment and then cut off their heads and hands.
At the time Kemper was on a murder spree his crimes were sharing the spotlight with 2 other serial killers in the same area, John Linley Frazier and Herbert Mullins. Santa Cruz soon earned the title “Murder Capital of the World” and Kemper became known as the “Coed Butcher.”
In January of 1973, Kemper picked up another hitchhiker, Cindy Schall and shot her. Her body was cut up into pieces and disposed of in the ocean. Several parts were later discovered washed up on shore.
Kemper’s car had a campus parking sticker his mother had gotten in order for him to pick her up from work. He could pick and choose from many young women attending the University. On February 5th, 1973 he chose Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu to be his next victims. He shot and killed them and in keeping with his modus operandi he dismembered their bodies, removed the bullets and discarded their body parts in varying locations. Some were later discovered by hikers.
Kemper’s killing days came to an end in April of 1973. He attacked his mother as she slept following a violent argument. He bashed her head in with a hammer, cut her throat and then hid the body. Shortly afterwards he invited a friend of his mother’s over and killed her as well, stuffing the body in a closet. The reason for her death was never ascertained
He headed for Pueblo, Colorado the next day. Upon arriving in Pueblo he called the Santa Cruz police and confessed his crimes. His friends on the force were stunned to discover the man they called “Big Ed” was the infamous “Coed Butcher.”
Kemper was charged and found guilty for eight counts of first-degree murder. He will be eligible for parole in 2012.
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