Very Scary People (2019–…): Season 2, Episode 8 - The Co-ed Killer Part 2: Thinking Murder All Day Long - full transcript

In April 1973, Edmund Kemper, 24, Murders six coeds in and around city of Santa Cruz, California, Shaking the community to its core.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -

Kemper: So here I pick up these two young ladies in Berkeley,

off Ashby Avenue.

And they're hitchhiking. A couple of real experts.

I want to see how together I am, if I can resist this temptation.

I'm trying to show you just how awful this got,

how commanding these rages got.

People weren't even aware of what was happening.




Welcome to "Very Scary People."

I'm Donnie Wahlberg.

Edmund Kemper's goal in life was to be a police officer.

But he failed the height requirement.

At 6'9", he was considered too tall.

Now he had a new objective.

He was a one-man killing machine.

Kemper had already murdered six women hitchhikers,

but he wasn't done.

And no one felt safe.

His true identity was a mystery,

but he was known as the "Co-ed Killer."

He cruised the streets of Santa Cruz, California,

thinking of murder all day long.



Honig: It's the Age of Aquarius.

There's a lot of peace and love in the air.

And then, suddenly, this was shattered.

Aluffi: One day, several body parts

showed up right on the beach,

the main beach in Santa Cruz.

Honig: And cut-up bodies were found around town.

Some were being found on the side of the roads.

Reporter: The bodies were discovered

last week on Eden Canyon Road.

Both girls had been decapitated,

and the hands from one body had been cut off.

Dowd: It wasn't long before police realize

that all of these remains belong to young women, co-eds,

who had last been seen hitchhiking.

Kemper: At the time, I wanted my case

to look like random killings, unrelated.

Honig: The man responsible was Edmund Kemper,

who was in the middle of a killing spree

which started after he killed his first two hitchhikers.

They were two 18-year-old college students,

Anita Luchessa and Mary Anne Pesce.

Kemper: In the first killing, in May of '72,

it was something that had been thought out in fantasy,

acted out, felt out hundreds of times before it ever happened.

I'm driving along, we go to a vulnerable place

where there aren't people watching.

He attacks the young women, but they're no match for him.

And I kept on just mindlessly attacking.

Dowd: He stabs them to death in this frantic scene.

And after that, there was no stopping him.

In reality, we really had no suspects.

Aluffi: We kind of figured that maybe it's somebody

who had just gotten out of state prison, maybe.

Maybe somebody with some mental issues.

Dowd: Little did the police know that Ed Kemper

was operating right under their noses.

In fact, many of them knew him.

Ed's story in Santa Cruz focuses on a place called The Jury Room.

The Jury Room was where off-duty cops hung out.

And Kemper also went there quite often.

Morrison: He's accepted by the police.

He starts to be a very well-known personage there.

They give him a nickname.

They call him "Big Ed."

They never would have suspected,

in a million years, Big Ed was killing these co-eds.

Honig: And they had no idea who this guy really was.

And Ed Kemper, he was a man with a dark history.

When Kemper was a 15-year-old, he had killed his grandmother

and then later killed his grandfather the same day.

Morrison: Kemper is admitted to Atascadero State Hospital,

a hospital for the criminally insane.

But he was a master manipulator all of his life.

He was able to fake his way out of the hospital as being cured.

Verbrugge: And then he came to Santa Cruz

because his mother lived there.

He had hated his mother since he was a kid,

and it wasn't long after he moved back in

that all hell broke loose.

By February of 1973, Ed Kemper had killed six co-eds,

but he was reaching a breaking point.


[Coin clinks]

[Telephone rings]

Aluffi: One day, out of the blue,

in the middle of the night,

the Santa Cruz Police Department

gets a collect call from Pueblo, Colorado,

wanting to talk to this particular lieutenant

in the police department.

And the desk officer says,

"No, I can't call him to wake him up,

so you'll have to call back after 8:00."

Honig: The caller said he had killed his mother in Santa Cruz

the day before

and he had driven all the way to Colorado

before deciding to turn himself in.

The cop on the phone doesn't believe him.

He think he's making a joke or having a laugh.

But then the caller says something startling.

He claims to be the Co-ed Killer.

The policeman didn't understand what he was saying

and ended up actually hanging up on him.

Dowd: He actually has to call back the department

a couple of times, saying, "I did it, I did it,"

before they finally believe him

and actually tell him, "Wait in your car.

Local cops are gonna come get you,

and then we'll be out to talk to you after that."

He sits and he waits.

He was still in the phone booth

when the Pueblo police officers came and arrested him.

Honig: The man who claimed to be the Co-ed Killer,

Edmund Kemper, was now in police custody.

Aluffi: I was at home.

About 5:00 in the morning, I got a phone call

from Santa Cruz Police Department.

They told me that Ed Kemper was on the phone

and he was confessing to doing all of these co-ed murders

and that he had also killed his mother and best friend.

As I'm standing there on the telephone

with Santa Cruz Police Department,

I could actually feel the blood drain out of my body almost.

I just turned cold all over.

Kemper suggested that I go to his house

because I had been there before.

I was familiar with where his mother's apartment was from

when I went to confiscate the gun.


We went around to the back of the apartment

and broke a window in the kitchen.

If you've ever smelled death,

you know that that's what was going on in that apartment.

As soon as you walk in, that smell just hit you.

We went through the apartment real quickly

and got to the closet in his mother's room

and pulled the closet door back,

and there was a pile there that was covered with a sheet.

And so we pulled the sheet back, and we saw human remains.

They discovered the bodies of his mother and her friend.

Reporter: This morning, about 5:30,

county sheriff's investigators found the bodies of two women,

one of them decapitated and her right hand cut off.

The bodies were found in closets in the apartment home

of one of the victims.

The son of that victim called Santa Cruz police from Pueblo,

Colorado, this morning and told them about the murders.

That call came from 24-year-old Edmund Emil Kemper,

who lived at the address

where the murder victims were discovered.

Kemper was arrested in a Pueblo phone booth.

Aluffi: A few hours later, I'm in my office

on the telephone with Pueblo, Colorado.

And Peter Chang, who was the district attorney at the time,

walked in.

He says, "Do you know this guy Kemper?"

And I said, "I met him once when I took the gun away from him."

And he says, "Do you think

you have a pretty good rapport with him?"

And I said, "Yeah, I think so."

He said, "Okay, pack a bag. We're going to Colorado."

By 1:00 that afternoon, Peter Chang, myself,

Dick Verbrugge, we're on a plane headed to Pueblo, Colorado.

We're thinking about what bases we need to cover

when we interview him,

and we knew that he was being cooperative,

so we were expecting to get a lot of information.

We landed in Pueblo, Colorado,

and went to the police department,

where he was being held.

Verbrugge: When I first put my eyes on Edmund Kemper,

I couldn't believe how big he was.

He was 6'9".

He was a formidable man.

He looked down at me and said, "Hello. How are you?"

He was talking to me, and I think,

"Wow, this is unbelievable."

Just unbelievable.

Verbrugge: It was decided that we were gonna, of course,

bring him back to Santa Cruz.

In that regard, we tried to make flight arrangements,

and the airlines would not allow us

to bring him back on their planes.

So we just decided it would be the best to drive him back.

It was a three-day trip.

Aluffi: I was in the right rear seat.

Kemper was in the left rear seat.

He was spilling his guts out all the way back.

Aluffi: Once he started to confess, he just didn't stop.

It was like pulling the plug on a bathtub full of water.

It was just gonna go all the way.

Kemper: What I had wanted to do was to secure them

and to suffocate them with plastic bags over their heads.

Aluffi: And over the course of the next three days,

we had over six hours' worth of interviews with him.



Dowd: Santa Cruz detectives were driving back to California

from Pueblo, Colorado, with Ed Kemper.

Aluffi: He's spilling his guts to me,

and I sat next to him in the back seat for three days.

Verbrugge: He kept talking about the murders

and giving us more information and remembering small facts

and giving them to us continuously

while we were driving.

And he would go into great detail about his victims

and why he did it and all of these things.

After a while, I'm thinking to myself,

"God, will you just shut up?

You know, I've had enough."

But he'd keep talking.

He'd keep talking.


His fourth victim was a woman by the name of Cynthia Schall.

She was a university student, and he picked her up.

Kemper: Ms. Schall, she actually got back into the trunk

under her own power.

I told her I was going to keep her undercover

so that I could get her to my home,

where we could talk, but I didn't want neighbors

seeing her coming to the house or leaving the house.

And I made that sound realistic to her.

So she didn't want to get in the trunk, but was willing to.

When she got in the trunk, I shot her.


Honig: After he cut off her head, he took it to his house,

to his mother's house,

went in the backyard, dug a hole.

And Kemper took the skull of Cynthia,

buried it in his yard with the skull

facing his mother's bedroom.

Aluffi: He told me that the reason he did that

is because he could look out there

and know that she's looking at him.

So, we were passing all that information on

to the crime-scene investigators here in Santa Cruz.

Kemper is already on his way back from Colorado.

He is due to arrive here on Friday,

when further questioning will take place.

Chang: Depending on whether and what routes they may take,

he'll be back any time between Friday and Monday.

He was especially enamored with the notoriety

that he was getting.

One time we stopped to get some gas,

and he had to go to the restroom.

So I took him into the restroom,

and we had a chain around his waist,

and he was handcuffed to it.

But when we went in to use the restroom and we came out,

people recognized who this guy was,

and there was a small crowd.

And he would just stand erect, and he would kind of strut,

looking around at all of these people.

So he was thoroughly enjoying all of this stuff.

[Man speaking indistinctly on radio]


Day three, we arrived back in Santa Cruz.

And we met other investigators, and the agreement is that Kemper

will show us these disposal sites

before we take him in to have him booked.

He took us to these various sites

where he had disposed of the remains.

Some of them were up in the mountains,

and some of them were in country roads.

There was no way we could've found them without him.

Aluffi: He remembered every location, every detail,

what he did to those victims, how he disposed of them.

He could recall exactly where he put this part, another part.

It was a very surreal experience in all aspects.


Aluffi: So then we get to the county jail,

and there must have been,

I'm guessing, 100 people out front, a lot of media.

Reporter: How do you feel now

that you found out he was a neighbor?

Just gives me the creeps is kind of an understatement.

Aluffi: So we had to pull around in back,

and we took him up to the jail to be booked.

As they're filling out the information,

it gets to the point of who to notify in case of emergency.

And he looked at me, and he says,

"I don't have anybody left.

Can I put you down?" So he did.

So my name's on his booking sheet.

I'll never forget the day going into my morning visit

to the sheriff's department and the spokesman there saying,

"We've solved it. We've got it. We've got the guy."

Narrator: At the age of 24, he murdered his mother,

then called police and confessed

to having dismembered college co-eds for two years.

All I did was breathe a sigh of relief. Thank God.

Those murders have been part of a series

that had led Santa Cruz County residents to fear their county

was becoming some kind of murder capital.

I was so relieved. I think everybody was.

We could stop wondering what was gonna happen next.

We could really sleep at night.

Dowd: But the city was going to wake up to learn

the sickening details of what Kemper had done to his victims.

Narrator: Kemper buried the mutilated

bodies in the mountains

and took the severed heads home.

Then he slept with their heads for days,

and finally went looking for more.



Edmund Kemper was finally back in Santa Cruz and behind bars.

Aluffi: In Santa Cruz, I sat down

and interviewed him yet again.

He was just as loose with the information

as he was from the very beginning.

Kemper said he was killing co-eds to fulfill fantasies

he had of killing his own mother, who he despised.

I'd wanted to kill my mother since I was 8 years old,

and I'm not proud of that.

Dowd: That's the age Ed's father leaves the family

because he couldn't take his wife's abuse anymore.

Kemper: She was there to beat me,

she was there to humiliate me,

she was there to use me as an example of how inferior men are.

Honig: After that, his mother banished him

to live in the dark basement.

Schlesinger: This is very, very disturbing.

If a child is made to live like that,

you could see the amount of anger and rage

that's accumulated in a young person's mind,

and particularly towards his mother,

who was the one who made him do it.

Kemper: I must be a really evil little kid

because I'm thinking all these horrible things.

I was thinking of them in increasing amounts

and increasing frequency, so it's a kind of conditioning.

And he retaliates by going after the family cat.

And not just killing it, but brutalizing the cat.

And even at a young age, he knew that this was exciting,

and he was sort of testing out the limits of these fantasies

and starting to put them into real life.

He played some very, very sick games.

There were aggressive fantasies, as well as play-acting

where he would be electrocuted on an electric chair.

Playing these violent games are abnormal in and of itself,

but when you associate it with sexual fantasies,

which are beginning really around this time ...

10, 11, 12 years old and so on ... That is highly abnormal.

Puberty for him puts him over the edge.

He becomes very much involved in sexual fantasies

and spends most of his time thinking about sex

and thinking about what he can do to people.

So you're seeing a fusion between sexual fantasies

and aggression.

Kemper: Between the ages of about 10 and 13,

I was going through some incredible emotional shifts.

And without a lot of positive

input from parental or adult figures,

it can go in some really wild directions.

I wanted to get away from my mother

because I was dreaming, thinking,

fantasizing murder all day long.

I couldn't get it out of my head.

Honig: When he was 14, Ed Kemper was reunited with his father,

who was the only person he thought who ever cared for him.

Dowd: He thought it was gonna be this great reunion

with his father, he was gonna be so happy.

Kemper: I'm desperate because I've

never had the man in my life.

I wanted my father's love. I wanted his approval.

I wanted his recognitions.

Dowd: He goes and lives with his dad for a period,

and his father is remarried and had a kid.

And Ed realizes this is not the dynamic

he thought it was going to be.

I think Edmund Kemper saw the stepson

as a replacement for him.

He was a good kid.

He didn't get into trouble.

He wasn't odd-looking.

He wasn't unusual.

He was just a normal kid.

Kemper: Friction with my stepbrother and my stepmother.

There was problems there.

We were vying for his interest, vying for his love.

So we fought each other a lot, and it was a lot of friction,

and he couldn't handle that, so he got rid of me.

I was old family.

Morrison: When he's 15 years old,

the father takes him to his grandparents',

leaves him there, and abandons him.

Kemper: I got left there.

We went there for Christmas from my father's in L.A.

We went up to the mountains to stay for Christmas,

and I got left behind.

Morrison: The father changes his phone number.

He can't be caught in any way, shape, or form.

Kemper: I was already a failure, so, you know,

I got parked up in the mountains.




First it was okay

because it was the calm of being away from Montana.

One of the happy bonding moments of Kemper's time

with his grandparents is going out

and shooting with his grandfather.

Morrison: His grandfather is a very staunch,

straight guy who doesn't say much to him,

but he is there for him.

The grandmother, on the other hand,

started acting like the mother did.

Kemper: My grandmother had made agreements with me from the gate

that she wouldn't get into little humiliating mind games

with me, like my mother and stepfather had done.

And then this mind game stuff started up.

Morrison: She started to berate him.

She started to make fun of him.

She started to have almost the same atmosphere in her house

as he had at his mother's house,

and he became very angry at this.


Kemper: She never let me leave the property,

and it started simmering, I guess, started building ...

the passions and the tension.

Honig: Tension between Ed and his grandmother were escalating

and reached a boiling point.

Schlesinger: Kemper, he's rejected by his mother,

he's dumped by his father, his grandmother's on him,

and I think, at this point, Kemper,

who's filled with anger his whole life,

he just doesn't care.

Kemper: I was building up big loads of frustration inside,

big loads of hatred because I had no outlet for it.

I should have developed outlets,

but I didn't know how at that time.

Dowd: He starts, he says,

to kind of get this obsession in his head

where he wants to know what it's gonna feel like

to kill his grandmother,

and he starts thinking about it more and more.

This just was so in his mind, he couldn't get it out.

So Kemper gets up one morning, the tension is built,

or maybe he's just decided today's the day

in a very cold, calculating way,

and he comes up behind his grandmother, shoots her.


And he killed her.

But he also decided that he didn't want his grandfather

to be upset with him,

so he decided to kill the grandfather

before the grandfather found

that he had killed the grandmother.


Honig: Kemper was found insane

and sent to a state mental hospital at the age of 15.

Six years later, on his 21st birthday,

he was released.

And that's when the trouble began.



Welcome back to "Very Scary People."

When 21-year-old Edmund Kemper

was finally being released from the mental institution,

doctors warned there was one person

he should never be allowed to live with again ...

his mother.

Their relationship throughout his childhood was toxic.

The outcome could be catastrophic.

Turns out, they were right.

Kemper: I can't get away from her.

We're still fighting, she's still belittling me.

So Ed Kemper starts picking up women who are hitchhiking

and fantasizes about killing them.

Kemper: I was dreaming, thinking,

fantasizing murder all day long.

I couldn't get it out of my head.

And then, in May of 1972, he kills his first two co-eds.

They were Mary Anne Pesce and Anita Luchessa.

Kemper: The first young lady that was in the back seat,

that was Mary Anne Pesce.

She argued a lot.

Honig: This was the first time that

he actually followed through

on what he had been thinking about doing all this time.

Kemper: I just stabbed to death and cut the throat

of an innocent young woman ...

innocent in the sense that she did not plan on that happening.

She didn't do anything specifically for that

to happen to her.

And her roommate died right after that.


About nine months later, Kemper kills his last two co-eds.

Kemper's living with his mother, having constant fights with her,

and he says they had this kind of knock-down, drag-out fight.

He was in such a blind rage, he gets in his car,

and he decided no matter who got in the car,

he was gonna kill them that night.

And he picks up these two women, Rosalind Thorpe and Allison Liu.

And this guy has a, you know,

UC Santa Cruz sticker on the car,

seems like a safe guy to get a ride with,

so they both hop in,

and he waves bye to the campus security,

heads on back to his location where he's gonna kill them.


And he claims this is one of the more reckless moves

that he claims to do.

He says he doesn't even wait to get the bodies in the house.

He opens the trunk,

and he decapitates both women right there,

and he claims the neighbors across the street,

they could have looked out and seen what he was doing.

I was getting better at it. I was getting less detectable.

I started flaunting that invisibility,

severing a human head,

two of them, at night in front of my mother's residence

with her at home, my neighbors at home upstairs,

their picture window open, the curtains open.

11:00 at night, the lights are on.

All they have to do is walk by, look out, and I've had it.

Ed Kemper had killed a total of six female hitchhikers.

Dowd: For months, Kemper had been killing young women,

but finally he was going to get to the root of his hate,

his own mother.

Kemper: It was springtime, it was April,

and for two months, I hadn't killed.

I said, "It's not going to happen to any more girls.

It's gotta stay between me and my mother."

Dowd: He tells himself, "I got to

stop killing these other women.

I need to kill my mother."

Kemper: I said, "She's gotta die,

or girls like that are gonna die."

And that's when I decided, "I'm going to murder my mother."

She went out to a party, she got soused,

she came home, went to sleep.

I was woken up by that, I came out.

I walked up to her bed.

She's laying there reading a paperback,

as many thousands of nights before.

And she said, "Oh, I suppose you're gonna wanna

sit up all night and talk now."

[Bleep] I looked at her, I said, "No."

I said, "Good night."


And I knew I was gonna kill her.


Dowd: And he left the room, waited till she fell asleep,

came in with a claw hammer, hit her in the head,

and then he slit her throat.

Once my mother was dead, there was almost a cathartic

process at that point, when I murdered her.

Dowd: And Kemper talks about thinking,

"What's good enough for my other victims

is good enough for my own mother."

So he does to his mother what he did to his other victims.

I cut off her head,

and I humiliated her corpse.

And what he did after that is truly hard to hear.

Dowd: He dismembers her, he rapes her corpse.

He then takes a couple of additional steps

that really go into the pathology

of why this guy hated his own mother.

He takes her vocal cords,

and he puts them in the garbage disposal.

I think what it means symbolically to him was,

he couldn't stand her yelling and belittling him

all these years.

Morrison: It was the way to stop his mother

from saying anything again, once and for all.

And then the garbage disposal basically spat it back at him.

Honig: After he murdered his mother,

he obviously had to think what he was gonna do next

because she would be reported as missing.

Dowd: So Kemper then realizes that if anyone is gonna notice

that his mother has gone missing,

it's her best friend, Sally Hallett.

[Dial tone]

So Ed calls up Sally and says, "Hey, do you want to come over?"



Dowd: Ed Kemper had just killed his mother,

the woman he claimed was the source of his anger.

Honig: After he murdered his mother,

he obviously had to think what he was gonna do next

because she would be reported as missing.

Dowd: So Kemper then realizes that if anyone is gonna notice

that his mother has gone missing,

it's her best friend, Sally Hallett.

Honig: They worked together at the university.

Sally Hallett was a fairly typical administrator

that worked in the dormitory system.

She was a competent, hard-working person.

[Dial tone]

Dowd: So Ed calls up Sally and says,

"Hey, do you want to come over?"

And he prepares the house

so that no one will hear anything or see anything.

Closed all the blinds so that no one can see in.

[Doorbell rings]

Brings her in the door.

As soon as she walked in, he grabbed her.

Schlesinger: He attacks her, punches her in the stomach.

She puts up somewhat of a fight, but ultimately he smothers her.

And now he has two dead bodies.

Honig: After he committed these last murders,

before he left town,

in a very famous getaway, he stopped off at The Jury Room,

which is the one place he felt comfortable, I suppose.

Dowd: Gets a couple drinks, does his sort of usual cool-off.

But it's only a matter of time before Kemper gets caught,

and he knows this very, very well.

Eventually they're gonna find his mother dead,

and he's immediately gonna be the number-one suspect.

So he heads out, gets in his car,

and just starts driving.

He's taking NoDoz, he's trying to keep up.

Dowd: He was listening to the radio,

expecting to hear news, either of his mother's death

or that the police were in this chase for him,

but it never happened.

For him, I think the paranoia was building

and building and building,

and it was starting to make him feel like he was cracking.

Schlesinger: And eventually, it just has to end.

Where's he going?

What's he gonna do?

Kemper then drives about 18 hours in total.

Then he decided that the jig was up.

Dowd: At that point, he finds himself over 1,000 miles

east of Santa Cruz, and he stops to make a phone call.

In Pueblo, Colorado, he gets in a phone booth

and confessed to the murders.

Kemper: I just killed a young woman,

and I kept on just mindlessly attacking.

Ring: When I think about what he did,

especially the way he dismembered

and then had sex with body parts, it disgusts me.

It makes me want to vomit.

I can't imagine a human being being that distorted

and inhumane.

Kemper: It wasn't the aspect of killing them,

it was the aspect of possessing their bodies afterwards.

So it was almost after an effect ...

evicting someone from their human body.

And I'm sorry it sounds so cold,

but that's about what it analogizes to.

The reason people commit necrophilia

is because they are in complete control of the person.

They are not going to be rejected,

they're not going to be objected to.

They cannot say, "Oh, you're awful,"

or, "Yeah, I don't want to have sex with you."

Reporter: Kemper was arraigned this afternoon on charges

of killing six young women, his mother,

and a friend of hers.

Reporter #2: The sight of Edmund Emil Kemper III

is an awesome experience in itself.

He stands 6 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs about 280 pounds.

But the crimes with which he's been charged

are even more awesome.

Dowd: So, it was an interesting sort of legal case

for Kemper's lawyers

because he had confessed to all the crimes.

Schlesinger: From the defense perspective,

there is really nowhere else

to go other than an insanity defense.

The hope for a defense attorney at this point

is that you could convince just one juror what he did

is just so outrageous, it's just so extraordinary,

with necrophilia and cutting heads off,

he has to be insane.

He has to be out of touch with reality.

Honig: Meanwhile, the prosecution strategy

was to just point out this was all thought out,

that he's an intelligent person, he's not insane,

that he knew the difference between right and wrong.

Schlesinger: When you try to elude law enforcement,

it shows consciousness of guilt

and an awareness of the wrongfulness of your behavior.

And he knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway.



Honig: I covered the trial, and it was a media circus.

But in those days, they wouldn't allow cameras into courtrooms,

except occasionally before the trial started.

In a way, the hardest part of the entire case for me

was the day that Kemper's taped confession was played,

and it was played all day long.

Kemper: I went out and bought at a pawn shop a huge knife.

And I kept on just mindlessly attacking.

Honig: And I focused on the parents.

And the look on their face was something

that I just to this day can't get over.

I can't imagine the horror in their life.

There was one father, and for some reason,

the look on his face got to me, and I started tearing up,

and I was crying, and I couldn't stop.

And, you know, that was after months of dealing with this.


The jury trial lasted three weeks.

The jury came back within five hours.

I don't think there was much question at any point

that he was guilty and sane.

"May God have mercy on your soul, Mr. Kemper."

That was the only words that were spoken,

and then he was whisked off.



He was sentenced to life in prison.

Since he's been in prison, Ed has been a model inmate.

From the prison staff perspective,

Kemper is somebody you could rely on.

He has done an awful lot of volunteer work in the prison.

There's the ability to work into that picture positive things,

like working on the Blind Project,

where we read books onto tape for the blind.

I participated in that program for the last 14 years.

Man: What have been your favorite readings?

Sometimes children's books ...

some of the more complex children's books,

like White's "Charlotte's Web," "Stuart Little,"

"Trumpet of the Swan,"

which are amazingly complex and before their times.

Man: The day we visited, mass murderer Ed Kemper

was transcribing "Star Wars."

"Reaching for the internal controls, 3PO was shocked.

'Behave yourself, R2,' he finally chastised his companion.

'You're going to get us into trouble!'"

Schlesinger: I think he is much more adjusted

and feels much more comfortable in prison

than what he felt when he was out in society,

because he couldn't live in society.

He was too wrapped up in his jealousy

and his envy and his inadequacy

and the torment of his inner life.

Everything is very structured.

He doesn't have to try to get a girlfriend.

There are no girls there.

Verbrugge: Since he's been in prison, over all these years,

he has only had one write-up for misconduct,

and I was always afraid that when they looked at his record,

looked at his intelligence,

looked at the way he could come across with sincerity,

that somebody might say, "Yeah, let's let him out."

I just know in my heart that he would kill again.

Dowd: One of the reasons people are so interested in Kemper

is that he's one of the very few serial killers

who's spoken at length about his crimes

and also his motivations.

And he's spoken with the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit

and given them insights into why he did it.

I was invited to the FBI Academy to talk about rape victimology,

serial killers, and serial crime,

and they didn't have anybody that was expert in that area.

And that was the start, if you will, of criminal profiling.

Bob Ressler and John Douglas had just been given the green light

to be able to do their own research.

The goal to the project was to do interviews

and get data from 36 serial killers,

to use the data in the profiling.

Kemper was an important part of our study

because we learned a lot from him.

He wanted to tell his story,

and I think that was a high for him to talk about it.

It was "his handiwork,"

if you want to look at it in a rather dark way.

Kemper: As I'm sitting there with a severed head in my hand,

talking to it, I say, "Wow, this is insane."

And then I told myself, "No, it isn't.

You're saying that, and that makes it not insane."

Kemper was very articulate, he was very open,

and he would talk and talk and talk, which was very helpful.

Talked about how the thoughts all began.

Talked about the fantasy and how some of his first murders went.

But I was losing a grasp on something

that was too violent to keep inside forever.

Burgess: What did we learn from Ed Kemper?

We learned a lot of things.

First of all, the most important thing was the fantasy life.

He was very clear on that.

He went into great detail about how those fantasies started.

He also told us about how he practiced

and he practiced on animals and that he ...

cats especially, where he would behead the cat,

and torture the cat, and so forth.

I started with surrogates at a non-human level.

Small animals, insects, animals, and then finally people.

Burgess: And then we learned how he followed his crimes ...

He would read the paper, he would interject himself in

with the police when they were investigating,

see how far along they were getting,

and putting it over on the police.

He was certainly getting vicarious satisfaction

out of that.

So, those were just some of the takeaways from Ed Kemper,

which later got translated to other serial killers.


Honig: I still think about the experience,

what happened to the community, what happened to these girls.

I think it's fair to say that the family members

who are still surviving,

I'm sure they live with this every day.

And in that way, I do, too,

because my heart goes out to all of them,

and it's never changed.

Ring: He affected all of us.

He taught us that life is not safe,

that bad things do happen to good people,

and that it's our job to be responsible for our own safety.

Now, would you get in a car with this man, huh?


I've never stopped looking to my right and to my left.

I'll always be that way.


Edmund Kemper was sentenced to life in prison in 1973.

Incredibly, he was eligible for parole in 1979.

It was denied.

He has been denied parole multiple times since,

most recently in 2017.

He'll be eligible for release again in 2024.

The '70s may seem like a long time ago,

but the families will never forget

what this monster took from them.

I'm Donnie Wahlberg.

Thanks for watching. Good night.