Edmund Kemper

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The construction of the Co-Ed Killer

Born on December the 18th 1948, in Burbank, California, the land of milk and honey, known as “The Golden State”, Edmund Kemper III ideally should have had it all. He is the only son and middle child of Edmund Emil Kemper Jr. and Clarnell Strandberg. Kemper had a difficult childhood, only to be more complicated by his huge size - 2.05m and almost 135kg - accompanied by the perception of a psychopath that set forth his exceptional yearning to kill. “I knew long before I started killing that I was going to be doing that, that it was going to end up this way.. the fantasies were too intense, they were going on for a prolonged time and were way too entangled,” comments the murderer who would be later known as the Co-Ed Killer (he was assigned this nickname since the majority of his victims were female college students looking to catch a car ride in the surrounding area of Santa Cruz County in California.) Kemper was a teenager full of fury and by observing his traits and behaviour you could without a doubt come to the conclusion that he was demonstrating the conventional signs that he had the capability of becoming a serial killer.

First indicators of corruption

As reported by the psychiatrist Donald Lunde, the writer of “Murder and Madness”, Edmund as a child wanted everyone to die. He started exercising the act of dismemberment using one of his sisters' play dolls. “You hear that little pop when you pull the heads off and hold them up by their hair, thrashing their heads off, the bodies just lying there,” he acknowledges. Even more so, he would ask his two sisters to play a game called “gas chamber”, in which he would stage the executions, with Allyn, one of the sisters, pulling a pretend lever. But nevertheless, in a short time after, he began to lose interest of using just dolls, and thus, like a lot of other serial killers, found that tormenting the family’s cats is in fact much more appealing. At first he buried one while still being alive, later he dug it up, beheaded it and set its head on the tip of a stick, like a hysterical award. As claimed by an expert in this area, this performance was, as it happens, a rehearsal for his future murders. The second cat from the family also happened to die at Edmund’s hands, yet this time he spiked it with a machete, permitting the blood of the cat to soak him while the feline steadily died. Edmund’s temper against women - disclosed first by the aggressiveness toward his sister’s dolls with long, blonde hair, and after through the family cats - was a consequence of the awful relationship he had with his mother.

Divorce switches everything

As a boy, Edmund was very close to his father, even so his parents split up when he was only nine years old, which resulted in him having to live only with his mother in Helena, Montana. There, she often locked him in the basement on account of fearing that he would rape Allyn, his sister who was two years younger than him. The remaining family members slept upstairs, whilst Edmund was locked downstairs, which he equated to heaven and hell, seeing as for him they were interchangeable. In the basement he had a cot, one sleeping bag and a single light bulb that was hanging from the ceiling with a string. He then later told the psychologists interviewing him that while he was lying on his bed in the dark, trying to fall asleep, he heard rats trotting along the walls of the freezing basement. At that age it was difficult for anyone to understand the reasoning behind his mother’s decision, and thus started Kemper’s fire burning toward his own mother. However Edmund’s bitterness and anger concerning his her only grew deeper and stronger, the cause of this being the mockery that she would make of him, claiming that he would grow to be equally unfortunate concerning women. She called him “a real weirdo”, securing his damaged self-esteem with every harsh reproach. At one point she even dared to scream at him, saying “You’re just like your father”. By this criticism Edmund soon understood that his mother loathed his one and only son, because he was apparently a continual reminder of her failed marriage. Due to this she regularly took out the brutal resentment of her ex-husband on Kemper himself.

One more aching refusal

The perpetual verbal abuse from his mother ultimately urged Edmund to flee from there in 1964 and at 15 years old the teen with a whopping IQ of 145 dropped out of Sierra Joint Union High School and managed to escape to his father’s house. Although, unfortunately, he shortly came to the realisation that in the meantime his father had remarried and gotten a new family, in which there was not room remaining for the weight of his eldest son from the past to rejoin. This was for sure a heartbreaking betrayal for him, seeing as his father and he were very close before and now everything he knew of had been changed in the worst way possible. Allegedly, Kemper’s presence gave the new wife of his father migraines and so he didn’t want him around them. He instead put him in the care of his own parents, Edmund (the I) and his wife Maude Kemper, who were situated on a ranch of nearly 7 hectares in the mountains in North Fork, California. There, Kemper perceived his grandmother to be domineering, like a tyrant, which reminded him of his mother. He holds that she was never pleased with anything he did and describes the sentiment as one similar to being in prison.



1. Edmund Kemper: The True Story of The Co-Ed Killer: Historical Serial Killers and Murderers - Jack Rosewood, 2015


2. An Exploration of Serial Murder - Allison Riley, May 1988



3. Devils In The Dark (Season 1, Episode 16) - Alexandra Hueno, May 2022


Internet articles:

4. Where Are Ed Kemper’s Siblings Now? - Viswa Vanapalli, November 1st 2021


5. Serial Killer Edmund Kemper - Nicholas Peacock


6. Biography of Edmund Kemper, April 27th 2017


7. Edmund Kemper’s Trial Research Paper


8. 5 Chilling Details About Co-Ed Killer Ed Kemper, July 30th 2022


9. The Twisted Tale of “The Co-Ed Killer”, March 17th 2014


10. Mayhem, Misogyny and Matricide From Edmund Kemper, The Co-Ed Killer - MD Bastek, January 2022


11. Ed Kemper’s Chilling Motive For Murdering 8 People - Luke Holden, September 2nd 2022


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