Ed Kemper

Edmund Emil Kemper III aka Ed Kemper was born on 18th December 1948 in Burbank, California, he weighed a massive 13lbs when he was born and was head taller than his peers by the age of 4. The middle child and only son born into his parents turbulent and troubled marriage. His mother Clarnell Elizabeth Kemper (nee Stage) was described as an angry alcoholic who would not show affection to her son as she thought it would “turn him gay”. Kemper’s father, Edmund II was a WWII veteran, he returned after the war and tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific Proving Grounds before then returning to California where he found work as an electrician. Edmund II’s “menial” job was one of many points on contention in their marriage, he later said “suicide missions in wartime and the atomic bomb tests were nothing compared to living with her” and that Clarnell had affected him “more than three hundred and ninety six days and nights of fighting on the front did”. Clarnell’s abuse of both Kemper men did create a close bond between Kemper and his father, however. It was suspected that Clarnell suffered from undiagnosed borderline personality disorder.

Edmund Kemper II snapped and left the family in 1957, when Kemper was just 9 years old, he was left devastated by this, but stayed with Clarnell while she moved the family to Helena, Montana. The family dynamic grew more toxic as Clarnell and his sisters began to belittle and humiliate him. While he lived in Montana, the women would banish Kemper to sleep in the basement telling him that it was unseemly that he shared a room with his sister and called him a “real weirdo”. His mother would also comment on his size regularly as he towered over his peers standing at 6ft 4in by 14-years-old. Although the Kemper household was an abusive one, it is reported that Kemper also had other issues from a young age he would not socialise with boys his age as he was afraid of getting physically hurt while playing making it difficult for him to maintain any friendships with his peers, and violent behaviours started, at 10-years-old he reportedly buried a cat from his neighbourhood alive, once it was dead he dug it up, decapitated it and mounted its head on a spike, then at 13-years-old he killed the family cat as he felt it favoured his younger sister over him, this time he butchered the cat with a knife and kept the pieces in his closet until his mother eventually found them.

As well as the cruelty to animals he started to play out murder fantasies and rituals with his younger sister’s dolls, he would decapitate the dolls and remove their hands. Kemper admitted that he also started to stalk his second-grade teacher by sneaking out of his house armed with his father’s bayonet and stare at her through the windows of her house.

Kemper’s childhood games even had a theme of death and violence to them, he admitted that he would play a games with his sisters he called “Electric Chair”  and “Gas Chamber” where he would get them to tie him up in the same way a prisoner would be, and put a blindfold on while they pulled an imaginary switch, once they “pulled the switch” he would writhe around on the floor imitating death by electrocution or gas inhalation. He also recalled that around this time in his childhood he had two near-death experiences himself, one where his older sister pushed him in front of a train and another when she threw him in the deep-end of the pool, he claimed he nearly drowned in this incident.

His mother found his behaviours difficult despite her control over him, so both her and Kemper decided that he should leave their home in Montana and find his father in Van Nuys, California in 1962. When he got there he found that his father had re-married and now had a stepson, he stayed with them for a year until his father was too at his wits end with Kemper’s violent and strange behaviours so he was sent to live with his grandparents Maude and Edmund Kemper snr on their ranch in North Fork, California in the Christmas of 1963. Kemper stated that he hated living with his paternal grandparents describing Maude as an abusive woman who would constantly emasculate his grandfather who he claimed was “senile”.

Kemper started to adapt to life with his grandparents while he attended high school in Tollhouse, California, his teachers described him as a normal, quiet student that caused no trouble, made average grades and only drew attention to himself due to his size. His life at home improved but was still tense his grandparents had started to notice he was not “right” but for most of the time he stayed out of the way and busied himself on their farm. Kemper was given a .22 calibre rifle by his grandfather and he used it to hunt rabbits, gophers and birds despite being told not to, through this time he seemed to have an outlet for his aggression. At the end of the school year he would stay with his mother for the holidays but would be back at the farm after two weeks.

Around his return to his grandparents’ farm in the summer of 1964 his violent fantasies had shifted from dark childhood games and animal cruelty to fantasies of murdering his grandmother. Now that he was not attending school over summer he was around the farm a lot more than usual, this caused friction as he found his grandfather to be “boring” and dubbed his grandmother a nag, he fantasied about shooting an outhouse multiple times with his grandmother inside. It seemed that Maude had picked up on the change in his mental state as she now started taking Kemper snr’s .45 calibre pistol with her when she went out so it would not fall into Kemper’s hands, warning him several times not to touch it. Kemper had noticed that she would take the gun with her and took this lack of trust as an insult, the same lack of trust his mother had in him throughout his youth, this led to him brooding all summer long.

On 27th August 1964 just a few months shy of his 16th birthday Kemper and Maude were sat at the kitchen table, she noticed that Kemper had an “odd stare” a look she knew and was frightened by, she was unnerved and told him to stop it. As they argued Kemper got up and whistled for his dog that he took hunting and grabbed the rifle saying that he was leaving to go and shoot some gophers, Maude warned him not to shoot the birds and he left. He watched her through the screen door that she had her back to and took aim at her head, he fired once and Maude immediately slumped on the table, he then fired twice more into her back, there were also reports that she had suffered multiple post mortem stab wounds with a kitchen knife. Kemper Snr returned as he had been out shopping, he began to unload the truck when Kemper shot him once in the back of the head. Kemper knew immediately after what he’d done that he would be caught as his grandparents weren’t the type to disappear with no word, in a confused and fretful state he called his mother in Montana for advice, she told him to call the sheriff, he then sat at the kitchen table waiting to be taken into custody.

When questioned he confessed to both murders and admitted he often thought about killing his grandmother saying “I just wanted to see what it felt like to kill grandma” but claimed he had only killed his grandfather as an act of mercy as he did not want him to discover Maude’s body and have a heart attack from the distress.  

Kemper was incarcerated in Juvenile Hall while the California Youth Authority ran psychiatric evaluations on him, court-appointed psychiatrists diagnosed him as paranoid schizophrenic and psychotic and he was committed to the Atascadero State Hospital on 6th December 1964.

Psychiatrists and social workers at the California Youth Authority began working with Kemper during his time at Atascadero and disagreed with the initial diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia with reports stating that Kemper “showed no flight of ideas, no interference with thought, no expression of delusions or hallucinations, and with no evidence of bizarre thinking”.

Over the course of his incarceration Kemper took many tests, he began to learn and gain insight into the nature of his crime and his own compulsions. Throughout the sentence he claimed the murders were out of his control and did not accept responsibility. He took work in the psychology laboratory and helped administer tests on other inmates. The staff noted that he was a good worker and took pride in his work, noting that this is not typical of a sociopath, which he was also suspected of being.

Over the course of his incarceration they also observed Kemper to be intelligent and introspective, from IQ tests ordered he measured at 136 making him two standard deviations above average, this led to a diagnosis of personality trait disturbance, passive aggressive type. After more work with professionals and the fact he had aged into adulthood while at Atascadero they ordered another IQ test giving the final result as a higher 145.

He continued his model behaviour by joining the Jaycees while in Atascadero and claimed he develop “some new tests and some new scales on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory” specifically an “Overt Hostility Scale”. When arrested for a second time his motives for working so well in the psychiatric training were revealed when he admitted that being able to understand how the tests functioned enabled him to manipulate psychiatrists and learn from other offenders, in particular he mentions a set offender he had tested taught him it was best to kill a woman after raping her to avoid leaving a witness.

On his 21st birthday, 18th December 1969 Kemper was granted parole from Atascadero and released into the care of his mother, despite psychiatrists recommending against this. Clarnell had remarried, and was now Clarnell Stanberg , but the marriage did not last.  Clarnell and Kemper lived at 609 A Ord Street in Aptos, California, this was a short drive from her new job as an administrative assistant at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After demonstrating further to psychiatrists that he was rehabilitated Kemper’s juvenile record were expunged with the last report from his probation psychiatrists reading:

 “If I were to see these patients without having any history available or getting history from him, I would think that we’re dealing with a very well-adjusted young man who had initiative, intelligence and who was free of any psychiatric illnesses. It is my opinion that he has made a very excellent response to the years of treatment and rehabilitation and I would see no psychiatric reason to consider him to be of any danger to himself or to any member of society and since it may allow him more freedom. As an adult develop his potential, I would consider it reasonable to have a permanent expunction of his juvenile records“.

After the expunction of his records Kemper attended community college as part of his parole conditions, he hoped that this would lead to a career in law enforcement and applied to become a state trooper, he was rejected from training in law enforcement because of his size, now as an adult he stood at 6ft 9in and weighed 300lb which led to the nickname “Big Ed”. Despite the rejections he would often hang out at a cop bar called the Jury Room calling himself a “friendly nuisance” he had a relationship with many of the Santa Cruz police officers, one even reportedly gave him a training school badge and some handcuffs while another let him borrow a gun.  

Kemper worked a series of jobs until he eventually found a permanent job with the California Department of Transportation (then known as the State of California Division of Highways) in 1971. His relationship with his mother continued to be toxic in the time he lived with her as an adult, he described how they would frequently argue with the neighbours overhearing, he said: “My mother and I started right in on horrendous battles, just horrible battles, violent and vicious. I’ve never been in such a vicious verbal battle with anyone. It would go to fists with a man, but this was my mother and I couldn’t stand the thought of my mother and I doing these things. She insisted on it and just over stupid things. I remember one roof-raiser was over whether I should have my teeth cleaned

Once he saved enough money from his new job, he moved out of Clarnell’s house and lived with a friend in Alameda, California. The relationship with his mother did not improve after the move and he often complained about how he could not escape her because she would regularly phone and pay him surprise visits. He would often go back to live with Clarnell when he ran into financial difficulties.

Kemper next to his 1969 Ford Galaxy that was used to transport victims

Also in 1971 Kemper was in a road accident where he was hit by a car while riding a motorcycle that he recently purchased, in the accident his arm was left badly injured and he received a $15,000 ($96,265.93 roughly in today’s value) settlement in a civil suit he filed against the driver. From the settlement he bought himself a 1969 Ford Galaxy and while driving around he started to notice young women hitchhiking, as a result he started storing plastic bags, knives, blankets and handcuffs in his car. He describe dhow he escalated to picking these young women up and peacefully letting them go when they arrived at their destination, he estimated that he picked up around 150 hitchhikers before he acted on any homicidal urges that he called “little zapples”.

On 7th May 1972 Kemper spotted 18-yeard-old Fresno State University students Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Mary Luchessa while he was driving in Berkeley, California, the two were hitchhiking to Stanford University. He drove for an hour and managed to reach a secluded wooded area near Alameda, California, he was familiar with the area due to his work on the Highways, neither woman noticed that he had changed direction. Once in the wooded area he handcuffed Pesce and locked Luchessa in the trunk, he stabbed and strangled both. He confessed that during the attack he had handcuffed Pesce and in the struggle the back of his hand grazed her breast and that this had embarrassed him, prompting him to apologise saying “whoops, I’m sorry”. Both bodies were put in the trunk of his Ford Galaxy and returned to his apartment. On the way back to his apartment he was stopped by police officer for having a broken taillight, but the fact he had two bodies in the trunk went undetected, once home he saw that his roommate was not home so he took the bodies into the apartment. He took photos of the bodies, had sexual intercourse with the naked corpses then dismembered them, it was also revealed that once decapitated he engaged in irrumatio with both. It was not until August 1972 that Pesce’s skull was found on Loma Prieta Mountain, an extensive search was performed on the area, but failed to turn up the rest of Pesce’s remains with Luchessa’s remains having never been found.

On 14th September 1972 15-year-old Aiko Koo was hitchhiking to her dance class after missing her bus, Kemper picked her up and drove her to a remote area. He pulled a gun on Koo, but locked himself out of his car. Koo did let him back in as he had manipulated and gained her trust while convincing her to open the door. Once he got back inside the car he strangled her into unconsciousness, raped her and killed her. He followed by storing her body in the trunk of his car a d went to a nearby bar for drinks, then returned to his apartment. Kemper admitted that when he left the bar that night he opened his trunk to look at the body describing it as “admiring his catch like a fisherman”. Once back at his apartment he had sexual intercourse with the body then dismembered and disposed of her just like the previous two women. Koo’s mother reported her disappearance and put hundreds of flyers appealing for information but did not receive any information until Kemper’s arrest.

On 7th January 1973 Kemper was driving around the Cabrillo College campus when he picked up 18-year-old student Cynthia “Cindy” Ann Schall. He once again drove to a secluded wooded area, but this time he fatally shot Schall with. 22 calibre pistol he then placed her in the trunk. At this point Kemper was back living with his mother so he drove the body there and kept it hidden in a closet in his bedroom overnight. Once his mother left for work the following morning, he began having serial intercourse with the body and removed the bullet from her corpse, he then decapitated and dismembered the body in his mother’s bathtub.  Kemper discarded of the remains but throwing them off a cliff, but he kept Schall’s severed head for several days once again engaging in irrumatio with it, after he buried it in his mother’s garden facing upward looking at her bedroom window, he elaborated on this after arrest claiming he positioned it that way because his mother “always wanted people to look up to her”. Over the following weeks Schall’s remains were discovered and were “pieced back together” a pathologist was able to confirm that she had been dismembered with a power saw.

On 5th February 1973 fresh off a heated argument with his mother Kemper left the house in search for another victim, the suspicion of a serial killer on the loose preying on hitchhiking students had left colleges warning their students not to accept rides from people who did not have university stickers on them, Kemper did in fact own one of these stickers from his mother’s job at the University of California. He encountered 23-year-old Rosalind Heather Thorpe and 20-year-old Alice Helen Liu on the campus of UCSC. Kemper recalled that Thorpe was reluctant to accept a ride, but was reassured by Liu, he fatally shot both women with .22 calibre pistol and wrapped their bodies in blankets as he drove back home to his mother’s house. This time Kemper beheaded the bodies in the car and carried the headless corpses into the house in order to have intercourse with them, he proceeded to dismember the bodies and remove the bullets to prevent authorities being able to trace the bullets. The next morning Kemper began discarding the remains, some were found at Eden Canyon a week after the murders and more found near Highway 1 weeks later in March.

In the same year Kemper got engaged to a student from Thurrock High School he had met at Santa Cruz beach, the engagement was official in March 1973, but broken off after Kemper was arrested the final time, at the time the case was being publicised the woman’s parents requested that her name not be revealed to the public. Kemper spoke of the woman to one of his drinking companions about the engagement and said “a man would be a fool to marry a woman smarter than himself” although not much is known about the woman she was described at the time as small, blonde, young and immature. He told investigators that the relationship was never sexual and that he worshipped her in an “almost religious way”. While talking of his personal life he also mentioned that he had only had normal intercourse once with a woman who rejected him when he approached her after, he said on many occasions that he would attempt normal relations, but could not climax. On 20th April 1973, nearly a month after announcing his engagement Kemper struck again closer to home, Kemper’s mother 52-year-old Clarnell Strandberg returned home after a party and woke her son with her arrival, she settled into bed and started reading her book when she saw Kemper enter her room she reportedly said “I suppose you’re going to want to  sit up all night and talk now” to which he replied “no, good night”. When he was certain she had fallen asleep he returned with a claw hammer and bludgeoned her and slit her throat with a knife. Once she was dead he decapitated her and engaged in irrumation with the severed head then used it as a dart board, he then put it on a shelf and claimed to have “screamed at it for an hour” “threw darts at it” and “smashed her face in” he also cut out her tongue and larynx and out them in the garbage disposal. When speaking of this Kemper stated that the disposal could not break down the tough vocal cords and ejected the tissue back into the sink he also joked that this was her way of having the last word saying “that seemed appropriate, as much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years”.

Once he had finished with his mother’s corpse he put it in a closet and went out to nearby bar, he hatched a plan to cover for his mother’s sudden disappearance through her best friend 59-year-old Sara Taylor “Sally” Hallett, he invited Hallett over on the evening of 21st April 1973 for dinner and a movie, he went on to strangle Hallett to death to help strengthen the story that the two friends had gone on holiday together. He hid Hallett’s body in the closet also and cleared the house of any signs of disturbance and went on the run, leaving a note for the police reading: “Appx 5:15am Saturday. No need for her to suffer any more at the hands of this horrible “murderous butcher”. It was quick-asleep-the way I wanted it. Not sloppy and incomplete, gents. Just a “lack of time”. I got things to do!!!”

Kemper drove through the night heading to Pueblo, Colorado taking caffeine pills to stay awake for the long journey, in his car he had three guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, believing he was now the target of an active manhunt. He followed the news on the radio for word of the discovery of the bodies at his mother’s house, when he heard no word, he found a phone booth and called the police. He started to confess to the murders of his mother and Hallet, but the police did not take the call seriously and told him to call back later.

Several hours after the first call he called back and asked to speak to an officer that he personally knew and once again confessed to killing his mother and Hallett. He waited for police to arrive and take him into custody where he gave an explicit and detailed confession to the other six murders he had committed. Kemper was asked in a later interview why he decided to turn himself in and said “The original purpose was gone.It wasn’t serving any physical or real or emotional purpose. It was just a pure waste of time. Emotionally I couldn’t handle it much longer. Toward the end there, I started feeling the folly of the whole damn thing, and at the point of near exhaustion, near collapse, I just said to hell with it and called it all off”

Kemper drove through the night heading to Pueblo, Colorado taking caffeine pills to stay awake for the long journey, in his car he had three guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, believing he was now the target of an active manhunt. He followed the news on the radio for word of the discovery of the bodies at his mother’s house, when he heard no word, he found a phone booth and called the police. He started to confess to the murders of his mother and Hallet, but the police did not take the call seriously and told him to call back later.

Several hours after the first call he called back and asked to speak to an officer that he personally knew and once again confessed to killing his mother and Hallett. He waited for police to arrive and take him into custody where he gave an explicit and detailed confession to the other six murders he had committed. Kemper was asked in a later interview why he decided to turn himself in and said “The original purpose was gone.It wasn’t serving any physical or real or emotional purpose. It was just a pure waste of time. Emotionally I couldn’t handle it much longer. Toward the end there, I started feeling the folly of the whole damn thing, and at the point of near exhaustion, near collapse, I just said to hell with it and called it all off”

The search of disposal sights

Once he returned to Santa Cruz, Kemper led investigators to the various disposal sights he had used and continued to confess, Kemper was so thorough in his confessions that his court-appointed public defender James Jackson had no choice but to build a defence on the basis of insanity.

On 7th May 1973 Kemper was indicted on eight counts of first-degree murder, his confession during arrest was so detailed that his counsel the Chief Public Defender of Santa Cruz County, attorney Jim Jackson was given the only option of a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. After his indictment it was reported that Kemper tried to commit suicide twice while in custody, but despite his attempts he survived to face his trial on 23rd October 1973.

The deliberation of whether Kemper was legally sane was the focus of the trial mainly with three court-appointed psychiatrists finding him to be legally sane, Dr Joel Fort one of the psychiatrists investigated his juvenile records and gave the diagnosis that he was once psychotic, he also interviewed Kemper under truth serum (sodium pentothal) this is traditionally a range of psychoactive drugs used to attempt to extract information, from this interview he relayed to the court that Kemper had engaged in cannibalism, he alleged that Kemper had told him how he would slice flesh from the legs of victims, then cooked and consumed these strips of flesh in a casserole, a confession Kemper later recanted. Despite this shocking information Fort’s final determination was that Kemper was fully cognizant in each murder and that he did now enjoy the infamy that came with the label of a serial killer.

Kemper aiding in the search for remains

The courts in California used the M’Naghten standard which held that every man is to be presumed to be sane, and … that to establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong”. In Kemper’s case it was clear he was aware that the acts he was committing were wrong and had shown signs of premeditation.

Kemper took the stand on 1st November 1973 he testified that he killed because he wanted the victims for himself “like possessions” and tried to convince the jury that he was insane based on the fact someone with a normal mind would not commit these crimes, and added the claim that he had two beings inhabiting his body and that the killer personality taking over would cause him to almost “black-out”. On 8th November 1973, the jury began deliberating, it took them five hours to declare Kemper sane and guilty on all counts. He requested the death penalty specifically “death by torture” this was not allowed due to a moratorium placed on capital punishment by the Supreme Courts, instead Kemper was given seven years to life for each count, with each term to be served concurrently at the California Medical Facility.

Kemper was housed on a block in the California Medical Facility with many other notorious criminals including Charles Manson and Herbert Mullin, Kemper particularly disliked Mullin who was  committing his crimes in the same area and time as Kemper he described him as “a cold-blooded killer.. killing everybody he saw for no good reason” he would manipulate and intimidate Mullin who stood at 5ft 7in over a foot shorter than Kemper and had many mental health difficulties making him mentally no match for Kemper’s intellect. The pair were involved in many disagreements Kemper spoke of one incident saying “Mullin had a habit of singing and bothering people when somebody tried to watch TV, so I threw water on him to shut him up. Then, when he was a good boy, I’d give him peanuts. Herbie liked peanuts. That was effective because pretty soon he asked permission to sing. That’s called behaviour modification treatment”.

Kemper being escorted to court showing his towering height

Kemper is considered a model prisoner and oversaw scheduling psychiatric appointments for other inmates and was skilled in making ceramic cups. Kemper then took some work reading audiobooks for the blind in 1987 a Los Angeles Times article stated that he was also co-ordinating the prison’s program and had personally spent 5,000 hours narrating books. His health took a down-turn in 2015 when he had a stroke and was made to give the positions up as he was declared medically disabled, a year after the stoke he had his first violation on prison record for failing to provide a urine sample.

As well as model behaviour and hard work while incarcerated Kemper had also participated in several interviews, he had a segment on the 1982 documentary The Killing of America and an appearance in the 1984 documentary Murder: No Apparent Motive, interviews with Kemper have also contributed to the understanding of serial killers minds. FBI profiler John Douglas described Kemper after interview as “among the brightest” prison inmates he interviewed and “capable of a rare insight for a violent criminal”.

Kemper claims that he gives such candid interviews about his crimes in order to “save” others like himself from committing murders, at the end of his interview for  Murder: No Apparent Motive he touched on this stating “There’s somebody out there that is watching this and hasn’t done that- hasn’t killed people and wants to, and rages inside and struggles with that feeling, or is so sure they have it under control. They need to talk to somebody about it. Trust somebody enough to sit down and talk about something that isn’t a crime; thinking that way isn’t a crime. Doing it isn’t just a crime, it’s a horrible thing. It doesn’t know when to quit and it can’t be stopped easily once it starts”.

Kemper was eligible to apply for parole in 1979, but was denied as well as the following years in 1980, 81, and 82, he waived the right for the next time in 1985, but tried again in 1988 with another denial on this he said “society is not ready in any shape or form for me. I can’t fault them for that”. In 1991 he applied again and in 1994 being denied both times, he waived his rights again for the next two attempts in 1997 and 2002. In 2007 he attended the next hearing where he was again denied, prosecutor Ariadne Symons said; “We don’t care how much of a model prisoner he is because of the enormity of his crimes.” He had another shot in 2012 but was denied and waived the next one in 2017. He will next be eligible in 2024.

Notable quotes

some quotes from Kemper said in interviews with the media and law enforcement interviews.

“She loved me in her way and despite all the violent screaming and yelling arguments we had, I loved her, too. But she had to manage your life…and interfere in your personal affairs.”

(Kemper when asked about his mother, in Front Page Detective Magazine, March 1974 by Marj von Beroldingen)

“My mother was there. 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”

(Kemper in 1991 interview by Stéphane Bourgoin)

“I just wanted the exaltation over the party. In other words, winning over death. They were dead and I was alive. That was the victory in my case.”

– (Kemper Interviewing for Front page detective magazine March 1974)

“I remember it was very exciting … there was actually a sexual thrill … It was kind of an exalted triumphant type thing, like taking the head of a deer or an elk or something would be to a hunter. I was the hunter, and they were the victims.”

– (Kemper on decapitation for Front Page Detective Magazine March 1974)

“with her face turned toward my bedroom window and, sometimes at night, I talked to her, saying love things, the way you do to a girlfriend or wife.”

– (Kemper on burying Schall’s head under his mother’s bedroom window)

When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think two things. One part wants to be real nice and sweet, and the other part wonders what her head would look like on a stick”

“If I killed them, you know, they couldn’t reject me as a man. It was more or less making a doll out of a human being . . . and carrying out my fantasies with a doll, a living human doll.”

“I was raging inside, there was just… incredible energies… positive and negative. Uh… depending on a mood, that would trigger one or the other. And outside, I looked troubled at times, other times, I looked moody. Uh, other times, perfectly serene. Not very sane. But again… people weren’t even aware of what was happening.”

“I stabbed her all over her back, she turned around and I stabbed her on the side and the stomach once. As she turned around I could of stabbed her through the heart, but her breasts were there. Her breasts actually deflected me. I couldn’t see myself stabbing a young woman in her breasts. That’s embarrassing.”

Kemper’s notoriety makes him the subject of many theories as what can drive a person to commit not only multiple murders, but to also inflict the horrific acts he did on his victims post-mortem. Kemper displayed violent tendencies form a young age, and as he got older and the environment around affected him a compulsion developed from rage he felt inside of him. This compulsion continued to intensify as events in his life and his environment affected him, from his parent’s divorce and his father leaving, living with his mother and sister that mentally abused him and being sent to live with various relatives throughout his adolescence knowing it was because they couldn’t live with him. All of these things enraged him, he would have blamed his mother for the divorce and his father leaving coupled with the mental abuse inflicted on him by the women of the house he started to develop a resentment and shame when it came to women. As he moved on and reconciled with his father he would not have liked that his father had a new family, he would have been resentful of his step-brother and eventually he would have felt inferior as his behaviours would have been questioned by the rest of the family leading to him to be sent away to his grandparents, furthering the feelings of shame and rage, and driving him to want to act out this rage, at this point aimed at animals. Once at his grandparents, although he didn’t have the best relationship with them his murderous compulsions were normalised since he was given a firearm and allowed to hunt, this would have sated his needs temporarily, but they would have still been there growing waiting for a trigger. This trigger came with his final summer visit to his mother’s, although he had such a rage toward his mother he would not have been brave enough to stand up to her after years of wearing him down psychologically so the focus shifted to another maternal figure in his life, his grandmother, when he returned he would have been angrier and his grandmother trying to tell him what to do or “nag him” as he described it was enough to push him to act out the fantasies he had been having about killing his grandmother, much more violence was inflicted on his grandmother with multiple shots and post-mortem stab wounds than on his grandfather showing she was the real target of his rage that day, much like many women after her.

When incarcerated Kemper was helped with his issues through assessments and evaluations with psychologists, as well as eventually earning a position that would have put him in a more respected or powerful position for the first time in his life he assessed inmates mentally. He would have enjoyed this position not only because of the higher social status, but because as he admitted he learnt from other violent offenders about their sex offences or murders, also because he would have got to see and live these crimes each time he heard the offender talk about them.

Kemper’s release to his mother’s custody was, as the professionals said a bad idea. At this point in his life his mother and sisters were probably the only family that would speak to him, but with Kemper now living alone with his mother and their relationship being so toxic, his need to kill quickly stirred up and opportunities started to present themselves in the form of young hitchhikers, with these murders a lot of the shame his mother instilled in him can be seen in how he treated these young women, he could not interact with them in any sort of sexual way when they were alive because he wanted a full control of them, an objectifying control seen as he enjoyed decapitating, dismembering and the various sexual acts on the bodies treating them like toys for his own various gratifications.

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