Edmund Emil Kemper III: A Case Study

Edmund Emil Kemper III was born on December 18, 1948, in Burbank, California to Clarnell and Ed Kemper Jr. He was the only son of the family. Edmund’s childhood was anything but normal. While most other little boys were playing games pretending they were super heroes, Edmund was pretending he was in a gas chamber and his sister was throwing the switch. Once the switch was thrown he would wiggle around on the floor as if he were dying of asphyxiation. Edmund also enjoyed cutting the heads and hands off of his sisters’ new dolls.
He had trouble relating to his peers because he was afraid of them, afraid of any intimate contact between himself and another. During his childhood years, Edmund also found it amusing to torture the family cats. He buried the first cat up to its neck then kept the severed head as a trophy. His mother replaced the cat. With the new cat Edmund decided to continue his torturing spree by cutting it with a machete, exposing its brains and dissecting the body. These ants resulted in numerous pieces of trophies for him to keep. Until his mother discovered them in his closet.
From this point on is when his mother truly began to express her opinions of him as having a “weirdo” personality. lf his home life was not weird enough, Edmund had a crush on his second grade teacher, Whom his sisters teased him about relentlessly. With this crush developed fantasies of killing his second grade teacher. Edmund’s reply to his sister’s teasing was, “If I kiss her, l’d have to kill her first. ” On numerous occasions Edmund visited her house with his father’s bayonet and his fantasies. With Edmund’s home life already a rough one and the fantasies of killing already in his head, the news of his parents divorce did not sit well.

His parents fought constantly leaving Edmund, now age 9, to bounce back and forth between them. After his mother became fed up with him she sent him to live with his father, Ed Jr. , and his stepmother. However, this did not last long before he was sent to live with his paternal grandparents at the age of thirteen in rural North Folk, Ca. Edmund did not get along with his grandparents any better than he did with his mother or father. In fact, Edmund lasted with them until August 27, 1964, at age fourteen, when he shot his grandmother in the back of the head with a . 2 caliber rifle after an argument.
He later stabbed her lifeless body numerous times with a kitchen knife, and then he shot his grandfather as he returned home. He called his mother and told her what had happened and waited patiently for her and the police to arrive. Once the police arrived and they questioned him about what had happened, Edmund’s only response was, “I just wondered how it would feel to shoot grandma. ” Edmund later explained that grandpa was shot out of mercy, a way to spare him from the discovery of his wife.
As a punishment for the murder of his grandparents, the courts sentenced Edmund to Atascadero State Hospital where he was placed in the criminally insane unit. Atascadero State Hospital is an all-male, maximum security, forensic facility serving the entire state of California. Upon entering the facility the psychiatrists there examined and tested Edmund’s level of intelligence and came up with the findings that he had an IQ of about 145 and possessed the personality disordered titled personality trait disturbance, passive-aggressive type.
While in ASH Edmund became such a model inmate that the doctors trained Edmund in how to administer the tests. Knowing how the tests worked allowed Edmund to learn ways in which to provide the doctors with appropriate responses that would pave the way for him to be later deemed no longer a danger to society. Once Edmund passed the tests, he was released back into the world under his mother’s care. Now age twenty-one, Edmund returned to his mother’s house and fell right back into the tormented ways. Edmund’s mother blamed him for everything.
She would repeatedly yell at him that it was his fault she had not been with a man for a number of years. With Edmund’s new found way of life, he decided he would try to find work. His mother saw how intent he was on getting a job so she tried to have his juvenile records sealed. He first worked at a Green Giant canning plant as a laborer before he applied with the State Division of Highways in 1971; a job that would allow Edmund to hang out with law enforcement. He tried hard to get a job in law enforcement but was rejected due to his large size, of six foot nine inches, and weighing almost 300 pounds.
But his new found friends supplied him with handcuffs, a training badge and gun. Part of Edmund’s release agreement was to visit with a psychologist regularly. Edmund did this, however as he began to get close with the police officers, and attend his weekly sessions, he began training himself for his next kill. That is he would pick up hitchhikers and provide them with the necessary ride, putting on the “gentle giant” charade so as to provide a sense of genuine sincerity for those whom he picked up. This manipulation and control over the situation are primary talents of this psychopathic serial killer.
Edmund’s first kill did not happen until May of 1972, in which he picked up two college women, Mary Anne Pesce and Anita Luchessa, on a freeway ramp. Edmund knew the area so well that he was able to get the car turned around without the girls having any clue that their direction had changed. Edmund then drove to a remote area he learned about from his interaction with the highway department. Upon arriving to the area, Edmund handcuffed Pesce in the backseat and placed Luchessa in the trunk of the car. Edmund returned to Pesce and placed a plastic bag over head, and tied it on with the belt of a bathrobe.
However, the belt broke and Pesce had managed to bite through the bag, so Edmund drew his knife and began stabbing her inthe back. These stabbings did not seem to have any effect on her because she was still wiggling around and fighting back. Then Edmund grabbed her by the chin, pulled back her head, and slit her throat. After killing Pesce, Edmund went back to the trunk and began stabbing Luchessa repeatedly in the throat, eyes, heart and forearms. Now that these women were dead, he took them back to his apartment where he dissected their bodies, took Polaroid pictures, and cut off their heads.
I remember there was actually a sexual thrill. You hear that little “pop’ and pull their heads off and hold their heads up by the hair. Whipping their heads off their body sitting there. That’d get me off” (Vronsky). Edmund took the remainder of the two women and put them into plastic bags, of which he buried in the Santa Cruz hills, their torsos and limbs in one area, their hands in another. All the while disguising the burial ground with techniques he had learned as a Boy Scout. With the excitement of the killing behind him, Edmund began to return to his normal routine of attending bars filled with law enforcement personnel.
All the while he was attending these local gatherings; he was remaining one step ahead of all clues about the cases. In September 1972, Edmund struck again, only this time it was a fifteen year old girl, Aiko Koo, on her way to dance class in San Francisco. Edmund took her to a remote location where he strangled her into unconsciousness, raped her, and then placed her body in the trunk of his car. On his way home however, he stopped off for a beer. When he returned to his car he opened the trunk and, admiring my catch like a fisherman’s looked in at the little girl.
The next day Edmund buried the body in his typical fashion, but kept her head. With the head of Koo in the trunk of his car he drove to the psychiatrist’s office for his regularly scheduled appointment. While at the appointment, the psychiatrist is quoted as saying, “If I were seeing this patient without any history available or without getting the 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 illness…
In effect, we are dealing with two different people when we talk of the 15 year old boy who committed the murder and of the 23 year old man we see before us now. . . it is my opinion that he has made a very excellent response to the years of treatment and rehabilitation. . . ” (Vronsky). No one knows for sure what the psychiatrists would have said that day if they had known of the head in Edmund’s trunk. After living on his own for a while, Edmund decided to move back home with his domineering mother. Since the last killing in September Edmund was doing well, that is until he picked up college student Cindy Schall.
Edmund shot Schall in the head and brought her body back to his mother’s house, and when she wasn’t looking he carried her up to his room and put her in his closet. The next day while his mother was at work Edmund took the corpse to bed and had sex with it. After this he drained the body of blood in his mother’s bathtub, cut the body into pieces, bagged them and threw them off of a cliff. He kept the head, this time repeatedly having sex with it. When he grew tired of the head Edmund buried it in the backyard facing up towards his mother’s bedroom window.
The local university at this time had gotten word of a string of unsolved murders and warned its students not to take rides from strangers. Lucky for Edmund his mother worked at the university and frequently needed him to pick her up, so he ended up with a decal for the university to allow for his easy access. His mother was well liked, respected, and known for her kindness at the university. Edmund used the decal on his car to pick up two more unsuspecting college women. He then took these women back to his mother’s house where he decapitated one of them in the trunk of his car.
Later that night while his mother was sleeping he carried the headless body up to his room. Edmund has been quoted as saying, in “… the head is where everything is at, the brain, eyes, mouth. That’s the person. I remember being told as a kid, you cut off the head and the body dies…. that’s not quite true. With a girl, there is a lot left in the girl’s body without the head. Of course, the personality is gone (Vronsky). Edmund went from the kill of the two college women until one fatal Easter weekend in 1973.
On this weekend Edmund had finally conquered what had driven his hatred all these years, Edmund killed his mother. While his mother lay sleeping in her bed the night before Easter Sunday, Edmund went in with a claw hammer and smashed his mother’s head in. Edmund then decided, what’s good for my victims was good for my mother’s He then proceeded to decapitate her, and raped her headless corpse. He then removed her larynx and tried to run it through the garbage disposal only to have it jam and spit the larynx back at him. Edmund later recalled to police as saying, “even when she was dead, she was still bitching at me.
I couldn’t get her to shut up. ” This same evening Edmund called and invited his mother’s best friend over for a “surprise” dinner party. Upon her arrival however, Edmund punched her, strangled her, and again cut off the head which he placed in his bed. He then slept in his mothers bed. The next day Edmund got in his car and began to drive aimlessly. He drove all the way from Santa Cruz, Ca. to Colorado. A11 the while listening to the radio hoping for some sort of news flash to come out of the killing he had just committed.
But since no such thing happened, and he had grown tired of waiting, Edmund called the Santa Cruz police confessing to all of the crimes. They however, knowing Edmund as friend, did not believe him, forcing him to call several times before they took his word. Which then lead local authorities to his destination where he surrendered willingly. While awaiting trial, Edmund attempted twice to commit suicide by slashing his mists, and was soon transferred to a solitary cell. The trial itself was rather short – the evidence was there, and it showed clear premeditation.
A1l of the psychiatrists asked, testified that Edmund was sane at the times he committed his crimes. Edmund was put into prison, where he calmed down and became a well-behaved inmate. At the trial he was asked what he thought would be an appropriate punishment for his actions, his response was “death by torture. ” He was sentences to response was death by torturers He was sentenced to eight concurrent life-prison terms with possibility of parole. Edmund has been up for parole since 1980, but has been denied every time he’s applied. Edmund Kemper is said to have been a egotistic lust killer.
That is these people set out not with the interest to kill or hurt anyone, but with the intention of wearing your skin or eating your liver, or in the case of Edmund to have sex with your severed head and decapitated corpse. lts just that your life gets in the way of their fanta sy. In Edmund’s instance he explained that the actual killing of each victim had little to do with his fantasies, he goes on to say, “but what I needed to have was a particular experience with person, and to possess them in the way I wanted to: I had to evict them from their human bodies. (Vronsky). When it comes to classifying Edmund as a psychopath, it can be done but in the broadest sense of a definition. A psychopath derives their tendencies from biological predispositions. Including, but not limited to faulty family enviro ends, aloof parents, and inconsistent rewards and punishments. In Edmund’s life his parents w re never really there for him, they just shuffled him back and forth before finally sending him to live with extended family.
The punishments were inconsistent because his mother locked him in his basement “bedroom” due to the fear felt by his sister even though he did nothing to provoke the fear. I believe more appropriately Edmund Kemper fits the definition of having a Homicidal Pattern Disorder. Which according to the future volume of the DSM will be defined as deliberate and purposeful murder or attempt at murder of strangers on more than one occasion; tension or affective arousal at some time before the arts; and pleasure, gratification, or relief in commission or reflection of the ants.
In the end, I believe that all Edmund truly wanted was a woman’s love. Something he wished for greatly, but was always an illusion, never attainable. It is clear what Edmund’s purpose for killing these women was, the need to feel a close intimate connection with a member of the opposite sex, more specifically a connection between himself and his mother. Once this conquest was fulfilled, the intimate connection between him and his mother, Edmund willingly turned himself in because his mission was over.

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