The Co-ed Killer

Essay by tracker55555College, UndergraduateA, December 2006

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Edmund Emil Kemper III was born in Burbank, California in 1948. In 1964, Kemper was 15 years old, and shot his grandmother and grandfather. Then he called his mother who told him to call the police. The reason he gave for killing them was that he just wanted to see what it was like. At one point he wanted to live with his father, but his father sent him to the grandparents. So he could have possibly killed them to get back at his father for not wanting him. However, it was said that Kemper's mom and grandmother were always telling him what to do, and he didn't like that.

So, after killing his grandparents, he was committed to Atascadero State hospital. While there, he was allowed to view their assessment tools and then memorized the answers to various ones. So he used that information to get released into his mothers care by the time he was 21 years old.

Many doctors were against his release. Then during his later murders, he was able to get his juvenile record sealed. At one point Kemper wanted to become a police officer, but was denied because he was too tall. However, he did become friends with a number of police officers. Eventually, Kemper found a job with the Division of Highways near Santa Cruz, California. He was 6'9" and over 300 pounds at this point.

In the early 1970's he started picking up female student hitchhikers and murdering them. This is why he is also known as the Co-ed Killer or Co-ed Butcher. He would either stab, shoot, or suffocate the women and then take the bodies to his apartment where he would have sex with them or some of their body parts. Then he would bury the bodies or dispose of them in the ocean. One time he buried a 15-year-old girls head in his mom's garden as a joke. Later he stated that his reason was that his mother always wanted people to look up to her.

In total, he killed six female college students. He would usually go looking for his next victim after arguing with his mother. His mother was said to be dominating and emotionally abusive toward him. He also kept photos of his victims as souvenirs. In 1973 he beat his mother to death with a hammer while she was sleeping. He cut off her head, put her vocal cords in a garbage disposal and then used her head as a dartboard. Then he told his mother's friend to come over, and when she did, he strangled her to death.

After that, he called the police and turned himself in. At first the police didn't believe him, because they personally knew him. Once they believed him, Kemper personally took them to every place that he had hidden the bodies. He pleaded insanity in court, but was found guilty for murdering 8 people. While on trial, Kemper tried to kill himself twice, but failed. He received life in prison. He was sent to the California Medical Facility, and later ended up in Maximum Security at Folsom Prison.

It has been said that Kemper's IQ level is almost genius. He often has done interviews while in prison and has said that his mother, made him live in the basement and that she didn't like him because he looked like his father. Overall, I think a lot of his problems came from his childhood and the fact that his mother emotionally abused him. He would have received the death penalty, but it wasn't in effect in California until after he had already been on trial.