Edmund Kemper III, a psychopathic serial killer and necrophile who became known as “The Co-ed Killer,” was born December 18, 1948, in Burbank, California. He was arrested in April of 1973, at the age of twenty-four, after murdering six female students, his own mother, and her mother’s best friend.
During childhood, Kemper was physically and emotionally abused by his alcoholic mother, Clarnell, who was divorced from his father. Clarnell frequently locked her son in a dark basement alone at night.
Not surprisingly, Edmund grew up to hate his mother and at the age of 14 ran away from home in search of his father in Van Nuys, California. After locating but being rejected by his father, young Edmund was sent to live with his paternal grandmother and grandfather in North Fork, California. Kemper claims that his grandmother, similar to his mother, was very abusive and he disliked her intensely.
Despite his relative youth upon capture, Kemper had actually committed his first two murders nearly a decade earlier. Kemper was an extremely intelligent child but he engaged in psychopathic behavior early on. For Kemper, this behavior included the torture and killing of animals, which is a common childhood practice among nearly half of all serial killers.
In 1964, at the age of 15, Edmund shot his grandmother in the head allegedly just to see what it felt like. He then killed his grandfather, too, because he believed that his grandfather would be angry at him for killing his grandmother. Kemper was subsequently committed to the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane. To his chagrin, he was released into his mother’s care in 1969 after less than five years of confinement and treatment. His juvenile criminal record was expunged.
As a young adult, Kemper stood six-foot-nine and weighed 280 pounds. He frequently thought about killing his mother by 1970 but was not yet ready to do so. The prospect of killing his mother without first perfecting his murder skills on others was too overwhelming for Kemper.
Between May 1972 and February 1973, Kemper embarked on a series of six shocking serial murders in which he picked up hitchhiking female students along the highway and then transported them to rural areas where he would kill and then decapitate them, and have sex with their corpses. He collected their dismembered heads in his apartment and would later have sex with them also.
He was buddies with all the local cops, They would drink in a bar called “The Jury Room” with the very law enforcement officers who unbeknownst to them were pursuing him. His law enforcement friends began calling him “Big Eddie.”
Kemper finally realized his ultimate fantasy and killed his mother with a claw hammer and strangled her best friend on Good Friday 1973. After having sex with his mother’s decapitated head, Edmund Kemper casually telephoned the local law enforcement authorities to confess what he had done.
The police initially refused to believe him, thinking that their friend “Big Eddie” was just pulling a prank on them. After several follow-up calls and the disclosure of information that only the “The Co-ed Killer” would know, Kemper finally convinced the police that he was the man they sought. He was quickly arrested without incident and charged with eight murders in the first degree. Kemper was found guilty and given a life sentence because there was a stay on the death penalty in the U.S. at the time of his conviction.
Kemper was asked by a Cosmopolitan magazine reporter during a prison interview how he felt when he saw a pretty girl after killing his mother. He said, “One side of me says, I’d like to talk to her, date her. The other side says, “I wonder how her head would look on a stick.”
Edmund Kemper remains housed among the general prison population at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California.