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Edmund Kemper: The Co-ed Killer

Crime Files


Any one of ten traits can indicate someone is a serial killer. Edmund Kemper has them all.

The Co-Ed Killer

According to famous FBI profiler John Douglas and Robert Ressler, any one of ten traits can indicate someone is a serial killer. Edmund Kemper has them all.

As a baby, and as a boy, Edmund Kemper III is huge. (He’ll eventually grow to a three hundred pound, six foot nine inch ‘hulk’ of a man).

At nine years old, his parents’ divorce and Edmund is left with his two sisters, and his mother, Clarnell. She constantly ridicules Edmund for his size and mocks his ‘weirdo’ personality. She incessantly tells him that no woman will ever love him.

He’s taught to hate himself, but he learns to hate everybody else as well, especially women.

His twisted impulses are evident at an early age. Attracted to a female teacher, his sister teases and asks why he doesn’t try to kiss his teacher.

He replies...

‘If I kiss her, I’d have to kill her first’

One of his favourite school games is pretending he’s being executed in a gas chamber. At home, he decapitates his sister’s doll: Then his pets. A ten year old Edmund buries alive his cat. Once dead, he digs it up, decapitates it, and displays it on a spike. This is his first trophy.

At 13, he uses a machete on the replacement cat. He slices off the top of its skull all the while holding onto its leg so he’s showered in its blood. As the writer Harold Schechter notes, for serial killers, ‘animal torture isn’t a stage. It’s a rehearsal.’

Puberty for Edmund involves masturbatory images of killing everyone in town and then having sex with their corpses.

His mother locks him in the basement fearing he’ll rape his sister. At 15, Edmund tries to reconcile with his father. His father again rejects him and Edmund is made to live with his grandparents on their ranch in California. On his first summer there, he shoots his grandma in the head and then repeatedly stabs her because...

‘I just wondered how it would feel to shoot Grandma.’

When his grandfather returns, Edmund shoots him dead. Edmund says later he killed him so he wouldn’t have to see what Edmund had done to his wife.

Edmund rings his mother and the police and waits for them.

Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he’s sent to State Hospital. There, he especially likes listening to serial rapists retell their crimes.

He masks his obsession with sexual violence with an outward calm. Tests reveal him to have an extremely high IQ. And he’s paroled after just five years. This is against the advice of his doctor, and Edmund himself. (They release him, without irony, into his mother’s care.)

Now, eight women will die.