Edmund Emil Kemper, III (the Coed Killer) claimed a total of 10 victims between 1963 - 1974; 3 family members, 1 family friend, and 6 coeds. Ed was born on December 18, 1948 in Burbank, CA. to parents Edmund Emil Kemper, Jr. (EE) and Clarnell Strandberg Kemper. Ed's father was a WWII vet and an incredibly passive man and his mother was overbearing and domineering.. Ed's childhood was fraught with confusion, anger, violence, and abuse. Ed’s parents had a very toxic and tumultuous marriage; Clarnell would regularly ridicule and belittle EE in front of the children, effectively emasculating him with her cruelty. There was a great deal of physical and verbal abuse in the Kemper house. The effect of this constant turmoil between his parents had lasting consequences; the least of which was a distorted view of male/female relationships. Childhood exposure to violence between parents coupled with a lack of sexual education (sex was a taboo topic in the Kemper house) can obscure the line between sex and violence. Kemper may have inadvertently seen his parents engaged in sex. The blurring of violence and sex in children can be devastating. In fact, Dr. Davidson Abrahamsen (who was a leading authority on violence in American) postulated that children interpret sex between parents as a violent act in which his father is hurting his mother. “To the child’s mind sex, the primal scene, is a bloody crime which, because it is a secret, he is forbidden to watch”. So, when a child sees his parents having sex, the child often interprets this as violence, especially when there is no sex education in the home. Margaret Cheney, in her book “The Coed Killer: A Study of the Murders, Mutilations, and Matricide of Edmund Kemper, III” speculates that Ed may have been exposed to some sort of heterosexual over-stimulation. Psychologists would later remark that Ed had an insatiable interest in sex. The effect on young Ed was profound and he began to have morbid, sexual fantasies at a very early age. The couple separated when Ed was just 6 years old but, his father had been absent because of his job for a couple of years prior.
Clarnell Kemper managed to make her son both hate her and love her. Posthumously diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, she knew how to manipulate her son and what's worse is that she knew how to press his buttons. She called him a weirdo and made fun of his size. MOTHER OF THE YEAR!
As a teenager, Ed was sent to live with his paternal grandparents (Edmund Emil Kemper & Maude Matilda Hughey Kemper) and subsequently murdered them when he was 15 years old. For his crime, Ed spent 5 years at California's Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane. Here he lived among adult male, mentally disordered, sex offenders. Obviously an excellent environment for a teenager diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, right? An especially great place for a teenager with morbid sexual urges. When he was released from Atascadero, the one piece of advice his doctors gave him was to never speak to his mother again. Instead, he was paroled to her. From 1969 - 1972, Ed attempted to live a normal life but, eventually, he allowed his dark fantasies to take over.
In 1972, Ed Kemper began his murderous reign. Over the course of 10 months, he murdered 6 young coeds. When this did not satiety his need to murder, he realized it was his mother he really wanted to kill. On April 20 & 21, 1973, Ed murdered his mother in a very gruesome manner. He then invited her best friend over and murdered her as well.
Once in custody, Ed could not stop talking; to the police, to reporters, to counselors, to anyone who would listen. He blamed his relationship with his mother and his inability to communicate effectively with the opposite sex for his horrific crimes.
If you are interested in learning more about Ed Kemper's psychology and the biological factors that may have contributed to his murderous drive and abhorrent paraphilias, listen to my 3-part podcast series.