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A serial killer, Edmund Kemper killed six young, college-age women in the Santa Cruz, California, area and several members of his family.
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Kemper was eventually sent to Atascadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
In 1969, Kemper was released. He was 21 years old. He was advised not to live with his mother because of her past abuse and his psychological issues involving her. Ignoring this recommendation, Kemper eventually joined his mother in California. Clarnell Kemper had moved there after ending her third marriage and took a job with the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Kemper attended community college for a time and worked a variety of jobs. He eventually went to work for the California Highway Department in 1971. Kemper applied to become a state trooper, but he was rejected because of his size—he weighed around 300 pounds and was 6 feet 9 inches tall, which led to his nickname “Big Ed.” He did, however, hang around some of the Santa Cruz police officers. One gave him a training-school badge and handcuffs, while another let him borrow a gun, according to Whoever Fights Monsters by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman. Kemper even had a car that resembled a police cruiser.
The same year he began working for the highway department, Kemper was hit by a car while out on his motorcycle. His arm was badly injured, and he received a $15,000 settlement in the civil suit he filed against the car’s driver. Unable to work, Kemper turned his mind toward other pursuits. He noticed a large number of young women hitchhiking in the area. In the new car he bought with some of his settlement money, Kemper began storing the tools he thought he might need to fulfill his murderous desires, including a gun, a knife, and handcuffs.
At first, Kemper picked up female hitchhikers and let them go. He offered two Fresno State College students—Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa—a ride on May 7th, 1972, but they never made it to their destination. Their families reported them missing, but nothing was known of their fates until August 15th, when a female head was discovered in the woods that was later identified as Pesce’s. Luchessa’s remains, however, were never found. Kemper later explained that he stabbed and strangled one of the women and stabbed the other. After the murders, he brought the bodies back to his apartment and removed their heads and hands. Kemper also reportedly engaged in sexual activity with their corpses.
In January of 1973, Kemper continued to act on his murderous impulses. He picked up hitchhiker Cindy Schall and shot her. While his mother was out, Kemper went to her home and hid Schall’s body in his room there. He dismembered her corpse the following day, and threw the parts into the ocean. Several parts were later discovered when they washed up on shore.
Kemper’s mother got him a campus parking sticker so that he could pick her up at the university. On February 5th, 1973, he used that sticker to facilitate a double-murder. Kemper drove to the campus after a fight with his mother and gave a ride to two students, Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu.
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Many of the most horrifying acts of violence are committed by serial killers. Always looking for next victim, these murderers kill again and again, never fully satisfied by their bloody deeds. Their twisted motivations—and even more twisted techniques—land the people in this group among the most frightening criminals in history.
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