Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Edmund Kemper: The Coed Butcher

Psychiatric Follow-up

That's the day he picked up Aiko Koo, who had given up waiting for her bus and hitched a ride. He'd been feeling the energy that inspired his fantasies of murder. This girl seemed perfect for his next grim venture. He was surprised that she was only fifteen, but determined to carry out his plan. About that encounter, Kemper said: "I pulled the gun out to show her I had it...she was freaking out. Then I put the gun away and that had more effect on her than pulling it out." He got out of the car, locking himself out, which gave her an advantage, but she was too scared to pick up his gun. "She could have reached over and grabbed the gun," he said later, "but I think she never gave it a thought." Instead, she unlocked the door and let him back in.

He pinched her nostrils to force her to black out, says Frazier, and raped her. Then he strangled her until he was sure she was dead and rode around with her body in the trunk of his car. He had a few drinks before taking her home to dismember and dissect her in the same manner he had done with his first two victims. Once he had tasted this power over women, he knew, it was only a matter of time before he'd want it again. But first he had to prepare to convince the psychiatrists who were monitoring his case that he was "cured."

The day after he killed Aiko Koo, Kemper went before a panel of psychiatrists as a follow-up requirement for parole. He'd done well in school, had tried finding a job, and as far as anyone knew, he had stayed out of trouble. He knew what they wanted to hear and he put on his best act. The first doctor talked with him for a while and indicated that he saw no reason to consider Kemper a danger to anyone. The second one actually used the words "normal" and "safe," according to Cheney. Both recommended the sealing of his juvenile records as a way to help him to become a better citizen. Yet even as the two psychiatrists congratulated themselves on being part of a system that had rehabilitated a child killer, Kemper delighted in his secret. Damio writes that not only had killed a girl the day before the analysis, but he had her head in the trunk of his car outside, which Kemper disputes.

Trophies of Kemper's victims
Trophies of Kemper's victims
Once again, he was in the game. He had succeeded at convincing the learned professionals that he was something other than he really was, and they had wrongly inferred that he was "no longer a danger." The judge did not agree, but had no grounds to deny the request to seal the records. Thus, eight years after he had killed his grandparents, Kemper gained his freedom. As he drove away with a clean bill of mental health, he felt pleased. Now he was free to continue with his experiments. He found a place to bury Koo's head and hands above Boulder Creek, and there they remained undiscovered until the following May.

And he was not finished. While he laid low for a while, he kept fantasizing about taking the lives of those young women. He kept trophies and photographs of his grisly work to help renew the experience, and as he clashed with his mother time and again, the urge to kill built up within him.



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