Edmund Kemper: The Coed Butcher
On April 23, 1973, the Santa Cruz police received a call that they could not quite believe. It was from a phone booth in Pueblo, Colorado, from a twenty-four-year-old man who had eaten with them, drank with them, and talked with them for hours: Big Ed, or Edmund Kemper. And now he was telling them that he had committed murder — in fact, a double homicide four days earlier, and then some. He had killed his mother, Clarnell Strandberg, on Good Friday. Then he'd gone drinking with his cop buddies. He'd returned and invited his mother's friend, Sara "Sally" Hallett, over for dinner and a movie. She was delighted. When she arrived, he'd killed her, too, and removed her head. Both bodies were stuffed into closets in his mother's duplex on Ord Drive.
But the officer who took the first call believed it was a prank, says David Everitt in Human Monsters. He suggested the young man call again later. Kemper did so, but once again had a difficult time convincing the person at the other end of the line to take him seriously. Those who knew him believed it was all some practical joke. He continued to place calls until he was able to persuade an officer to go check out his mother's house. He said that an officer, Sergeant Aluffi, had been there not long before to confiscate the .44-caliber revolver he had purchased. Alluffi would know.
Investigators now realized why the "Coed Butcher" had eluded them for so long. As John Douglas put it upon hearing how Kemper had been privy at the jury room and the investigation details, "He was analyzing what he was doing and learning to perfect his technique." He had discovered their strategies and plans for trapping him, and he was able to out-think and elude them. But he also had not come across as a killer. He had learned how to make people feel safe around him, and that was probably how he had found ways to get girls into his cars, despite warnings issued to students throughout the area.
The story that unfolded was as bizarre as any they had yet heard. He went on for hours, confessing everything that he had done to the six coeds, his mother and her friend. Adding these to the murders of his grandparents years earlier, he had committed ten murders in all. To prove his tale, he took detectives to areas where he had buried or tossed parts of his victims that had not yet been found. He described having sex with the heads of his victims and said that he'd loved the feeling of totally possessing them and their property.
The stories would grow worse during the trial, thanks to psychiatric probing, and both sides set about finding out what they could do about this disturbing young man.