Image attribution: By Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office () [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
At an imposing 6'9'' and 280 pounds, Edmund Kemper was probably not the kind of man you would expect young women to happily get in a car with, especially when they knew there was a serial killer on the loose. But Kemper was an extremely intelligent individual (once tested as having an IQ of 136) who knew how to put the women at ease. He would talk to them and play the 'gentle giant' routine. Sometimes he would take them to where they wanted to go without incident; on other occasions he would kill, dismember, and cannibalize them, as well as using their corpses for sexual release.
As is so often the case with serial killers, Edmund Kemper had an abusive childhood.The primary abuser in his case was his mother, who would constantly degrade and belittle him. She would also often lock him in the basement of the house. On one occasion, she forced him to kill his pet chicken, and his father then made him eat it.
From a young age, Kemper displayed some unnerving behaviours. He would often spend hours alone with his sister's dolls, decapitating them and cutting up their limbs. After a while, he moved on to doing the same to cats and dogs.
At the age of 15, Kemper killed his grandparents. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and sent to a psychiatric hospital. He behaved himself and even managed to befriend the psychiatrist. He was given a job administering certain psychological tests to other patients. Kemper memorized some of these tests, along with the answers the psychiatrists were looking for. When it was his turn to be evaluated, it should come as no surprise that he passed with flying colours. He was released back into the community at the age of 21, right back into the custody of the one person all his doctors seemed to agree he should never live with again - his mother (quite why this happened is something of a mystery). 3 years later he started killing again, taking the lives of 6 co-ed students at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Next, Kemper killed his mother. Apparently, he realized that it was his mother who was the source of his anger: the college students had merely been symbolic representations of her. He waited until she was sleeping, then crept into her room and smashed her skull with a ball-peen hammer. Kemper then cut off her head and hands with a pocket knife, removing her larynx and grinding it up in the garbage disposal.
After that, Kemper invited his mother's best friend round to the house, on the pretense of throwing a surprise party for his mother. When the friend arrived, Kemper strangled her to death, then decapitated her corpse. Shortly afterwards, Kemper phoned the police and confessed to his crimes. He was arrested and given a sentence of life imprisonment.
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