Edmund Emil Kemper III (December 18, 1948) is an American serial killer, rapist and necrophile who murdered six college students before murdering his mother and her best friend from September 1972 to April 1973 following his parole for murdering his paternal grandparents. He is noted for his height of 6 feet 9 inches, and for his high intellect, possessing an IQ of 145. Kemper was nicknamed the Co-ed Killer, as most of his victims were female college students hitchhiking in the Santa Cruz area. Most of his murders included necrophilia, with occasional incidents of rape.
Kemper has influenced many works of film and literature. He, alongside Ed Gein, were used as an inspiration for the character of Buffalo Bill in Thomas Harris's 1988 novel The Silence of the Lambs. Like Kemper, Bill fatally shoots his grandparents as a teenager. Dean Koontz cited Kemper as an inspiration for character Edgler Vess in his 1996 novel Intensity. The character Patrick Bateman in the 2000 film American Psycho mistakenly attributes a quote by Kemper to Ed Gein, saying: "You know what Ed Gein said about women? ... He said 'When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think two things. One part of me wants to take her out, talk to her, be real nice and sweet and treat her right ... [the other part wonders] what her head would look like on a stic
Kemper had a dark fantasy life. He performed rites with his younger sister's dolls that culminated in his removing their heads and hands; on one occasion, when his elder sister, Susan Hughey Kemper (1943–2014), teased him and asked why he did not try to kiss his teacher, he replied, "If I kiss her, I'd have to kill her first." He also recalled that as a young boy, he would sneak out of his house and, armed with his father's bayonet, go to his second-grade teacher's house to watch her through the windows. He stated in later interviews that some of his favorite games to play as a child were "Gas Chamber" and "Electric Chair," in which he asked his younger sister to tie him up and flip an imaginary switch; he would then tumble over and writhe on the floor, pretending that he was being executed by gas inhalation or electric shock. He also had close-to-death experiences as a child: once, when his elder sister tried to push him in front of a train and another time when she successfully pushed him into the deep end of a swimming pool, where he almost drowned.
On August 27, 1964, at the age of 15, Kemper was sitting at the kitchen table with his grandmother Maude Matilda Hughey Kemper (b. 1897) when they had an argument. Enraged, Kemper stormed off and retrieved a rifle that his grandfather had given him for hunting; the rifle had been confiscated because he used it to needlessly shoot animals. He then re-entered the kitchen and fatally shot his grandmother in the head before firing twice more into her back. His grandmother's last words were “Oh, you’d better not be shooting the birds again.” Some accounts mention that she also suffered multiple post-mortem stab wounds with a kitchen knife.
When Kemper's grandfather, Edmund Emil Kemper Sr. (b. 1892), returned from grocery shopping, Kemper went outside and fatally shot him in the driveway, next to his car. He was unsure of what to do next, so he phoned his mother, who told him to contact the local police. Kemper called the police and waited to be taken into custody.
After his arrest, Kemper said that he "just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma" and testified that he killed his grandfather so he would not have to find out that his wife was dead, and that he would be angry with Kemper for what he'd done. Psychiatrist Donald Lunde, who interviewed Kemper during adulthood, wrote, "In his way, he had avenged the rejection of both his father and his mother." Kemper's crimes were deemed incomprehensible for a 15-year-old to commit, and court psychiatrists diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic, then sent him to Atascadero State Hospital, a maximum-security facility that houses mentally ill convicts