He Threw Darts At His Mother's Decapitated Head! | The Shocking Crimes Of Edmund Kemper | Serial Killer Series

 (Edmund Kemper. Picture credit: thecrimemag)

The individual you see in the picture above was (surprisingly) brought to the attention of many people for the first time, due to the incredible Netflix show Mindhunter (based on the best-selling book of the same name by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker). The actor (Cameron Britton) who portrayed this man known as Edmund Kemper, gave such a spellbinding performance that viewers came away with a fondness (as well as a chilling uneasiness) for Edmund. He came across as a gentle giant, all 6 ft 9 of him with a polite and well mannered approach and a sparkling intelligence. Someone who you could have a drink with but also someone you fear could snap at any second and harm you. This was the truth of Edmund Emil Kemper III. He was known as ''Big Ed'' and often seen as a gentle giant to those that didn't know him personally and just happened to see him at the local bar but behind the nice, polite persona lay a cold, twisted psychopath, a calculating serial killer and necropheliac (someone who desired or enjoyed committing sexual acts on a deceased person or human remains).

With Edmund Kemper the red flags were all over the place in his childhood, there were disturbing signs from day one that this little boy was not quite right and was on a very dark road indeed. He came into the world on the 18th of December 1948 in Burbank, California and he was the middle child and the only son of parents Edmund Jr and Clarnell. He adored his father but his relationship with his mother was a very difficult one. It was a strict household and Clarnell pretty much ruled the roost. His parents split up when he was 9 years old and this had a profound affect on him, especially as his mother moved himself and his sisters quite a while away from his father. Edmund, although a very gifted child academically was quite a lonely figure and very withdrawn, he started to exhibit behaviours that became more and more disturbing as time went on. He would often sit by himself and play with his sister's dolls in a sinister manner. He would enjoy pulling the heads off and creating pretend murder scenarios. Sometimes he would pretend that he was a murderer who'd be sentenced to death and sent to the electric chair, he would jump around pretending to be electrocuted. Edmund would later say that the sick games with the dolls would arouse him and he would have fantasies of carrying out these sickening acts on human beings.

(Edmund Kemper as a youth & later on. Picture credit: ranker)

[Before I continue on, I just want to make you aware that I will be sharing some disturbing details in this post that include harm to animals, mutilation, human dismemberment and murder]

It didn't take long before he grew tired of playing with the dolls and started to fixate on animals. He would often torture cats and reportedly buried a cat alive on one of these horrendous occasions. He later went back and dug up the poor animal before playing with the remains. 

His relationship with his mother grew more hostile leading up to his teenage years and his mother grew more colder towards him. One wonders if she sensed something about Edmund but what we do know is that she would have a routine every night where she would lock him in the basement at bedtime because she feared he would sexually abuse his sisters. Being sent to the cold, dark and scary basement every night left Edmund with a feeling of not only fear but of rejection, he couldn't understand why he was being singled out. 

He found the whole thing traumatic and struggled to sleep. He noticed that his mother treated his sisters differently to the way he was treated. He felt rejected, isolated and alone. Having had enough of trying to sleep in the cold basement and put up with his mother's rejection of him, he decided he wanted to run away and move in with his father. 

It was a devastating blow for Edmund when he arrived at his father's house and it was made clear that staying there long term was not going to be an option. This was a devastating blow to Edmund who had missed his father greatly and felt that he had a strong bond with him. It was also clear that his father had moved on with his life having a new partner and step-son whom Edmund sometimes found it difficult to get along with. Edmund later said in an interview that it came down to him or his father's new family and his father chose his new life. Feeling rejected once again but not wanting to return home to his mother, he headed for his grandparents home.

What was supposed to be a fresh start and a break away from his mother began to turn into a nightmare as he had discovered that his grandmother was just as horrible as his mother was. Both women seemed to enjoy putting him down and making him feel worthless. Edmund was now 15 years old and was reaching boiling point, he had years of abuse from his mother, he thought his one chance at some love and normality was his father but that all turned out sour and now here he was with an older version of his mother, constantly putting him down. It all came to a head one day when his grandfather (who he did have a decent relationship with) was out of the house running some errands. Edmund for one reason or another decided to use a gun he was given as a Christmas gift and proceeded to shoot his 66 year old grandmother to death. 

In a horrible scene that echoed the later murders committed by Kip Kinkle (who was also 15 at the time he murdered his parents), Edmund waited until his grandfather came home and shot the 72 year old man to death. He didn't want to kill his grandfather and later explained (as if it was some sort of favour to him) that he only did it because he wanted to save his grandfather the trauma of learning about his grandmother's death. 

''I just wanted to kill Grandma to see what it felt like'' - Edmund Kemper 

At 15 years old, Edmund Kemper was sent to a psychiatric hospital for the murders of his grandparents. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. For the next 5 years Edmund, who I mentioned before as being quite academically gifted (he had an IQ of 145), was a model patient and prisoner. Always polite, well spoken and decently mannered. He was 20 years old when he was released and was now a very tall (6 ft 9) and strapping young man, he managed to fool the staff at the hospital that he was a changed person and with his charming personality and way with words they believed him. 

One thing that was made clear was that Edmund was, under no circumstances to be returned back to his mother's home. Everyone knew that would be a recipe for disaster. In my opinion, the fact that they released him out of the psychiatric hospital was a huge mistake. Despite the concerns about Edmund living with his mother, somehow more mistakes in the system were made and he was soon back at his mother's house. 

Despite him now being in his early 20s, tall and broad shouldered, his mother still managed to find ways to make him feel small and inadequate. The horrible fantasies and desire to kill came back again. He'd have previous thoughts of killing his mother for years but there was a part of him that feared her and felt that she was somewhat more powerful than him. Things took more of an evil turn after he'd had an argument with his mother which was a pretty regular occurrence. Having never had sexual relations with a woman, he was also an incel (someone who struggles to find interest or sexual attraction from females, Incel's often have a frustrated and hostile view of women and in many cases have never had sexual intercourse) and started to pick up female hitchhikers. Nowadays a lot of us view hitching rides from total strangers as a total no-no but back in the early 70s it was quite common. 

In the beginning he'd go for a drive after another unpleasant experience with his mother and would often pick up young women, some of them were also students. At this point nothing sinister occurred but it was like he was building himself up to commit the horrific acts that he was soon to carry out. He'd have desires to attack and murder the girls that he picked up but he didn't act up on it at first and then he unleashed pure evil. 

Six young women, all beautiful and gifted in their own way were murdered by Edmund Kemper. Some were sexually assaulted after death. He would sexually molest the deceased bodies or the dismembered remains before dumping them. One of the girls he decapitated had a particular interest to him, he claimed that he felt a connection with the girl and buried her head under his house facing the direction of his bedroom window.

Whilst the murders were taking place in California in the early 70s, Edmund (often described as a 'Police Groupie') would often hang around at a local police bar called 'The Jury Room'. Again, he stood out and everyone saw him as the friendly big guy. He'd have beers with the officers and ask questions about cases, especially the on-going investigation of the murders of the young female hitchhikers. The mysterious killer was now being nicknamed by the police and the media as 'The Co-Ed Killer', nobody for a second suspected Edmund Kemper but he got the fright of his life one day when a couple of cops showed up in his neighbourhood looking for him. 

The cops were there as part of a routine check as they'd received details that Edmund had purchased a gun and the background of his grandparents murders was brought up again. The cops found him in his car and were shocked to see how tall he was when he finally stepped out of the vehicle. They'd heard from the other officers at the station how tall Edmund was so they knew they had the right guy. Edmund chatted away with the cops and was very cooperative, he led them to the trunk where they found the gun and he handed it over. The cops got back in their car and the situation was sorted but Edmund became paranoid. Edmund began to think that the cops were on to him and that taking the gun away was some sort of game. 

Just a couple of week's after this he'd finally hit breaking point with his mother, there was no going back, he waited years for this moment and decided to go to her bedroom whilst she was asleep, hit her over the head with a hammer and proceeded to slit her throat. It was a horrific and bloody scene and very much overkill. More sickening actions were to come when he decided to decapitate his mother's head and had sexual intercourse with her remaining body. Not quite done with this horrific murder and mutilation, he carried the head around the house and cut out the tongue and vocal cords before inserting his penis into the mouth and performing another sex act. 

He then placed his mother's head on the mantelpiece where he screamed, shouted and hurled abuse at it. He said all of the things he always wanted to say and more, he screamed at her in profanities and laughed at how her remains had looked. It was evil and sheer anger to the ultimate extreme, the stuff of horrendous nightmares that none of us could ever try to imagine. He then threw darts at the decapitated head and later claimed that all he was thinking at the time was ''Now she won't be able to be a b***h to me anymore''

After a while of doing everything vile and disgusting to his mother's remains that he could think of, it suddenly dawned on him that his mother's best friend would be snooping around at some point and he could not risk her finding out and telling the cops. He invited the lady over to the house and killed her, decapitating her before rushing around the house with cleaning products trying to clean up the house of horrors. After this he went to bed. 

He couldn't cope though with what he had done and ended up fleeing the scene, driving randomly for three days without sleep, everything going around and around in his mind before he finally caved in and called the cops blurting out what he had done. He told them ''Pick me up and put me in jail now or I will kill more''

(RIP to the known victims of Edmund Kemper. From top left: Maude Kemper, Edmund Kemper Sr, Mary Ann Pesce, Anita Luchesssa and Aiko koo. From bottom Left: Rosalind Thorpe, Cindy Schall, Alice Liu, Carnell, his mother & her close friend, Sara Hallett. Picture credit: Daily Star)


The cops rushed to the house and at first they thought the house looked in normal shape, it soon became apparent that horror soon awaited them as they turned over a mattress to find that it was soaked in blood. Bloody remains were found in a closet and a note from Edmund Kemper apologising for the mess that he had left behind. 

He was soon found, arrested and taken to the police station where he confessed in sickening and harrowing detail to everything he had done. He never held back and gave the cops every little detail (and this would be something that he would go on to do up until the present day. Edmund Kemper is a Serial Killer who will talk all day in sheer detail about his crimes). 

He was sentenced to life imprisonment as the state of California had suspended the death penalty at that time. Edmund requested the death penalty himself, but was refused. He is still alive today and imprisoned at the California Medical Facility. He continues to provoke both a reaction of utter horror and fascination at how he can seem both relatively calm and nicely mannered to the reality of what he has done and would continue to do if he was let loose out on the streets again. 

Some people are intrigued by him and write letters to him, especially since the Mindhunter series. Edmund has given various interviews and talked with many people. There are those who have worked closely with him and whilst evaluating him have said that they think that deep down Edmund would give anything to be normal. He has expressed emotion and tears for his crimes but how do we know for sure if that is all for show as we know he is very intelligent and clever at manipulating people. Being such an intelligent individual and knowing how to play the system as well as people, who knows if anyone will ever get to know the real Edmund Kemper. One thing's for sure, he is an intriguing storyteller and will talk for hours in quite an interesting manner. I found myself watching an interview with him the other night (I'll include the link below) and I was engrossed in everything he said from start to finish, that is the unique way he has of charming people and the incredible way he has with words. 

Another sad aspect of this whole case, with so many innocent lives taken and horrendous, nightmarish things carried out, had life turned out a little different in Edmund's childhood, would things have been different? He claims that he started having dark fantasies at the age of 8, things were going on before his parents broke up, maybe there was trouble at home and young Edmund sensed that his parents were going to end their marriage? Whatever the case, I think (in my opinion) that the abuse from his mother played a huge part in Edmund's behaviour and future crimes and having seen the one person that he thought he could turn to (his father), suddenly move on with a new family had (and Edmund admitted this himself) a devastating impact on him. 

Edmund does share some honesty and theories about his life, crimes, mind and behaviour. He doesn't make excuses and has pointed out that he doesn't like it when 'experts' try to label him or try to pin-point moments in his childhood that they claimed to be red-flags. He said that a lot of children (especially abused ones) have a tendency to go through very strange behaviours in childhood but soon grow out of them and are able to go on and live normal lives. 

(Cameron Britton as Edmund Kemper in Mindhunter. Picture credit: Netflix)

Edmund Kemper is still alive and serving time in California Medical Facility where he continues to work with other prisoners and staff, he has created numerous audiobooks for the blind, won numerous awards and certificates. He even has a trophy for 'The Best Volunteer of The Year Award'. Edmund doesn't want to leave prison and has turned down parole hearings. He has made a couple of attempts on his own life in the past, twice, with a sharpened pen. Edmund Kemper is currently 73 years old (as of June 2022, he will be 74 in December). 


Further Reading & Sources: 

Mindhunter | Book by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker

The Killer Book of Serial Killers | Book by Tom Philbin & Michael Philbin

The Big Book of Serial Killers | Book by Jack Rosewood

The Anatomy of Evil | Book by Michael H. Stone, MD.

The Encyclopedia of Serial killers | Book by Michael Newton

Edmund Kemper | Born To kill (Documentary)

Edmund Kemper Interview (1991)

Edmund Kemper Interview (1984)


I would like to take a moment as I usually do in my post to pause and reflect on the known victims of Edmund Kemper. RIP Maude, Edmund Snr, Mary, Anita, Aiko, Cindy, Rosalind, Alice, Clarnell and Sara.


I'm always asked which Serial Killers I find the most interesting to research and study and I've always said John Wayne Gacy or BTK but I think that Edmund Kemper is quite a interesting character and has so many layers to him. He is a monster and he has done sickening things but one has to admit that he is interesting to watch and listen to, with his straight to the point opinions and knowledge we are able to get some sort of insight into the deep, dark minds of Serial Killers. 

(Cameron Britton as edmund Kemper in Mindhunter. Picture credit: Netflix)

I want to thank you for joining me in this instalment of my Serial Killer Series and let me know your thoughts below or elsewhere on my Socials and if you haven't done already....GO AND WATCH MINDHUNTER on Netflix. 

Hopefully you'll join me in my next post, take care x

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