Mindhunter: How serial killer Ed Kemper helped FBI agents understand other murderers

Necrophiliac Kemper decapitated the heads of his eight victims which included his mother 

Jacob Stolworthy
Thursday 26 October 2017 12:36 BST
Mindhunter - Official Trailer

The first season of new crime series MINDHUNTER only recently arrived on Netflix with many already hailing it as one of the streaming service's must-watch shows.

Based on the book by Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas, produced by David Fincher and directed by Asif Kapadia, the series has some big credentials - and fortunately characters and a story to back it up. Inspired by real like criminal profilers - who interviewed a large number of America's most notorious serial killers as part of the FBI's Behavioural Science Unit in a bid to delve into their psyches to solve pending investigations.

While Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany play FBI agents inspired by these profilers, the show features several serial killers who are based on real-life figures including the murderer and necrophiliac Edmund Kemper (played by Cameron Britton) who ended up aiding the FBI in ways they could never have imagined, his insight helping these 'mindhunters' profile the traits of other serial killers.

His story is a disturbing one. After years of mistreatment as a child in Burbank, California, Kemper - who stands at 6ft 9“ - ended up murdering and decapitating his mother, Clarnell, later throwing darts at and engaging in sexual activity with her severed head.

Ahead of this, he had shot and killed his grandmother Maude at the age of 14, inflicting multiple stab wounds to her body. He chillingly told the police: “I just wondered how it would feel to shoot Grandma.”

He turned the gun on his grandfather whom he stated he liked but knew would not accept the murder of his wife.

Upon interviewing Kemper years later, FBI profiler John E. Douglas - began to learn why Kemper had felt the compulsion to murder his mother. After years of developing an intense hatred which continued into his adult life, the profilers stated he had felt the need to prove his worth by ridding his world of the woman who had emasculated him his entire life.

Kemper spent seven years in the Atascadero State hospital for the criminally insane after being diagnosed with “personality trait disturbance” and was later discharged against the advice of state psychiatrists.

Two years later - in 1972 - was when Kemper, later deemed “the Coed killer,” would begin his murdering spree: he stabbed roommates Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa to death, dissecting and packing their bodies up in plastic bags before throwing their severed heads into a nearby ravine; he suffocated 15-year-old Aiko Koo whose corpse he sexually assaulted; he shot student Cindy Schall whose body - minus her head - he dumped in the sea after dissection.

Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free
Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free

As mentioned in the series, Kemper buried Schall's head face-up in his mother's back garden, stating it was because “she had always wanted people to look up to her.”

His next victims would be Rosalind Thorpe and Alice Liu whose mutilated bodies were found just outside of San Francisco.

Acknowledging that he wanted to kill everyone he came into contact with, Kemper devoted his attentions on his mother. As detailed in the Netflix series, he cut out her larynx which he proceeded to place in the garbage disposal which it blocked.

“It seemed appropriate as much as she'd bitched and screamed at me over the years,” he told police upon his capture. “But even when she was dead, she was still bitching at me. I couldn't get her to shut up.”

The day after - following which he had murdered his mother's best friend Sally Hallett after inviting her to the crime scene - he grew impatient waiting for his arrest turning himself in and confessing to eight counts of murder.

What the profilers learned while interviewing Kemper - as well as other killers Jerry Brudos and Dennis Rader - helped with future murder investigations.

Follow Independent Culture on Facebook

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in