Experts Explain Ed Kemper's Dysfunctional, Destructive Relationship With Mom He Murdered

After enduring years of abuse from his mother, Ed Kemper started murdering co-eds to feel like "he had power."

In exclusive digital footage from Oxygen's upcoming special "Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer," several experts broke down Ed Kemper's destructive relationship with his mother, Clarnell Strandberg, whom he bludgeoned to death with a claw hammer on April 20, 1973, after murdering six female students in Northern California. During various interviews following his arrest, Kemper described Standberg as an abusive alcoholic who he believed fueled his murderous rage and became the main motivation behind his killings. 

Professor of Forensic Psychology Louis Schlesinger told "Kemper on Kemper" that the serial killer "had a disturbed relationship with his mother. She belittled him, made him live in the basement, told him that nobody's going to want him, that he was no good."

FBI Special Agent John Douglas said Strandberg's verbal abuse was incessant, and that she often told Kemper he was "nothing" and "would never amount to anything."

"So, he's angry at mom," said Douglas. "But rather than strike out at mom at this point, he's going on the hunt. It was the only way he felt he had power."

Though Kemper initially took out his anger for Strandberg on innocent co-eds, he said that in the spring of 1973, he decided to end the killings.

He explained, “For two months, I hadn’t killed. And I said, ‘It’s not going to happen to anymore girls. It’s gotta stay between me and my mother.’ … I said, ‘She’s gotta die, and I’ve gotta die, or girls are gonna die.’ And that’s when I decided, ‘I’m going to murder my mother.’ … I knew a week before she died I was going to kill her.”

Once Strandberg was dead, Kemper turned himself over to the Santa Cruz Police, saying in a later interview that the murder "was almost a cathartic process[.]”

To hear more about Kemper's relationship with his mother and how it motivated his co-ed slayings, watch "Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer" on Saturday, October 20 at 8/7c.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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