Serial killer Edmund "Ed" Kemper became a regular (or serial) staple on the Netflix hit “Mindhunter," known for his large stature and his knack for discussing his horrendous crimes at length in between chummy chats with FBI agents and pizza slices.
On the show, Kemper is well-spoken, intelligent, and wants to help the FBI — aka helping them learn more about the minds of people like him, people who've killed numerous others.
It's difficult to fathom the crimes of the real-life Kemper: He murdered his own grandparents when he was just a teen, was let out on parole on his 21st birthday, and then went on to kill eight more people in a murder spree from 1972 to 1973, earning him the moniker the "Co-Ed Killer." It all ended with the killing and decapitation of his own mother, whose corpse he had sex with.
So is one of 1970s' most disturbing criminals still alive?
After his sentencing, the towering 6'9" killer was sent to the California Medical Facility, a state prison medical facility in Vacaville which doubles as a psychiatric facility, according to an archived New York Times piece. At age 70, he’s still incarcerated there and appears to be a model inmate.
Since his imprisonment, Kemper has taken part in multiple interviews with psychiatrists, journalists, and members of law enforcement, most notably with FBI special agents John Douglas and Bob Ressler for their study on serial killers, as depicted in “Mindhunter.” (Ford and Tench in "Mindhunter" are based on Douglas and Ressler.) Along with Boston College professor Ann Burgess, they used Kemper’s admissions about his life and murders to help profile future serial killers.
In addition to helping the FBI learn about serial killers, he’s also voiced hundreds of audiobooks — he led an audiobook project, Volunteers of Vacaville, from behind bars, according to a 1987 article from the Los Angeles Times. He and his fellow inmates recorded thousands of them, and Kemper personally recorded hundreds of the books. According to an archived version of Volunteers of Vacaville’s website, among the works Kemper voiced were "Star Wars," "The Rosary Murders," and "Flowers in the Attic.”
He retired from the role in 2015 after suffering a stroke, according to parole hearing paperwork. His first-ever first rules violation report was filed in 2016 after he failed to provide a urine sample, according to that paperwork.
Although he became eligible for parole in 1979, he has been consistently denied it. Kemper is eligible for parole again in 2024.
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