What drove killer Edmund Kemper to decapitate his mum and have sex with her head

Serial killer Edmund Kemper carried out some of the most horrifying and twisted murders ever committed in America.

The 6 foot 9 inch giant, known to friends as Big Ed, murdered 10 people, including his mother and grandparents before he was finally jailed for life.

Kemper had what has been described as a "toxic" relationship with his mother, Clarnell.

On April 20, 1973, he snapped and when she criticised him, he waited for her to fall asleep before bludgeoning her to death with a claw hammer.

He then slit her throat with a knife before decapitating her.

What Kemper did next horrified detectives and the whole of America.

He had sex with her head and then used it as a dart board while he screamed at it for an hour.

Kemper than "smashed her face in" and cut out her tongue and larynx and tried to get rid of them by shoving them into the garbage disposal.

But the vocal cords were too tough to be broken down by the machine and they were spat back out into the sink.

Kemper later said: "That seemed appropriate – as much as she'd bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years."

But what drove a seemingly genial, charming and intelligent 21-year-old to kill not only his own mother in such a gruesome way but also her best friend, his grandparents and six other innocent victims?

Kemper, who was born in California, had a disturbed childhood.

His parents were unhappily married, with his mother complaining about his father's "menial" position as an electician.

They eventually separated when Kemper was nine and he was devastated as he had been very close to his father.

A huge baby, Kemper was soon head and shoulders taller than his classmates.

But more disturbingly, he showed a desire to hurt animals from a very early age, once burying the family's pet cat alive.

Once it was dead, he dug it up, cut off its head and mounted the 'trophy' on a spike.

When he was 13 he killed a second family cat because he was jealous it seemed to like his younger sister, Allyn, more than him.

Chillingly, he kept pieces of the cat in his wardrobe until they were found by his mother.

Kemper was a very intelligent young boy but also had a very dark imagination.

He snapped off the heads and hands off his sister's dolls and his favourite games to play when he was a youngster was gas chamber and electric chair.

Kemper would get his little sister to tie him into a chair, pretend to flick a switch and then he would jerk and writhe and pretend he was being executed.

In a disturbing indicator of what would to come, when Kemper was teased by his older sister, Susan, about why he didn't kiss his teacher, he replied "if I kiss her, I'd have to kill her first".

Susan had also tried to kill her younger brother twice – the first time by trying to push him in front of a train and the second by hurling him into the deep end of a swimming pool where he nearly drowned.

Kemper's mother has been described as an abusive alcoholic  who was cruel to her young son.

He was regularly locked in a basement, where he had to sleep, and Clarnell repeaetdly told him he was a "weirdo".

Desperately unhappy at home, Kemper fled from his mother when he was 15 and went to live with his father.

But his dad had re-married and had a stepson so the arrangement didn't last long and Kemper was sent to live with his grandparents.

He hated his new life and when he and his grandmother, Maude, had an argument on August 27, 1964, he grabbed a rifle his grandfather had given him to hunt with and shot her dead.

His granddad, Edmund, was out food shopping when his wife was killed and as soon as he returned Kemper shot him dead in the driveway.

Realising what he had done and with nowhere else to turn, Kemper called his mother, who urged him to contact police.

While he was being questioned he told officers "I just wanted to see what it felt like to kill grandma".

Psychiatrists felt Kemper's crimes were so serious, especially as he was just 15, that he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and sent to a mental hospital.

But with an IQ of 145 Kemper soon worked out how to manipulate the medical experts and was even chosen to help them in their work.

December 18, 1969, marked Kemper's 21st birthday – and his release from prison.

Despite dire warnings from his psychiatrists he was sent back to live with his mother in Montana and his criminal records were wiped from history because he was deemed to have made such good progress.

Kemper enrolled in college and dreamed of becoming a police officer – these were dashed because of his huge size.

However, he developed relationships with the local police force and even socialised with them in the bar where they were regulars.

However, his relationship with his mother had not improved and neighbours regularly heard huge arguments.

he himself has said: "My mother and I started right in on horrendous battles, just horrible battles, violent and vicious.

"I've never been in such a vicious verbal battle with anyone.

"It would go to fists with a man but this was my mother and I couldn't stand the thought of my mother and I doing these things."

Kemper managed to save enough money to move out but was constantly plagued by financial worries and had to move back in with his mother several times.

Their relationship never improved.

Towards the end of 1969 Kemper got a job with the Highways Department and even got engaged to his 16-year-old girlfriend.

Then he was injured in a motorbike crash and with the $15,000 settlement he received bought a car.

It was as he was driving round that he strated noticing all the young women who were hitchhiking – and Kemper start storing knives, handcuffs, plastic bands and blankets in his car.

After picking up around 150 hitchhikers and dropping them off safely, Kemper's bloodlust returned – and things took a very dark turn.

On May 7, 1972, Kemper picked up 18-year-old studentsm Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Mary Lucessa.

An hour into their journey he turned off to some secluded woodland and handcuffed them in his trunk.

He had planned to rape them but instead stabbed and strangled both girls and put them back in his car.

Kemper was even stopped by the police on his way home because he had a broken rear light – but the officer failed to see the dead bodies in his car.

When he got them home, he took photos and had sex with their dead bodies before cutting them into pieces and places body parts in plastic bags, which he later dumped.

Aiko Koo was just 15 when she was on her way home from a dance class and Kemper picked her up.

He choked, raped and the killed her before again taking the body back to his apartment, having sex with her and then dismembering her and dumping her body parts in plastic bags like this first victim.

Kemper was back living with his mother when he picked up 18-year-old Cindy Schall on January 7, 1973.

After driving her to secluded woodland, he shot her, took her body back to his mother's and kept her in the closet.

Kemper waited until his mother had left for work the following day to have sex with the body and then chopped her up in the bath.

He threw most of the body parts off a cliff but kept the head for several days and had sex with it regularly.

Kemper buried Cindy's head in the back garden, with the face looking up to his mother's bedroom "because she always wanted people to look up to her".

After a huge row with his mother on February 5, 1973, Kemper stormed out of their home in search of new victims.

He picked up Rosalind Thorpe, 21, and 20-year-old Alice Helen Liu.

Kemper shot them both, wrapped the bodies in blankets and again drove back to his mother's.

But this time, he changed tactics by behading both women in the car before carrying the bodies into the house, having sex with them, dismembering them and disposing of them.

His final two victims were his mother, who he killed after she came home from a party and woke her son up.

Clarnell was reading a book in bed when her son came in and she snapped "I suppose you're going to want to sit up all night and talk now".

He told her he was going to bed, waited for her to fall asleep then killed her.

After hiding his 52-year-old mother's body in a wardrobe, Kemper went out for a drink and when he came home called her friend, Sara Taylor Hallett and asked her to come to the house.

Kemper strangled her, decapitated her, and spend the night with her body before putting her in the wardrobe with his mother and driving to Colorado.

He left a cryptic note for police and when he arrived in Pueblo, after hearing nothing about his mother's murder, rang officers.

His call was not taken seriously and he was told to call back later.

Kemper rang for a second time and asked to speak to an officer he knew – confessing to the murders and asking him to be arrested.

While in custody, he also confessed to killing the six students.

Hoorifyingly, when he was given a truth serum, Kemper also confessed to cannibalism.

He said he had sliced flesh from the legs of his victims and eaten them in casseroles.

During his trial Kemper said he had killed his victims because he wanted them "for myself, like possessions".

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