Oct 122011
 
Authors: Stephen Baxter McClatchy-Tribune

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — A new television documentary will air Friday about a man convicted of killing eight women, including his mother, grandmother and a pair of University of California Santa Cruz students in a murder spree that ended in 1973.

The slayings committed by Edmund Emil Kemper III — who is 6 feet 9 inches tall and dubbed “Big Ed” or “The Co-Ed Killer” — were part of a grim series of mass murder investigations in the county in the 1970s. “The Co-Ed Butcher” is an episode of the weekly series “Twisted” that will air at 10 p.m. EDT Friday on the channel Investigation Discovery.

The episode was shot by a British crew that visited Santa Cruz County in May and interviewed investigators, defense attorneys and others who tracked Kemper. It aired in Great Britain and was later adapted for American TV, said Charlotte Bigford, a publicist for Investigation Discovery.

“Even if I were a local watching it again and again, it lives up to the name — it is a twisted thing to watch,” Bigford said.

Kemper, now 62, was convicted of killing eight women from 1964 to 1973. He was born in Burbank and killed his grandmother at age 15 after an argument. He told authorities he wanted to see how it would feel to kill her.

After a series of psychological tests, authorities released Kemper at age 21. He followed his mother to UCSC, where she worked.

Kemper got a job with the state highway department and befriended police while he resumed his killings. He picked up two UCSC students who needed a ride and killed them — cutting their bodies into pieces and burying body parts in the backyard of his apartment, authorities said.

Former Watsonville police chief Terry Medina, who was a detective with the Sheriff’s Office in 1972, investigated the murders and was interviewed for the documentary.

Medina said it triggered some lurid memories from that era — but that happens often, he said.
“You can’t drive around too much without passing something or seeing something that reminds you of some homicide or another from those days,” said Medina.

Former UCSC police chief Micky Aluffi, another investigator, also was interviewed for the program.
In part because Kemper was friendly with law enforcement, the murders were not pinned on him until he called Santa Cruz authorities from a Colorado pay phone to confess in 1973.

Later that year, Kemper led authorities to a head buried at his home, body parts off Summit Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains and other locations.

He said the filmmakers worked hard to talk to talk to people involved in Kemper’s case — from state psychologists to a former Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter who covered the body discoveries and the trial.

Kemper also killed two girls who attended Fresno State University, as well as his mother, whose head he kept in a jar, authorities said. He also killed his mother’s friend, authorities said. He was convicted and sentenced to eight life terms.

Kemper is being held in a state psychiatric facility in Vacaville.

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