Plenty of horror movies have been inspired by true crimes and actual events over the years. Here at AHistoryOfMystery, we cover them all, from Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s inspiration taken from Ed Gein to The Exorcist getting its from Roland Doe’s real-life exorcism and even Wes Craven getting his inspiration for the Springwood slasher (Freddy Krueger) in A Nightmare on Elm Street from a young boy who died in a nightmare after his family escaped the Cambodian Killing Fields.
Edmund Kemper was a 6’9 Californian serial killer (and necrophile) who murdered ten people. The first was his grandmother in 1964 when he was just 16-years-old. It started with an argument at the kitchen table ended with Kemper storming off to get a rifle he had been given for hunting.
He came back into the kitchen and shot his grandmother in the head before shooting her dead body an additional two times in the back. When his grandfather came home, the person who gave initially gave gifted him the rifle, he fatally shot him in the driveway.
Although he wasn’t stood over their bodies with a kitchen knife like the young Michael Myers, you can see the fingerprints of Edmund Kemper’s crimes in the opening sequence of Halloween.
He called the police and handed himself in. He “just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma” and admitted to the murders at his trial, stating he killed his grandfather so he didn’t have to come in and discover his wife was dead.
Edmund Kemper was assigned a psychiatrist, Donald Lunde, who extensively interviewed Kemper and diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic before he was sent to a maximum security facility that housed mentally ill criminals.
At his new accommodation, California Youth Authority, psychiatrists and social workers disagreed with the court psychiatrists’ diagnoses, finding him with a 136 iQ and “no flight of ideas, no interference with thought, no expression of delusions or hallucinations, and no evidence of bizarre thinking.”
Later his iQ was tested again, where he scored higher than 145. This was one of the things that factored into him being re-diagnosed with a less severe condition, a “personality trait disturbance, passive-aggressive type.”.
On December 18, 1969, his 21st birthday, Kemper was released on parole after making facility staff believe he was not a threat to society and that he was not suffering from schizophrenia. He was released under the care of his mother.
Between 1972 and 1973, Kemper killed eight more people, targeting similar victims to that of Halloween’s Michael Myers. Kemper would pick up hitchhiking female high school students and drive them to isolated areas where he would kill them in a similar way to Myers.
Stabbing or strangling them and also shooting them, Kemper would then take it a step further. He would decapitate his victims and perform sexual acts on the corpses before dismembering them. During this eleven month spree, he murdered one high school student, five college students, his own mother and his mother’s friend.
After his second arrest, Kemper stated he would usually go out and find his victims after arguments with him mother about her not wanting to introduce him to women who attended the college she worked for. He stated: “She would say, ‘You’re just like your father. You don’t deserve to get to know them’.”
Psychiatrists, and Kemper himself, shared belief that the young students were surrogates for his ultimate target: his mother, which seems to be a parallel storyline to Michael Myers killing on his way to his ultimate target: his sister, Laurie Straud.
Kemper also stated that with his history working with psychiatrists, he understood how testing functioned and that allowed him to manipulate the psychiatrists and admitted learning a lot of efficient ways to rape and kill women while avoiding any witnesses.
During his time in prison, he was again considered a model prisoner and was an excellent craftsman of ceramic cups, similar to Rob Zombie’s adaptation of Michael Myers who focused on crafting masks. Rob Zombie actually auctioned off masks used in the movie.
Kemper was first eligible for parole in 1979, but was denied, which was also the outcome in parole hearings in 1980-1982. He subsequently waived his right to a hearing in 1985. He was denied parole at his 1988 hearing, where he said: “society is not ready in any shape or form for me. I can’t fault them for that.”
He was further denied parole between then and 2007 when prosecutor Ariadne Symons said: “We don’t care how much of a model prisoner he is because of the enormity of his crimes.”
In 2015, Edmund Kemper suffered a stroke and was registered mentally disabled. He was denied parole in 2017 and is next eligible in 2024.
Did you know Michael Myers was based no a real-life serial killer? Did you know he was still in prison? Join the discussion and share your thoughts in the comments below.
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