Despite cementing himself in infamy by committing some of the most gruesome and notorious crimes in history, serial killer Ed Kemper has managed to make the most of his prison sentence. Given that he was the inspiration for Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, it may be hard to imagine how.
Kemper famously lent himself to the FBI to help them understand the psychology behind serial killers, but did you know that he was also involved in an organization that assisted the blind?
Kemper’s Horrific Crimes
Kemper claims to have become aware of his dark and violent desires around the age of eight or nine when he witnessed a fake beheading at a magic show. The urge to kill followed him into his adolescence, with him killing a series of family cats over the years before targeting people. At age 15, Kemper murdered both of his grandparents “to see what it felt like.” This crime caused him to be sent to a mental institution, where it was discovered that he had an exceptionally high IQ.
Kemper’s juvenile record was wiped clean and he moved to live with his mother, who would later become another of his victims, but not before Kemper terrorized a number of hitchhikers in the 1970s. At six feet nine inches tall and 280 pounds, it was easy for him to overpower his prey.
What put Kemper’s crimes a cut above the rest in terms of shock value was the abhorrent way he treated the bodies, often dismembering, skinning, and committing other unspeakable acts before burying them in various locations (including a head he buried in his mother’s garden). For his crimes, Kemper is now serving a life sentence at the California Medical Facility.
If you’re a Netflix true-crime junkie, you may know from watching Mindhunter that Kemper enjoyed speaking to the FBI. In fact, before those interviews, he loved attention so much that he called the police on himself following the lack of press surrounding his crimes. Through regular interviews, Kemper was able to actually help the FBI gain a better understanding of common characteristics shared by serial killers.
This wasn’t the only way he spent his time in prison. It was reported in 1989 that Kemper was part of something called The Blind Project, a nonprofit movement to help members of two marginalized identities at once: the blind, and those who are incarcerated. Kemper was the voice behind a slew of audiobooks recorded for use in the organization and volunteered for years until his 2015 stroke left him unable to do so. Below is a clip of Kemper reading Flowers in the Attic:
Kemper’s Current Whereabouts
As of 2022, Kemper is still alive, and at age 73 is still serving out his sentence in California. Reportedly, Kemper is content to be in prison as he knows it is where he will die; given the nature of his crimes, there is obviously no chance of his ‘good behavior’ getting him a lesser sentence.
It can cause conflicting emotions to hear that someone as bad a person as Ed Kemper is capable of good deeds. Kemper’s negative contributions to the world will always outweigh his positive ones, but in the end, at least he has done at least one positive thing in his life.