You know how some people will take a whiff of something rank, and say, “Come here, you HAVE to smell this. It smells awful” and you’re like, WTF? Why would I want to smell that? You’ve already told me that it smells disgusting. Is it necessary that I also experience it?
What I’m about to share with you is the written equivalent of that.
See, it started this yesterday morning when we found out from Nic Pizzolatto that the second season of True Detective was going to have three leads, take place in California, and “capture a certain psychosphere ambience of” those lesser-known cities. So, what does a guy that likes to make guesses about these sorts of things do? I began to explore some possibilities. Pizzolatto drew from certain inspirations in Louisiana when he created the first season, so I wondered if I could figure out what kinds of inspirations he might draw from in season two.
I didn’t have a lot to go on, obviously, but when Pizzolato said it would explore “psychosphere ambience,” I got a 1970s vibe. So, I looked serial killers (because of season one) in California (but not Los Angeles) and in the 1970s. That’s when I discovered that Santa Cruz, California experienced a rash of murders in the 1970s that were all traced back to three serial killers: Herbert Mullin, John Linley Frazier, and Edmund Kemper, and these Santa Cruz killings are relatively unexplored in pop culture.
So, I looked up Edmund Kemper, and that’s when I read about the most horrifying murder I’ve ever read about in my entire life, one so heinous that it’s no wonder there’s never been a mainstream Hollywood movie made about Kemper (there is a low-budget horror film about him called The Co-Ed Killer).
Here’s the key paragraph from Wikipedia, and I must warn you that this image may be impossible to repress. Therapy sessions may be necessary:
On Good Friday April 20, 1973, while waiting for his mother to come home from a party Kemper fell asleep and was awakened by her coming home. While his mother was sitting in bed reading a paperback book she noticed Kemper enter her room and said, “I suppose you’re going to want to sit up all night and talk now.” Kemper replied, “No, good night,” before beating her to death with a claw hammer. He then decapitated her and used her severed head for oral sex before using it as a dart board. He also cut out her vocal cords and put them in the garbage disposal. The garbage disposal could not break down the tough vocal cord tissue and ejected the tissue back into the sink. “That seemed appropriate as much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years” he later said after his arrest. He then invited his mother’s best friend, 59-year-old Sally Hallett, over to the house. Upon her arrival to the house, he strangled her to death. Kemper then left the scene of his final crimes.
Are you f**cking kidding me? Jesus Christ. I mean, it’s one thing to cut off someone’s head and use it to fellate yourself, but to CUT OFF YOUR MOTHER’S HEAD AND BLOW YOURSELF WITH IT? What kind of f**ked-up monster could do that?
Anyway, Kemper’s story is a fascinating (and morbid) one. He had an IQ of 145, and when he was 15, he killed his grandparents basically because he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. He was caught, and institutionalized, but he was released after only a few years against the advice of some of his doctors. He would then go on to kill and dismember six female hitchhikers before killing his mother and her best friend.
How was he caught? He called the police and turned himself in (although, police didn’t initially take his confession seriously). He’s currently serving life in the California Medical Facility, and hopefully serving as a cautionary tale about the dangers of releasing insane murderers back into the general population before they are fully reformed.
Anyway, I now know what I DON’T want Nic Pizzolatto to draw inspiration from.