If you've already discovered the new Netflix Original Series called Mindhunter, you are familiar with the life and crimes of the Co-Ed Killer. Today, I'm here to surprise you with the fact that Mindhunter serial killer Ed Kemper used to narrate books for the blind from his confinement at the California Medical Facility State Prison in Vacaville, Calif. Take a moment to digest that revelation, and then read on to find out how Kemper got involved in the charitable effort.
Edmund "Ed" Kemper gained notoriety in the 1970s, when he was tried and convicted for the murders of eight women, including his mother and her best friend. He had previously murdered his grandparents when he was 15 years old, and was subsequently institutionalized. Kemper turned himself in and confessed to the eight murders on April 23, 1973. He was 24 years old.
Kemper earned the monikers of "Co-Ed Killer" and "Co-Ed Butcher" with a string of six murders that targeted college-aged women. The Mindhunter serial killer became infamous for the brutality of killing spree, but perhaps just as shocking was Kemper's silhouette in the news. The young murderer was nearly seven feet tall and weighed as much as 300 pounds — a fact that had once prevented him from becoming a state trooper. He towered over the men charged with arresting and incarcerating him.
The California Medical Facility State Prison first began its audiobook-recording program in 1960. Inmates who work as part of the non-profit organization Volunteers of Vacaville's Blind Project "make audio recordings, fix Braille machines, clean tape machines, repair eyeglasses and do Braille transcription for the blind community," according to Daily Republic.
Kemper began working with the program in the late 1970s. In 1987, the Los Angeles Times reported that he "ha[d] read onto tape cassettes more books for the blind than any other prisoner," amassing some "5,000 hours in a booth before a microphone[,] more than four million feet of tape and several hundred books to his credit." The Volunteers of Vacaville website is now defunct, but an archived version of Kemper's profile page lists 17 books he recorded, including God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert, Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, and The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.
Today, The Blind Project aims to convert cassette recordings made by Kemper and other inmates into digital formats. A 2017 report on the Volunteers of Vacaville does not list Kemper as a current team member with The Blind Project, but that isn't surprising, given that the Co-Ed Killer is 68 years old at the time of this writing. As of 2016, Kemper was happy in prison and uninterested in receiving parole.