The Trick Ed Kemper Used To Make His Victims Feel Safe

Those who watched a fictional portrayal of serial killer Ed Kemper on the Netflix series "Mindhunter" are no doubt aware that the far-from-gentle giant was a master manipulator. Not surprising, really, given that most prolific serial killers have to rely on more than just brute force and terror to prey on their victims.

For Kemper, this was especially important given his physical stature (6'9") and preferred victim profile (female hitchhikers), per Listverse. Despite the early 1970s being at the height of the American hitchhiking craze, most of those hitching a ride would still have been selective about who they got into a car with — especially women.

And Kemper knew that. It was why he devised a clever and cruel trick to make unsuspecting women drop their guard around him when they should have run for their lives instead. Though Kemper's trick was original, he was just one of many serial killers who manipulated the feelings of others to satisfy nefarious needs.

Ed Kemper feigned impatience to lure women into his car

If you're even a casual consumer of the vast true-crime entertainment-industrial complex, you know that Ted Bundy sometimes used a combination of charm and feigned injuries to let down their guard. Accused Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo reportedly began getting into women's homes by claiming to work as an agent for a photographer. Ed Kemper's mind worked in similar ways.

According to Listverse, Kemper's ruse was deceptively simple; when he'd pull over to pick up a hitchhiking woman, if he saw that she seemed wary of jumping into his car, he'd put the pressure back on her. ""Some girls weren't really convinced," he explained, "So, I looked at my watch, and I sighed like, 'Come on, I don't have time.' And that convinced them—they had the impression I was in a hurry and didn't have the time to hurt them."

It was both deceptive and highly effective. According to Crime and Investigation, Kemper is believed to have killed eight women (including his own mother) and despite not particularly being on the police's suspect radar, decided one day to simply confess all his crimes. These days, Kemper is reportedly a model prisoner who will, nevertheless, likely never see freedom again.