South Bay murderer up for parole for ninth time

The Associated Press
Thursday December 27, 2001

SACRAMENTO — One of the state’s most notorious serial killers, serving a life sentence for the murders he said he committed at the command of voices in his head, is set to come up for parole for the ninth time on Thursday. 

Herbert W. Mullin said he killed 13 people before his arrest in February 1973. He was convicted of 11 of the killings in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. 

Mullin, who claimed insanity, testified that he killed on telepathic orders from his father and that he did so to prevent a major earthquake predicted for January 1973. 

“He couldn’t understand why he was being prosecuted, even,” said Dr. Donald T. Lunde, the psychiatrist who testified in Mullin’s defense. 

There was no death penalty at the time, and Mullin was sentenced to life in prison, which meant a minimum of seven years. He has been denied parole eight times. 

Edmund Kemper, who killed and dismembered his mother and seven other women between May 1972 and April 1973, was kept in a cell next to Mullin in the county jail. 

“Herbie was just a cold-blooded killer ... killing everyone he saw for no good reason,” Kemper said. “A creep with no class.” 

Mullin said he killed a drifter with a baseball bat and stabbed a hitchhiking student, but he was never tried for those. He was convicted of stabbing a priest in his confessional, shooting four camping teens, and killing a drug dealer, his wife and the wife and small children of another drug dealer. 

Mullin has since blamed many others, including his family, for making him commit the murders, even one time saying he had been under a curse when he killed. 

Opinions vary as to whether to let Mullin out. Lunde said it would be cheaper to put him up in a home and give him psychiatric treatment. But Chris Cottle, who prosecuted the case, said no. 

“I can’t imagine the authorities would ever let somebody like that out,” Cottle said.