On January 28, 1958, Charles Starkweather, a high-school dropout from Lincoln, Nebraska, and his teenage girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, kill a Lincoln businessman, his wife and their maid, as part of a murderous crime spree that began a week earlier and would ultimately leave 11 people dead. The killer couple’s deadly road trip, which generated enormous media attention and a massive manhunt, came to an end the following day, when Starkweather and Fugate were arrested near Douglas, Wyoming.
Growing up, Charles Starkweather was bullied and did poorly in school. He later idolized James Dean and identified with the actor’s rebellious, outsider image. Starkweather committed his first murder on December 1, 1957, when he robbed a gas station and killed the attendant. Reportedly, an attendant at the station had previously refused Starkweather’s attempt to buy a present for Fugate on credit. Starkweather turned serial killer on January 21, 1958, when he shot Fugate’s stepfather and mother after arguing with them at their home, and strangled Fugate’s two-and-a-half-year-old sister. Starkweather and Fugate remained holed up at the scene of the crime for several days, before taking off in Starkweather’s car and murdering 7 more people between January 27-28. Their final victim, a shoe salesman, was killed on January 29th; the couple was captured later that same day. Starkweather and Fugate were convicted of murder. He was given the death penalty and died in the electric chair on June 25, 1959. Fugate was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 1976.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. The book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link: