Starkweather: A Story of Mass Murder on the Great Plains
From the Introduction: By the time Starkweather and Fugate were run down and captured on a lonely, windswept highway in Wyoming three days later, eleven people lay dead, murdered in cold blood. At the time, it was the second worst case of multiple murder in the United States history; only Howard Unruh's killing of 13 people in 1949 topped Starkweather's feat. People in Nebraska today have vivid memories of exactly what they were doing when it became known a mass murderer was on the loose. My dad, an elementary school principal in a town just south of Lincoln, remembers sending children home early in the afternoon with the armed fathers. There was no telling when or where Charlie, along with his female accomplice Caril Fugate, would show up to murder again. Residents of eastern Nebraska hastened to defend themselves. Sporting goods stores quickly sold out of handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Farmers carried guns on their way to and from their normal chores and field work. In Lincoln itself, where six bodies were found, there was a near panic as National Guard troops were called out by Governor Anderson and were ordered to patrol the streets in troop trucks and jeeps. They carried riot guns, machine guns and rifles. Fear of the unknown gripped all of Nebraska and parts of the Midwest as body after body was discovered. Starkweather and his female accomplice appeared indiscriminate in both their choice of victims and the locations of the crimes. It was thought they could be lurking anywhere at any time. Exasperated lawmen, conducting the largest manhunt in the history of the midlands, remained always a corpse behind. When finally caught in Wyoming, the murderous duo had left behind the following victims: Robert Colver, 21, gas stating attendant; Marion Bartlett, 57, Caril Fugate's stepfather; Velda Bartlett, 36, Carils' mother; Betty Jean Bartlett, 2 1/2, Caril's stepsister; August Meyer, 70, farmer near Bennet; Robert Jensen, 17, of Bennet; Carol King, 16, of Bennet; C. Lauer Ward, 48, prominent Lincoln businessman; Clara Ward, 4, his wife; Lillian Fencl, 51, the Ward's maid; and Merle Collison, 37, shoe salesman. Starkweather and Fugate were finally stopped near Douglas, Wyoming, following a wild car chase, with officers pursuing them at speeds exceeding 110 miles per hour. Charlie and Caril were eventually returned to Lincoln where they stood trial. Charlie was convicted of murder and electrocuted on June 25, 1959. Caril Fugate was convicted of second-degree murder and sentence to life imprisonment.
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