caril fugate

Couples who killed (Charlene and Gerald Gallego | Fred and Rose West | Ray and Faye Copeland | Karla Homolka, Paul Bernardo | Myra Hindley, Ian Brady | Raymond Fernandez, Martha Beck | Gwendolyn Graham, Cathy Wood | David and Catherine Birnie | Charles Starkweather, Caril Fugate)

Couples who killed (Gerald and Charlene Gallego | Fred and Rose West | Ray and Faye Copeland | Karla Homolka, Paul Bernardo | Myra Hindley, Ian Brady | Raymond Fernandez, Martha Beck | Gwendolyn Graham, Cathy Wood | David and Catherine Birnie | Charles Starkweather, Caril Fugate)

"He's going to kill me. He's crazy. He just killed a man!"

Photo: Caril Ann Fugate and Charles Starkweather

Deputy Sheriff William Romer pulled up just in time to foil a car theft and apprehend a fugitive. Six-foot-tall Joe Sprinkle was engaged in a wrestling match with 5'5" Charles Starkweather. A young girl, later identified as 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate, ran toward Romer, screaming that Starkweather was going to kill her and that he had just killed a man.

This was the beginning of the end for the two star-crossed lovers, 14-year-old Fugate and 19-year-old Charles Starkweather. The two had left  behind a trail of dead bodies from December 1, 1957–January 29, 1958. Fugate would claim she was kidnapped and was Starkweather’s hostage during the killing spree and Starkweather would say that she was a willing participant in the crimes. Eleven people were dead as a result of the killing spree, which began in Nebraska and ended in Wyoming.

It was the beginning of the end for the teenagers when Joe Sprinkle pulled up to offer Starkweather assistance. Starkweather had just killed 37-year old Merle Collison and was in the process of stealing his Buick in exchange for a Packard he stole from a previous victim.

Starkweather couldn’t figure out how to release the emergency brake on Collison’s Buick. Sprinkle had arrived on the scene alongside the highway. Starkweather asked him for assistance. It was too late when Sprinkle noticed Collison’s body stuffed in the back seat of the car. Starkweather pulled a shotgun on Sprinkle and Sprinkle tried to wrestle the gun away from him.

Cornered, Starkweather got into to the stolen Packard and fled. Fugate identified Starkweather and Romer called for help.

A road block was set up. Starkweather crashed through it and a high-speed chase ensued, ending in his capture.

Starkweather and Fugate met in 1956. She was 13-years-old and he was 18-years-old. Of course, her family did not approve of Starkweather, a high school dropout and James Dean wannabe who was too old for Fugate.

Starkweather was kicked out of his house by his father. Fugate crashed Starkweather’s father’s car when her boyfriend was giving her a driving lesson.

Starkweather got a job as a garbage man, but his true ambition was to be a bank robber. As he collected garbage on his route, he began to make plans for robberies.

Starkweather committed his first murder in November of 1957. He shot service station attendant Rorbert Colvert. Starkweather wanted to purchase a stuffed dog for Fugate but didn’t have enough money. Colvert refused to give him the plush dog on credit. Starkweather returned to the station with a shotgun, robbed the station and kidnapped Colvert. He drove Colvert to a deserted area, where he shot Colvert in the head.

The killing of Robert Colvert awakened something in Starkweather. He later said that he believed that the act of murder caused him to transcend himself and that be he began to think he was above the law.

On January 21, 1958, Starkweather went to Fugate’s home and, not finding his sweetheart there, shot and killed her mother and stepfather, Velda and Marion Bartlett. Starkweather then killed Fugate’s half-sister Betty Jean, age 2, by strangling and stabbing her.

Fugate arrived home at some point and remained in the house with Starkweather. A message was hung on the door that read: “Stay a way. Everybody is sick with the flu.” Fugate’s grandmother became suspicious and threatened to call police. Starkweather and Fugate fled.

The couple drove 15 miles away from their hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska to a town called Bennett. Starkweather went there to see a family friend, 70-year-old August Meyer. Starkweather shot and killed Meyer, then beat the old man’s dog to death. That same night, two teenagers, 17-year-old Robert Jensen and 16-year-old Carol King, crossed paths with the couple. The teens offered Starkweather and Fugate a ride. King was raped and both her and her boyfriend were shot to death and left in a storm cellar. Enraged with jealousy, Fugate reportedly mutilated King’s genitalia. Starkweather confessed to killing Jensen but said Fugate killed King.

The couple took Jensen’s car and headed to an upscale area of Lincoln, Nebraska, where they invaded the home of C. Lauer and Clara Ward. Clara Ward and the couple’s maid, Lillian Fencl were stabbed to death. C. Lauer was shot to death when he arrived home. Starkweather and Fugate stole the Wards’ 1956 black Packard, along with some valuables from their home.

After killing the Wards and their maid, an extensive search for the killers began. Police were on the lookout for a black Packard so Starkweather was eager to get rid of the car.

Starkweather came upon Merle Collison pulled over on the highway and fast asleep in his Buick outside Douglas, Wyoming. Starkweather woke Collison up by tapping on the window, then fired a warning shot through one of the windows and ordered Collison to get out of the car. Collison didn’t get out so Starkweather shot him to death.

At this point, Joe Sprinkle saw the cars pulled over and stopped to offer help.

Starkweather was only tried for the murder of Robert Jensen. He was sentenced to die by electrocution, a sentence that was carried out at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln on June 25, 1959.

Fugate was sentenced to life in prison on November 21, 1958. She would only serve 17 ½ years and was paroled in 1976.

Fugate was described as a “model prisoner.” After her release, she lived in Lansing, Michigan, where she worked as a janitorial assistant and medical technician. She is now retired. Fugate got married in 2007 to Fredrick Clair, who worked as a machinist and for the National Weather Service as a weather observer. The couple lived in Stryker, Ohio but eventually moved back to Michigan. On August 5, 2013, Fugate and her husband were involved in a car accident. Her husband didn’t survive. Fugate also had a series of strokes in her late 60’s, according to her stepson.



The Killing Spree that Transfixed a Nation: Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate, 1958″ by Lesley Wischmann,, a project of the Wyoming State Historical Society


“The more I looked at people, the more I hated them.”

In 1956, 18-year-old Charles Startkweather was introduced to 13-year-old Caril Ann Fugate - a meeting that would later prove to be deadly. The two hit it off immediately and grew closer to one another. Woking for minimum wage, Starkweather developed a nihilistic view of life - he believed his current situation was set it stone and he would never amount to anything.

Starkweather’s first murder took place on 30 November, 1957, when he became enraged that service station worker, Robert Colvert, refused to sell him a teddy bear for Caril on credit. He left the store angry and returned multiple times to buy other small objects. The final time, he brought a shotgun and forced Colvert to give him $100 before forcing him into his car where he then drove to a remote area and shot him. He went home and told Caril that he had robbed him but professed that somebody else had killed him - Caril later claimed she didn’t believe this.

On 21 January, 1958, Starkweather went to Caril’s home. She wasn’t home but her mother and stepfather, Velda and Marion Bartlett, were home. They told him to leave and Starkweather responded by shooting them dead with a shotgun. He then turned his attention to their 2-year-old daughter, Betty Jean, and strangled and stabbed her to death. Starkweather remained in the house until Caril arrived home and then the two of them dragged the bodies to behind the house. Caril’s grandmother began to worry when she could not reach them and she called the police who made their way to the family home - by the time they arrived, the murderous duo had driven to Bennet, Nebraska, where they shot and killed a family friend, 70-year-old August Meyer and his dog. The couple then fled the crime scene, knowing police were on their trail, but as they were fleeing, their car became stuck in mud and they abandoned the car and set out walking. In a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being generous enough to help strangers, teenagers Robert Jensen and Carol King stopped to pick them up and give them a ride. Starkweather requested them to drive them to an abandoned storm shelter nearby where he the shot Jensen in the back of the head and raped King before shooting her dead. Seemingly jealous by Starkweather raping her, Caril then mutilated King’s genitalia.

The couple then fled in their car and broke into the home of Lauer Ward and his wife, Clara, before stabbing the couple and their dog and stealing their car. The bodies were quickly discovered and the police were hot on their trail - due to this, they ditched the car and found Merle Collison asleep in his car. They shot and killed him before stealing his car. Starkweather stalled the car after stealing it and a passer by noticed this and stopped to help him. Starkweather threatened the helpful man but luckily a police officer was nearby and recognised the couple. Caril ran over to the officer shouting “It’s Starkweather! He’s going to kill me” - seemingly am attempt to procure her “innocence.”

After being apprehended, the couple tried to blame one another for the murders - Caril claimed she was an innocent hostage. Caril was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released after serving just 17 years while Starkweather was executed in the electric chair in 1959.


Spree killer Charles Starkweather’s last interview before he was electrocuted for the murder of eleven people over a two-month span between December 1957 and January 1958. During the murders committed in 1958, Starkweather was accompanied by his 14-year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate. Charles was executed 17 months after the killings and his girlfriend, Caril served seventeen years in prison before her release in 1976. The Starkweather-Fugate spree has inspired several films, including The Sadist (1963), Badlands (1973), Kalifornia (1993), and Natural Born Killers (1994).

Beginning in December of 1957, Charles Starkweather, and his 14 year old girlfriend Caril fugate went on a two month killing spree. On this deadly road trip, together they murdered 11 people, and 2 dogs.

Two months later, in January 1958, they were captured. Charles received the death penalty, and was executed via the electric chair in 1959. He was 20 at the time of this death. However Caril received a life sentence, but was released on parole after serving 17 ½ years. She has always maintained that Charles was holding her hostage, by threatening to kill her family.

This story is inspiration for quite a few films, one of them being “Natural Born Killers”.

Caril Ann Fugate (born July 30, 1943) was the adolescent girlfriend and accomplice of spree killer Charles Starkweather. She is the youngest female in United States history to have been tried for first-degree murder.