“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.