Mass Murderer. He and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, were convicted of killing 11 men, women and children in a murder spree that ran over of ten week period, although the majority of persons were killed in the last two weeks of the spree. The killing spree later served as the basis of such Hollywood films as "Born Bad" (1999), "Badlands" (1973), "The Sadist" (1963), "Natural Born Killers" (1994), and other films. Born the third child to a poor family of seven children of Guy and Helen Starkweather, young Charlie grew up in the mid-1950s, adoring actor James Dean, especially his role in "Rebel without a Cause" (1955), and often dressed in a similar fashion. He quit school at age 16 to work in a warehouse, loading and unloading trucks. He began to date Caril Ann Fugate, then a young 14-year-old, despite both his and her parents' disapproval. Lack of money only made his frustration greater, and after being refused by gas station attendant Bobby Colvert to buy a stuffed toy dog for Caril (he lacked enough money), he decided to rob the station. Killing the attendant, he took $100 and the stuffed toy dog. Four weeks later, again broke, he drove to Caril's house, where he killed her parents and 2-year-old sister and sat down to wait for Caril to return home. Her step father was shot in the chicken coop and his body left there. Her mother's body was placed in the outhouse. Caril's 2-year-old sister was beaten to death with the butt of Charlie's .22 caliber rifle to quiet her, as she was crying (some biographies state that he stabbed and strangled her, but this is in dispute). The sister's body was also placed in the outhouse with her dead mother. When Caril finally came home, he told her that they had been kidnapped. They remained in the home for several days. Several days later Charlie told Caril that he had killed her mother and stepfather, and had hidden the bodies. Two days later, Caril's grandmother, Pansy, went to visit her daughter, and Caril refused to let her into the house. Thinking her granddaughter's actions were suspicious, she called the police, but they arrived after Starkweather and Caril had left. Fleeing to a friend's farm outside Lincoln, Nebraska, Starkweather and Fugate went on to kill and rob another seven people, including wealthy friends, Lauer and Clara Ward, of the Nebraska governor. When their bodies were discovered, Governor Victor E. Anderson would send the Nebraska National Guard out to search for the killers. When the couple realized that they were being pursued, they drove out in Lauer Ward's black Packard automobile back to Caril's parents' house, thinking that no one would be there. Seeing a police car parked at the house, they decided to drive to Washington state. While in Wyoming, they killed Merle Collison to steal his 57 Oldsmobile car. While having trouble with the new car's controls, they were spotted and identified by a Wyoming State Trooper, while two Wyoming sheriff's officers nearby answered the trooper's call for assistance When the trooper first pulled them over, Caril had jumped out of their Packard and ran for the trooper's car, screaming that she had been kidnapped by Charlie. Charlie immediately took off in the Oldsmobile without Caril, and during the ensuing chase, the Trooper called for immediate help and began firing his pistol at Charlie's car. One shot hit the rear window, spraying glass over the interior and just as two additional sheriff's officers arrived, Charlie pulled over believing that he had been hit by a bullet, and surrendered (he was not hit, but the broken glass window did cut his head). Both Charlie and Caril were charged with first-degree murder and convicted. The jury did not believe Caril's story that she had been forced into the murders and robberies. Starkweather was electrocuted in the Nebraska State Prison on June 25, 1959, while Caril Fugate, a minor, was given a life sentence. She was released for good behavior in June 1976 at the age of 33. Most accounts give Charlie's birth date as 11/24/1938, although his headstone lists his birth date as 11/25/1938.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Rest in peace