Caril Ann Fugate

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Caril Ann Fugate (born July 30, 1943, Nebraska) is the youngest female in the United States to have been tried and convicted of first-degree murder.[1] She was the teenage girlfriend of Charles Starkweather, a serial killer. Fugate was age fourteen when Starkweather's happened.[2] She was convicted as his accomplice and given life imprisonment.[3] She was paroled in 1976.

Background to the crime spree[change | change source]

Fugate lived in Lincoln, Nebraska with her mother Velma Bartlett and her stepfather Marion Bartlett. In 1956, at age 13, Fugate got romantically involved to Charles Raymond Starkweather.[4] The man had dropped out of high school. He was born almost five years before Fugate was. They bet by way of Caril's sister Barbara. The latter was dating Starkweather's friend Bob von Busch. Starkweather was a truck unloader for the Western Union newspaper warehouse.

On Sunday, December 1, 1957, Starkweather committed his first murder when attendant Robert "Bobby" Calvert, working for a gas station near Lincoln, Nebraska, refused to let Starkweather buy a present for Fugate on credit. Starkweather then killed Calvert and robbed the gas station.[5]

On January 21, 1958,[6] Starkweather shot and killed Velda and Marion Bartlett. The killer then hit Fugate's baby half-sister, Betty Jean. That caused blunt-force trauma. Starkweather then stabbed her in the neck.

The cross-state crime spree[change | change source]

Starkweather and Fugate left Nebraska. They drove into Wyoming. They were involved in six more murders. Starkweather and Fugate were later arrested near Douglas, Wyoming.

The sentencing[change | change source]

Starkweather was sentenced to death and executed in Nebraska's electric chair on Thursday, June 25, 1959. He insisted although he killed most of the victims, Fugate also killed several. Fugate maintained her innocence. However, she was tried and convicted for her role in the murder spree. While being tried, Fugate testified she was Starkweather's hostage. The jury, however, found Fugate's testimony as not credible.[7]

Release from prison[change | change source]

While in prison, Fugate was called a model prisoner. After release, she lived in the Lansing, Michigan area for a long time.[8]

The Nebraska Parole Board did not grant a pardon for Fugate. The decision was made in February 2020. The reason for the decision was because the role of a pardon is to restore rights to felons, not to set people free of their crimes.[9]

The media portrayal[change | change source]

Movies/television[change | change source]

The Starkweather–Fugate case was the inspiration for several movies. Those include Kalifornia (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994) and Starkweather (2004). The television movie, Murder in the Heartland (1993) was a biographical depiction of Fugate and Starkweather. The earlier is played by Fairuza Balk. The latter is played by Tim Roth

Music[change | change source]

  • The Bruce Springsteen song "Nebraska" is the first-person narrative based on the Starkweather and Fugate murders.
  • The Nicole Dollanganger song "Nebraska" is a lyrical story about the murders. Starkweather is never named in the song. Fugate is mentioned during a line which states [he] showed his Caril Ann how to use a knife/picked it up slowly/killed with it twice".
  • The murders are mentioned during Billy Joel's 1989 song "We Didn't Start the Fire" with the line "Starkweather homicide".

References[change | change source]

  1. Mass Murderers/Serial Killers. Ulysses Press. 25 January 2007. ISBN 9781569755785. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  2. Kiss Me and Kill Me. Simon & Schuster. December 2004. ISBN 9781416500032. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  3. "The Chilling True Story of Charles Starkweather". ATI. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  4. "Starkweather Case". Lincoln, Nebraska. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  5. "These Midwestern Teen Lovers were the Original 'Natural Born Killers'". Oxygen. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  6. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. January 2004. ISBN 0803247877. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  7. "The Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate Trials 1958". JRank.org. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  8. "Carol Ann Fugate Clair, the Former Girlfriend". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  9. "Starkweather's Ex-Girlfriend is Denied a Pardon by the State of Nebraska". NBC News. Retrieved July 23, 2021.