Thursday, January 31, 2013


1/29/1958 - The mindless murder spree of teenage punk Charles Raymond Starkweather, aka Little Red, comes to an end outside the small town of Douglas, Wyoming. 


Skilled at nothing, ignored at home (he is the third of seven children in his family), teased about a speech impediment, suffering from a case of severe myopia, and sensitive about his red hair and runtish stature (he is 5'2" due to being born with the birth defect genu varum which has misshaped his legs), Starkweather grows up angry, a bomb ready to explode.  James Dean and a thirteen-year-old girlfriend named Caril Ann Fugate are the sparks that transform the nineteen-year-old into a killer.  Seeing Rebel Without a Cause, Starkweather tries to look and act like his new hero, James Dean ... and to show off for his impressionable young love.  But clothes and date nights require money not to be had from his job collecting trash from the streets of Lincoln, Nebraska, and in December of 1957 he turns to crime to put some green in his wallet.

                                                          Caril & Charlie

Two birds with one stone, when twenty-one-year-old gas station attendant Robert Colvert refuses to sell Starkweather a stuffed toy dog on credit, the teenager has a target to rob ... and a focus for his rage.  Returning to the business at 3:00 in the morning the next day, with a 12-gauge shotgun giving him moxie, Starkweather takes $100 from the cash register and forces Colvert to ride with him out into the snowy Lincoln countryside.  Finding a deserted area that suits his purposes, Little Red forces Colvert out of his car and then kills the young man with a blast of buckshot to the head.  The gas station attendant leaves behind a pregnant young widow.


Killing now recognized as a solution to any issue, Starkweather begins his rampage into infamy by savaging the family of his girlfriend on January, 21, 1958.

                                                          Killer Punk

Waiting for Caril to come home from school, Starkweather gets into an argument about their relationship with her thirty-six-year-old mother Velda and her fifty-seven-year-old stepfather Marion Bartlett.  What exactly happened next will never be known, Starkweather claims Velda slaps him and when he hits her back, Mr. Bartlett comes at him with a claw hammer, while Velda then arms herself with a knife.  Maybe ... but what is known is that by the time Caril gets back from her classes, both her parents are dead from bullets discharged out of Starkweather's .22 hunting rifle ... and for reasons that could only govern the actions of a madman, Caril's half-sister, two-year-old Betty Jean Bartlett has been strangled and stabbed to death.

                                                            Mr. & Mrs. Bartlett
                                                                Betty Jean

Lacking any remorse whatsoever, the pair then hide the bodies and play house for the next few day, stuffing their faces on potato chips, drinking Pepsi, listening to music, and watching television.  Eventually, when neighbors and relatives become curious about why the Bartletts haven't been seen in days, and the police come calling to investigate, the couple flees in Charlie's car, heading for the temporary refuge of a family friend, the farm of seventy-one-year-old bachelor August Meyer.  Meyer will not survive the visit.


Again Starkweather's story of events is that he killed Meyer because his former friend, who had known him since birth, attacked the killer ... for good measure, he also shoots Meyer's dog.

                                                               Meyer in his home

Next to be murdered will be sixteen-year-old Carol King and her seventeen-year-old boyfriend Robert Jensen ... a pair of teenagers that make the mistake of giving Charlie and Caril a ride after their car gets stuck in the mud.  For the act of kindness, Jensen is dumped in an abandoned storm cellar with six bullets in his head ... then, after not being able to rape King, Starkweather stabs her several times before shooting her once in the head.

                                                                 Jensen & King

Hiding from the major manhunt that has started in the wake of the killings, the couple next decide to invade the Lincoln home C. Lauer Ward, a wealthy forty-seven-year-old businessman and friend of the governor who has the misfortune of being one of the people that Starkweather use to haul away garbage for.  Another outburst of carnage, forty-six-year-old Mrs. Ward is stabbed to death after making her killer pancakes and waffles, her small poodle Suzy has its neck broken, Mr. Ward is murdered by a shot to the head when he comes home from work, and their fifty-one-year-old maid, Lillian Fencl, is tied to a bed and stabbed to death. 

                      [IMG] [IMG]
                                                           Mr. & Mrs. Ward

Police and National Guard out in force, the FBI now involved, a $1,000 reward offered for info leading to a capture, yet somehow the couple manage to make their way north, driving all night, heading towards the paradise Starkweather believes the state of Washington to be.  They get as far as Wyoming.  Seeking to dump the Ward's black Lincoln, outside of the town of Douglas the pair discover a traveling shoe salesman from Montana sleeping in his Buick by the side of the road.  It will be thirty-seven-year-old Merle Collison's last day of life.


Starkweather shoots Collison nine times, hitting the unfortunate salesman in the head, neck, and leg ... but a problem develops ... the killer is too stupid to know how to release the vehicle's special emergency brake.  Enter passing oil agent geologist Joseph Sprinkle.  When Sprinkle is flagged down and stops, Starkweather produces his rifle and threatens the man with death if he doesn't help him get the car in motion.  Seeing Collison's dead body in the front seat of the car, knowing what is coming his way, instead of complying the geologist grabs the rifle and a wrestling match begins for possession of the weapon.  Enter passing by Wyoming Deputy Sheriff William Romer.  Pulling over to see what the commotion on the roadway is about, he is immediately confronted by Caril screaming for the police to save her from a killer ... her boyfriend, Starkweather.  Sensing his imminent arrest, Starkweather runs to the Ward's car and flees back in the direction of Douglas, driving in excess of 100 miles per hour ... with now alerted local cops in close pursuit ... a pursuit which ends when the killer abruptly stops and surrenders after flying glass from a police bullet into the back window wounds him in the ear.   

                                                            In custody

Rampage over, eleven people dead, but there is still a trial for the public to endure in which Starkweather will claim Caril was a willing participant in the murders (most of which he states were committed in self defense), while she will counter that her boyfriend had a gun on her the whole time and she did nothing wrong during the entire murder spree.  Not buying the bologna, back in Nebraska a jury of twelve very sensible citizens finds both teenage punks guilty of first degree murder ... Starkweather is sentenced to death in the electric chair, but because she is only fourteen, Caril gets a lighter sentenced, life in prison (a sentence she will eventually have commuted, she is released from prison in June of 1976).
                                                         Death Row Punk

Classy to the end, upset at the betrayal of his girlfriend, the twenty-year-old James Dean wannabe makes an unusual last request ... asking that Caril sit in his lap when he is fried.  Request denied, he goes to the chair alone on June 24, 1959 ... dead at the age of only twenty.


No comments:

Post a Comment