Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
Charlie Starkweather was born on November 24, 1938 in Nebraska. He had six brothers and sisters. The Starkweather’s were a kind family, and the children were well-behaved.
Charlie Starkweather had several defects from birth. His legs were misshapen, he had a speech impediment, and he had myopia, which impeded his vision.
In school, Starkweather was bullied by other children because of his defects. When he reached high school, Starkweather excelled in gym, because that was when he could physically bully the other children.
Starkweather began cloning James Dean after ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ came out. He wore the same clothes, and even had the same mindset, that he couldn’t do anything correctly, and that he would be a failure.
When Starkweather was eighteen, he met Caril Fugate, who was thirteen. She became his girlfriend.
Starkweather committed his first murder just a couple days after he turned nineteen. He killed a service station worker who refused to sell to him on credit.
Early the next year, Starkweather drove to Fugate’s house to see her. Her parents said she was not home and that he should stay away from the house. In response, Starkweather shot them both in the head. He also killed Fugate’s baby sister by strangling and stabbing her.
Starkweather waited for Fugate to come home, and then told her about the murder of her family. She helped him hide the bodies in the house. For the next six days, Starkweather and Fugate in Fugate’s house. When the police came, they left without being detected.
Starkweather and Fugate fled to a house in Nebraska where one of Starkweather’s friends lived. Starkweather shot the friend in the head, killing him.
When Starkweather and Fugate left Bennet, NE, they accidentally drove their car into some mud, and got stuck, so they had to leave the vehicle and travel along by foot. Two teenagers stopped and offered them a ride in their car. Starkweather and Fugate killed the teenagers and stole their car. They drove to Lincoln, NE, and came upon a wealthy house. Starkweather murdered the inhabitants and he and Fugate stole the valuables in the house. Then they left Nebraska and drove to Wyoming in a Packard that belonged the the wealthy house in Lincoln.
At this point, Nebraskans were frantic, and the police conducted a house-by-house search for the killers. Starkweather and Fugate caught wind of the search, and decided to leave the Packard considering how high profile it was. They found a common-looking car by the side of the road with the driver sleeping. Starkweather woke him and shot him.
As Fugate and Starkweather were getting ready to drive the car, a sheriff arrived on the spot. Fugate, thinking that she might be able to get away clean, ran to the sheriff, yelling that she had been kidnapped by Starkweather and that he was going to kill her. Starkweather began driving the car, and the sheriff chased him. Even though Starkweather drove over 100 mph, he eventually got caught.
At first, Starkweather covered up for his girlfriend, saying that she had nothing to do with the murders, but eventually he told the truth.
Starkweather was killed by electric chair June 25th, 1959. Fugate served 18 years at a correctional center for women, then moved to Lansing, MI, where she changed her name and started a new life for herself.