Thursday, December 20, 2012

America's First Boogeyman

About 83 days before I was born in 1958, a young man...He was only 19 to be exact named Charles R. Starkweather and his 13 year old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate committed America's very first Mass Murder!
They killed 11 people in the state of Nebraska.....Including Fugate's parents...

America was shocked! America was horrified...How could anybody do something this horrible?  The killings occurred over a period of days..


Charlie Starkweather had been born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the third of seven children to Guy and Helen Starkweather. The Starkweathers were a respectable family with well-behaved children of working class background. The family always had shelter and other resources. Guy Starkweather was by all accounts a mild-mannered man; he was a carpenter who was often unemployed due to rheumatoid arthritis in his hands. During Guy's periods of unemployment, Charlie Starkweather's mother supplemented the family income by working as a waitress.

Charlie Starkweather had attended Saratoga Elementary School, Everitt Junior High School), and Lincoln High School in Lincoln. In contrast to his family life, Starkweather possessed no kind remembrances of his time of going to school. Starkweather was born with genu varum, a mild birth defect that caused his legs to be misshapen. He also suffered from a speech impediment, which led to constant teasing by classmates. He was considered a slow learner and was accused of never applying himself, although in his teens, it was discovered that he suffered from severe myopia that had drastically affected his vision for most of his life.

The sole aspect of school in which Charlie excelled was gym. It was gym class wherein he found a physical outlet for his growing rage against those who bullied him. Charlie used his new found physicality to begin bullying those who had once bullied him, and soon his rage stretched beyond those who had bullied him to anyone whom he happened to dislike. Starkweather soon went from being considered one of the most well-behaved teenagers in the community to one of the most troubled. His high school friend Bob von Busch would later recall:
He could be the kindest person you've ever seen. He'd do anything for you if he liked you. He was a hell of a lot of fun to be around, too. Everything was just one big joke to him. But he had this other side. He could be mean as hell, cruel. If he saw some poor guy on the street who was bigger than he was, better looking, or better dressed, he'd try to take the poor bastard down to his size.
After viewing the film Rebel Without a Cause, Charlie Starkweather developed a James Dean fixation and began to groom his hairstyle and dress himself to look like Dean. Starkweather related to James Dean's rebellious screen persona, believing that he had found a kindred spirit of sorts, someone who had suffered torment similar to his own whom he could admire. Starkweather developed a severe inferiority complex and became self-loathing, believing that he was unable to do anything correctly and that his own inherent failures would cause him to live in misery.


Just two years before in 1956, He met his soul mate thirteen-year-old Caril Ann Fugate.Charlie  Starkweather dropped out of Lincoln High School in his senior year and became employed at a Western Union newspaper warehouse. He sought employment there because the warehouse was located near Whittier Junior High School in Lincoln, where Caril was a student. His employment allowed him to visit her every day after school. Charlie was considered a poor worker, and his employer later recalled, "Sometimes you'd have to tell him something two or three times. Of all the employees in the warehouse, he was the dumbest man we had."


Charlie taught Caril Ann how to drive a car, and one day she crashed his 1949 Ford into another car. Starkweather's father paid the damages, as he was the legal owner of the vehicle. This caused an altercation between Starkweather and his father. Refusing to condone his son's behavior, he banished his son from the household.
It was all downhill from there, Starkweather quit his job at the warehouse and was employed as a garbage collector for minimum wage. Starkweather began progressing towards his nihilistic views on life, believing that his current situation was the final determinant of how he would live the rest of his life. He used the garbage route to begin plotting bank robberies and finally conceived his own personal philosophy by which he lived the remainder of his life: "Dead people are all on the same level".

Long story short, in between December of 1957 and January 28,1958....The two killed 11 people... Unlike today's killers...Neither Charlie ,nor Caril Ann committed suicide...They were captured by the Nebraska State Police....Caril Ann turned on her boyfriend claiming that she was his prisoner and that he did all of the killing...Maybe, because of her age...The judge halfway believed her...

Trials were faster then...and when convicted there were not a whole lot of appeals......I was born, two months after all of this mayhem and by then, Both had been tried and convicted...Charlie was sentenced to die in the electric chair and Caril Ann was sentenced to life...

Wasn't a whole lot of appeals either like they have today....By the time my cousin Tammie and I were taking our first steps, Charles Starkweather went to the electric chair and was executed !

Caril Ann spent the next 18 years in prison and was paroled (if you can believe that!!) in 1976....She's still alive today..Living in a new town with a new name, quietly!

I was 18, about to graduate from high school when her parole became a news item and I heard for the first time about America's first boogeyman....

Hell, by then, we'd had Richard Speck, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy...America ,it's safe to say was immune to horror or so I thought....It was almost like in every decade..there was a boogeyman....

In the 90's we had Jeffrey Dahmer....and in the first decade of this new century we had Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold , the Columbine Killers and the guy who shot up Virginia Tech......but this year...this year alone we've had "The Batman Killer" as the Aurora ,Colarado movie slayer is known and now, Adam Lanza..

America talks about mental illness now and America talks about gun control....but just like in 1958, when America didn't talk about mental illness or gun control....America does nothing...

They say if you don't learn from the past, you live to repeat it...We've repeated this mistake far too many times.....The question is...not if there is another boogeyman, another Charlie Starkweather, Another Adam Lanza.....not if...but when is he going to emerge again???

Something to think about!

3 comments:

Brenda said...

Ughhhhhhhhhh, Creepy!

George S. said...

Good peice...How do you remember all of this stuff? -LOL!

Wow!

Keith said...

Like any good journalist...I know how to search through archives George....Not that I'm calling myself a journalist or anything close...but I do know how to pool resources and archives and gather information I need to back up my points!




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