On January 28, 1958, 55 years ago today, Charles Starkweather, a 19 year old high school dropout from Lincoln, Nebraska, and his 14- year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, killed a Lincoln Businessman, his wife and their maid in a crime spree that began a week earlier and would eventually leave 10 people dead.
The crime spree generated enormous media attention at the time and a massive manhunt, which came to an end the following day, when Starkweather and Fugate were arrested near Douglas, Wyoming. The crimes later inspired a slew of books, movies and music, including Terence Malick’s 1973 film “Badlands,” starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, and Bruce Springsteen’s 1982 song “Nebraska.”
Starweather committed his first murder on December 1, 1957, when he robbed a gas station and killed the attendant. Reportedly, the attendant at the station had previously refused Starkweather’s attempt to buy a present for Fugate on credit.
On January 21, 1958 Starkweather shot and killed Fugate’s stepfather and mother after arguing with them at their home, he then strangled to death Fugate’s two-and-a-half-year-old sister. Starkweather and Fugate remained at the crime scene for several days, before taking off in Starkweather’s car and murdering three more people-a farmer and two teenagers- On Jauary 27. On January 28, the couple killed another three people-the Lincoln businessman, his wife and their maid. Starkweather and Fugate’s final victim, a shoe salesman, was killed on January 29; the couple was captured later that day.
The couple were charged and convicted of murder. Starkweather was given the death penalty and died in the electric char on June 25, 1959. Fugate was sentenced to life in prison, she was released in 1976.