Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Starkweather & Caril Fugate

Next, Caril's Family

On Tuesday afternoon, January 21, 1958, Starkweather drove over to the squalid dump that Caril and her family called home. The house and the yard were strewn with litter and unused construction materials. Charlie took the .22 rifle he had borrowed and some ammunition to the back door and knocked. Caril's mother Velda Bartlett came to the door.

What really happened afterwards is impossible to confirm. This account is based upon Starkweather's recollections after the fact. He claimed that he was carrying the rifle and ammunition in hopes that he could go hunting with Caril's stepfather, Marion Bartlett, with the goal of repairing their relationship. He also brought along with him two discarded carpet samples he found for Velda.

According to Charlie, Velda and Marion were both in the house. Their two-and-a half-year-old child, Betty Jean, was crying. Velda told Charlie they did not want him seeing Caril any more.

A loud argument followed and Velda allegedly hit Charlie a couple of times. He claimed that he left the house without the rifle and drove around for awhile before he came back to get the gun. When he came back again, Marion literally kicked him out the door.

Starkweather went to a pay phone, called Marion Bartlett's place of employment and told them that he was ill and would not be at work for a couple of days. Then he went back to Caril's house and waited for her to come home from school. When Charlie told Caril what had happened with her parents, she went into the house and argued with her mother. Starkweather followed her in the house.

Betty Jean Bartlett
Betty Jean Bartlett

He said that Velda began hitting him again, shrieking that he had made Caril pregnant. He hit Velda back and they struggled for a few minutes before Charlie got his gun. At that moment, Marion Bartlett came in the room, allegedly with a claw hammer in his hand, and Starkweather shot him in the head. Then, Charlie claimed that Velda came at him with a huge knife. Starkweather shot her in the face. As if that was not enough, he rammed the butt of the rifle into her head a couple of times when she tried to get up to reach her baby. Then Charlie hit the baby with the rifle butt.

Starkweather said that "I picked up that knife that the old lady had...started to walk in the bedroom...and the little girl kept yelling, and I told her to shut up, and I started to walk again, and just turned around and threw the kitchen knife I had at her...they said it hit her in the throat, but I thought it hit her in the chest...I went on into the bedroom. Mr. Bartlett was moving around, so I tried to stab him in the throat, but the knife wouldn't go in, and I just hit the top part of it with my hand , and it went in."

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