Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Starkweather & Caril Fugate


And where did these clever outlaws run? Why, back to Caril's parents' house, of course! Yes, they really did. But wisely, they didn't go inside because there was a car in the driveway and the house was lighted up. Somehow, they finally got the message that they could not go back and live at the Bartlett house anymore and headed west towards Washington State.

They drove all night and crossed over into Wyoming the next morning, the 29th of January 1958. Twice they were reported to the police as acting suspicious, but nothing came of either report. Along the way they looked for a car to steal and finally came across Merle Collison, a travelling Montana shoe salesman, who was sleeping in his Buick, parked along the highway.

Charlie woke up the salesman to announce that they were going to trade cars, but the shoe salesman apparently didn't agree quickly enough because Charlie shot him a number of times in the head, neck, arm and leg. Since it was a tough stretch of the imagination to expect anyone to believe that Charlie shot Merle Collison in self-defense, Charlie said that Caril did it.

With Collison dead in the front passenger seat and Caril in the back, Starkweather started the car, but could not figure out how to release the emergency brake. A few minutes later, a young geologist stopped to help the couple, figuring that they had car trouble.

"Raise your hands," Charlie told the man, pointing the gun at him. "Help me release the emergency brake or I'll kill you."

When the geologist saw the dead man slumped in the passenger seat, he realized that he would have to get the gun away from Starkweather if he wanted to stay alive. While they were struggling, William Romer, a Wyoming deputy sheriff, came by and stopped.

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