Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Starkweather & Caril Fugate


Charlie's close buddy Bob Von Busch began to date Barbara Fugate in 1956. Charlie eventually became interested in Barbara's younger sister Caril who had just turned thirteen. The four of them double dated on a steady basis despite Caril's youth.

Caril & Charlie
Caril & Charlie

Caril was a pretty girl with dark brown hair and a ready smile. She, too, had a wide streak of rebellion in her and a mercurial temper. She was not much of a scholar and had failed a grade in elementary school. Even though her teachers considered her a slow learner, Charlie thought she was a wizard.

He treated her like a goddess. And, probably because she was so young, she thought he was really cool and had no appreciation for his serious weaknesses. William Allen states, "She was impressed by his cars, his toughness, his looks, and despite his poverty the way he could give her almost anything she wanted...Charlie said that Caril meant more to him than anything had before. Without her he would be thrust back into the world he hated so much. Caril almost even made him stop hating himself. He saw himself as reflected in her eyes and he looked good."

Charlie quit school at the age of sixteen and went to work loading and unloading trucks at the Western Newspaper Union warehouse. His boss didn't think much of Charlie: "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."

The warehouse was near the school Caril attended so he could see her every day. He taught her how to drive even though she was too young to drive legally. One day, Caril took Charlie's hotrod and got into a minor accident. Charlie's father was part owner of the car and had to pay for the damages to the other vehicle, an event that caused a huge argument between the two men. The argument became physical and Charlie was told to find somewhere else to live.

Charlie moved into the rooming house where his friend Bob and Barbara Fugate then Bob's wife lived. Now that the relationship with his parents was very strained, Caril became the center of Charlie's life. He began telling people that he and Caril were getting married. Then he started telling his friends that Caril was pregnant with his child a lie that backfired when Caril's parents heard it.

Charlie quit his job at the paper company and started to work as a garbageman. It was hardly a career enhancement, but he did it so that he could be off work when she was through with school. The pay was only $42 a week not enough to support himself, let alone Caril too. His landlady was unsympathetic and locked him out until he came up with the rent he owed her.

Charlie began to see himself as trapped in a life of poverty. With his limited intellect, the only way out that he could envision was to do something really dramatic like rob a bank. "Every day on his route, collecting the garbage from across town, where the middle and upper classes of Lincoln, Nebraska, lived, he saw what he was being excluded from...While heaving heavy, stinking sacks of trash for a minimum wage Starkweather came to the realization that, for him, there was one great leveler of class, one way in which he would find himself equal with the rest of society which had oppressed, dominated and alienated him, a method by which he would find retribution: "dead people are all on the same level." (Sargeant)


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