Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Starkweather & Caril Fugate

The Death Deal

The newspapers made the murder and robbery into a major news event since there was so little serious crime in that area then. Starkweather took the precaution of painting his car a different color, but then he did some dumb things that called attention to him as a suspect. It was widely reported that most of the loot from the gas station holdup was in coin, but Charlie used change to buy some clothing for himself. The authorities believed that the holdup and murder was committed by a transient so the pressure was off Charlie for the time being.

The murder gave Starkweather a feeling of euphoria and peace. "He had money. He had a girl. He had killed and not been bothered by it. It gave him an enormous feeling of power. He now operated outside the laws of man. He felt as if he were invisible, could do just as he pleased, take what he wanted. The law was helpless against him." (Allen)

The day after he robbed the gas station and murdered Robert Colvert, Charlie admitted to Caril that he held up the gas station but that someone else had shot Colvert. "She was not fooled," he told people later. The killing created a bond between them that seal their fate. He seemed to understand that this time together was all that they would have in life before the end. He could grab anything he wanted to give Caril and the two of them could enjoy that life for at least a little while before their time ran out. It didn't matter that their time was probably very short, what mattered is that they had this time together at all.

When the euphoria wore off, Charlie was left with some grim realities: he had been fired from his job as a garbageman; his landlady had locked him out in the freezing cold because he was past due on his rent; both his family and Caril's family were completely against their relationship and did everything they could to break it up. Caril had put on a little weight and her family was sure that she was pregnant. He was desperate.

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