Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Starkweather & Caril Fugate

The First Murder

Gradually, Charlie had convinced himself that he was going to have to lead a life of crime to get the money and respect he craved. Just the day before he had wanted to buy a stuffed toy dog for Caril at the gas station and realized that he didn't even have enough money for that. Even worse, the gas station attendant refused to let him buy the toy on credit. He would get back at these people who turned their noses down at him. He really would.

It was well below zero and the raw Nebraska winds were whipping around mercilessly on that first day of December 1957. It was almost 3 a.m. Time to begin what he needed to do.

He took with him the 12-gauge shotgun he had lifted from Bob Von Busch's cousin and the shells that he had just bought for it and drove to the gas station that had refused him credit.

Robert Colvert
Robert Colvert

Robert Colvert, the twenty-one-year-old who had humiliated Charlie the day before, was on duty at the station by himself. He was a short, slender man with a young wife and a baby on the way.

Colvert was working on a carburetor when Charlie came into the filling station. He sold him a pack of Camels and Charlie drove off. A few minutes later, Charlie turned the car around and went back to the station. Colvert was still behind counter. This time, Charlie bought a pack of gum, got into his car and drove off again.

He parked close by and put on his disguise: a bandana tied over much of his face and a hunter's hat to cover his red hair. Then Charlie walked back into the station with the loaded shotgun and a canvas bag for the loot.

By this time, Colvert was back working on the car and didn't even know anyone was there until he felt the shotgun jabbed into his back. Charlie marched Colvert back to the office and made him open the cash drawer.

Charlie scooped up the money and put it in the canvas bag. "Open up the safe," he ordered, but Colvert didn't have the combination. Only the boss knew the combination. Charlie accepted that explanation and decided that he'd just have to make do with the $100 or so that was in the cash drawer.

Charlie decided that Colvert was going for a ride. He made the terrified station attendant drive them out towards Bloody Mary's house. Bloody Mary was a crazy old woman who fired a shotgun full of rock salt at anybody who trespassed on her property.

Then Charlie made Colvert get out of the car. Later, Charlie said that Colvert struggled with him for the gun and was shot in the scuffle. However, as Colvert tried to get up on his hands and knees, Charlie shot him again right in the skull. 

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