2. Two Teen Misfits Go On A Weeklong Winter Murder Spree Across Nebraska’s Badlands in 1958
Charles “Little Red” Starkweather was a runty James Dean wannabe who’d been bullied while growing up for his poor vision, speech impediment, and pigeon toes. He would later remark, “They say this is a wonderful world to live in, but I don’t believe I ever did really live in a wonderful world.”
At age 19 he fell pompadour-over-heels for 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate. In December 1957 he robbed and killed an attendant at a gas station where he’d reportedly been denied in an attempt to purchase a gift for Caril on credit.
On January 21, 1958, toting the rifle he seemed to carry with him everywhere, Starkweather paid a visit to the Fugate house, but Caril was not home. An argument about his gun escalated into murder when Starkweather shot both of Fugate’s parents to death and fatally bludgeoned her two-year-old sister using his rifle. When Caril Ann finally arrived home, seeing three dead family members left her unfazed—she reportedly watched TV while Starkweather made sandwiches and wrapped the corpses in newspaper. They placed a sign outside the door stating that everyone in the house was sick with the flu.
With police and neighbors growing suspicious after several days, they finally fled the house in a car. On January 27, they picked off a farmer and two teenagers—the latter pair were killed over a grand total of $4. They murdered three more people the next day and then killed a shoe salesman on January 29. They even managed to slip past a two-hundred-strong Nebraskan National Guard barricade before being apprehended on a lonely Wyoming road. All in all, the blood-soaked spree that had begun in Fugate’s house claimed 10 lives. Starkweather died in the electric chair at age 20, while Fugate was finally paroled in 1976.
The deadly duo’s exploits were immortalized in the 1973 film Badlands and the Bruce Springsteen song “Nebraska.”